Juliet du Boulay

Cosmos, Life, and Liturgy
in a Greek Orthodox Village

Winner of the 2010 Runciman Award

In 1974 Juliet du Boulay published her first work, Portrait of a Greek Mountain Village, now considered a classic text for the anthropology of Modern Greece. This sequel, the fruit of a lifetime’s reflection, adds new dimensions to this portrait, exploring the all-encompassing religious awareness of the same village community, and its rootedness in both Orthodox Christian and pre- or non-Christian ideas and practices. The story is told through a steady development of rich ethnographic detail in which the people come to life in all their vitality, contradictoriness, humour, realism and courage. From the particularities of life in the village a picture is built up in which the Byzantine legacy intertwines with fragments of antiquity, both Greek and Jewish, and with the universal themes, both tragic and hopeful, which confront man as he struggles to make sense of life. In this way a compelling pattern of symbols and images is revealed which underpin every action and event in the human and natural spheres, and is described here lucidly, convincingly and with great affection.

‘It is exquisitely, sometimes lyrically, written and as ethnography it is superb. … one of the most detailed and sensitive accounts of religion as it is actually lived and experienced that has ever been written. … the entirety of the work represents her personal encounter with a form of life that in turn transformed her.’ Roger Just, Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Kent, in The Times Literary Supplement (17 September 2010).

‘ … beautifully written, penetrating, and riveting; hence, its intellectual depth. One also senses that the author is writing about a way of life that she loves and feels; the book therefore takes on a sublime quality for anyone who has heard of, imagined, or experienced such a life. For those who have never contacted this inner life of Orthodoxy … this magnificent book will be a door into an exciting new world.’ Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna in Orthodox Tradition.

‘A lovely work of ethnographic art . . . the book is virtually unsurpassed in its careful but not laborious coherence and overall development of exposition that convincingly extends the network of significant connections and at the same time presses the analysis deeper towards the ultimate grounds of Greek village imagination.’ Rodney Needham, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, All Souls College, Oxford.

‘This elegantly written and beautifully constructed book illumines the imaginative world underpinning the ordinary lives of Greek villagers, and shows how their culture has been built around the “deep structure” of their Orthodox Christian faith. As a result we are introduced to a world of profound humanity and spiritual depth. A unique experience.’ Bishop Basil of Amphipolis, Ecumenical Patriarchate.

‘In this remarkable volume, a sequel to her acclaimed study of a Greek mountain village, Juliet du Boulay shows the place of Orthodoxy in villagers' thinking. She explores the way their faith is woven into the details of their lives, especially in the imagery of the round dance, a symbol in both village and Orthodox tradition of blest communal living. The result is fascinating.’ Fr Andrew Louth, Emeritus Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies, University of Durham.

  • 480 pages, 21.6 x 13.7 cm, sewn binding, 32 black and white plates, 2009
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Cosmos, Life, and Liturgy in a Greek Orthodox Village is the eighteenth publication in The Romiosyni Series.

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