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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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The paradigm of the monomyth of the hero and the quest as a journey of human soul has generated a great fascination on various writers and readers of all times, and it does not come as a surprise to discover that such a renowned author as Louis de Bernières has found it to be a great source of inspiration in his endeavours to represent human experience in the contemporary world.

The mythic journey of the hero as a psychic experience is revealed in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in terms of a fundamental experience of the individual living in an alien postmodern world. The framework of the monomyth provides the possibility of following the trajectory of the exterior journeys performed by the protagonists, but it is their interior journey that acquires a symbolical significance for the search of the self and the accomplishment of a true goal in life.

Louis de Bernières does not simply retell the monomyth. By the help of certain easily recognizable mythic situations, which are frequently subverted or inverted, the British writer finds an opportunity to rethink the monomyth, and revise the worth of public and private deeds in the contemporary community.

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