The Murderess, By Alexandros Papadiamantis

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The Independent Culture

Visitors who only know the island of Skiathos as a serene holiday playground will find another, far harsher, world exposed in Papadiamantis' tales of his native soil.

At the end of the 19th century, this founding father of modern Greek literature carved starkly tragic narratives of elemental passion from its landscapes and people.

In this novella, written with a lapidary force well caught in Peter Levi's translation, the old herbalist Frankojannou uses the lore snatched from a lifetime of struggle to help women.

For in this bleakly patriarchal time and place, "little princesses die more easily". A harrowing story duly unfolds, but this chillingly beautiful work should win for Papadiamantis the new English readers he certainly deserves. BT