Image: Refugees at Knossos, 1922. Image reproduced with permission of the UN Archives. The original image shows on p. 190 of League of Nations, Greek Refugee Settlement (Geneva, 1926) https://owncloud.unog.ch/s/CnijycaeZtxXsac#pdfviewer
Literature in the Aftermath of the 1922 Asia Minor Catastrophe: Reception
This is the second of two panel discussions co-organised with the Centre for Hellenic Studies and Aiora Press, concentrating on reception issues: Have works by Stratis Doukas, Ilias Venezis and others withstood the test of time? How have they been received in other cultures such as in Turkey, as well as in the Greek context? Have different versions of the texts affected reception? Which works were selected to last through time and what fell by the wayside?
I propose briefly to review three themes relating to the early literature of the Asia Minor disaster: The first is how some works survived and became canonical and others were largely forgotten. The second is how the canonical works themselves morphed in time. I will focus on the example of Number 31328 by Venezis which underwent major changes between its first appearance in 1924 and its finally settled state in 1952. Third, I will touch on foreign reception of the work alluding to Mario Vitti’s early interest and his prompting of a student to study successive versions of Number 31328 nearly fifty years ago but focusing on Turkish translation and reception which is particularly interesting since some of the works had earlier been banned.
There are broadly two kinds of narrative on 1922 and its aftermath: the nostalgic novels about lost homelands and testimonial accounts on captivity and refugee experience. My talk will focus on these two kinds of narrative and how recent novels have transcended this earlier pattern by moving away from testimonial accounts to archival research and focusing on the earlier peaceful coexistence of Greeks and Turks or acknowledging the atrocities on both sides.
The 1922 defeat of the Greek army in the Asia Minor Campaign and the resulting persecution of Asia Minor Christians, the refugee influx to the Greek state and the 1923 compulsory exchange of populations constitute a watershed in both the Greek and the Turkish national consciousness. In the 100 years that have passed, the resulting national narratives are often competing and very different. They are closely connected to the state of the relations between Greece and Turkey. Literature in Greece took on the role of the guardian of the memory of these traumatic events, often questioning the national narrative and playing an instrumental role in the shaping of the refugee identity. In the post-war period the refugee memory was connected to the Left and a nostalgia for a pre-modern Ottoman past in both Greece and Turkey. In the recent decades, there is a number of best sellers with Asia Minor thematics, connected to the ’lost homelands’ nostalgia. At the same period, certain writers, such as Thanassis Valtinos and Dimosthenis Papamarkos question the national narrative, by focusing on the silenced aspects of Asia Minor campaign.
Please register here to attend online via Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_b4HYo1zMTfCWibGL6NMqCQ
Wednesday 25 January 2023, 5pm (UK) / 7pm (Greece)