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February 10, 1984 - Image 13

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-02-10
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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Greek
tragedy'
Eleni
By Nicholas Gage
Random House
470 p., $15.95
By Margaret Leaming
Eleni is the story of a Greek peasant
woman executed by Communist
guerrillas and her son Nicholas Gage's
search for vengeance. This 'tragedy'
has as its backdrop the Greek civil war,
which lasted from 1940 to 1949 and in
which 600,000 Greeks were killed.
Nicholas Gage's work as a New York
Times' investigative reporter an-
ticipated his search for the man who
had orchestrated his mother's torture,,
and execution in 1948. Gage remarks in
Part I of his book that "I was uncon-
sciously honing my skills and training
myself for the task I had chosen as a
boy: To find out what happened to my
mother and who was responsible for her
death."
Gage succeeds in painting a

multidimensional portrait of a woman
who was a mother; wife and daughter.
In the course of his investigation into
his mother's death, Gage "glimpses a
more complex and ambiguous person"
than he knew as a child, "a troubled
peasant woman who tried to live by, the
rules of a primitive mountain culture'
that constituted her world, and when
they failed her, defied them."
Gage also comes to realize that his
mother had "a strength that I now know
is given to few."
Eleni lived in the mountain village of
Lia her entire 41 years. There she gave
birth to five children, the youngest
Nicholas. Christos, Eleni's husband,
had left Greece before the Second
World War erupted to make a new start
in the United States, but returned for
periodic visits. He earned enough
money to support his family and him-
self by selling produce.
Because her parents had wanted her
to stay and look after them in their old
age, Eleni elected not to join her
husband, despite the signs of impending
civil war.
Eleni's tragic end is heightened by
the realization that, in a sense, her fate
was unayoidable, that she was the vic-
tim not only of her fellow men, but also
of forces beyond her control. In 1949 the
Communist Provisional Government
implemented the "pedomasoma,"
which means "the gathering up of
children." All children ages three to 14

..................... .................... - --------- - -

in Communist-occupied Greece were to
be sent to "people's democracies" in the
Soviet Union.
Not able to bear the thought of giving
up her children, especially Nicholas
who was "of all her children (one of)
the two who were most the flesh of her
flesh," Eleni arranged the escape of
four of her children from Lia: She was
subsequently arrested and accused of
'plotting' their escape and tortured so
,that she would confess to her 'crime.'
At her kangaroo court trial most of the
villagers spoke in her defense, but the
presiding judges sentenced her to be
executed anyway.
When Gage visits Katis, one of the
judges who presided at Eleni's trial and
who had been most instrumental in her
torture, he can not bring himself to kill

the old man. Gage comes to know him-
self and his capacity for love and hate
now awai'e that he can't summon the
will to avenge his mother. The legacy
he had inherited from his mother,
"love, the only survival, the only
meaning," revealed itself. This legacy
not only defines Gage's existence but,
so he realizes, made his existence
possible.
Eleni's story is especially relevant in
light of present day struggles between
East and West. According to a Greek
proverb, "When buffalo battle in the
marsh, it's the frogs' that pay."
Statistics tend to be numbing. It is only
on this very human level that one can
understand the suffering that war
brings in its wake and empathize with
those caught in its maelstrom. E

Coming.,
Beginning in May,. and continuing
for as long as they sell, Dell Books is
releasing a new "men's adventure
books" multi-series. There will be
three different series: Hawker, which
leads off the program, is about a
.rugged, tight-lipped ex-Chicago cop
with a distrust of all politicians and a
strong belief that the punishment
should always equal the crime;
Traveler will relate the adventures of
a man whose only mission in life is to
stay one step ahead of death in the

Atlmchons
year 2004 A.D., 15 years after World
War III; The Black Berets, the last
series scheduled to be released, con-
cerns the exploits of a freelance mer-
cenary team that first came together
during the Vietnam War. With these
three series, Dell hopes to cash in on
"vast and largely untapped" market:
men, who they say have long been
ignored by traditional category fic-
tion. (Price: $2.25 each. To be
published by Dell Books, starting in
May.) - Mark Kulkis

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CIRMENOWS

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DELTA TAU DELTA & WIQB
BASKETBALL BOUNCE FROM MSU
TO U-M * 2/11/84 * TO HELP ARTHRITIS

16 Weekend/February 10, 1984

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