Biography. Georgios Viziinos was born in 1849 in Thrace. He was left fatherless at the age of five and at the age of ten was sent to Constantinople, close to a relative in order to learn the art of sewing. Two years later, after the death of his tyrannical relative, was sent in Nicosia, Cyprus as an underling of Archbishop Sofronios B’.
In the literary work of Viziinos one can find evidence from the Fanariotes tradition, with elements influenced from European literary mainstream of his time.
He was the founder of the Greek short story. He gave to the successors a work saturated in deep contemplation and ingenious conception. He was also been exiled, as it usually happened with great artists, those who unconsciously stepped outside the rules of society;
Viziinos introduces us to a world of fairytale. Here heaven and hell border, almost overlap, like two provinces of the undivided territory called life. Along with his melancholically view of the phenomenon of life, transfers a hopeful message of the divine presence on earth, while confesses his faith in a (superior to the physical) afterlife reality. In order to describe the allegorical meanings in which Viziinos dresses the illness, we shall take into account the Christian teachings of Plotinus metaphysics, particularly two views on existence and art correspondingly, which influenced Viziinos as a writer.
On illness, death and salvation
In the story “My Mother’s Sin” Annio’s illness isn’t logically interpreted. The author isn’t interested in describing the physical pain of the heroine, but rather to present the methods the rest of the heroes apply during their effort to save her. And thus the illness is described a “satanic passion”.
The story begins with the care of Annio’s mother and brothers to her. She enjoys her family’s care without becoming arrogant. Instead, as the situation deteriorates, the greater the generosity. Despite the Christian attitude of the heroes, robust and diseased, Annio’s health is not improving. The narrator notes, even timid, the lack of divine justice, because the good and virtuous are not rewarded for their behavior.
Illness changes people. Mother, after unsuccessfully testing the wishful thinking of the Church, concludes that religion and superstition must be reconciled. She hangs an amulet next to her daughter’s cross and ties her cloth in a miraculous sign. As a last “medical” resort, they decide to leave Annio at the church “so to be saved from the satanic passion, which threatens her tree of life.” The image of the goblins, cutting the tree of life, is supplemented by the stating that the demons resist “the invisible war between them and the divine grace” for forty days. After those days, “evil is defeated and shame disappears”.
The passage continues with the image of God triumphing over the illness: “Patients feel the writhing of the last battle inside their bodies and see their enemy leaving in a strange shape particularly at the time they pass through the Agia”. But there are some who can’t stand it. The weak are overwhelmed by the size of the power and size of the miracle. However they don’t repent for it. Because if they lose their lives, at least they gainthe most valuable; the salvation of their soul “.
Our attention is again drawn at the end of the section. Even in the case of death, the miracle has been occurred since man gains salvation of the soul and God triumphs over “evil” disease. The initial timid criticism of the absence of divine mercy, at this point is reversed. The narrator resorts to “unknown is the willing of God” which, even when they seem unfair or lead to death, hide a message of hope, opening the gates of higher and more effective life of the soul.
Then a new narrative cycle begins, introducing us to a world more mysterious than that of superstition. Mother calls the spirit of the deceased father. The adult narrator does not negatively assesses the retreat into a transcendental world. Instead, he does something impressive. He describes the passage of the soul as miraculous, in the form of a chrysalis. It creates the impression that Annio, by drinking the holy water, which her father’s soul touched she is finally cured: “The patient didn’t open her eyes, but (…) drank a few drops from that water, which was to heal her”.
However the picture concludes not with Annio’s return to the world of the living, but with her passage to the world of the deceased. “Once she swallowed and opened her eyes (…) she was dropped on her mother’s hands. Poor Annio! She is redeemed by her pain!” we read.
Earlier the narrator said that those who die save their souls. Here he complements that death heals man from earthly suffering. Then, mature Giorge, on the occasion of the revelation his mother’s “sin” (of negligence while breastfeeding Annio) and pondering the alternation of life and death, which governs family life, understands that his mother’s life on earth is a “horrible and unforgiving hell.” In connection with death, which had earlier presented to redeem people from earthly suffering, life in contrary is rendered as a continuous process of atonement. Then, the adult narrator decides to show his mother” God’s great mercy and righteousness”.