Parody and National Crisis: Thanasis Valtinos' Three Greek One-Act Plays and its critical Reception


  • Dimitris Paivanâs


Includes image: 'large nude', 1925.


Three Greek One-Act Plays (1978) is a short, tripartite work of post­ war fiction comprising seemingly unrelated documents supposedly quoted verbatim from their original sources. They are: a) the proceedings of a trial held in 1957 and related to National Army operations in the last phase of the Civil War; b) a series of letters received by a prison inmate between 1954 and circa 1970; and, c) the undated instruction manual to a Kenwood mixer. In a play of generic terms on the cover and title page the slim volume is described with salient irony from the outset as a “novel”.2The somewhat risqué quotation of apparently authentic documents with minimal extrane­ ous commentary in a soi-disant “novel” is a pioneering narrative technique at least in Greek literary prose. Critical commentators who did not neglect the text altogether either offered partial readings of it in the cultural milieu of post-dictatorship Greece or, baffled until recently by its ostentatiously unconventional form, treated it as little more than “experimental” litera­ ture. As a result, the text’s underlying criticisms of the dominant ideology in Greece and the nation’s socioeconomic crisis since the end of the Civil War and right up to the first years of the Metapolitefsi have largely gone unnoticed. The purpose of this paper is to propose a reading of Three Greek One-Act Plays as a parody3with a potential political message that transcends the stated or implied chronologies of reference, and to explore the cultural and ideological conditions that contributed to the text’s partisan or uncer­ emonious reception.