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Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres Published 1994 What are your initial reactions to the novel and its characters?

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Presentation on theme: "Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres Published 1994 What are your initial reactions to the novel and its characters?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Louis de Bernieres Published 1994 What are your initial reactions to the novel and its characters?

2 Louis de Bernieres Born in 1955 in Jordan, he was brought up in Surrey. He attained an Army scholarship to Bradfield College and was expected to pursue a military career. He spent time in South America before studying philosophy at Manchester University. ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ is his fourth novel. De Bernieres describes the novel as “what happens to the little people when megalomaniacs get busy” “History ought to consist of the anecdotes of the little people who are caught up in it”

3 Setting – the main narrative takes place on the island of Cephalonia (Kefalonia), a greek island. Capital = Argostoli The island has been occupied since at least 4000 BC 19 th Century History of Cephalonia – French occupation of island – Congress of Vienna gave Ionian islands to Britain 1821 – Greek War of Independence Kingdom of Greece established – Ionian islands left British control to form union with Greece 20 th Century History of Cephalonia – Italian and German occupations – Civil War – earthquake. 1980s onwards – increasing prosperity due to tourism; this has increased further due to the book and then the film. De Bernières only spend a fortnight in Cephalonia before writing the novel in Britan, relying on accounts of Greeks living in London.

4 The patron saint of Cephalonia is St. Gerasimos (1506 – 1579)

5 Mussolini Creator of fascism “The fascist state is a will to power and empire. The Roman tradition is here a powerful force. According to the Doctrine of Fascism, empire is not only territorial or military or mercantile concept, but a spiritual and moral one. One can think of an empire, that is, a nation, which directly or indirectly guides other nations, without the need to conquer a single square kilometre of territory.” Benito Mussolini, Giovanni Gentile, Doctrine of Fascism (1932).

6 Mussolini - Duce Originally a socialist, his WW1 experiences led him to see the importance of nationalism and he created a movement based on violence and patriotism Corruption and incompetence. Slogans, not substance. Popular slogans were: –Mussolini is always right –Believe! Obey! Fight! Mussolini once said ‘I love war!’ although was never properly prepared for it. His invasion of ally Albania was only successful because of their lack of armed forces. Hitler originally modelled his movement in part on Italian Facism. They formed an alliance in 1936.

7 World War II 1940 – Italy launches a disastrous invasion on France, attacked British in Libya and on 28 th October invaded Greece from Albania. The Greeks more or less defeated the Italians in the bitter, cold conditions in the Albanian mountains. However in April 1940, the Germans intervened to save Mussolini from humiliation, conquering Greece within 3 weeks. This meant that the island was occupied by both the Germans and Greeks at the same time.

8 WWII and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin The novel accurately depicts the war and the attitude of the Greeks to the arrival of the Italian forces. The book has received some criticism for its unhistorical representation of Italians – some claiming they could be just as cruel as the Germans. However, there is evidence that shows Italian occupiers as being friendly to the local people and are still welcomed fondly by elderly locals. Conscription for military service preceded the war, although there were some, such as Mandras, who volunteered first. There are accurate historical events in the novel, although the thoughts and actions of historical figures must be treated with caution.

9 Greek civil war As well as attacks from other nations, Greece has faced battles within its nation. The monarchy were unpopular due to their support of semi-fascist dictator Metaxas. A second civil war broke out in 1947 and lasted until 1949 when the Communists were finally defeated. It involved extreme brutality on both sides. A stable democracy was only achieved after the overthrow of another dictatorship rule between 1967 and 1974

10 Cultural context – Mothers and Sons Strongest bond in the Greek family, echoing that of the Madonna and child. Traditionally forgive their sons anything, always taking their side. If a woman never has a son, she has been deprived of her main function in life – to provide a male heir and continue his father’s name. Think about Drosoula’s relationship with Mandras. How does De Berniéres challenge this tradition?

11 Daughters and dowries Girls were not equal with boys – no congratulations were offered to a father on the birth of a girl. This brought about the dowry system – something for the daughter to offer her prospective husband as well as herself. If not money, then a plot of land/herd of goats etc. Women did not work outside the home - even the local coffee shop was exclusively for men. Men were often defined by their jobs, women were locked away from this world.

12 Motherland and Virgin Mary The Virgin Mary is a very important figure in the Greek Orthodox Church (celebrated on August 15 th ) Pelagia, who retains her virginity throughout the book, represents the island of Cephallonia and Greece – sufferings, violations and losses. Three types of love – erotic, patriotic and religious – have been a feature of Greek literature since Homer

13 Saints and superstitions Every Church in Greece is dedicated to a particular saint and each village/island has a local saint i.e. Saint Gerasimos in CC All orthodox Greeks are baptised and given the name of a saint A superstitious people, Greeks believe in the Evil Eye. They try to ward off misfortune or attract fortune by the performance of gestures, utterance of set phrases and the use of particular greetings

14 Barbarians and civil war 189BC Romans invaded Greece and conquered it for first time. Triggered an endless succession of other armies who claimed and invaded. Cavafy – ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ – poem naming chronic national fear. Greek psyche made up of the Hellene who respects reason and the Romaios who lets the heart rule the head.

15 Burial and resurrection Funeral ritual and afterlife are sacred. Easter is the most important event in the calendar. The phoenix is a mythical and immortal bird which rises anew from its own ashes – it is a significant literary and political symbol (adopted by the Greek dictatorship of 1967 – 1974). There are various characters alive, dead, presumed dead who come back from the grave or make ghostly appearances in the novel, acquiring mythical status. Think about the characters this is relevant to and why.

16 August and October Two feast days for St Gerasimos are in these months. 28 October – Metaxas in effect declared war on Italy Feast of the Virgin Mary is on August 15 th Earthquake in 1953 was in August These two months frame the personal and historical anniversaries which lend structure to the novel and memories of characters.

17 Honour and Shame Honour was extremely important amongst the Greek. An honourable death is distinctly preferable to a shameful life in Mediterranean cultures. Corelli and Dr. Iannis both have their own personal code of honour whilst characters such as Mandras and Weber face consequences for the shame that they bring.

18 Mythology De Berniéres often assumes the reader understands his many references to Greek mythology – reflecting the reality of life in Greece then and now. Stories of Greek mythology are intimately familiar to the people and frame their reference for daily life. The end scene of the novel can be a metaphorical depiction of the Three Fates of classical Greek mythology.

19 Greek Mythology Zeus – supreme among gods; his dominion was the sky Demeter – goddess of agriculture Poseidon – god of the sea (Zeus’ brother) Apollo – god of light music and poetry Dionysus – god of wine and religious ecstasy Athene – goddess of wisdom (Zeus’ daughter) Artemis – goddess of the hunt Teiresias – prophet (punished with blindness after he saw Athene bathing naked) Actaeon – legendary hunter (turned into a stag after he saw Artemis bathing naked)

20 Mandolin, Corelli and Weber Louis De Berniéres is a passionate player of the mandolin and hoped the novel would lead to a revival of it – it has. The mandolin was first employed as a serious classical instrument by the Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli during 17 th century – an outstanding violin player, best known as a composer. Carl Maria von Weber was a distinguished Austrian composer (1786 – 1826). Gűnter Weber is also Austrian.

21 TASK Devise a fact sheet that would be suitable for next years’ year 13 students. It should be a minimum of one A4 sheet (typed up for h/wk) and include the most important contextual information. If relevant, link to the novel.


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