Kate Papari
University of the Peloponnese | Hellenic Open University Press
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Greekness (Ελληνικότητα) and Germanness (Deutschtum) during the Interwar: An Entangled History of Colonization of the Past
Dedalus 25 (2021), pp. 47-69. Download PDF
The interwar period was a fertile period of intellectual debates and exchanges between intellectuals in the North and South Europe, despite the regional tensions and inequalities. The essay discusses the quest for the meaning of Greekness and Germaneness in the years of the interwar crisis and identifies the mutual points of intersection between two seemingly different stories. It focuses on cultural exchanges that deploy uses of classical antiquity and its adjustment to the present to remedy the identity-crisis that experienced Germany and Greece respectively, by examining the entangled ‘topography’ of Germanness and Greekness and by analyzing the writings and program of the German poet Stefan George as well as his influence on Greek intellectuals. The essay analyzes the intellectual foundations of George’s program and the attempt to redefine Germanness through classical antiquity, while it also documents George’s reception by Modern Greek thought. The reception of George’s ideas and the exploration of the writings of his Greek counterparts raise issues concerning the cultural and spiritual excavation of antiquity and the ensuing antagonism regarding the interpretation and meaning of this tradition. Intellectuals on both sides attempted in different terms to establish a dominant Greek/German universality, by dictating a borderless and ecumenical vision of their spiritual hegemony across Europe.
Keywords: Humanism, Classical Antiquity, Roman Antiquity, Greekness, Germanness, Stefan George, Intellectuals, Idealism, Interwar period