Monthly Archives: December 2015

A A Pallis, Greek Miscellany

This book was self-published in 1964, and I was given a copy some twenty years later by (I think) the author’s son, when I was on a school trip to Greece. It is a collection of essays on mediæval and modern Greece, which the author delivered as lectures when he was cultural attaché at the Greek embassy in London.

Topics are as follows: the Oriental legends about Alexander, the Chronicle of the Morea, the Chronicle of Leontius Machairas, Cyril Lukaris, Evliya Cheleby, the Phanariots, 19th century Ionian society, memoirs from the Greek War of Independence and 19th-20th century Greek poetry (including that of the author’s father).

Being a diplomat, the author is in his element with the ins and outs of diplomatic intrigue, but the reader who is not well versed in the history of the period might find them hard going. The chapters which deal with literature are more interesting, though the translations can be startling: ‘and, as thou gottest going, oh, marvel!’

The author has a very definite idea of what is good Greek stylistically. Within dimotiki, borrowings from Turkish are acceptable, but those from French are deprecated. I never worked out what was so dreadful about gallicisms – we in England have been at loggerheads with the French for much of our history, but are happy to help ourselves to their words and expressions.

If you come across a second-hand copy and are interested in the subject matter, it’s worth looking at. But don’t pay too much for it – the original owner almost certainly paid nothing!

Posted in Book review | Leave a comment