The Emerging Modern Greek Nation and British Romantic Literature

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Grammatikos, Alexander




This dissertation contributes to the field of British Romantic Hellenism (and Romanticism more broadly) by emphasizing the diversity and complexity of Romantic-era writers’ attitudes towards, and portrayals of, Modern Greece, especially the ways that early nineteenth-century British literature about contemporary Greece helped to strengthen British-Greek intercultural relations and, ultimately, to situate Greece within a European sphere of influence. My study primarily focuses on fictional works because, as I demonstrate, Romantic literature, more than any other network of discourses of the early nineteenth century, intervened in debates about Modern Greece not merely by documenting facts but by creating realities, portraying imagined Greek-British encounters that encouraged readers to envisage new social, political, geographical, and cultural vistas and alliances for both Greece and Britain. As I argue, British Romantic writers’ representations of cross-cultural relations between Greeks and Britons gesture toward their growing sense of, and concern with, Britain’s international conduct and reputation, especially after 1815 when Britain was transforming into a dominant imperial power. The writers I examine use Modern Greece and Hellenism to interrogate and understand their country’s role not only within Greece, but also within a transnational, global world, the geopolitical dynamics of which were in flux. In discussing Greek-British Romantic-era intercultural relations, my study focuses on the wide range of private and public political positions available to British Romantic writers and emphasizes that the Greek War of Independence and Greece’s subsequent liberation were not isolated national events, but instead the outcome of the political, cultural, and literary debates and discourses taking place for at least half a century in Europe and Greece. By rooting my literary analysis in the historical, cultural, and geopolitical, I provide an account of British Romantic Hellenism that emphasizes the ways in which British writers engaged with a variety of discourses in reproducing versions of Greece that concretized the country. Greece is no longer merely the (imagined) topos of a glorified ancient people or of a degraded modern populace, but repositioned by British Romantic writers as a country integral to the modern, global world of the early nineteenth century.


Literature - English




Carleton University

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