The hegemonization of European thought by Greek antiquity was famously questioned by major representatives of the avant-garde. However, this is only one ideological dimension of the extraordinarily intricate politics of the European avant-garde’s response to Greek antiquity—a dimension that has been overrated in current research on the subject. Greek Mythologies interrogates this one-sided methodological approach by exploring in a systematic and cross-disciplinary manner the complex, at times contradictory, responses to ancient Greece in Greek and broader Western European modernism. In this pioneering book, Dimitrios Yatromanolakis investigates the multilayered (often underexplored) ideological, literary, artistic, and epistemological channels through which ancient Greek mythology was received by the avant-garde as cultural capital and discursive paradigm conducive to a radical reassessment of established socioaesthetic structures. Exploring the dynamics of ruination and the reconfiguration of fundamental icons of ancient mythology (for example, Oedipus, Pasiphae, the Minotaur, the Danaids) in Greek surrealism, this book masterfully demonstrates that Greek antiquity, despite its theoretical devaluation by influential modernists, became an integral constituent of avant-garde myth-making. Focusing mainly on highly provocative dialogues between variants of ancient Greek mythoi and twentieth-century Greek and other European mechanisms of mythogenesis, the book navigates new territories in the field of reception studies.
A prodigiously original book… Written by a leading authority in the anthropology of the ancient Greek world, a scholar who can move with impressive brilliance and outstanding research expertise along a broad spectrum of periods and disciplines (art history, historical anthropology, classical studies; see his influential Sappho in the Making: The Early Reception), Greek Mythologies will be the definitive, most authoritative go-to study on the subject… Greek Mythologies is a bold and pioneering book that will influence all future investigations of the reception of Greek antiquity in the European art, philosophical thought, and aesthetics of the second quarter of the twentieth century.
This book investigates one of the most cross-disciplinary areas of the reception of Greek antiquity in post-classical eras—and one relatively unexplored by scholars of classical studies: the complex exploitation of ancient Greek mythology by major representatives of the European avant-garde, especially European Surrealism. Building upon the methodological approach to the reception of archaic aesthetic cultures in later Greek antiquity that he developed in Sappho in the Making, Dimitrios Yatromanolakis provides an equally innovative interdisciplinary synthesis in Greek Mythologies… Written with intellectual vigor, scholarly rigor, and methodological sophistication, this book covers a wide range of French and Greek cases of experimental rehandling of ancient Greek mythological discourses in Surrealist art and texts. A specialist in papyrology, ancient Greek vase-painting, and performance culture, Yatromanolakis now demonstrates his erudition in an entirely different scholarly area: the European intellectual history of the second quarter of the twentieth century… The author ably blends the disciplines of art history, intellectual history, anthropology, and philosophy. In his approach to the European avant-garde of the second quarter of the twentieth century, he draws illuminating material from the field of classical art and archaeology, and even from the discipline of Greek epigraphy… This is a brilliant and innovative book, which deserves multiple close readings. It is detailed and rigorous and at the same time wide-ranging, linking disciplines that are not commonly brought together by classicists.
Yatromanolakis has written an important and innovative book that shows how the agonistic stance of the Surrealist movement toward inherited cultural paradigms paradoxically relied upon literary and artistic models from ancient Greek culture, particularly mythology. The focus is on French and (much less known) Greek Surrealists and concerns painters as well as intellectuals, ethnographers, and literary writers. This is a learned book that, from the perspective of a classicist, opens up new vistas in reception studies.
Exceptionally brilliant, provocative, indispensable reading for anyone seriously interested in the impact of classics on art and literature in the second quarter of the twentieth century.
This cross-disciplinary book, Greek Mythologies: Antiquity and Surrealism, by Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, a renowned expert in classical studies and comparative anthropology, is a comparative investigation of influential European avant-garde discourses. This pioneering and insightful study analyzes twentieth-century avant-garde movements and reveals epistemological implications hitherto neglected. It introduces the fascinating new concept of mythogenesis. By investigating its mechanisms in Greek Surrealism and probing French Surrealism more broadly from a centrifugal perspective, Yatromanolakis initiates a novel approach to the center of orthodox and dissident Surrealism. This is a brilliant book that opens up new perspectives on the avant-garde in general and especially on European Surrealism of the second quarter of the twentieth century.
Expansive and deep in equal measure, this sophisticated book brings attention to little-known and little-studied dimensions of Surrealism, particularly but not only Greek and French. Drawing from his vast knowledge of ancient Greek images and texts, Dimitrios Yatromanolakis thoughtfully recontextualizes the Surrealist project and elucidates paradoxical and contradictory strands in its seeming rejection of Greek antiquity. His bravura account amounts to nothing less than an archaeology of Surrealism.
Dimitrios Yatromanolakis is one of the foremost modern interpreters of ancient Greek literature and mythology. In this highly sophisticated study, he demonstrates the continuing vitality of Greek myth in the modern period, analyzing its profound influence on avant-garde thinkers and artists during the second quarter of the twentieth century.
Yatromanolakis’s work is everywhere marked by an energy and originality rarely attained by authors of any age; the disciplines he commands span the full range of classical studies and modern thought. His book Sappho in the Making (2007) explored the earliest stages of Sappho’s reception in classical antiquity, bringing to life a largely unknown backstory to what later antiquity inherited in Sappho’s surviving poetry. With a talent nurtured at Athens, Oxford, and Harvard, Yatromanolakis is a part of all that he has met. His talents were nurtured by mentors ranging from the papyrologist Peter Parsons, to the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the philosopher Jacques Derrida, and one of the supreme critics of modern poetry, Helen Vendler. Greek Mythologies will be indispensable for anyone who wants to learn about two subjects many have assumed have little to do with one another: twentieth-century Surrealism and ancient Greek myth and art. Greek Mythologies: Antiquity and Surrealism makes for a thrilling read.
In a remarkable and pioneering manner, Dimitrios Yatromanolakis, a scholar working on the ancient Greek world, introduces an innovative methodology in the field of Surrealist studies. By offering a stimulating reflection on the notion of ‘myth’ and brilliantly putting art and literature into dialogue with anthropology, archaeology, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, the author thoroughly sheds light on the subversive, multifaceted, and sometimes contradictory nature of the Surrealist reception of ancient Greek mythologies and of mechanisms of mythical thinking in the second quarter of the twentieth century.
- 380 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Department of the Classics
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