A Naked Girl

Translated from the Greek by Stephanos Zotos

by Nikos Athanassiades

What a strange, curious, sensual book. I’ve had it on my shelf a long time. Tried reading it years ago and stopped because it made me uncomfortable, but kept it around for some reason. This time I found it- interesting, let’s say. I won’t hesitate to give SPOILERS because well, I doubt many of you will find this book (copies out there are few) and maybe you won’t want to read it after what I say here. Strong points? it has very vivid imagery about the sea, the weather, the gulls and fishes, shrimps and little crabs. It has some very interesting characters but also disturbing stuff and warning: bestiality (not explicit but very strongly hinted at) that is kinda glorified.

It’s about a young man in Greece who has just been scorned by the girl he loves (there’s a chapter that feels like it’s out of Jane Austen, with them at a social function talking a whole lot of circles around each other) and doesn’t want to face his parents’ insistence that he choose and work for a career. He goes to a remote spot to live in a hut on the beach and experience solitude. But doesn’t get that. Nearby lives an fisherman with his kids- a young woman named Angela and several much younger children. There’s also a friendly drunk with a leaky boat who tells crazy tales. The drunk insists that the fisherman’s daughter is a mermaid, and all the people in the nearby village call her “the wild one”.

Our protagonist Dimitri humors the drunk, goes out on the boat hunting octopus with the fisherman, and feels strangely drawn to the wild girl, Angela. In fact he goes on and on about her body, obviously lusting for her. It’s kind of irritating to this modern reader how much Angela is objectified. Dimitri is constantly going on about how beautiful her body is, obviously lusting for her. Her father the fisherman though, talks about how women are only good for keeping house, must be beaten into obedience by their husbands, and constantly mentions that he has to marry her off for her own good. No wonder Angela is constantly full of anger- in the story it’s anger for how the ocean is treated (although she herself displays viciousness, once biting the eye out of a living octopus). She spends hours in the ocean, swimming far out beyond areas people consider safe. She often says strange things, evades questions, and insists she knows all about the sea, and thinks that shooting stars fall into the sea to become starfish. There’s two other strange things in this story: petrified trees and dolphins. Up a steep hillside from the village is a standing petrified forest, and deep in the ocean is a huge sunken petrified tree. The villagers say it’s haunted and avoid the spot, the wild girl says it hosts a spirit and she’s not afraid of it . . .

Eventually Dimitri realizes there’s a large dolphin hanging around. The fishermen hate dolphins for chasing fish away or stealing their catch, in fact there’s a bounty on them. The girl Angela loves to swim with this one particular dolphin, and when Dimitri witnesses her doing so, he perceives their behavior as amorous and is wildly jealous. He determines to hunt down and kill the dolphin, though denying his plans to Angela when she gets suspicious of his intentions and demands him not to do it. In the end, there is a chaotic bloody struggle out at open sea in a small boat, the dolphin is killed, and Angela in distress and anger swims out into the ocean, never seen again. Although years later Dimitri sees a wild dolphin swimming alongside a boat, which has a scar just like one Angela had on her body, and gives him a hateful look. He feels sure that she turned into a dolphin and is living in the sea.

Of all things, this book reminded me of Castaway, because of how often Dimitri or Angela casually strolled around naked. Sometimes they attempted modesty, and other times they didn’t care. There’s a interesting interaction between Angela and the high-society girl Dimitri had admired, when she comes looking for him. There’s a few other minor characters, but most of the narrative is about Dimitri going around in the boat, finding the girl swimming in the ocean, and planning to hunt the dolphin. It’s very passionate and rather surreal too. I rolled my eyes plenty of times.

