Greek short stories in the last quarter of the twentieth century : contribution to an exploration of the postmodern
The thesis examines Greek short stories written and published since the fall of the dictatorship in Greece in 1974, a year marking the beginning of the country's increasing opening to western lifestyles, mentalities and preoccupations. The present research explores two questions: How do Greek short stories of this period respond to the challenges of the postmodern condition, and what is the picture of the postmodern that one could draw from these texts. To this goal more than a hundred short stories are examined, by Sotiris Dimitriou, Michel Fais, Rhea Galanaki, E. Ch. Gonatas, Yiorgos loannou, Christophoros Milionis, Dimitris Nollas, I. Ch. Papadimitrakopoulos, Ersi Sotiropoulou, Christos Vakalopoulos, and Zyranna Zateli. The thesis is structured on a thematic basis, studying the major themes of reality and the subject, in order to evaluate the kind and degree of subversion that this fundamental bipolar axis of modern thought is undergoing in the postmodern condition. The readings are informed by contemporary theory, ranging from microhistory and Bakhtinian dialogism to poststructuralism and deconstruction, Levinas's ethical theory and Wittgensteinian language games. The textual analysis reveals that the traditional notion of reality as a unified totality is coming under severe strain; the critique mounted by the texts ranges from negative recognition of cosmological plurality through epistemological failure to an increasingly positive recognition of multiple incommensurate universes, be that by means of metafiction or, more radically still, a magic realism that transcends the world of the text to imbue performatively the world of the reader. The reality of the past in the form of historical truth is another target of scrutiny, as the unearthing of multiple insignificant, private and a-systemic events undermines the formerly dominant monolithic representations of the past and uncover its discursive construction, thereby facilitating the emergence of marginal historical subjects by means of fictional terms. Accordingly, the subject is no longer represented as a dominant and autonomous agent but as discursively constructed within a web of power relations. Yet this predicament creates the potential for a narrative identity and an alternative ethics founded on the acknowledgment of difference and interpersonal relations. Lastly, games, and especially language games, as a particular trope of merging reality and the subject, signal the cultural determination of irredeemable difference and plurality that is a constant in postmodern critique. Apart from suggesting the significance of the texts studied and proposing novel approaches to them, the thesis also promotes the re-evaluation of the short story as a genre in the study of the contemporary, while at the same time offering a detailed account of particular instances of postmodern critique on the fundaments of modern thought.