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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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7. Fire and Futility: Contemporary Women Novelists and WWI in Greece (David Wills)

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7.  Fire and Futility: Contemporary Women Novelists and WWI in Greece

DAVID WILLS

The Greek Front really is, as one book title describes it, a Forgotten Battlefront of World War I (WWI) (Marix Evans 2003). Lyn Macdonald’s otherwise magisterial 1915: The Death of Innocence covers the expected Loos, Gallipoli, and Neuve Chapelle, but there is only one brief mention of the Salonica Campaign, which began in October of that year (Macdonald 1997: 567). Within a conflict dominated in the popular imagination by the horrors of trench warfare, “the Mediterranean theatre of operations is still regarded—as indeed it was then—as a mere sideshow to the main event in north-west Europe” (Gough 2006: 64). Yet this battle zone offered brutality comparable to the more famous massacres of France and Belgium. Northern Greece was put to the sword through a combination of combat in terrible conditions, internal divisions, and a devastating fire which destroyed much of old Thessaloniki in 1917.

It has been argued that the presence of British troops in Greece was, in both World Wars, more sentimental than strategic. A British sergeant in a 1941-set novel is made to remark bitterly “We’re here because those chaps in the High Command all studied Greek at Eton and Harrow” (Gale 2012: 30). Certainly, many contemporaneous accounts confirm that foreign participants were unprepared not merely for the practical and military realities of Greece, but also for the social and cultural....

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