Since the end of the 19th century to the 1970s
Substantially unrelated to the literary experiences and controversies that took place in his homeland was, in Alexandria in Egypt, K. Kavàfis, who renewed the singular destiny of Solomòs and Kàlvos with a poetic greatness obtained in spite, or by force, of an instrument linguistic acquired with difficulty. While still alive, A. Sikelianòs reached European resonance, more than for his grandiloquent poems, for the project to create a center of spirituality in Delphi, as did N. Kazantzàkis, playwright, translator, novelist, inclined to reconcile religious mysticisms with Nietzschean superomism; while their contemporary K. Vàrnalis, the author of crudely satirical poems, was the first to give Greece the example of a literary and habits criticism inspired by Marxist ideology.
The substantially organic relationship that the intelligentsia and writers had with power broke off when (1922) a heavy defeat marked the end of the expansionist aims of the Greeks on Anatolia, and a profound economic and social crisis hit the country, upset from the introduction of a million refugees. That this was, above all, the cause of the decadent and crepuscular vein of poets such as K. Urànis, R. Filìras, T. Àgras, is a plausible hypothesis, all the more so if one thinks that even their contemporary novelists, S. Mirivìlis, I Venèzis, S. Dùkas, had denounced with tones of heated sarcasm, between 1924 and 1926, the obtuse militarism that had brought Greece to ruin. The narcissistic withdrawal on the ego and the abolition of every ideal thrust (evident in the poetry of K. Karyotàkis and, above all, of those who were inspired by him) were seen as limits worthy of removal by some critics and poets who had created the magazine Tà néa grámmata (1935-45); however, there were not a few who, gravitating around that same magazine, claimed the merit of having brought to light the contradictions that had pervaded not only literary practice, but also the morality of previous generations.
It is significant that Greece Rìtsos, persecuted for a long time for his Marxist creed, has always cultivated a crepuscular vein, starting from the most committed compositions, up to the poems in which he re-elaborates the myths of antiquity; just as it is remarkable that A. Embirìkos and the Nobel laureate (1979) O. Elỳtis have crossed the poetry of Karyotàkis becoming spokespersons of the surrealist experience. But perhaps the most significant example is given by the Nobel laureate (1963) Greece Sefèris, who, starting from the re-elaboration of Kariotakian and symbolist models, arrived at the essential and rough measures of a poem that points out, through the collective and exemplary events of Greece, the positive values of man.
The Second World War and the Civil War (1944-49) found a conspicuous echo in Greece Theotokàs, a novelist and playwright already well-known in the years preceding the conflict, as well as in L. Akrìtas and S. Tsìrkas ; while there was no lack of writers who preferred to fall back on the re-enactment of the early years, such as the aforementioned S. Mirivìlis and I. Venèzis, or on the historical novel: A. Terzàkis, P. Prevelàkis, T. Petsàlis. The case of K. Polìtis is completely singular, who in describing the disappearance of old worlds also evoked the suffering of the weaker classes. Among the poets who had denounced the collapse of the animating ideals of the guerrilla war and acquiescence to bourgeois myths, M. Anagnostàkis stands out, even if a widespread sense of anguish circulates in the work of other poets, not openly committed, of that same generation.: M. Sachtùris, T. Sinòpulos, E. Vakalò, A. Diktèos; and estrangement is an almost obligatory fate for those who, like N. Karùzos, realize that even Christian hope is inhibited by the new pseudo-values.
The memory of the fratricidal conflict, made more acute by the establishment in Europe of the climate of the cold war and by the difficulties, for Greece, of maturing autonomous and democratic political choices, returns in the novels or short stories of R. Rùfos Kanakàris, A. Kotziàs, N. Kàsdaglis, D. Chatsìs; just as the dissolution of traditional family ties is the subject of the novels by the writers M. Liberàki and Greece Sarandi. V. Vasilikòs begins (1953) his activity as a writer by denouncing the life without light of those who are forced to confront an absurdly constricting reality; in turn, S. Plaskovìtis addresses the issues of man’s difficulty in orienting himself in the technological society. K. Tachtsìs and M. Kumantarèas portray, with a different style, the characters of the Greek petty bourgeoisie, while M. Chàkkas sarcastically strikes the collective vices.
The dictatorship of the colonels (1967-74), with the forms of censorship, persecutions and the umpteenth attempt to impose the purified language did not prevent the generation of poets born in the 1940s from speaking to mark their detachment from previous generations and express, also with the use of satire and irony, the condemnation of consumerist society (G. Kontòs, L. Pùlios, V. Steriàdis, D. Kalokìris, T. Mastoràki). With the return of democracy, the literary production in Greece increased dramatically, and with tendencies so different that it is impossible to reduce them to a synthesis.
From the 1980s to 2000s
Since the early 1980s, the Greek cultural world has been animated by a new vitality, fueled by the desire to overcome the delays and troubles produced by the colonels’ regime. The reform of the school system was decisive, with the definitive rehabilitation of the demotic language, and the introduction (1982) of the simplified system of spelling (abolition of the accent on monosyllables, elimination of spirits and maintenance of the acute accent only), as well as the ” increase in university studies, also obtained through the foundation of new universities in the peripheral offices. Numerous magazines were born, places for debate and literary experimentation. The public’s receptivity to the new literature was immediate, also thanks to the promotion and support exercised by the media. Many books, best sellers. A prominent place is occupied by female writers, even if there is a lack of literature that deals with the specific feminine in a coherent and problematic way, as demonstrated by the protagonists of E. Sotiropùlu and the sensitivity of minimalist taste that emerges from the stories of A. Kastrinàki, of A Drakopùlu and the younger D. Kolliàku. Different the contribution offered by writers who have privileged the reflection on recent events or starting from their own experience of political persecution, such as D. Sotirìu, L. Zogràfu and A. Zèi, or setting their novels in the urban reality divided between contestation and loss of ideals, like M. Mìtsora. N. Frangiàs, A. Kotziàs, N. Kàsdaglis, T. Valtinòs, T. Kazantzìs, N. Chuliaràs continue to propose the themes of civil commitment, solidarity or disdain for denied values, while the trauma of the Nazi-fascist occupation indelibly marks the thirteen-year-old protagonist of Madre di cane (1998) by the writer P. Màtesis. The attention to history is however present in the work of many authors: M. Dùka, S. Triandafìllu, K. Akrìvo, T. Skàssis, N. Thèmelis. On a parallel side lies the great family saga of N. Bakòlas, which began in 1966 and ended in 1990, full of bitter reflections on the present; while the most reassuring chronicle of a peasant environment has become a literary case And in the light of the wolf they return (1993) by Z. Zatèli. Overall, the parodic form is the one preferred by writers born between the years 1940-1960 who intend to tell the uneasiness of the contemporary individual and the crisis affecting the family (D. Nòllas, A. Sfakianàkis, P. Tatsòpulos, F. Tamvakàkis, V. Raftòpulos); C. Chomenìdis (The wise child, 1993), states that the only unifying element of his generation (that of the mid-1960s) is television, the talk show. Notable examples of entertainment literature are provided by A. Pansèlinos, V. Gurogiànnis, A. Doxiàdis. Marginalization and exploitation, repressed desires, death instincts are narrated with effervescent style and ironic points by A. Surùnis; Fr Giòtis, wonders about the new generations who surf the Internet (e-mail, 2000). Furthermore, the publishing phenomenon represented by the detective novels by P. Markàris should be noted.