Greece sits at the center of a geopolitical storm that threatens the stability of the European Union. To comprehend how this small country precipitated such an outsized crisis, it is necessary to understand how Greece developed into a nation in the first place, Paschalis Kitromilides contends. Enlightenment and Revolution identifies the intellectual trends and ideological traditions that shaped a religiously defined community of Greek-speaking people into a modern nation-state--albeit one in which antiliberal forces have exacted a high price.
Kitromilides takes in the vast sweep of the Greek Enlightenment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, assessing key developments such as the translation of Voltaire, Locke, and other modern authors into Greek; the conflicts sparked by the Newtonian scientific revolution; the rediscovery of the civilization of classical Greece; and the emergence of a powerful countermovement. He highlights Greek thinkers such as Voulgaris and Korais, showing how these figures influenced and converged with currents of the Enlightenment in the rest of Europe.
In reconstructing this history, Kitromilides demonstrates how the confrontation between Enlightenment ideas and Church-sanctioned ideologies shaped the culture of present-day Greece. When the Greek nation-state emerged from a decade-long revolutionary struggle against the Ottoman Empire in the early nineteenth century, the Enlightenment dream of a free Greek polity was soon overshadowed by a romanticized nationalist and authoritarian vision. The failure to create a modern liberal state at that decisive historic moment, Kitromilides insists, is at the root of Greece's recent troubles.
Just as [Franco] Venturi did for the Italian peninsula, Kitromilides examines the reception and influence of Enlightenment ideas in the Greek-speaking world…The book is valuable in drawing hitherto little-known Greek sources to the attention of an anglophone audience, and it makes a worthwhile contribution to the wider debates.
It would probably come as a surprise to most readers in Europe and America that the Enlightenment spread all the way to Greece in the eighteenth century and spawned revolutionary movements in support of democracy and the rights of man…Kitromilides, more than anyone since [Constantin] Dimaras, has now given this history the exposure it has long deserved…No one is better qualified than Kitromilides to write this kaleidoscopic and tumultuous narrative. He writes as a political scientist, a historian, and a Greek. Despite his subtitle, The Making of Modern Greece, his book is a powerful indictment of the failure of liberalism in his country, as the process of enlightenment finally came undone in the nineteenth century. Whether or not this failure can explain, as Kitromilides hopes it might, the catastrophic deterioration of the Greek political system in the twenty-first century is by no means clear. But it is with a rare combination of passion and erudition that he is moved to lament the end of the New Democracy that Constantine Karamanlis brought to Greece after the nightmare of military dictatorship between 1967 and 1974.
A masterly survey all the more valuable in that it genuinely fills a yawning gap, nothing of the sort, providing a general picture of the Greek Enlightenment, having been available before.
Kitromilides is the preeminent scholar in the field of eighteenth-century Greek history and politics, and more generally one of the world's leading authorities on political thought and the European Enlightenment. Enlightenment and Revolution clearly constitutes his magnum opus, brilliantly summing up his extraordinary erudition concerning the Enlightenment and Greek political ideas, and providing a definitive history of the intellectual emergence of modern Greece.
A masterly overview of the reception and development of the Enlightenment in the Greek world and diasporas, under the Ottoman occupation, through the struggle for liberation, and during the establishment of the modern Greek state.
- 470 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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