VAN DEN BRULE, Alfred. L’Orient Hellène. Grèce-Crète-Macédoine, Paris, Félix Juven .
This publication comprises three chapters on Greece and the political situation in the country at the beginning of the twentieth century. The first chapter concerns Athens, reviewing its history from the time it was declared capital of the Greek State until the Olympic Games of 1896. Alongside a commentary on the political events, the text describes scenes of city life and habits (the tram, morning strolls and afternoon rest, open-air theatres in summertime, etc.). The author refers to earlier travel writings, such as those by E.A. Thouvenel, F.-C.-H.-L. Pouqueville, A.G. Guilletière and others. In the second part, Van der Brule discusses the Cretan Question in detail, describes the revolt in Therisos and extols the political abilities of Eleftherios Venizelos, while in general praising the Greeks. The third chapter opens with a historical overview from 1453 to the Greek War of Independence, focusing on the character of the Greeks, the role of the Phanariots, the Greek language and the schools. This is followed by a commentary on the Macedonian Question, which supports the Greek positions.
Van der Brule relies heavily on the opinions of the French politician, diplomat, Classical scholar and author V. Bérard. However, he is quite well-informed himself and had gained first-hand experience of Greece during his travels there in 1905-1906. It is possible to place him in the group of authors who at that time had undertaken to support the political agenda of one or other Balkan country, in his case Greek foreign policy. Correspondingly, at this crucial period of the early twentieth century, there are relevant publications by European authors in favour of other ethnic groups, such as the Serbs and the Bulgarians. The volume includes rare photographs of Athens during the Olympic Games, of young Eleftherios Venizelos in Therisos, the fair of St George Trimorphos in Serres, etc.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou