Claudio Russello

Claudio Russello, BA (Venice) MA (SOAS, London) MSt (Oxford)

My research moves between the fields of Classical Reception and Modern Greek Studies. It explores the reception and influence of the French philosopher Henri Bergson’s ideas on Greek letters, thus bringing into a completely new light literary projects of Greek Modernists, such as George Seferis, Odysseas Elytis, Yannis Ritsos, and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Henri Bergson’s theorisation of durée is instrumental to re-analyse and reframe the discourse of continuity between Ancient and Modern Greece and demonstrates an ideological shift from the nationalist concept of continuity to a more open modernist idea of ‘Greekness’. An important element in the continuity discourse and a pivotal element of Greek Modernism is the use of myth, which I interpret through the Bergsonian filter in order to underline some important aspects so far underexplored.

One of my core examples is the myth of the second Odyssey and its reception by Nikos Kazantzakis in his long poem Odyssey. I argue that his particular rewriting is deeply in conversation with Bergson’s interiorisation of time. This poem is also put in dialogue with other European texts that engage with such myth, e.g. Alfred Tennyson’s Ulysses and Giovanni Pascoli’s L’Ultimo Viaggio. My close analysis underlines differences, similarities, and divergences in this tradition of reception of the second Odyssey, thus putting Modern Greek literature in a comparative European context.

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