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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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Louis de Bernières’ book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994) is a work which uses myth, in general, and the monomyth of the hero and the quest, in particular, as a medium to represent human existence in a postmodern world. Through the examination of the mythical restructuring as shaped by de Bernières, emerges the assumption that his work creates a distinctive depiction of reality, characteristic to postmodern literature.

Although the purpose of our study is not the integration of Louis de Bernières’ novel into any of the postmodern experimental trends, we should mention that the emphasis of the author upon the transformation of myth, as well as his continuous tendency to deconstruct and then to reconstruct semantically the key components of the mythical models, may be qualified as postmodern. The postmodernity or postmodern period includes both traditional, realistic literature and experimental, innovative literary practice which is referred to as postmodernism, and it is claimed that de Bernières is not a realist but rather postmodernist by approaching reality through myth. He is also an author of magical realism, yet Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is neither a realistic novel nor a text of magical realism, and, in the case of this work, the British novelist is not a traditional, concerned with reality and socially concerned writer, and not exactly an experimental postmodernist, but definitely postmodern.

In order to avoid the possible entrapment in a mythical situation or into an archetypal pattern, the writer uses a...

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