MODERN GREEK LITERATURE Modern Greek literature refers to literature written in the Greek language from the 11th century, with texts written in a language that is more familiar to the ears of Greeks today than is the language of the early Byzantine literature, the compilers of the New Testament, or, of course, the classical authors of the fifth and fourth centuries BC. 1 The emergence of modern Greek literature (11th - 15th century) 1.1 Acritic songs 1.2 Romances 1.3 Tales set in the classical world 2 Cretan literature (15th-17th centuries) 3 Enlightenment era (17th century-1821) 4 19th century literature (1821-1880) 4.1 Ionian or Heptanese School of Literature 4.2 Historiography 4.3 Folklore 4.4 Romantic or First Athenian School of poetry 5 Late 19th - Early 20th century literature (1880-1930) 5.1 E. Roidis, G. Vizyinos 5.2 1880s Generation or New Athenian School 5.3 C. Cavafy 5.4 Neo-romanticism or Neosymbolism 5.5 N. Kazantzakis 5.6 K. Varnalis, A. Sikelianos 6 20th century literature (1930-1981) 6.1 1930s Generation (‘30) 6.1.1 Poetry 6.1.2 Prose 6.2 The Surrealists (Late 1930s) 6.3 Postwar literature (1944 1974) 6.4 Contemporary literature (1974 -)
The emergence of modern Greek literature (11th - 15th century) The main forms and themes of this period include scholarly and popular epic songs celebrating the new champions of Hellenism; long compositions; verse romance, which bore the stamp of influence from western courtly tradition, but a genre nevertheless rooted in the Hellenistic and Roman imperial ages; ancient stories reviving mythical and historical figures such as Achilles and Theseus and Alexander the Great; and didactic, sardonic texts, concerned with philosophy and the allegory of daily life, with birds and animals taking the leading roles. But these will prove to be also the mainstay of modern Greek literature, modified, of course, by the various aesthetic and other values specific to each era. Acritic songs The cultural context within which the first known works of vernacular literature were created was undoubtedly Byzantine. The earliest group of such works dates mainly to the twelfth century: known as the Ptochoprodromika, the moralizing poem Spaneas, the autobiographical and didactic verses written in prison by Michael Glykas, the verse Eisiterion (a poem welcoming Princess Agnes of France), and a few examples of heroic poetry such as the Song of Armouris and the epic Digenis Acritas. The overwhelming majority of literary works in the vernacular has survived anonymously. Furthermore, it has proved difficult to assign a precise date to many of them, a problem exacerbated by the fact that the form in which the works have survived is often somewhat protean. Many have survived in a number of manuscripts, each of which preserves substantial variants or a different version. It can be attributed to the methods by which texts were copied and disseminated in the age of the manuscript; in some cases, differing manuscript traditions may provide evidence of oral as well as written transmission of texts. Romances Verse romances are among the finest achievements of Byzantine literature, continuing as they do the long tradition of the love story whose roots go back to the Hellenistic and Late Antiquity periods. The Byzantine romance began its revival in the 12th century with Ysmine and Ysminias by Eustathios Makrembolites, Rodanthe and Dosikles by Theodoros Prodromos, Drosilla and Charikles by Niketas Eugenianos and Aristandros and Kallithea by Konstantinos Manasses.
The differences (and similarities) in the case of the romances of the 13th and 14th centuries are clear. The plot has been reduced considerably; only Livistros and Rodamne maintains a sub-plot. The element of adventure becomes less prominent as the description of the action is reduced. The number of characters taking part in the action also becomes smaller. The social origins of the protagonists changes: no longer simply well-to-do, they derive for...
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