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Το Η ζωή εν τάφω άρχισε να σχεδιάζεται μέσα στα χαρακώματα του Πρώτου Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου στην προκάλυψη του Μοναστηριού της Σερβίας Ένα κεφάλαιο κιόλας δημοσιεύτηκε από τότε στην εφημερίδα Νέα Ελλάδα που 'βγαινε στη Θεσσαλονίκη το 1917 Μετά από τη Μικρασιατική Καταστροφή το πρώτο σύνολο μπήκε σαν επιφυλλίδα στη βδομαδιάτικη Καμπάνα της Μυτιλήνης Το ανάτυπο από κείνη την επιφυλλίδα 1924 στάθηκε η πρώτη έκδοση του βιβλίου Από τότε το Η ζωή εν τάφω σημειώνει μια σταθερή πορεία ως τις μέρες μας ανάμεσα σε πολλές και τρικυμιώδεις πολιτικές περιπέτειες ενθουσιασμούς και παρεξηγήσεις Η κυκλοφορία του βιβλίου είχε απαγορευτεί τα τέσσερα χρόνια της μεταξικής δικτατορίας και τα κατοπινά τέσσερα της Κατοχής


10 thoughts on “Ἡ ζωή ἐν τάφῳ

  1. says:

    With the beginnings of World War I well prepared by the two Balkan wars of 1912 1913 briefly discussed in my review of Richard C Hall's The Balkan Wars 1912 1913 Prelude to the First World War and with the Great Powers raring to go at each other after decades of planning and amassing weapons at the beginning of August 1914 Germany invaded Belgium and Luxembourg on its way to deliver a first and final blow to France Home Before the Leaves Fall A New History of the German Invasion of 1914 by Ian Senior while Austro Hungary invaded Serbia to put a swift end to the Slavic upstarts' pretensions The Gardeners of Salonika The Macedonian Campaign 1915 1918 by Alan Palmer None of it went according to plan Greece triumphant in both of the Balkan wars against its Ottoman and Bulgarian arch enemies the enmity towards the Bulgarians going back even further than that against the Turks was torn between standing at the side of the powers who were responsible both for its liberation from the Ottoman Empire in the 1820's and for some of the territorial gains the Greeks had made at the cost of the Turks in the meantime this faction was led by the on again off again Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos or with the Central Powers the King of Greece was related to the Kaiser's family and to the British royal family but he and the Greek high command were strongly bound by admiration for Prussian military values to Berlin and officially opted for neutrality However the Entente had legal rights on the Greek peninsula dating back to treaties made during Greece's war of independence and French and British divisions soon landed at Salonika Thessaloniki on the Macedonian coast won by the Greeks in the wars of 1912 1913 Alan Palmer gives an excellent history of the politics and warfare taking place in southeast Europe after this point in The Gardeners of Salonika including the formation of a rival government by Venizelos and the subseuent forced abdication of the Greek King His son came around to Venizelos' point of view So finally Greece came into the war against the Bulgarians Austro Hungarians Turks and Germans providing a weight of numbers which was important to the final collapse of the Central Powers on the southeastern front Efstratios Stamatopoulos 1890 1969 Stratis Myrivilis was his nom de plume served as a soldier in both the first Balkan War and the Macedonian campaigns of WWI and Life in the Tomb first serialized during 1923 1924 and then published in final form in 1930 is based upon his experiences on the front in WWI It is reportedly one of the most important books in modern Greek literature both in its popular resonance and in its literary ualities Presented in the not seriously sustained form of a journal written by a Greek soldier for his fiancée back home Life in the Tomb is told in a figurative language which contrasts mightily with the very direct diction spiced with soldier's argot used by Maurice Genevoix to describe his WWI experiences in Sous Verdun Août Octobre 1914 In fact for my taste Myrivilis sometimes gives us too much of a good thing as in this excerpt from a passage describing the excitement of the anti royalist crowds on Lesbos when Venizelos' rebel government was announced Commotion everywhere waves of intoxicating uproar formed from a thousand disparate voices The city's church bells had gone insane They cried in exultation above our heads over the red tiled roofs like a flock of frenzied hooting archangels beating lances against brass shields and filling the air with a horrifying reveille With their brazen voices and frightening wings they made the atmosphere as turbulent as a storm lashed sea Frenzied hooting archangels horrifying reveille? Maybe not But likening the rolling deafening sound of a city full of pealing bells to beating lances against brass shields works very well for me making the cliché as turbulent as a storm lashed sea even disappointing However your personal taste may react to this passage there is a good deal of this florid language in the novel I don't know about Stamatopoulos himself since this is the only book from his hand I have read but his journal writer is a romantic a poetaster who appeals often to the ideals of the educated middle classes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries of course including the Christian God and an idealized vision of his fiancée going beyond donning rose tinted glasses into the ideological So how does such a narrator react to the all too coarse reality of warfare? Though literary effusions with a distinct tendency towards hyperbole are never than a paragraph or two away war is very much present in this text the forced night marches to avoid the notice of the reconnaissance aircraft night after night after night; devastated towns shelled with poison gas and phosphorous; the nearly constant filth and lack of potable water; meals snuck in once a day; the tedium discomfort and mortal danger of life in the trenches; the inevitable reduction of life to its lowest conceivable denominator And then there are the random moments when the shells sweep in and one must cower and endure or the rare moments when two bands of screaming maniacs try to murder each other Only generals like Patton and Lee can love war; for the common soldier it is a misery without compare alleviated only by the incredibly powerful bonds of comradeship such misery always forges between the men sharing these tribulations Myrivilis captures all of this very well He also gives all a Greek accent Though so much is the same whether the sad sack in the trench is British or German or French yet there are differences The narrator shares his dugout in the trench with his younger brother ; his memories and fantasies are cast back to the island of Lesbos; to the south in neighboring Thessaly the royalists were ready and eager to receive deserters from the rebels' ranks as the weeks in the trenches became months and then years they enfolded no small number in their welcoming arms What better place than in the army to find a large cast of characters under extraordinary pressures from pompous peacetime officers murderously incompetent in war to frightened teenaged foot soldiers pining for their sweethearts or failing that their mothers? Additional characters come to life in the narrator's extended reminiscences of life on Lesbos breaking the increasing tension in the main narrative But surely the most memorable is the narrator himself the man through whose eyes we see the world for 300 pages and whose initial fervor all are volunteers in this Archipelago Division shrivels I engaged in insurrection against our lawful government in order to honor the Greek promise to stand by the Serbs as allies Now I am helping the Serbs to enslave the Greeks of Monastir I came here in order to stand side by side with the French and to be killed with them for the sake of democratic ideals When I arrived I found them thrashing their black troops and heard them greet us in the trenches with the cry chiens grecs In spite of oneself one becomes uite attached to this 22 year old disillusioned idealist even though one knows from the first pages of the book that he dies a particularly horrible death A novel of the failure of faith in ideals in the face of reality of life under extreme stress and what ordinary men do in order to continue all seen through the uietly reflective eyes of the increasingly engaging narrator I have to agree with the Greeks this is a very fine book The Bulgarians came into WWI late in order to get some revenge on the Serbs and Romanians their principal adversaries from the second Balkan War It backfired badly The Turks were mostly occupied elsewhere against the Russians and British and the latter's Arab allies For also on this front months and years were spent in fixed positions with deadly suabbles over a 100 meters of useless ground Rating


