chapter  1
Whose Byzantinism – Ours or eirs? On the Issue of Byzantinism from a Cultural Semiotic Perspective
Pages 32

Modern European culture has shown a far-reaching engagement with Byzantium, the meaning of being Byzantine and the issue of Byzantinism. Writers have declared their preoccupation with Byzantium,1 while certain critics and intellectuals have come out as dedicated Byzantines.2 Byzantine qualities and Byzantinism have been characterised as neither Eastern nor Western,3 or – on the contrary – as being both Western and Eastern.4 Meanwhile ‘Byzantinisms’ signify conventionally lengthy, sophisticated and obscure discussions but may also in particular cases denote a positive aspect of the art of speaking indirectly.5 Though these various uses of Byzantium and its derivatives are unclear and often contradictory, a common denominator seems

1 The Modern Greek poet Giorgos Seferis in a letter to G. C. Katsimbalis, quoted in Roderick Beaton, ‘“Our glorious Byzantinism”: Papatzonis, Seferis, and the Rehabilitation of Byzantium in Postwar Greek Poetry’, in D. Ricks and P. Magdalino, eds, Byzantium and the Modern Greek Identity, Centre for Hellenic Studies, King’s College London, Publications 4 (London, 1998), 134-5.