14 May 2012

Papadiamandis in English.

We should begin by listing the English monographs most pertinent to this blog and its project.  Hopefully this list will be expanded with time but this is our (print) textual starting point.

Denise Harvey is the most important publisher of Papadiamandis in English.  Here is the link to the Papadiamandis page on the Harvey site (note the excellent short bio), which mentions these texts:

Johns Hopkins University Press has a 1994 anthology of some of Papadiamandis in English, Tales From a Greek Island, available here.  Some of the stories here overlap what can be purchased from Denise Harvey, and I would recommend purchasing The Boundless Garden prior to purchasing this volume. 

Peter Levi's translation of The Murderess is found here, from NYRB Classics.  I have read this work and enjoyed it, though I admit wondering about the quality of the translation and thinking that the prose seemed more stilted and awkward in places than the translations found in The Boundless Garden.  I have not yet read the new translation of this work by Liadain Sherrard (I just ordered it), but after I read it I plan on writing a post comparing to two translations.  I have no doubt that Denise Harvey will have a better "support apparatus" (appendices, perhaps a glossary, etc.) than the NYRB version, and I have appreciated Liadain Sherrard's work in the past (including her translation of three of the short stories found in The Boundless Garden) so I expect that the Denise Harvey edition of The Murderess will be the superior English edition of that work.

Every English speaker with an interest in Papadiamandis should own a copy of Protecting Veil Press' Greece's Dostoevsky: The Theological Vision of Alexandros Papadiamandis by Anestis Keselopoulos and translated by Herman Middleton.  The excellence of this volume cannot be overstated, which is no surprise considering the quality of Herman's Precious Vessel's of the Holy Spirit: The Lives and Counsels of the Contemporary Elders of Greece, which is far and away the best book of its kind.  

Greece's Dostoevsky is essentially the impetus for this blog and the project it presents.  The book is broken down as follows.  A foreward by Hieromonk Alexis (Trader) which includes sections titled "Liturgical Art and Life: East and West," "Religious Fiction and Greece's Dosoevsky," and "Some Significant Themes for Orthodoxy in America."  Then there is the author's intro, and then the following:

Chapter One: The Life and Work of Alexandros Papadiamandis
A Short Biography of Alexandros Papadiamandis
Papadiamandis's Life and Work in the Context of Modern Greek Literature

Chapter Two: The Clergy
Pastoral Service
Education and Liturgical Ethos

Economic Struggles
The Relationship Between Monastics and the Parish
Liturgical Life: The Center of Pastoral Care

Chapter Three: The Role of the Laity
Clergy-Laity Relations
The Laity as Liturgical Concelebrants
Religious Brotherhoods
Church and State, Church and World

Chapter Four: The Tradition of the Church
Biblical Tradition as Liturgical Tradition
Patristic and Synaxarian Tradition
The Hymnological Tradition, "The Songs of God"
Canonical Tradition
Eastern and Western Tradition
Diachronicity in Tradition

Chapter Five: Papadiamandis's Liturgical Theology
Influences from the Monastic Typicon 
Monastic Typicon in the Monastery
Monastic Influence on Parish Life
Papadiamandis and the Monastic Typicon
Papadiamandis's Theology of the Divine Liturgy
Papadiamandis's Theology of Confession
Papadiamandis's Liturgical Realism and Freedom
Liturgical Precision and Economy
Form and Essence in Worship
Papadiamandis's Liturgical Catechism

Chapter Six: Art in Worship
The Meaning of Liturgical Art
The Theology of the Icon
Turning Liturgical Art into Museum Pieces
The Falsification of Liturgical Art
Church Hymnography and Music

Short Stories
Without a Wedding Crown
A Village Easter



Translated Titles of Papadiamandis's Stories [this is a seemingly comprehensive list]

Map of Skiathos

Now, some clarification concerning the above.  While many of the sub-sections have rather plain titles, throughout the book when there is a consideration of a given topic, say "The Theology of the Icon" Papadiamandis' short stories are drawn from to explicate the given topic - so it is not a mere repetition of basic theological truths which you have read from multiple sources elsewhere.  Also, behind some of these plain jane sub-section titles are controversial opinions - for instance in the section on "Religious Brotherhoods" you will learn that Papadiamandis was very critical of the religious brotherhoods in Greece during his lifetime (I intend for one of my next posts to take up this issue and ask whether Papadiamandis's critique of religious brotherhoods in the Greece of his day might not apply to certain Orthodox groups and initiatives in America today).  In the sub-section "Bishops" you will not read a tritely pious gloss on the office of bishop, but rather the wisdom of a man keenly aware that the human functionary filling that divine appointment was, far too often, cruel and petty.   It should also be said that the sub-section titles which suggest a Papadiamandisian theology as such would almost certainly not have been something Papadiamandis would have been comfortable with.  I don't think he would have been very keen on the idea that there was, or should be, a "Papadiamandis's Theology of the Divine Liturgy" and so forth.  

I plan on referring to Greece's Dostoevsky frequently on this blog, but for now I think it may suffice to say that the genius of Papadiamandis revealed in the book has something to do with how the man is not easily categorized in a manner which would associate him with any of the various 'camps' to be found in American Orthodoxy today.  Papadiamandis is traditional in his understanding of liturgy and monasticism and the typicon, but for several reasons which I hope to flesh out later he strikes me as a far cry from the traditionalist Orthodox rhetoric and posturing one finds in certain American Orthodox camps today.  While Papadiamandis does not express a Luddite or reactionary fear of the modern city or modern social trends, per se, he is also not a modernist in style, nor in ideological temperament.  But he is also not to be pegged as a man raging against modernism qua modernism as if there is some coherent and easily accessed anti-modernism which provides us some clear way out of modern problems.  I think the Papadiamandis we encounter in Greece's Dostoevsky is a man who views modernity as presenting some very new expressions of very ancient human problems.  There is certainly a fear that the good is fragile and in danger of annihilation, but that is a near constant human fear -- what is perhaps unique in modernity is the rate of the acceleration of that which endangers human traditions and the aesthetics and economies of quiet and stillness which are demanded for there to be a possibility of an inner life and an encounter with God.  There are certainly places wherein Papadiamandis' primary fear of the modern city and of modernity seems to have to do with its speed, and there are passages in Greece's Dostoevsky and in Papadiamandis' short stories which read almost like narrative expression of points oft made by the brilliant and somewhat enigmatic Catholic anarchist, urbanist, and cultural theorist Paul Virilio (another comparison which I would like to flesh out in a later post).  

Thus the usefulness of Greece's Dostoevsky is, in my mind, that it concisely presents to us this figure who unintentionally turns the tables on the conventional categories that we so often use to negotiate American Orthodox milieus.  And we encounter a man who was both deeply traditional but willing to maneuver within modernity in a manner that didn't demand that we build fear ridden ideologically driven museums dedicated to some arbitrarily determined purity.  Papadiamandis was concerned about the well being and sustainability of fragile elements in the tradition (which will be a near constant theme on this blog), but it seems that for him truth must always be a living enfleshed thing, and connected to that liturgical realism (and not idealism or fetish) and that humanity so well articulated in by Keselopoulos in Greece's Dostoevsky.  

I'll have much more to say about the book as time goes on.

Another work which I have but have not yet read is A Greek Diptych: Dionysios Solomos and Alexandros Papadiamantis.  I will also report on this work after I have read it. 

And so we begin.  


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