Abstract Figures: Symbols of Revolution and Decline

Farah Abdul Gawad


In an attempt to properly comprehend the Mediterranean as more than a Goliath that churns its constituents into uniform replicas of one another, historians have advocated for the demystification of the region by studying its parts individually. This essay argues that inhabitants of the region have undergone similar processes of mystification at the hands of admirers and critics alike. The Greek protagonists of Vassilis Vassilikos’ Z and Jules Dessin’s Never on Sunday, Z and Ilya, respectively, provide the main objects of study for this essay as they are both abstracted into ideals of freedom, degeneracy and hope by others. In order to reverse the process of abstraction and regain autonomy, Z and Ilya must exercise agency and reinforce their identities as humans of flesh and blood, independent of the opinions and ideas of others. The efficacy of the reversal hinges on the willingness of the abstracted individual and on his level of complicity in his own mystification.


Abstraction; Agency; Greece; Comparative Literature

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Braudel, Fernand, and Sian Reynolds. The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II: Vol. 2., 1972. Print.

Never on Sunday. Dir. Jules Dassin. Perf. Melina Mercouri. Lopert Pictures, 1960.

Vassilikos, Vassilis. Z. Translated by Marilyn Calmann. 50th Anniversary Ed, Seven Stories Press, 2017.


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