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Modern Greek Literature Library

Introduction by Vangelis Calotychos.

A case of social injustice (the likes of which could take place in America today) in rural Greece at the turn of the twentieth century, in which an innocent man of marginal standing is sentenced to life imprisonment for a murder he did not commit. The condemned man, Turkoyiannis – pure-hearted, defenseless, deeply religious, solitary, naïve almost to the point of simple mindedness – has been set up by an individual of higher standing in the local community. (Remember, the characters are all peasants, living in a village the location of which is never specified but which is most likely on the author’s native Corfu.) It is all part of a love triangle, vividly depicted in a verismo style, folkloric realism (ithographia as the genre is called in Greece) on the most dramatic and visceral level: a story of lust, adultery, deception, murder, and unfair punishment – with a surprise twist at the end! 

Second, there are the main characters: three points of the love triangle – Turkoyiannis, bastard son of a Christian gypsy woman from another village, raped by an unknown Turk, a “poor orphan,” as Turkoyiannis often calls himself, recently returned from wanderings abroad, passionately in love with and deeply protective of the virtue (unbeknownst to him, already sullied) of Margarita, wife of the man in whose household he now works as a ploughman and jack of all trades; Petros Peponas, Margarita’s lover for five years as the novel opens, sometimes sulky, sometimes domineering, jealous and frustrated because Margarita is now rarely available for their adulterous trysts, not entirely without a conscience (he feels hesitation, guilt, and remorse), but a man ruled by his passions, and an opportunist who is willing to commit murder and lay the blame on the outsider Turkoyiannis, who is now stalking Margarita in order to frustrate the consummation of Petros’ lust; and Margarita herself, pretty, manipulative, sexually provocative, self-centered and conflicted, yet a caring mother of three who is nevertheless dissatisfied by an arranged marriage that, in the end, she comes to appreciate. Third, there are the supporting characters: Margarita’s husband, Georgis Arathymos, luckless cuckold and murder victim, good natured but with a controlled temper not unlikely to flare up when provoked; as well as a host of minor characters in the taverna, law court, and prison; and last – but definitely not least – a pair of oxen, Partridge and Friday, whose sale and symbolic slaughter become a turning point in the drama. In fact, the oxen, described with repeated epithets (“we call him Friday because he was born on a Friday”) and imbued with near-human emotion, strike a reader as essential participants in the unfolding narrative.


Category: Literary
Code: 10043
ISBN: 9781932455342
Binding: Paperback
Publication Date: 2021
Publisher: Cosmos Publshing
Language: English
Published In: USA
Translator: Miltiades & Susan Matthias