Pope Joan

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The book Pope Joan (Papissa Ioanna) was written by Emmanuel Roidis and published in 1866 - a scathing attack on official corruption and religious bigotry - earned him excommunication by the Holy Synod, a fact that enhanced his reputation as an author.

Pope Joan has remained popular in Greece ever since it was published and was amongst the few modern Greek books that gained acceptance in Europe. The French translation alone sold several hundred thousand copies and the English one by Lawrence Durrell (from which all the quotations in this piece are taken) has been very popular too. In his Introduction to Modern Greek Literature (p58) Professor Beaton calls it "a maverick work, set both in place and time far from contemporary Greece, and written with consummate disdain for most of the conventions of fiction at the time". In his judgement, "Pope Joan is one of the few comic masterpieces of Modern Greek literature."