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Although many academic scholars in the fields of literature and history, especially from the 90s onwards, have shown an advanced interest for 19th century Greek popular novel, popular literature of the 20th century remains a little-researched academic field. More specifically, the flourishing era of the 50s and the 60s is still unexplored.
During that period, popular press in Greece developed and was organized, mainly via magazines and booklets oriented to children and teenagers.
So, in this case, the reflection about popular literature is combined with the problematic on children literature. In this study, we make a spherical presentation of the Greek popular magazines for children and teenagers during the 50s and the 60s.
The first phase of Greek popular culture dates back to the first centuries of the Ottoman Occupation, most notably from the 16th until the 18th century. These works were being published by Greek publishers living in Venice and were being distributed to the Greek-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire by itinerant merchants. Thus, a popular readership was also formed which, although socially and economically diverse, remained distinguished from the scholars 1.
As the 18th century handed over to the 19th, gradually Greek popular literature acquired its modern features. Indeed, popular novel overwhelmed Greek society, but met with opposition from the intellectuals who supported ethnocentric ideas and moral didacticism. Cover of a representative popular novel of the 19th century. Its title is Homeland and Love and it was written by the military Nikolaos Votiras.
The title of the first edition, which was held on , was The sword of vengeance. The first professional writers, not only of popular fiction, but also in general, were people of the press, mainly journalists. Cover of a bandit novel, entitled The Bandits of Dilesi. It was written by one of the most important authors in this genre, Aristeidis Kiriakos. Aimilios the Athenian. These new genres thrived in the new type of family magazines, released by the major publishers of the time 5.
Our interest focuses more on the genre of crime fiction, because it had a multifarious impact on the popular literature for children and teenagers during 50s and 60s. Crime fiction achieved great commercial success, notably via magazines specialized on this genre; in these magazines, for the first time, we can clearly recognize the dominant influence of American popular culture.
In fact, the most successful magazine was called Mask first released in , a title most likely inspired by the classic American pulp magazine Black Mask 6. The cover of the third issue of the first publishing period of the Mask magazine, which released in Despite financial and other difficulties, publishers continued to release various magazines and booklets, with frequent references to the current affairs. After the end of the Civil War —49 , the whole decade of the 50s was marked by the predominance of the right-wing political forces.
As a result, an introvert and conservative ethnocentrism was propagandized and established, especially in the fields of culture and education. On the other hand, the Greek economy gradually developed and also lifestyle and mentalities of a large part of the population, notably the one living in the urban areas, was opened towards the West.
Therefore, Greek popular culture as a whole press, literature, cinema and music was strongly influenced by the United States. We must also take account of the historical progress of the Greek literature for children and teenagers.
An initial interest in the development of literature oriented excursively to children and teenagers was grown during the 19th century, when some litterateurs wrote poems, tales and entire novels in this aspect and also by the release of some short-lived children magazines. After the second half of the 20th century, literature for children and young adults took two opposite directions: high literature which was promoted by people of the educational system, especially teachers and had fundamentally instructive purpose and popular literature, which will be presented below 7.
Indeed, since the late 40s, Greek popular literature was fully developed and organized. After taking under consideration the available lists and archives of writers, publishers and illustrators, we came to huge numbers: above one hundred publishers, above eighty writers and more or less twenty illustrators were working in the field of popular publications.
Most of them had a limited, transient and short presence and only a few of them had undoubtedly a leading role and of course a huge impact on the others 8. Punch , whose roots are deep into the eastern tradition 9. The most common form in which these stories of various thematic directions were being released, was series of booklets with a few pages made by cheap newsprint paper. Publishing a series of stories for children and teenagers in popular magazines or newspapers was a relatively rare practice.
However, the vast majority of the writers were, as expected, mainly journalists with a career in the Athenian press. In many situations, Greek writers used foreign names, fictitious or real ones, mostly of American writers who were famous even in the Greek readership, because by this choice their creations would be accepted and more successful.
If we examine the most famous titles, American influence will become even more noticeable. The magazine with the bigger commercial success and impact was entitled Little Hero. Its protagonist is a teenager, named Giorgos Thalassis his last name probably refers to the word thalassa, the sea, a natural element that has turned into a symbol for the Modern Greek cultural identity. Giorgos, who takes part in the guerilla resistance against the German Occupation, although he is a young man, gifted with not only great bravery, but also with the powers of a superhero and the knowledge of an almost wise man.
He knows how to drive all kinds of cars, especially the military ones and also to pilot all kinds of aircrafts; he knows Japanese martial arts and he can speak English, German and many other languages fluently. In addition, the guerilla group in which he belongs, an organization managed by the British Allies, has equipped him with modern, even futuristic, weapons and various devices, such as a special key that open all locks.
Little Hero was written by Stelios Anemodouras — , the most significant writer and publisher of popular literature for children and adults during 50s and 60s Cover of issue 83 of Little Hero; its title is indicative: The Greek flag waving. Burroughs Tarzan. Certainly, it is more accurate to characterize this series as a remake of the original material, a readjustment to the conditions and mindset of the Greek urban society of the 50s.
The writer of the series, Nikos Routsos — , has put next to the known British Tarzan, a Greek version of him, another superhero who also lives in the jungle and who had been also raised by monkeys, but his origins are Greek and his name is Gkaour a name that resembles to the degrading word that the Ottomans used against Greeks: gkiaouris i.
