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A book by Samaras’ great-grandmother has been published

17 June 2014 / 19:06:16  GRReporter
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"Romiopoules," a three-volume work by famous Greek writer Penelope Delta has been published for the first time 75 years after its writing. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ great-grandmother (she is the grandmother of his mother Eleni - author’s note) is popular as an author of books for children, the most famous among them being "Mangas", "Trelandonis" and "The Secrets of the Swamp." Many of them are dedicated to the Greek participation in the struggle for Macedonia in the early 20th century.

The "Romiopoules" novel is the only book for adults, which the author wrote for 13 years. She began writing it in Thessaloniki in 1926 and finished it in Athens in 1939. "When I finished writing I gave up. I said that I could die, as my children would publish it when the Greek heart and mind were free," Delta wrote in her personal diary on 13 March 1940. She committed suicide a year later, in May 1941.

The book was presented in the garden of the writer’s house in the Athens suburb of Kifissia, where the historical archives of Benaki Museum are preserved today. Editor of the book is her grandson, historian and researcher of her personal archive, Alekos P. Zanas. In his opinion, the book should be perceived as an autobiography that shows a previously hidden part of the spiritual world of the writer.

Researcher and historian Joanna Petropoulou describes the main character as a woman who is "entrapped by society and her own body", a victim of the strict morals and social perceptions of that era. According to her, Delta developed feminist ideas, although she did not actively participate in such movements, and her character Despina Crina-Dapergola is herself. At the same time, the novel traces the historical events in Greece at the time.

The action takes place in Athens, and the story starts in January 1895. The first volume entitled "The Awakening" presents the life of 19-year-old Despina, i.e. the youthful years of Penelope Delta until 1896, when she married (Delta’s wedding took place in 1895). The larger part of the second volume entitled "The Heat" presents the dramatic events between 1907 and 1909 as well as the unfulfilled love between the character and Vassos Gavras, whose prototype is actually diplomat Ion Dragoumis. The love between him and Delta was mutual and requited, but they failed to reject the social rules and to indulge in their passion.

According to Alekos P. Zanas, the writer was greatly "fascinated" by Dragoumis, and the reason for her suicide was not only the invasion of the German troops in Athens. "The factors were many," he said, adding that his great-grandmother was suffering from multiple sclerosis.

The last volume entitled "The Dusk" is about the turbulent and chaotic political and social life in the years 1914-1920 and it stands out over the character’s life, as Penelope Delta describes the national division. The novel ends with the loss of the elections of 1 November 1920 by Eleftherios Venizelos, an event that is astounding to the character.

After the publication of the writer’s "Memories" and "Correspondence", the publication of the novel, which consists of 1,769 printed pages, puts an end to the presentation of Penelope Delta’s archives.

Tags: LiteratureNovelRomiopoulesPenelope DeltaAutobiographyHistoryIon Dragoumis
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