Maria Despina Palaiologina, the daughter of the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos, sacrificed in the mid-thirteenth century for the sake of foreign diplomacy by a decaying Byzantium, is the central figure in this fascinating work by Marianna Koromila, that combines historical acuity and literary charm.
“Ι became familiar with the historical process, Ι worked on the ways to narrate it, but Ι don’t really know how to invent tales. Ι tell them as Ι lived them because Ι learned to listen to others telling stories. Ι learned to respect the multiple interpretations, the various approaches, the contradictory versions; Ι became accustomed to examining all aspects as they reveal themselves following their own rhythm. All I know is this: every certainty is reversible at any time, any number of possibilities lurk just around the corner: so, Ι leap from one field to the other, Ι combine and Ι correlate, Ι get carried away by associations, Ι move from the past to the present. Ι am always close to the absent ones, to the platoons of angles and demons who flutter around me showing their traces. These are my people. They are all sublime. Ι can’t create new ones.”