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Translation of Modern Greek Literature - M. B. Hatzopoulos: Betwixt and Between

M. B. Hatzopoulos, En Merei Hellenizon (Hestia, Athens, May 2009), Betwixt & Between (Armida Books, 2014)

Translated into English by Irene Noel-Baker

Betwixt and Between

Betwixt and Between is the first volume in Hatzopoulos's trilogy, set in Cyprus in the 50s, during the violent period of struggle against British Colonial rule. It recounts the transition of a Greek boy to manhood in a world of divided loyalties, during the time of Makarios, EOKA nationalism, and late colonial revanchism. Although the tragic invasion of '74 and the division of the island tend to be forgotten, Cyprus is still a divided country, with a rich and fascinating history, which because of its strategic position in the middle east has been invaded and occupied again and again throughout its history. In this novel what happened in Cyprus in the 50s is mirrored cleverly in the personal experiences of the protagonists. Dimitri is a lover of medieval poetry and architecture, fascinated by the history of his island, an admirer of T.S. Eliot, Cavafy and Seferis. He reads detective stories by Dorothy L. Sayers, learns French and explores the differences between his own orthodox religion and the Protestant of the residing Anglicans. His perception of the clashes in ideology, the different perceptions of religion, and the resultant perceived hypocrisy of the British, strike chords across the decades and provide illuminating insights for English readers and historians today. This nostalgic novel is also a splendid travelling companion to Cyprus, as it conjures up in detail and with fascinating historical insights the islands' three romantic cities: Nicosia, Kyrenia, Famagusta, before they were irreperably defaced during the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Through the pages of this learned, amusing and sophisticated novel we here fascinating tales of medieval Cyprus, a kingdom and staging post for crusading knights and Venetian merchants, and we begin to understand how Cyprus came to find itself so enduringly, and fascinatingly, betwixt and between.

Betwixt and Between

Miltiades Hatzopoulos is an ancient historian, member of the Institut de France (Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres), Director of the Research Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity and Vice-President of The National research Foundation (Athens). He has published twenty volumes of monographs, epigraphic corpora, collections of essays etc. and more than a hundred shorter scientific contributions. His last book is entitled La Macedoine: Geographie historique, langue, cultes et croyances, institutions (Paris 2006). For his contribution to scholarship he has been awarded the Bronze medal of the Athens Academy.

“Read En Merei Hellenizon by M. B. Hatzopoulos, which has just been published by Hestia. It takes place in Cyprus during the time of the liberation struggle. It is the history of a young boy from a Greek-Cypriot family who lives through that struggle and of Anna, a young English girl. Perhaps one of the most tender stories written about the years ’55-’59, seen through the eyes of a youth who wavers between spirituality and patriotism, between his admiration for T.S. Eliot and the sacrifice of Karaolis, a young resistance fighter who was hung by the British.... The end of the novel is remarkable, unexpected and fatefully ironic”.
Anna Marangou
Politis, April 26 2009
“The scientific community recognises the long-standing devotion of Miltiades Hatzopoulos to science and research. He is a historian and fellow of the French Academy, director of the Research Centre for Greek and Roman Antiquity and vice president of the National Research Foundation. He has astounded everyone, however, by his involvement with literature and his first novel, entitled En Merei Hellenizon (Hestia) has charmed readers both in Greece and in Cyprus, where the novel takes place a little before and a little after the beginning of the liberation struggle in 1955.”
Olga Sella
Kathimerini, 3 May 2009
“His astonishing descriptions of the topography, particularly of Nicosia but also of the mediaeval monuments of Kyrenia and Famagusta, reveal the author’s deep knowledge and love for the island and its people.”
Vassiliki Christi (the Greek literary website “Read Me”) 15 June 2009.
“You see before you the entire social mosaic of Cyprus in the ‘50s. And also the political life and the character of the people, Greeks, Turks and British. As far as the style is concerned, it is one of the best novels that I have read lately”.
Apostolos Diamantis
Eleftherotypia Sunday supplement, 6 June 2009
“This is a novel to be read in one go. A charming narrative, coherent in its construction, with a well finished depiction of character and a plot which takes unexpected turns. It keeps the reader in constant suspense”.
Georgos Georgis
Diavazo (monthly literary review) September 2009

Armida Books, Betwixt and Between

© Irene Noel-Baker (2022)