Saturday, March 12, 2005

The Greeks wrote stuff besides The Odyssey you know

Kathryn decided to link one of my posts in her blog, making it the very first time my post has been linked by someone. It's a milestone and my blog feels very special. She produces a fine succinct analysis of the nature of diasporic communities and their relation to the homeland that they grew up in and migrated from. Certainly, I think Kathryn is right when she says that diasporas resemble each other more than they resemble the populations in their home countries.

Kathryn's blog is excellent overall, and is a great resource for someone who wants to follow contemporary Greek literature but is not fluent in Greek. When I first started learning Greek, I decided to put my dive into Greek literature on hold till I acquired sufficient fluency to read the originals. Now the learning Greek project is taking a hiatus, and I've realised it'll be several years before I can be fluent enough to even understand the words of Greek nursery rhymes. Reading the translations doesn't seem so bad, but a full-fledged literary odyssey (cheesy metaphor) will have to wait till I find some direction with my dissertation. In the meanwhile, Kathryn provides such fabulous nuggets, like the excellent poem by Kostas Karyotakis translated by her.

I think it's a pity that growing up in India, our anglophone inclinations kept us from exploring the fine literary traditions in non-English speaking nations. The only exception was Russian literature (mostly 19th century though) that came via cheap Raduga and Progress Press translations and India's proximity to the Soviet Union (if you looked at Raduga's book list, you'd think nothing except Russian literature existed in the USSR. Hello..Armenian anyone?). So of course I grew up with Auden, Elliot and Hughes, with the occasional Chekhov and Dostoevsky thrown in. The first time I heard of Nikos Kazantzakis was with the controversy over "The Last Temptation of Christ", a film made in 1988 by Martin Scorsese. The film was based on a novel by Kazantzakis, and he blipped on my mental radar again with another film based on a novel of his, "Zorba the Greek". I'm yet to read his works though, and when I do get down to my Greek literature project, he would be an excellent place to start.

I'm especially interested in the poets though, Elitis, Cavafy, Karyotakis and Palamas and of course classical Greek poetry. I think the economy and lyricism of the Greek language is especially suited to poetry, which is probably why Homer chose to write as he did. The landscape and culturescapes also prod creatively minded souls to versify, witness how Byron and Keats squeezed music out of English in writing about Greece.


Blogger kathryn said...

Hi there! Thanks for the mention. :)

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