Reading Greek Australian Literature through the Paramythi

Reading Greek Australian Literature through the Paramythi

Bridging Multiculturalism with World Literature

By Anna Dimitriou

Anthem Studies in Global English Literatures

This book explores Greek Australian literature through its paramythic tropes and focuses on reading it as a bridge between multiculturalism and world literature.

Hardback, 210 Pages


June 2024

£80.00, $110.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

The poems, novels and novellas that draw from paramythic forms and tropes draw from its symbolic power and its performative function, and often use it subversively to speak the unspeakable. They often merge incommensurate forms and include foreign words and registers or dialects, which lead to the need for translation, as well as the possibilities for what Apter calls the ‘untranslatable’. Foreign words and strange customs as well as oral story-telling forms may be untranslatable to outsiders – but their usefulness is tied to what Apter refers to as a ‘linguistic form of creative failure with homeopathic uses.’ So, when the paramythic voice, forms and tropes are located, translated, compared and interpreted in works by Australian writers having a Greek heritage, we have a new way to read Australian literature. We no longer read these texts in isolation given an affiliation with an ethnic minority group, but instead we see these as works that, as Gunew says, ‘share a world’, works that include and converse with other neo-cosmopolitan writers with double or multiple cultural perspectives.


‘Though nothing could be more worldly than Australian multicultural literature, it has been largely boxed away from “world literature” as conceived by scholars and reviewers. Anna DImitriou’s searching examination, perceptive about and respectful of a range of very different writers, shows how the achievements and processes of Greek Australian literature are of global resonance. From the scabrous satire of Christos Tsiolkas to the sonorous eloquence of Dimitris Tsaloumas, from the materiality of Antigone Kefala to the spirituality of Stylianos Charkianakis, to the arduous ironies of Dean Kalimniosand Fotini Eoanomitis, Dimitriou provides the overview of Greek Australian literature for which the field has long waited.’ — Nicholas Birns, New York University

‘Anna Dimitriou’s scholarly study uses the lens of sub-literary, vernacular paramythi (Greek fairytales) to argue that Greek/Australian writing provides an impetus for reframing conversations about “multicultural” literary production. The heterodoxy of the writers who deploy paramythi is astonishing: from the soothing mysticism of poet-archbishop Charkianakis to the aggressively countercultural grunge-realist Christos Tsiolkas. This work changes the conversation about diasporic and global cos-mopolitanism in the mainstream Anglophone Australian literary tradition.’ — Dr Frances Dev-lin-Glass, Honorary Associate Professor, Deakin University

‘In her detailed analysis of paramythic transformation, changes wrought by Greek Australian writers on the oral storytelling practices of their homeland, Anna Dimitriou offers a powerful demonstration of the ways in which diasporic writing bridges the gap between local and global, multicultural and cosmo-politan.’ —Wenche Ommundsen, University of Wollongong

Author Information

Dr. Anna Dimitriou gained a PhD in Literary Studies in 2014 from Deakin University and is currently teaching in the Dean’s School of Humanities and Communication Arts at Western Sydney University.


Anthem Studies in Global English Literatures

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgements; 1. Greek Australian Literature: Between Multiculturalism and World Literature; 2. Diasporic Transformations of the Oral Traditional Paramythi; 3. Dimitris Tsaloumas: Outspoken Visionary Poet or Disillusioned Exile?; 4. Antigone Kefala: Writing against Aphanisis; 5. Fotini Epanomitis’s The Mule’s Foal: A Literature of Transgression; 6. Christos Tsiolkas’s Dead Europe: A Polyphonic Tale of Protest; 7. Helen Koukoutsis’s Cicada Chimes: Shifting between Worlds; 8. Stylianos Charkianakis: Paramythic Transformations through Poetry; 9. Dean kalimnios: Religious Surrealist or Proud Neo-Hellenic Scholar?; 10. Conclusion: Towards a Rereading of Greek Australian Literature; Index


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