  2. says:

    A novel set in the form of the author's finding in a trunk mementoes of a certain Sgt Kostoulas He finds a packet of notebooks filled with the young man's brutally honest impressions of the First World War written for his sweetheart back home on Lesvos Sgt Kostoulas had fought in the Greek Salonika Campaign been killed and these are his belongings; the author had been in the novel the person in charge of dead soldiers' belongings These vignettes bring home the horror and sualor of war Powerfully anti war and very realistic The author had really fought in that war and these sketches are basically taken from his experiences The title is taken from the Greek Orthodox Service of Lamentations on Good Friday evening It can also refer to the dugouts in the trenches the men had made for themselves as shelters Highly recommended


  3. says:

    From BBC Radio 3 Drama on 3A masterwork of Greek fiction Life in the Tomb provides a different perspective on the anniversary of the Great War This new dramatisation from leading playwright April De Angelis in her first radio dramatisation features an original score by award winning composer Errollyn WallenOriginally published as extracts in a national Greek newspaper the book takes the form of a series of letters from a young soldier back to his girlfriend in Lesvos as his platoon moves deeper into trench warfare Myrivilis based the book on his own experience of fighting on the Macedonian front The book is so honest about how appalling conditions were and how badly the army was managed that it was banned on publicationStratis Myrivilis' book brilliantly captures a complex Southern European view of World War I Our narrator meets a wide range of nationalities on his journey to the trenches The incidents he describes are rich and often unexpected the Macedonian family who care for him when wounded the enemy soldier with the voice of an angel and the Chinese cart driver who helps him when lost The narrator is moving unwittingly towards his own death a tragic accident in the last days of the conflictStratis Myrivilis was a prolific author nominated by the Greek society of authors for the Nobel Prize in 1960


  4. says:

    view spoiler Bettie's Books hide spoiler


  5. says:

    Greek classic Best fictional war novel i've come across


  6. says:

    one of the best ANTI war books around set during WWI and is the tale of some folks who find a diary of a soldier


  7. says:

    This is one of the most beautiful and devastating accounts of war


  8. says:

    While I am fascinated by WWI the experience documented by most of the former soldiers is one of unendurable boredom with flashes of extreme brutality I have found the violence they recount to be universally visceral and brilliantly written These seuences are also uite brief It is the long stretches of inactivity they each expend copious verbiage to convey that is troublesome They are uite successful in causing this reader to feel their boredom completely Maybe there is a way to express tedium without causing it?


  9. says:

    Found out about it during a trip to FYR Macedonia it was complicated to get a hold of but it was well worth the effort The translation is impressive I guess it must be a masterpiece in the original version The book offers uniue insight into complex events from a complex area of Europe Really feels like a diary if I were to compare it to something it would be close to Erich Maria Remarue's books


  10. says:

    Didn’t finish just set it aside Capably written and full of insight into trench war life but not particularly what I was hoping for