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

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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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6. Mary Stewart’s Greek Novels: Hellenism, Orientalism and the Cultural Politics of Pulp Presentation (James Gifford)

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6.  Mary Stewart’s Greek Novels: Hellenism, Orientalism and the Cultural Politics of Pulp Presentation

JAMES GIFFORD

This chapter makes two critical interventions: one to redirect attention to women’s writing on Greece from a century that was dominated by either a masculine homosocial modernity or Byron’s long shadow in David Roessel’s sense (2002); and two, revising the critical scotoma that surrounds Hellenism as a process of power and style of thought in the shadow of Edward Said’s critical study Orientalism (1995[1978]). For the former, even Virginia Woolf’s Jacob orients himself around a self-discovery that takes place amidst male heteronormativity. For the latter, Said’s work shaped a generation of scholars by extending the 1950–1960 Marxist discourses of decolonization beyond the materialism of Albert Memmi and Frantz Fanon to include foucauldian approaches to institutions like the university, the operations of power on styles of knowledge, and the biopolitics of colonialism. However, Said did so while opening Orientalist Studies as a disciplinary field, a discourse, and a participant in institutions to an ideological critique while in the same breath excusing Hellenic Studies as an acceptable, naturalized, and neutral exercise of power-knowledge. Likewise, the rise of a critical discourse of decolonization developed into postcolonial theory during a literary moment when the notional understanding of Greece from the perspective of the former centers of global power was moving from a politicized Romanticism to a personalized modernism. Roessel sets the shift in images of Greece...

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