Saturday, February 22, 2014


The personage of Chris Moustakis has fascinated me for years. Possessed of a master’s degree in history from Harvard, he was one of Leon Trotsky’s secretaries in Mexico, just months before the old revolutionary’s assassination by a Stalinist agent. Moustakis is enthralling because he is so elusive. Appearing as brief footnote in the life of a great man, what insights could he have shed upon Trotsky’s character? What inside knowledge could have he gleaned about diverse topics pertaining to the Russian Revolution and the inner workings of the Bolsheviks? Sadly, there are a dearth of sources and we shall never know.

Chris Moustakis slight and mysterious presence on the margins of history is one but many. Scratch the surface of many a historical event, and chances are that you will find a Greek, however insignificant, having played a role therein. Take for example the British retreat from Kabul in 1842, marking the first of many failed attempts to conquer Afghanistan in the modern period. The British Army began its retreat from Kabul following the killing of the two British representatives there. The nearest British garrison was in Jalalabad, 140 km away, and the army would need to go through mountain passes with the January snow hindering them. 4,500 military personnel and 12,000 civilian camp followers set out for Jalalabad, on the understanding that they had been offered safe passage. However, Afghan tribesmen intercepted them and proceeded to massacre them during the next seven days. The British garrison in Jalalabad came across a Dr Brydon. Part of his skull had been sheared off by an Afghan sword and he survived only because he had stuffed a copy of Blackwood's Magazine into his hat to fight the intense cold weather. The magazine took most of the blow, saving the doctor's life. While Dr Brydon became widely famous for being the only survivor of the entire army, according to his own testimony, he was not alone. Apparently, a Greek merchant, a Mr Baness, also made it to Jalalabad, arriving two days after Brydon but surviving for only one day. Who this Mr Baness was and what he was doing in tribal Afghanistan is a complete mystery, yet it is absorbing to contemplate Greek merchants of the nineteenth century traversing such remote and dangerous areas of the world, all the while become witnesses to events that would eventually become enshrined in myth and legend. Baness, like Moustakis, is a tantalising signpost to a road that has now become lost in obscurity.

Other Greek merchants display a penchant for being in the right place at the right time. Take for example the massacre of General Hicks’ army in the Sudan by the followers of the Mahdi, one of the first modern Islamic fundamentalist movements that challenged the myth of the invincibility of the British Empire in Africa. Hicks’ force left the Nile at Duem and struck inland across the almost waterless wastes of Kordofan for Obeid, with a mission to smash the forces of the Mahdi. A month later, the army, misled by treacherous guides and thirst-stricken, was ambushed in dense forest at Kashgil, 30 miles south of Obeid. With the exception of some three hundred men the whole force was killed and the Mahdi was able to seize western weaponry. It was this massacre that caused the British command to send General Gordon to hold Khartoum, culminating in the famous siege, and of course, the construction of the famous homonymous movie, starring Charlton Heston. We know details of the massacre, because a Greek merchant, a M. Constantino, who happened to be travelling with the British Army, survived the massacre and gave a blow by blow account of it to the Times, in 1884, detailing how each protagonist was killed, as well as what weapons were seized by the forces of the Mahdi.

Fascinatingly enough, another account of the Hicks’ massacre as well as the arrival of General Gordon’s relieving force in Khartoum survives, this time, provided to the Cairo correspondent of the “Standard” in November 1884 by another Greek merchant, who was captured by the forces by the Mahdi and compelled to embrace Islam. Costis Mouskos, who renamed himself Abdullah, was captured by the Mahdist forces before the Mahdi took Khartoum and was privy to the Mahdi’s machinations in attempting to trap General Hicks’ army, stating that he had sent his solders out to track Hicks’ army, under the pretext of being friendly. Mouskos was a servant to the Mahdi and was thus able to pass on information about his character and personality. Further, he was permitted to go to Khartoum when that city was occupied by General Gordon and was able to get to know General Gordon and his subordinate Colonel Stewart. As a spy for the Mahdi, he was spared death in the ensuing massacre of the British garrison, making his way to Cairo, where he passed on valuable information about the Mahdist forces to the leaders of the British administration in Egypt, Lord Wolseley and Sir Evelyn Baring. All this, Abdullah-Costis Mouskos accomplished at the tender age of just twenty-three. In his account, he also mentions other Greek merchants resident at the time in Khartoum, dealing largely with ostrich feathers, ivory and gum.

