Myths of the Afterlife in E. Fakinou’s The Seventh Garment

Myth Reading Group

Thursday 2 June

12.00-1.30pm in Room 3.318

This week Eirini Apanomeritaki introduces a discussion of myths of the afterlife in

E. Fakinou’s The Seventh Garment.

KleeTheMessengerOfAutumn-1922

Paul Klee (1879-1940), The Messenger of Autumn (1922), Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, USA [work on the public domain]

Often seen as a retelling of key events of Modern Greek history with mythical elements, Eugenia Fakinou’s The Seventh Garment (1983) narrates the tragic story of a family through three female narrators: Mana, the mother, Eleni, the daughter, and Roula, the granddaughter. The three generations meet when the last male member of the family, Fotos, is dying and an ancient pagan ritual is about to be practiced to ensure his entrance to the Underworld. According to the ritual, the blood-stained garments of former male members of the family must be placed around the dying man, so that the ancestral spirits guide him to the other side.

Fakinou’s magical realist text revives ancient myths, the most prominent being that of the loss of Persephone, pagan beliefs and funeral rites which are also juxtaposed with Christian faith, and modern views on customs and rituals of the Greek countryside. The women’s internal monologues reveal their own painful experience of history but also how the Modern Greek state was founded upon a combination of myth, folklore and religion.

Eugenia Fakinou, The Seventh Garment, trans. by Ed Emery, (London and New York: Serpent’s Tail, 1991), pp.98-113.

See our poster, the extract from The Seventh Garment, and a blog entry for some additional information on Fakinou’s magical realism.

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