Books and Good Reading
Ioannis Kondylakis was a Cretan. Born in Viannos in 1861. A student of philosophy at Chania. An academic. A writer. A school teacher. A journalist. A social Anthropologist.  A member of the 'New School' of writing in Athens - an exponent of Social Ethnography (Ethography).  Patouchas (1891) republished 1997 is a classic - a brilliant portrayal of real village life of the time.

Kondylakis taught school in Modi (Crete) and wrote over 6000 articles and short stories in his journalistic role.  His style is semi-journalistic/literary. His humour, colouring the story so brilliantly, is a mix of philosophical satire, kind humour and sometimes pure comedy.

The 18 page introduction is a review in itself. But the story of the passage rites from ignorant shepherd to civilised villager, albeit from a bygone era, will be recognised with empathy by anyone who remembers growing up!

Title: PATOUCHAS. Author: Ioannis Kondylakis.
Publisher: Efstathiadis Group. Athens, Greece. ISBN 960-226-564-7 (Paperback). Published 1997.  Price: Around 10 Euros.                                     
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Ioannis Kondylakis (1861-1920) and a number of his fellow writers founded what has since been called the New School of Athens. They wrote in the main about traditional Greek life which was beginning to change because of outside influences. They wrote using a mix of the traditional formal Greek language (katharevousa) and the spoken language of the people (demotike). Because of this use of the two forms of the language, they were able to bring a contrast and richness to their work, which – understandably – is lost in translation to English.

Patouchas is the nickname given to a Manolis, a half-wild lad who ran away from a traditional Cretan village because he was beaten at school. He lived happily in the mountains with the animals until he had a severe attack of hormones and realised there may possibly be more to life than just sheep.

Unfortunately for Patouchas, fitting back into village life is fraught with terrible problems. He is totally ignorant of the social and traditional niceties that form the intricate web of normal life and when he falls madly in love at first sight with Pighi, his passion is unrestrained and he goes so far as to try and abduct her! At that time, of course, courtship and marriage was very structured – there had first to be the agreement between the parents that their children might become engaged and then marry, during which time the young people could not be alone together. Then there was the engagement ceremony when the priest gives his blessing to the couple – after which the couple could be seen together by the rest of the community; finally there was the marriage itself, after which the young people could be together as man and wife. There were also things such as dowries to be agreed, and a house to be built.

Poor Patouchas has a lot to learn, and when Marghi, a more sophisticated girl with city ways returns to the village, he turns his attentions to her. She will have none of it, despite her widowed mother’s encouragement, as she has fallen for someone else, but the more Patouchas pursues her, the more firmly she rejects him. Marghi’s mother, Zervodopoula, becomes besotted with Patouchas and encourages him to kidnap Marghi – changing places with her daughter at the last minute.

It’s a bit like an opera, isn’t it? So does Patouchas find a happy ending, or does he return to the mountains? Will Zervodopoula’s middle-aged fantasy come to anything? And what about poor old Pighi?

You surely didn’t think I was going to tell you the ending did you?

Ann Lisney.

EDITORS NOTE: Our English language copy of 'Patouchas' was originally translated from the Greek Language version by Greek Cypriot Sotiroulla Syka-Karampetsou. K.Syka-Karampetsou studied in Athens and the United States, obtaining an M.A.Degree in English literature. The translation from the original Greek Language version was first copyrighted in 1984.