To consider that one of the most profound historical events that shook and moved the British Empire to its core, causing it to question the Gladstonian policy of limited empire and instead discarding it for a Disraelian conception of an expanding empire, is known to us largely through the testimonies of a few obscure Greek merchants, plying their trade within the maelstrom of religious and colonial warfare, is to marvel both at the resilience and the determination of these unknown compatriots. Subsisting on the fringes of events far beyond their capacity to control, they either attempted to exploit the opportunities that arose through conflict to their advantage and lived to tell the tale.

Fast forward to the Russian Civil War and the amazingly complex anarchist movement in the Ukraine, known as the Makhnovist movement, led by the anarchist Nestor Makhno. We learn that a certain Pontic Greek, surnamed Papadopoulos was considered to be so effective at fighting both the Tsarist and Bolshevik forces, that he was celebrated in a Makhnovist song and was renowned among the Pontic Greeks for decades. His fate, like that of other Greek Makhnovists such as the Mavroudis brothers has been lost, suppressed in the aftermath of the defeat of the anarchist movement by the Bolsheviks and they exist only as markers in the memoirs of the exiled Nestor Makhno. Somewhere, somehow, it is quite possible that local lore, in the form of memory or song survives and the participation of the anarchist Pontians in the Makhnovist movement offers tantalising opportunities in examining another set of relatively unknown Greeks, influencing the course of history from the margins.

Whether on the proscenium, or backstage, Greeks have the tendency of making themselves apparent in the most unlikely of places. From becoming prime ministers of Siam, to ruling Romania and beyond, it is for us to pay heed to the footnotes of history and do all we can to ensure that our fascinating compatriots who lurk within them, emerge in their fullness.

First published in NKEE on Saturday 22 February 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014


In Orhan Pamuk's brilliant novel, "Museum of Innocence," his hero is so besotted with his beloved that he collects various trivial ephemera arising from the times that he has spent with her and houses them in an otherwise disused apartment. In this, he anticipates the Epirotes of Melbourne who are also so besotted with their culture, history, and the rural life they left behind, that they have, over the years assiduously preserved a large number of artefacts, evocative of times long gone, imagined, or reconstructed.

The culmination of nostalgia, an innate tendency to hoard and an acquisitive nature is the Mobile Epirus Museum, now in its tenth year of operation. During the most of the year, the Museum sleeps in various drawers, cupboards and μπαούλα of Melburnian homes. Come Antipodes Festival time, however, all lovingly preserved items are resurrected, dusted off and carted down to Lonsdale Street, where the indefatigable Epirotes attempt to reassemble their past for the eye of the passing connoisseur.

The collection is vast, and most likely, important. At this year's Lonsdale Street festival, the focus was on nineteenth century silver jewellery from Ioannina, the capital of Epirus, said to be the centre of traditional silver-smithing in Greece. The collection included a large number of ornate filigree headpieces, traditionally worn by brides, intricately crafter bracelets, long, complicated pendants, traditional necklaces dripping with Ottoman currency and rather large turquoise encrusted hoop earrings, proving that such items were in vogue much earlier than their popularisation by JLo. Also on display were a number of male items worked in silver, such as the traditional kiousteki, worn over the breast and a palaska, an intricately worked silver ammunition holder. All these items are authentic and have been lovingly kept or acquired by the Museum contributors.

Also on display was one of the many old icons belonging to the Epirus collection. This particular icon is rare, not only because it is two hundred years old, but also because it depicts John the Baptist holding an infant Jesus, surrounded by Saint Nicholas, Saint John the Theolgian, Saint Catherine and Saint Paraskevi, a novel and anachronistic combination. Executed in the traditional egg tempera on gesso technique, it is a marvel in miniature and was so appreciated by passers-by at this year's exhibition, that already, a focus on Epirotic icons is planning for next year.

The Mobile Museum collection also contains a large number of costumes from various regions of Epirus, both reproductions and originals. This year, pride of place was afforded to a one hundred and fifty year old female costume from the region of Zagoria, where remarkably, the fine embroidery in gold thread shows minimum wear and is intact. A lavishly embroidered male vest, approximately one hundred years old, was also on display.

