Performing Arts
Parabases

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

This year’s Parabases, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center’s series of semi-staged performances, will focus on the heroes of the great myths and narratives, exploring the evolution of the hero model from the ancient era until the present day.

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Starting from emblematic hero figures of the ancient era (Achilles, Orestes) and looking at  characteristic heroes of the Renaissance and the late Enlightenment (Don Quijote, Hero of the Revolution) along the way, we will arrive to the anti-heroes of the contemporary world, in an attempt to provide an unconventional narrative of mankind’s coming-of-age, as it is reflected in its stories and its myths.

Through the archetypal texts of six important poets and authors (Homer, Aeschylus, Μiguel de Cervantes, Yannis Makriyiannis, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Thomas Bernhard), we will follow the gradual emancipation of heroes from the gods and the grand narratives, and their painful landing into the contemporary world. Here, where the anti-heroes fight against futility and despair, finding reprieve either in irony and cynicism, or madness and withdrawal. Orphaned of both avengers and protectors, they desperately seek to lose themselves in a myth that will dictate their next move and their next sentence.

Date
17/01/2021
Time
17.00
Location
Live Streaming
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Contributors

Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground

Only a few years before the publication of his major novels, Dostoevsky releases one of his strangest and most groundbreaking works, under the title “Notes from Underground”. Written in the style of a delirious confession, Notes from Underground features a distinctive structure, being, in essence, comprised of two autonomous works: a philosophical essay in the form of a dialogue with the reader, and a novella entitled “Apropos of the wet snow”. The hero or, more accurately, the anti-hero of both works is an anonymous middle-aged civil servant, sick and resentful, steeped in bitterness and rage, who lives in isolation “underground”, in his basement. Having set himself apart from the rest of humankind, he violently attacks the social ideals of “happiness” and “success” and dares to speak of the forces that act deep within us and which we mostly refuse to acknowledge. Even the few youthful attempts of this marginalized man to come out of his “hole” and seek contact and acceptance always lead him to humiliation and, once again, into withdrawal and “self-flagellation”.

With Notes from Underground, Dostoevsky turns his attention to the contemporary lonely hero. The individual, having renounced everyone and everything, even the value of the act itself, claims the right to be passive, lazy and, potentially, useless. The Dostoevskian hero rebels against the heroic ideal itself.

I could not become malicious. In fact, I could not become anything: neither bad nor good, neither a scoundrel nor an honest man, neither a hero nor an insect. And now I am eking out my days in my corner, taunting myself with the bitter and entirely useless consolation that an intelligent man cannot seriously become anything; that only a fool can become something. Yes, sir, an intelligent nineteenth-century man must be, is morally bound to be, an essentially characterless creature; and a man of character, a man of action-an essentially limited creature. This is my conviction at the age of forty. 

The themed events programming Faces of the Hero is realized thanks to the exclusive grant by Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).

Greek Translation
Eleni Bakopoulou
Adaptation - Stage direction
Ektoras Lygizos
Performed by
Aris Servetalis
Flomaria Papadaki