Placing Modern GreeceThe Dynamics of Romantic Hellenism, 1770-1840

Placing Modern GreeceThe Dynamics of Romantic Hellenism, 1770-1840

Constanze Guthenke

Print publication date: 2008

ISBN: 9780199231850

Publisher: Oxford University Press


This book offers a fresh look at one of the most tenacious features of Romantic Hellenism: its fascination with modern Greece as material and ideal alike. It suggests that literary representations of modern Greece, by both foreign and Greek writers, run on notions of a significant landscape. Landscape, as a critical term, is itself the product of the period when Greece assumed increasing importance as a territorial, political and modern entity. The implied authority of nature, in turn, follows its own dynamic and highly ambivalent logic of representation. Greece operated as a material symbol, one that shared the brittle structure of the Romantic image. To explicate this enabling structure this study draws on the critical writings of Herder, Schiller and the early Romantics, while grounding mainly German philhellenic writing in its cultural and political context. Main authors discussed are Friedrich Hölderlin and Wilhelm Müller, but also the first generation of Greek writers in the new nation state after 1821: Alexandros Rizos Rangavis, Panagiotis Soutsos, Andreas Kalvos and Dionysios Solomos. To enlist authors challenged to write from within the place of Greece allows not only a new take on the problematic imagery of Greece, but also gives a new dimension to the study of Hellenism as a trans-national movement.