In pride of place on the back wall of the Museum's stall hung a curved scimitar. This scimitar, with its intricate damascened blade and bone inlaid hilt is of some historical importance. It belonged to Esat Pasha, the last Ottoman pasha of Epirus and was handed over to a prominent member of Ioanninan society, after the city's liberation in 1913.

While the abovementioned items seemed to draw the attention of younger visitors as well as non-Greeks, most older Greeks were drawn by the collection of household utensils and cooking pots. Though not older than a century, all of these items (save for a copper souvenir plate depicting King Leonidas of Sparta which inexplicably made its way into the display, we suspect by the neighbouring Maniot stall-holders, though possibly the President of the Panepirotic Federation of Australia had a hand in this affair as well,) were in use by families and an examination of them, reveals where the tin lining has worn off. Older women marvelled at the old, hewn-wood bread making trough, while everyone's eye was drawn to the traditional working loom, upon which a volunteer was demonstrating traditional weaving techniques. This demonstration elicited the sharing of a number of stories by visitors, all of whom spoke of their own parents or grandparents working the loom. Most felicitously, a number of visitors, enthused by the re-awakening of long forgotten memories, generously offered their own lovingly preserved handicrafts, in the form of the traditional woven flokati blankets, or embroidered cloths and woven rugs for the collection. Augmenting the cross-cultural experience, an Assyrian visitor who asked to work the loom, demonstrated a totally different technique used in her homeland.

Standing in a woollen foustanella in the forty degree heat in order to provide some olde worlde colour to the exhibition is a difficult task but a rewarding one. The amount of interest generated in non-Greek visitors to the Lonsdale Street festival is immense and this comprises a novel way to showcase various, not so prominently accessible aspects of Greek culture to broader Australian society. Chinese-Australians were taken by the similarity of traditional Epirote demotic music, also demonstrated through live performances, to that of their own tradition and were enthralled to learn that the reason for this is that both traditions are based upon the pentatonic scale. Indian-Australians identified a commonality with the cooking implements and were enthused when being informed that it was the gypsies, who migrated into Epirus from India aeons ago, who brought with them and preserved, a culture of working in metal that has endured in both regions until the present day. On the other hand, Iranian and Arabian-Australians found commonalities in the traditional clothing and in the antique photographs of Ioannina, wherein the two mosques that remain in the city were featured prominently. They were fascinated to learn of the Islamic history of the city, the survival of some Islamic customs in the traditional life of the Greeks of the region and of course, of the respect of the Epirotes for the cultural monuments that the Islamic population of the region left behind them. It appeared that the possibilities for the forging of cultural links between diverse peoples and Epirus were endless.

Particularly heart-warming was the passage of an innumerable number of younger members of the Greek community through the exhibition. Both their parents and the exhibitors took great pains to point out various artefacts that evoked aspects of traditional life, culminating in a photo with yours truly in Sarakatsanian form, said children posing with a traditional carved klitsa or Shepherd's staff, with some hesitation but no cringing. One could see their wonder at being able to examine, touch, ponder and peruse items of immense age at their leisure.

Without the support of the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria, year after year, the Epirus Mobile Museum's mission, one of outreach to the Greek, as well as the broader Australian community would not be possible. For it is one thing to be a repository of memories and quite another to be able to share them in a ware that they will be appreciated and touch another. On the strength of the support and enthusiasm of the community, the Mobile Museum is now planning a branching off into diverse areas of tradition, including an exploration of Greek typography during Ottoman times, Epirote printers in Venice being responsible for the printing of much of the literature that existed in Greek between 1600-1860. In the meantime, should you be walking down Lonsdale Street during the next festival in search of a souvlaki and come across a bespectacled individual incongruously clad in a sheep, step up and say hello. For if our vast collection of artefacts doesn't interest you, the home-made Epirotic tsipouro that we will shout you, surely will.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN NKEE on Saturday 15 February 2014

Saturday, February 08, 2014


"For what is Europe basically? It is an idea before it is a market. More precisely, it is only a market because it is , first of all, an idea. And it is this idea, a knot of the three threads of the mind of Rome, of Jerusalem and of Athens. If one of these threads is cut, it is the soul of Europe that will be lost. If we should come to lack one of these three elements, Europe as a civilization and a culture will collapse."  It was with this thought-provoking quote from Bernard Henri Levi that Ambassador for Greece in  Australia, Mr Haris Dafaranos concluded his recent talk for the Monash European and EU Studies Centre, on the Greek Economic Crisis.

