The Byzantine Gibraltar – impressions of monemvasia in Kostas Ouranis’ Travelogue
Keywords:Kostas Ouranis, Reception of Byzantium, Byzantine heritage, Modern Greek Reception of Byzantium, Peloponnese, Monemvasia, Greek Travel Writing
Kostas Ouranis (1890–1953), a Greek poet and essayist, lesser known abroad, was regarded as one of the first to introduce “travel writing” in Greece. As a correspondent of different newspapers, he travelled to many countries in Europe and abroad and recorded his impressions in travel books, of which the best known is his travelogue on Spain, Sol y sombra (1934). However, the book that is of special interest as regards the Greek perspective of the writer, is Travels in Greece (Ταξίδια στην Ελλάδα, 1949), where Ouranis describes impressions from his travels in his homeland which took place in 1930. In the present paper, basing on the brief chapter on Monemvasia from the above-mentioned book, I will shed some light on the reception of Byzantium in Ouranis’ view, trying to answer, among others, the question whether the writer conveys any specific knowledge of the subject. In my opinion, his view of Byzantine heritage deserves special attention as regards the broad framework of the European approach to the legacy of the Eastern Roman Empire. Firstly, because his impressions on this Byzantine town constitute a vivid example of a clearly Greek perspective in this regard, which is relatively poorly known. Secondly, his deeply personal account on Monemvasia reveals the general attitude of the Greeks to their legacy and as such it may be regarded as a characteristic miniature which, like a lens, focuses their approach to the past.
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