CULTURE

History, culture, art and antiquity ready for new year

The new year brings with it a plethora of new books and publications covering a range of interests such as history, film, the treasures of antiquity and even attractive coffee-table picture books. Below is a selection of new publications offering insight into important periods of Greece’s political and cultural life, which make great gifts as well as interesting reads. Civil war history wins plaudits Students in the Department of History at the University of Thessaly spent part of an educational trip earlier in the month at the Stoa tou Vivliou book center for the presentation of Istoria tou Ellinikou Emphyliou Polemou, 1946-1949 (Bibliorama Publications), a book on the Greek civil war by historian and University of Crete professor Giorgos Margaritis. In it, he writes that the Civil War was a war with dead, with battles, an outcome and concomitant problems; 450,000 soldiers fought on the government side, 115,000 fought with the Democratic Army. The publisher of the magazine O Politis (The Citizen), Angelos Elephantis expanded: Margaritis asserts – and I agree – that there were two major wars after the Greek War of Independence: the Asia Minor campaign and the Civil War. The first shaped the borders of the state as we know them today. The second shaped the new class structure of Greek society, he added. Giorgos Margaritis took advantage of the publication of a part of the General Army Staff archives in a superlative fashion, said Rena Stavridi-Patrikiou, who referred chiefly to his methodology as historian. Political scientist Ilias Nikolakopoulos spoke on previous academic publications by the author which led up to this book. And all the speakers agreed that books written on this theme from now on will be all the better, thanks to Margaritis’s book. All of Greek cinema in one volume Two thousand, four hundred and thirty-two full-length feature films, both fiction and documentaries, 36 full-length films with a religious content and 1,164 video movies is the sum total of Greek film production from 1914 to the year 2000, as recorded in the Lexiko Ellinikon Tainion (Dictionary of Greek Films) by Dimitris Koliodimos (Genous Publications) which had its launch presentation on Friday, December 7 at the Old Parliament building. I tried to combine the qualities of an archivist and critic, said Koliodimos, who has worked in the film industry since 1975 as a director, critic, writer and historian. Dimitris Koliodimos has tracked down scattered material with patience, stubbornness and courage, said Yiannis Bakoyiannopoulos, the Culture Ministry’s adviser for the Department of Film. As images become lost into the past, recording them increases in importance. Memory has been unearthed from everywhere from all possible sources, and the benefit is historical, he added. Compiling the material for the Dictionary of Greek Films 1914-2000 took ten years and constitutes a unique guide to the body of Greek film. The writer aims to update the edition regularly while, as he said at the presentation, he is already thinking of compiling an equivalent dictionary of foreign movies screened in Greece. Greece through the lens of Petros Moraitis The first monograph on the work of pioneer photographer Petros Moraitis contains a number of previously unpublished photographs. Nineteenth Century Greece Through the Lens of Petros Moraitis (Pub. Potamos) is a charming panorama in sepia of middle and upper class Athenian society in mid and late 19th century Athens. This visual record of clothing, panoramas, royal portraits, posed pictures and family shots were taken in the 1860s, ’70s and ’80s, when Greek society was at a crucial watershed. Crinolines and fustanellas, Attic landscapes and studio backdrops portray urban and traditional aspects of society. Apart from the visual delights it has to offer, the book also has a strong historical element. Photography historian Alkis Xanthakis undertook thorough research of archives and collections to put together a profile of photographer Petros Moraitis and his work. Moraitis, who came from Tinos, set up a studio on Aeolou Street in 1859. He was the third professional photographer in Greece, notes Xanthakis, after Philippos Margaritis and just after Dimitrios Constantinou. Piraeus Museum in 408 pages The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus (Pub. Olkos), the yearly offering from from the Latsis Group and EFG Eurobank Ergasias, is a handsome leather-bound volume showcasing the historical and scientific value of the Piraeus Museum’s unique collection. The newly published book is the work of archaeologist Georgios Steinhauer, who has studied and published works on the treasures of Attica, and those of the Piraeus Museum in particular. In his prologue Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos praises the initiative of the publication of a new archaeological book which fills a gap in the portrait of the life and art of a progressive urban community which laid the foundations for Pericles’ Athens and was its democratic conscience. The book covers a wealth of topics, including the museum’s history, a path through history and the ancient monuments of Piraeus, the ancient city and the museum, Crypto-Mycenean beginnings, the dawn of Greek art and funerary art.