Seldom has a Greek career diplomat been called upon by the Australian mainstream to provide a critical analysis of an event of such historical importance. That Ambassador Dafaranos was requested to do so says much for his standing as a diplomat, and even more as an analyst and critic of repute.

His lecture, delivered aptly enough at the Immigration Museum, to an academic audience in a packed auditorium, comprised of a multifaceted and sophisticated review of the causes of the Greek Economic Crisis, the response and the remedies, the impact on Greek society and the current situation, all through the prism of both a national and European/ International dimension.

Unlike many of his counterparts, who have shied away from analysing events in the country they represent, Ambassador Dafaranos sees it as beneficial to engage with the broader community, offer pertinent facts about Greece and allow the community to draw its own conclusion. It was for this reason, that his digression on the etymology of the word "crisis," coming from the word  «κρίσις,» meaning evaluation in order to pass judgment, was so appreciated by his audience.

Ambassador Dafaranos, in assisting his engrossed audience in forming their own judgment of this weighty matter, identified a number of key causes of the Crisis, causes that were domestic, European and International in origin. Firstly, he spoke of Greece's entry into the Eurozone in 2001 despite the fact that according to many analysts, the country did not meet the convergence criteria, either on government deficit of national debt. Secondly, the laxity of the Europeans in not implementing the stipulations of the fiscal discipline imposed by the Stability and Growth Pact. He then went on to mention that the Global Financial Crisis exposed many Greek vulnerabilities, such as a non-competitive economy, a weak administration, a tax evading mentality, over-borrowing and of course, over-spending. Coupled with this, according to Ambassador Dafaranos, was the fact that Greece had for years, inherited economic weaknesses which had been exacerbated through incentives in the form of low interest rates and the tolerance by the Eurozone institutions, such weaknesses being a lack of competitiveness and the significant account deficits in trade that were accumulated, Greece being a country where growth depended on consumption based on borrowed money.

Boldly, and without attempts at obfuscation, Ambassador Dafaranos mentioned that some analysts believe that Greece embellished her public debt and budget deficit, hinting that the European Union if not complicit in this, at least turned a blind eye, allowing Greece all the benefits of a single currency as well the opportunity to accumulate enormous debt, due to the low interest rates afforded by Eurozone membership. This practice, he was careful to point out, is not specific to Greece but rather seems to have been the norm internationally at that time. Indeed, the Ambassador took pains to point out that the Greek crisis should be seen as a systemic European crisis and that the bailout that ensued, albeit with stringent austerity measures, should be seen as a desire by the IMF and European banks to limit contagion, in the event of a Greek default, to other countries possessed of similar circumstances.

The draconian fiscal reforms Greece accepted in exchange for the bailout, according to the Ambassador Dafaranos, have brought about an unprecedented recession and extremely high unemployment. He pointed out that unemployment has risen to 27%, youth unemployment to 59% while those on the poverty line are at 31%. Pensions and superannuation have been cut by up to 40%. Meanwhile, reduced public spending has had severe repercussion on health and education services. Nonetheless, the budget deficit has been drastically reduced by 13% of GDP, lost competitiveness  has been regained through internal devaluation of wages and for the first time, a primary budget of 860 million euros has been achieved and net growth of 1% is expected in 2015.

Regardless of what Ambassador Dafaranos sees as Greece's slow, painful but inevitable crawl into fiscal responsibility and structural reform, he did not shy away from pointing at some of the social and political issues arising from the imposition of fiscal measures that have brought the country to its knees. Touching on issues pertaining to national dignity and sovereignty, he also spoke of deteriorating living conditions, as a problem of refinancing the real economy through national and European mechanisms, stating that these conditions are unsustainable in the long run.

The novelty of Ambassador's Dafaranos' analysis of the Crisis, lies in his humane and all-encompassing approach to it. There was no attempt to gloss over governmental deficiencies and he readily admitted that the country bears a certain responsibility for the failings in governance that sparked the Eurozone crisis but which, as he points out, were not its cause, this being rather the incomplete and haphazard nature of the union of Eurozone countries, each with different structures, competitiveness and levels of development. The speaker also took great pains to dispel certain stereotypes about Greeks such as laziness, tax evasion and profligacy. In doing so he paid tribute to the stoicism of the Geek people who have made tremendous sacrifices and endured privation during the past six years in order to set their country back on track, paying in fiscal measures to the value of 70 billion euros. To the Eurosceptics, Ambassador Dafaranos stated that it is significant to note that despite the social and financial upheaval, in June 2012, the majority of the Greek people voted in favour of remaining in the Eurozone, an expression of their enduring attachment to the European dream and its ancillary values.

