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February 27 , 2008

Enlightenment and Revolution


Greece sits at the center of a geopolitical storm that threatens the stability of the European Union. To comprehend how this small country precipitated such an outsized crisis, it is necessary to understand how Greece developed into a nation in the first place. Enlightenment and Revolution identifies the ideological traditions that shaped a religious community of Greek-speaking people into a modern nation-state – albeit one in which antiliberal forces have exacted a high price. Paschalis Kitromilides takes in the vast sweep of the Greek Enlightenment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, assessing developments such as the translation of modern authors into Greek; the scientific revolution; the rediscovery of the civilization of classical Greece; and a powerful countermovement. He shows how Greek thinkers such as Voulgaris and Korais converged with currents of the European Enlightenment, and demonstrates how the Enlightenment's confrontation with Church-sanctioned ideologies shaped present-day Greece. When the nation-state emerged from a decade-long revolutionary struggle against the Ottoman Empire in the early nineteenth century, the dream of a free Greek polity was soon overshadowed by a romanticized nationalist and authoritarian vision. The failure to create a modern liberal state at that decisive moment is at the root of Greece's recent troubles.
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