Mythical and Sartrian Influences in Yannis Ritsos’ The Fourth Dimension
The paper focuses on one of Yannis Ritsos’ finest and most mature achievements: The Fourth Dimension. The collection consists of 17 sustained dramatic monologues, most of which draw on Ancient Greek tragic myth. As I argue, Ritsos’ stance towards ancient Greek myths should be examined not only through a biographical lens − as the poet’s attempt to talk about personal experiences and mischief in an allegorical way − but also through the filter of major 20th century political and intellectual trends, more particularly Sartrian existentialism. Ritsos’ ‘Agamemnon’ is used as a case-study.
The Fourth Dimension
The Fourth Dimension (FD) constitutes Yannis Ritsos’ finest and most mature achievement. The collection consists of 17 sustained dramatic monologues composed between 1956 and 19751, most of which draw on Ancient Greek tragic myth and are named after the mythic characters who deliver them. The monologues are addressed to a recipient, who remains silent throughout. Both speaker and recipient remain unnamed; their identity, however, can be surmised either from the title or the stage directions that open and close the monologues, providing useful information regarding the time and place of the delivery.
Unlike George Seferis who, influenced by Eliot’s ‘mythic method’, resorts to myth in order to criticise and expound on Modern Greek realities, Ritsos’ intention is to both ‘deepen’ the ancient Greek myth per se and render it contemporary. It is within this spectrum that we should comprehend the fact that he does not focus only on ‘photogenic’...
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