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Greece in British Women's Literary Imagination, 1913–2013


Edited By Eleni Papargyriou, Semele Assinder and David Holton

Greece in British Women’s Literary Imagination, 1913–2013 offers a comprehensive overview of British female writing on Greece in the twentieth century and beyond. Contributors cover a vast array of authors: Rose Macaulay, Jane Ellen Harrison, Virginia Woolf, Ann Quin, Dorothy Una Ratcliffe, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Olivia Manning, Mary Stewart, Victoria Hislop, Loretta Proctor and Sofka Zinovieff formed special ties with Greece and made it the focus of their literary imagination. Moving from Bloomsbury to Mills & Boon, the book offers insight into the ways romantic literature has shaped readers’ perceptions about Greece. Why have female authors of such diverse backgrounds and literary orientations been attracted by a country burdened by its past and troubled by its present? What aspects of the country do they choose to highlight? Are female perceptions of Greece different from male ones? The book examines these and many more exciting questions. Given its focus and diversity, it is addressed to audiences in English and Greek studies, Classical reception, European modernism, cultural studies and popular fiction, as well as to non-academic English-speaking readers who have an interest in Greece.

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2. Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of Greek Form (Vassiliki Kolocotroni)


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2.  Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of Greek Form


But one cannot go on for ever cutting these ancient inscriptions clearer with a knife. Virginia Woolf, The Waves (1931)

View of the temple and blue sky: disrupting. Ann Quin, Passages (1969)

In April 1901, Jane Ellen Harrison, classical scholar, and lecturer at Newnham College Cambridge, was photographed at Mycenae as a member of the entourage of Wilhelm Dörpfeld, then Director of the German Archaeological Institute in Athens. “Avtos,” “most honoured master”, or “the Boss,” as he was known to Harrison and other initiates (Harrison 1925: 65; Stray 1995: 121),1 stands on a marble slab to address the small group of expert travelers, as was his wont: “He would hold us spellbound for a six hours’ peripatetic lecture,” Harrison recalls, “only broken by an interval of ten minutes to partake of a goat’s-flesh sandwich and etwas frisches Bier” (1925: 65).

Accustomed to the trials of archaeological visits to Greece by then, Harrison takes a dig at some of the distinguished participants’ priorities: “Once I saw, to my sorrow, three Englishmen tailing away after the frisches Bier. I was more grieved than surprised. They were Oxford men—the (then) Provost of Oriel, the Principal of Brasenose and an eminent fellow of Balliol. It was worth many hardships to see forty German professors try to mount forty recalcitrant mules. My own horsemanship, as...

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