A Small History of Statues: Yannis Ritsos and the Monuments of History

Liana Theodoratou

Abstract


What does it mean to write or speak in a moment of terror and censorship? How is it possible to resist the silencing, the muteness, the blindness that takes place under the banner of these two experiences, and especially when the punishment for such resistance is imprisonment, torture, exile, and dispossession? These questions -central to any reflection on the contemporary political climates within which, after September 11, we now live -are at the heart of the nearly twenty collections of short poems that Y annis Ritsos wrote during the dictatorship in Greece, including his remarkable collection of poems, Scripture of the Blind, written in a kind of white heat during the last four months of 1972 and the early days of 1973, and some of the longer poems and dramatic monologues, also written during these years, that would later become part of his collection, The Fourth Dimension. Written while he was imprisoned in several detention camps after his arrest in 1967, but also, after his release, while he was still under surveillance and observation, these poems bear the traces of his personal experiences of terror, displacement, censorship, and death, but also the signs of the intimidation, dispossession, and disfiguration that touched and defmed so much of Greece during this period of historical trauma.

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