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179 Working Paper

Historical Poetics in Modern Greece: Reflections on Three Writers


In his Poetics Aristotle underscores the interaction between poetry and history by assigning to poetry the task of dealing with the universal while history delves in the particular. The writers Thanassis Valtinos, Rea Galanaki and the poet C.P. Cavafy have created an imposing body of Modern Greek literary works built on the intimate relationship between history and literature. For each writer the choice of particular historical instances serves a very different purpose. Valtinos grapples with the condition of the common man/woman whereas Galanaki focuses mostly on the existential parameters of exceptional women's lives. For C.P. Cavafy, poetry, the ultimate universal, validates his own self-exploration by means of particular historical narratives.