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Rewriting the Hero and the Quest

Myth and Monomyth in "Captain Corelli’s Mandolin" by Louis de Bernières

Tatiana Golban

Although Louis de Bernières is a famous and important contemporary novelist, and his work Captain Corelli’s Mandolin has been translated and sold all over the world as a best-seller, there are few academic studies that focus methodologically and theoretically on it. The book attempts to partially overcome this handicap by focusing on various thematic and structural aspects which have been practically ignored so far by this line of criticism. It targets experts and students in literary studies whose concerns are ancient myths and their contemporary revival and reimagining, and who are familiar with goals and methods of myth criticism and archetypal critical discourse, and especially with their current postmodern and postmodernist perspectives.
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1. Theoretical Perspectives and Their Applicability in the Approach to Louis de Bernières


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1. Theoretical Perspectives and Their Applicability in the Approach to Louis de Bernières

1.1 Defining Myth

Since Louis de Bernières’ Captain Corelli’s Mandolin revives and reconstructs the ancient literary myth, in general, and the monomyth of the hero and the quest, in particular, rather than the ethno-religious one, as our starting point, we are aware that it is impossible to embark on a study of “the monomyth of the hero and the quest” without first considering the meaning of the word “myth”. Myth, as it is explained in The Oxford English Dictionary, gives us a surprisingly short definition. It states that myth is “a purely fictitious narrative usually involving supernatural persons, actions, or events, and embodying some popular idea concerning natural or historical phenomena”. It suggests that this word might refer to “a fictitious or imaginary person or object”. Traditionally, it is considered that the word “myth” comes from the Greek mythos, which means “story”. In the course of time, subsidiary meanings appeared in the common usage of the term, such as “an untrue or popular tale, a rumour”.

These explanations of the term “myth” being far from satisfactory, we rather focus our attention on mythographers, scholars that should provide us with more helpful understanding and description.

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