It is refreshing to listen to the views of an ambassador, who unlike the stilted delivery of some of his predecessors and their tendency to lapse into tangents on topics that do not interest an Australian audience, is a skilled communicator. Ambassador Dafaranos certainly knows how to talk the talk and make expert use of the jargon that is required in order to get one's point across. When spoke of the Greek people "taking ownership of the crisis," his audience nodded appreciatively and the growing appreciating and sympathy for the Greek people among them was palpable. In an audience in whose country sections of the media have adopted a critical and often derisory stance against Greece in general, the absence of negativity and complete lack of prejudice was remarkable. The Ambassador's contention, that Greece's crisis will prove the catalyst for the commencement of a discussion as to the handling of the Global Financial Crisis within the context of European financial and political structures, along with his belief that the Greek people should be admired for their sacrifice and endurance were warmly received by the audience.

The proof, if anything of the success of Ambassador Dafaranos' disarmingly engaging style comes from the written comments of the audience, ranging from: "Extremely insightful to hear a first-hand account' of the Greek dimension of the Eurozone crisis from H.E. Ambassador Dafaranos" to "'The ambassador's being honest about [his] feelings for [his] country, willingness to share' and candid responses were greatly appreciated." It can only be hoped that further expert forays of this nature into the mainstream of Australian academia and beyond will do much to augment Greece's image within the broader framework of society and add to enhanced and nuanced understanding of the herculean tasks that Greece faces ahead.

