Literary associations with Anna Damianides' novel “Two Summers and Half an Autumn” - Wishevoke

Literary associations with Anna Damianides’ novel “Two Summers and Half an Autumn”

The years have passed, but I still remember Anna Damianides’ first prose, the time when we started our journalistic career: her novel “Xypolytes” (1981), the short story collection “Skevos idonis” (1984) and the novel “The Last Princess” (1990).

Since then, Anna has written books for children that approach a more innocent world, the world of magic and fairy tales, but also countless (over the years) vignettes that, over time, stand out for the accuracy of the gaze, for the verve and for their spirit. Her novel “Two Summers and Half an Autumn,” recently published by Metaichmio, marks a particularly pleasant return to literature: pleasant not only because she herself continues to fight from her ramparts, but also and because he decided to do it in a fun and at the same time extremely serious way.


Damianidi belongs to the legendary generation of the polytechnic. A generation that, after first being praised and appropriately mythologized in various ways for its participation in the events of November 1973, then descended into Tartarus, with successive recriminations for its course in the post-political period and for its attitude towards phenomena of difference and questions of political power. Fortunately, today we are far from both the sentimentality of mythology and from the naivety, and not least from the extravagance of political and moral control, because on this basis, as has now been sufficiently proven, no historical generation can be assessed either by enthusiastic political outbursts or of superficial political crises. Especially since Damianides’ novel recreates the period of the junta and the dictatorship from a clearly reserved and modest everyday perspective and in a context where politics was neither an organized goal nor a political goal for the majority of young people who angered the dictatorial regime Life plan. The novel “The Ballad of the Ignorant and the Good” by Yannis N. Baskozos (Metaihmio 2023), who belongs to the same generation as Damianidis, has shown (the two books were published around the same time) that the autobiographical fictions of memory and coming of age are able to evoke and multiply the emotional impact of reading if they stay away from political posturing and any emotional outburst.

And while Baskozos highlights her children’s musical concerns and music groups through fractured images of the dictatorship, Damianidi quickly brings their critical years of study to the surface, also resorting to discontinuous images and stirring feelings. Four friends and classmates, Aliki, Daphne, Lydia and Margarita, who are preparing to graduate from a private school and take the entrance exams, each speak in their own detailed monologue about the difficult times of the last two school years. And here Damianidi succeeds in a lot, thanks to her light and playful narrative, which, under the immediacy and confused impressions of teenage language, hides a multitude of small dramas from the girls’ everyday school life, especially in everything that has to do with the big drama, which is nothing other than the relentless battle for access to university. And it’s also clever that the four girls are not asked to speak like they were at their graduation, but not from the perspective of their current maturity. As her successive monologues unfold, we understand that her expression and thoughts try to memorably approach the expression of adolescence, thereby drawing on everything: how they fit in with their small-town or (at most) middle-class origins in a school children from families with much higher incomes, about how delicate family relationships worked with divorced or divorced parents, domineering mothers and moderate fathers or big brothers who excelled in school.

And of course it’s not just about family matters. On the one hand, the girls run to survive at school, but on the other hand, their main aim is to escape the zone of absolute oppression and their fiercely defended virginity. Even if relationships with boys are still not a self-evident topic, even if parents have by no means stopped being regressive and reactionary, the polytechnic generation is the first post-war generation in Greece that consciously strives to separate themselves from them, to overcome sexual taboos and to experience a life without fear and restrictions (old age is still a long way off). And if the subject of study seems to be left to its own devices, as is evident from the possible classification in schools, politics, together with love, will very quickly become entrenched in the daily lives of girls, whether they like it or not. They are not little children and the dictatorship’s propaganda discourse planted all around them increasingly disturbs them, but without ever taking center stage, even if they feel threatened by the boys’ political decisions. For their age will not cease until the last page of the book (and from every direction) sends its one overriding message – freedom, first and foremost. Political freedom, of course, but above all individual freedom, which goes hand in hand with the unhindered love and independent individual life that favors integration into the student world.

A well-written, funny and very lively novel for an aspect of the polytechnic generation that we tend to put aside if we have not already forgotten or erased it.

Source: RES-MPE

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