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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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Nowadays, myth enjoys an enhanced attention on the part of comparative literature studies, and is re-evaluated according to new gains and experiences in the various areas of literary science. In the wider context of world and comparative literature, the element related to the aesthetic value of myth has penetrated irrevocably into the literary tradition, representing at the same time a literary fact that fulfils the intellectual needs of modern human beings, in spite of the complex new cultural alternatives, by drawing a strong sense of interest from the reading public as well as critics and exegetes.

The main goal of our study is the examination – through the lens of an appropriate comparative methodology – of the artistic means and procedures used by Louis de Bernières in his novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to represent, in literary terms, concerns and characters of the ancient myth and monomyth as literary archetypes in their modern reception. The emphasis is on the manner in which the monomyth of the hero and the quest has been subject to essential thematic changes with the purpose of adapting them to a specific artistic view, which is that of Louis de Bernières as a particular writer, and a specific target audience living in a different – which is postmodern – period and cultural background.

In the studies on the reappearance of myth in literature, it has been affirmed that ancient myths “renew themselves as they are transmitted from one literary version to another” (Kushner,...

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