First published in NKEE on Saturday, 8 February 2014

Saturday, February 01, 2014


I had reached halfway through M Karagatsis classic novel “Junkermann,” about the life and times of a particularly resourceful White Army refugee who settles in Greece and achieves the pinnacle of success when I experienced an inexorable sense of deja vu. The setting of the novel was particularly Greek and particularly distinctive, especially in its depiction of Piraeus just after the First World War, this being the epicentre of much of the plot’s unravelling. Yet somehow, the characters seemed all too familiar, both in their backgrounds and attributes and I agonised over trying to locate the source of my niggling suspicion that somewhere out there, there exists Junkermann’s literary doppelganger.
My epiphany was received in the guise of an advertisement for the latest film adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic “The Great Gatsby.” It was only then, when viewing Leonardo Dicaprio’s sybaritic cheekbones that I was able to make, not a few connections between the two works. For starters, both Junkermann and Jay Gatsby are former soldiers who find themselves destitute and socially disconnected in the aftermath of the First World War. Similarly, both protagonists steadily achieve positions of great affluence, acquiring vast houses intended for the purposes of receiving the women that they love.
The cluster of common themes and characters appear to be too dense to be just a mere coincidence.  Gatsby is described by his associate Wolfsheim in the following way: “My memory goes back to when first I met him,” he said. “A young major just out of the army and covered over with medals he got in the war. He was so hard up he had to keep on wearing his uniform because he couldn’t buy some regular clothes.” Eerily, Karagatisis’ Junkerman is described as a Finnish nobleman, who after the defeat of the White Army by the Bolsheviks, flees in the only clothes he owns, his army uniform: «Φόρεσε βιαστικά τη στολή τουάλλα ρούχα δεν είχε
Both Gatsby and Junkermann also engaged in nefarious activities to acquire their fortunes quickly. Gatsby does so together with Meyer Wolfsheim, a notorious gambler and bootlegger:  “I found out what your ‘drug-stores’ were.” He turned to us and spoke rapidly. “He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong.”
In January 1921, Junkermann flees from Istanbul, where he had been making a living selling pharmaceutical products and drugs, and goes to Greece where the drug business is too firmly in the hands of a dangerous trio to be worth trying to break into. Like Wolfsheim, one of the trio is a Jew named Eskenazy:. « Ήταν τρεις τότε, που κράταγαν τα πόστα: ο Λεουσάκος ο Καλαματιανός, ο Τζιέρογλου ο Κόνιαλης, κι ο Εσκενάζης ο Εβραίος. Οι μεγάλοι όμως δούλευαν με άνεση και σιγουράντζα· είχαν σχέσεις, επιρροές, πολιτικές προστασίες και, το κυριότερο, μπόλικο χρήμα για να διαφθείρουν συνειδήσεις.»
Subsequently, like Gatsby and Wolfsheim, Junkermann tries gambling: «Απελπισμένος από τα φαρμακευτικά προϊόντα, άρχισε νανιχνεύη τα τυχηρά παίγνια.» Eventually he becomes a bank clerk, a position similar to the occupation of Nick Carraway, the narrator in The Great Gatsby, who is in the bond business and owns “a dozen volumes on banking and credit and investment securities.”
Further parallels can also be found. Gatsby selects his palatial home as it offered a clear view of the home of the woman that he loves, Daisy. Similarly, Junkermann sees, near his mansion, the house
of Voula, the girl he loves without knowing yet that he loves her. Just as Gatsby sees a green light that burns all night at the end of Daisy’s dock across the bay Junkermann sees Voula’s window, which is lit late into the night.
As if that were not enough, jazz, so central to the Great Gatsby, also plays a role in Junkermann. There is always a jazz orchestra playing in Gatsby’s garden during his parties and the book is sprinkled with other references to that musical genre.  Interestingly, in Junkermann, there a subtle association of his lover, Dina is made with jazz music. A big band is playing the song, “Stormy Weather,” on the terrace of the Hotel Mediterranean in Thessaloniki where Junkermann, who has fallen in love with her the day before, watches her dance.
Further, psychoanalysis, a novel science in its infancy in the twenties when both books were written also feature prominently, even to the extent where in both books, characters engage in self-analysis in an Austrian restaurant, Diver in Innsbruck and Mazis in Vienna. Both are dining alone on food with German names, which are spelled out in full. Diver reflects on his relationship with his wife, Nicole, whom he has left behind while Mazis thinks of the four years he spent in Vienna, far away from the girl he eloped with. While Diver considers that he “could have had a good share of the pretty women of his time for the asking”, Mazis remembers all the girls he had in Vienna: «Έκανε ζωή έντονη, γεμάτη ηδονές, χάρηκελεύθεραΌλες τις γυναίκες που βρέθηκαν μπροστά του.»
It turns out that much academic ink has been spilled over the question as to whether Karagatsis had read The Great Gatsby when he penned the thoroughly enjoyable Junkermann. Gunnar De Boal points out that Karagatsis, while possessed of excellent French, only had rudimentary English and that F Scott Fitgerald was little known in France, let alone in Greece where his works passed by unnoticed, at the time when Karagatsis was writing Junkermann. Nonetheless, the similarities between the two works and the fact that  Junkermann also includes elements of Tender is the Night, a novel only translated into French in 1951, suggest that Karagatsis must have read the work in English.
Yet Karagatsis cannot be accused of plagiarism. His tale, though incorporating elements of Fitzgerald’s work, is a different one and his plot ultimately follows a different course, not being intended so much as  an illustration of determinism, but, rather, of the awakening of sleeping humanity and of the emptiness of a world from which the people who gave meaning to it have disappeared. As such, it is a work of continuity that draws inspiration not only from Fitzgerald but from a multitude of other European authors, including Stendhal, Balzac and Baudelaire, in the same manner that Seferis was sufficiently inspired by T. S Eliot’s Waste Land, to write his classic: «ΜυθιστόρημαFurther in his treatment of sex as antagonistic and violent, where men force themselves onto women and women submit, or interestingly enough, where promiscuous women who are “tamed” by sexually aggressive men revenge or try to revenge themselves on their aggressors, he is in the company of many other Greek novelists such as Thrasos Kastanakis and Tasos Athanasiadis, occupying a fifty year bloc of Greek literature. The sexual neuroses these writers exhibit deserves a diatribe of its own. Finally, it should be read in the context of Karagatsis’ “Acclimatization under Apollo” trilogy, which also includes the works: Colonel Liapkin and Chimaera.
Junkermann is a thoroughly engrossing read. Though its sequel, describing the death of the main protagonist verges off into the surreal and in part, the incomprehensible, the reader is at least able to establish a close relationship with him, in a way that Fitzgerald avoids in relation to Gatsby. As a Greek offshoot of the western tradition of the novel, it deserves closer examination, celebration and, quite possibly a Hollywood movie, all of its own.
First published in NKEE on Saturday 1 February 2014