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.
Introduction: British Women Writing Greece (Semele Assinder / Eleni Papargyriou)
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Introduction: British Women Writing Greece
SEMELE ASSINDER AND ELENI PAPARGYRIOU
While the Greek connections of British male authors, from Byron to the Durrells and from Patrick Leigh Fermor to Louis de Bernières, have been extensively documented and studied, the country’s presence in women’s literary imagination remains underinvestigated. With the exception of travel writing, which has long been associated with women writers (Kolocotroni and Mitsi 2008; Mahn 2012), the connection between British female authors of fiction and Greece has not yet been examined systematically (Bassnett 2002). Yet, the twentieth century alone produced an impressive number of British female authors who wrote about Greece. They range from highly esteemed representatives of the literary establishment, such as Virginia Woolf and Jane Ellen Harrison, to more underrated cases, such as Barbara Pym, and commercial players in the literary market, such as Mary Stewart and (in the last decade) Victoria Hislop. Their number and diversity give rise to a number of questions: Why are female authors of such diverse backgrounds and literary orientations attracted by Greece, 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?
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