Modernism and Greek Cultural Politics

Over the last few years I have been working on my project ‘Modernism and Greek Cultural Politics’. This research project treats Greek Modernism as a wider cultural phenomenon than it was once thought to be by exploring literary, ideological and cultural developments in Greece from 1930 to 1980.


Its aim is to contribute to the study of the cultural history of Greece and examine the impact of war, nationalism, religion, politics and European literary and intellectual trends on the shaping of Modernism in Greece. The first outcome of this project was the publication of my book The Myth of the Generation of the Thirties: Modernity, Greekness and Cultural Ideology (Polis 2011 in Greek).

I plan to continue working on the above-mentioned project concentrating on two areas.   The first area involves the interaction between modernism and propaganda in the context of the Anglo-Greek literary contacts during the 1940s and 1950s, a period marked by the re-opening of the British Council in Greece and a new kind of rediscovery of the country by the British. My research will focus on the anthropological rediscovery of Greece during the 1940s and 1950s by British and American writers, which was supported by modern literature (e.g. the English translation of Zorba the Greek). This rediscovery, dubbed ‘new Byronism’, did not involve antiquity and it saw Greece emerging as a modern site of energy, creativity and pleasure, not simply a site of ancient ruins and past glories. The image of Greece as an exotic land for tourists and an earthly paradise for intellectuals has its origins in this period.

The second aspect of my research project will highlight the impact of modernism on Greek theoretical approaches to the novel from the 1940s to the 1970s and will discuss the reception of William Faulkner and other modernist writers by Greek authors and critics The study will also examine the ways the French ‘nouveau roman’ was introduced into Greece and how it was adapted to its new context. By tracing the transition from modernism to nouveau roman, this study will aim to chart the debates and reflections on the novel in Greece over almost half a century by situating them in a comparative literary-cultural context.

For further information contact Dimitris Tziovas