The relations between Gkaour and Tarzan are contradictory, sometimes they are friends and some other wild competitors. The dipole of the two protagonists is framed by many other characters, human, animalistic and monstrous, a whole fantastic world, with many elements of the horror genre, conceived by Nikos Routsos, a representative creator of popular culture.
Routsos was not only writer of popular stories, but also a lyricist of some of the most iconic Greek popular songs Cover of issue 31 of the second publishing period of Gkaour Tarzan. Its title is The fierce humanimal and it was released in Of course, Little Sheriff belongs to the western genre and its stories take place in the Wild West, but the most original and interesting - we would say a native - point is that the protagonist, the teenager Jim Adams, has Greek origins and his real name is Dimitris Adamopoulos.
In particular, Jim Adams originates from Mani, a region in Greece famous for the free spirit and the heroism of its inhabitants These young men are always accompanied by female characters of the same age, which are clearly more passive and sensitive. However, when it is required by the plot, they transform into dynamic figures who take part in the action. This ambiguous treatment that writers show towards their heroines is probably due to the efforts of the latter to satisfy the female minor readers.
Of course the couple is connected by an innocent, platonic love. Along with the main couple, also some stable comic characters appear, carrying a humorous tone that comes in contrary with the serious, dynamic and sometimes tragic side of the protagonists. Especially, through some specific characteristics of these comic heroes, such as gluttony, foolishness or even physical deformity, we are able to realize the deep and multivarious past of Greek popular literature and culture in general Basic principles were didacticism, attention to the specific nature of juvenile psychology and the sentient influence of traditional Greek culture, e.
But this effort has bore its fruit after the 70s, so until then, popular literature gained the preference of the young readers. Besides, these magazines were part of a thriving and multilateral popular culture, which also included cinema and music. Of course both cinema and music during the 50s and the 60s in Greece came under the solid influence of American popular culture; the invasion of rock and roll and jazz, generally of American dance music is a typical example for the former and the introduction of new film genres such as romantic comedy and film noir is a typical example for the latter Under these special circumstances, the rare situation where the Church and the Left had a similar negative approach towards American influenced popular culture is fully understood.
Cover of an important Greek rock music collection of , depicting scenery of Gkaour Tarzan The first obstacle to the detection of the readership of these magazines is the mediation of many years between the period of the reading consumption until our days and the second one the lack of bibliographical and other information on the circulation of the magazines, especially in areas outside Athens. Therefore, in order to acquire some more solid information for the reading habits, we are running a project of interviewing old readers of popular magazines of the 50s and the 60s, who nowadays are at the age of 55 to 65 years old.
More particularly, we have already conducted eight in-depth interviews: four of them were held in Athens, the capital city of Greece and the other four in Volos, a provincial town of about Also, five of the interviewees are men, while three of them women.
The analysis of this rich material, which can be considered as part of the undiscovered oral history of Greek popular press of the 50s and the 60s 17 , certainly overcomes the limits of this specific article, whereas a reference to the main points can me made here.
The too other successful titles was Gkaour Tarzan and the Greek edition of Comics Illustrated, which made a great impression on children of that era, as colorful comics in general was something totally new for them.
Children came in first contact with these magazines via interaction with older children, relatives and friends. But also these magazines were constantly in their plain sight, hanging out of the kiosks of their neighborhoods. It is important to point out that this exchanging activity functioned as a factor of socialization among children.
Finally, the circle of reading and exchanging of these magazines was coming to an end, when our interlocutors were in their early teen years, due to various reasons: from a general change of interests until the lack of free time, because of the inevitable beginning of a usually demanding manual work or from shifting to other aspects of popular culture, i. Indeed, from early 70s onwards, American and Italian science fiction, superheroic and war comics which of course already were part of the pulp magazines content, prevailed over the Greek creations, as the publishers preferred them because they had lower cost.
New publishing companies appeared which were familiar with the new technologies, but also synchronized to the new needs of the young readers But, although this interpretation for the decline of popular magazines seems the most reasonable and historically documented, even nowadays to some extent it is commonly believed that these magazines, for example Little Hero, were censored by military dictatorship regime imposed on Greece in This interpretation is the result of journalists and writers, most of them Leftists, which during the 80s saw popular literature of the 50s and 60s in the light of their own personal nostalgia for their childhood and adolescence.
Although this perspective has reached to some conclusions, should be replaced by a more spherical and complete one, which will take into account the historical, social and economic components of the phenomenon of popular literature. The present study constitutes an attempt of such an approach.
Anemodouras Stelios, Mikros Iros, T. Chanos Dimitris, I laiki logotehnia, T. I laiki logotehnia, T. Vasileiou — Vasiliou — ]. Danforth Loring M. Delonis Antonis, Elliniki paidiki logotehnia, — apo tis protes rizes os tin epohi mas, Athina Irakleitos Dermentzopoulos Christos, To listriko mithistorima stin Ellada: mythoi — anaparastaseis — ideologia, Athina Plethron Kassis Kyriakos, Elliniki paralogotehnia kai comics , Athina I. Accessed May 29, Moullas Panagiotis, O horos tou efimerou, stoiheia gia thn paralogotehnia tou 19ou ai.
Routsos Nikos D. Ilias Lagios , Athens katarti publications ]. The presentation of the material is based on the various genres of the magazines. O Giannis Maris kai ta eikonografimena astinomika serial sto harti, 31 Maiou
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