Thanasis Valtinos, The Last Varlamis
Thanasis Valtinos, The Last Varlamis Trans. Stathis Gauntlett, 2016.
The name 'Varlamis' summons forth a shadowy figure from the margins of modern Greek history — the curiously recumbent protagonist of a brigand ballad of dubious authenticity. Thanasis Valtinos is clearly in his artistic element using such raw ingredients. His construction of a trajectory for the fabled bloodline from the first to the eponymous last Varlamis is a bravura performance of his trademark 'faction', an unsettling hybrid of fiction and what passes for historical fact. The Last Varlamis is an entertaining and richly nuanced tale of opportunism, lust, brutality and artistic creativity spun upon the frame of selected scenes of modern Greek history. While the narrative affects the sobriety of scholarly discourse, it violates the basic tenets of historiography with varying degrees of subtlety, as if to strike a blow for the recognition of historical memory as a function of the creative imagination.
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