Rating: 3/5
217 pages, 1964

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

DISCLAIMER:

All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL:

Subscribe to my blog:

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

VIEW MY PERSONAL COLLECTION:

TRADE BOOKS WITH ME ON:

ARCHIVES: 

2021
January 2021 (14)February 2021 (13)March 2021 (14)April 2021 (7)May 2021 (10)June 2021 (5)July 2021 (10)August 2021 (27)September 2021 (16)October 2021 (8)
2020
January 2020 (14)February 2020 (6)March 2020 (10)April 2020 (1)May 2020 (10)June 2020 (15)July 2020 (13)August 2020 (26)September 2020 (10)October 2020 (9)November 2020 (16)December 2020 (22)
2019
January 2019 (12)February 2019 (9)March 2019 (5)April 2019 (10)May 2019 (9)June 2019 (6)July 2019 (18)August 2019 (13)September 2019 (13)October 2019 (7)November 2019 (5)December 2019 (18)
2018
January 2018 (17)February 2018 (18)March 2018 (9)April 2018 (9)May 2018 (6)June 2018 (21)July 2018 (12)August 2018 (7)September 2018 (13)October 2018 (15)November 2018 (10)December 2018 (13)
2017
January 2017 (19)February 2017 (12)March 2017 (7)April 2017 (4)May 2017 (5)June 2017 (8)July 2017 (13)August 2017 (17)September 2017 (12)October 2017 (15)November 2017 (14)December 2017 (11)
2016
January 2016 (5)February 2016 (14)March 2016 (5)April 2016 (6)May 2016 (14)June 2016 (12)July 2016 (11)August 2016 (11)September 2016 (11)October 2016 (9)November 2016 (1)December 2016 (3)
2015
January 2015 (9)February 2015 (9)March 2015 (11)April 2015 (10)May 2015 (10)June 2015 (2)July 2015 (12)August 2015 (13)September 2015 (16)October 2015 (13)November 2015 (10)December 2015 (14)
2014
January 2014 (14)February 2014 (11)March 2014 (5)April 2014 (15)May 2014 (12)June 2014 (17)July 2014 (22)August 2014 (19)September 2014 (10)October 2014 (19)November 2014 (14)December 2014 (14)
2013
January 2013 (25)February 2013 (28)March 2013 (18)April 2013 (21)May 2013 (12)June 2013 (7)July 2013 (13)August 2013 (25)September 2013 (24)October 2013 (17)November 2013 (18)December 2013 (20)
2012
January 2012 (21)February 2012 (19)March 2012 (9)April 2012 (23)May 2012 (31)June 2012 (21)July 2012 (19)August 2012 (16)September 2012 (4)October 2012 (2)November 2012 (7)December 2012 (19)
2011
January 2011 (26)February 2011 (22)March 2011 (18)April 2011 (11)May 2011 (6)June 2011 (7)July 2011 (10)August 2011 (9)September 2011 (14)October 2011 (13)November 2011 (15)December 2011 (22)
2010
January 2010 (27)February 2010 (19)March 2010 (20)April 2010 (24)May 2010 (22)June 2010 (24)July 2010 (31)August 2010 (17)September 2010 (18)October 2010 (11)November 2010 (13)December 2010 (19)
2009
January 2009 (23)February 2009 (26)March 2009 (32)April 2009 (22)May 2009 (18)June 2009 (26)July 2009 (34)August 2009 (31)September 2009 (30)October 2009 (23)November 2009 (26)December 2009 (18)
2008
January 2008 (35)February 2008 (26)March 2008 (33)April 2008 (15)May 2008 (29)June 2008 (29)July 2008 (29)August 2008 (34)September 2008 (29)October 2008 (27)November 2008 (27)December 2008 (24)
2007
August 2007 (12)September 2007 (28)October 2007 (27)November 2007 (28)December 2007 (14)
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
1990
1989
1988
1987
1986
1985
1984
1983
1982
1981
1980
1979
1978
1977
1976
1975
1974
1973
1972
1971
1970
1969
1968
1967
1966
1965
1964
1963
1962
1961
1960
1959
1958
1957
1956
1955
1954
1953
1952
1951
1950