Reading between Worlds: Contemporary Greek Women's Writing and Censorship

Van Dyck, Karen

In this article I link the strength of Greek women's writing in recent decades to the authors' willingness to connect censorship under an authoritarian regime and under patriarchy. I focus on the ways in which women poets continued to deploy certain writing strategies that, although initiated in response to the dictator's press law, proved useful in articulating domestic power struggles. Drawing on the formative experience of writing under censorship, these writers in the 1980s forged a poetics based on a female relation to language and the literary tradition. I begin by outlining the cultural conditions under the dictatorship--in particular, the colonels' fear of linguistic and sexual undecidability--and show that the figure of woman (such as Lysistrata or Cassandra), used to represent this undecidability, becomes an important site of resistance. I then chart the shift from the allegorical use of the subversive woman in comic strips and novels written in the early 1970s to the linguistic attention women's poetry of the 1980s gives to mechanisms of censorship. The displacement of attention from the public enemy to the enemy at home in recent poetry by women has also led to the implication of their own writing in the power dynamics they analyze. Recognizing, as Cavafy observes, that "the barbarians"--whether colonels or men in general--are "a kind of solution," this poetry appears to move beyond substituting one enemy for another and to do so by admitting its discursive complicity in the enemy's operations.

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Modern Language Association
Published Here
July 9, 2015


Additional keywords: Margarita Karapanou, Jenny Matoraki, Christa Wolf, Luce Irigaray