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Seferis and the "Mythical Method"
Comparative Literature Studies
Vol. 6, No. 2 (1969), pp. 109-125
Published by: Penn State University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40467806
Page Count: 17
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Poetry, Neoclassical poetry, Narrative poetry, Poetic themes, Comparative literature, Creation myths, Mythology, Literary characters, Literary criticism, Sadness
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Seferis' English-speaking interpreters, by preferring those of his poems which are allusive or mythic in the tradition of Pound and Eliot, have tended to slight a number of his more original poems in the narrative and dramatic modes— poems such as "Narration," "Les Anges sont blancs,"The Return of the Exile," and "The Last Day," all from what can now be seen as his richest volume, Logbook I. This "classicist" preference has served to create an exaggerated image of Eliot's influence. Another source of the exaggeration has been an oversimplified argument that Seferis' use of the "mythical method" in the years following his acquaintance with Eliot remained consistently the same as that of the English poet It is, in fact, not the same even in the earliest relevant work, Mythistorema, where Seferis employs a single mythology and a single voice in contrast to Eliot's eclectic mode, and where the method is not that of poetic collage but of chiaroscuro— of an arrangement of light and dark elements within a unified sensibility. And the poet's handling of myth in later poems, far from remaining consistently allusive or symbolic in the manner of Eliot, becomes increasingly particular and concrete. In the best mythological poems of his later period— in, for example, "The King of Asine" and "Thrush"— Seferis' myth emerges from a carefully delineated setting, a literal Greek setting which serves to give his legendary characters an actuality that is often missing in the more conventional and literary evocation of Greek mythic sources. (EK)
Comparative Literature Studies © 1969 Penn State University Press