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Odysseus Elytis

Odysseus Elytis

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Template:Infobox Writer

Odysseas Elytis (Greek: Οδυσσέας Ελύτης) (November 2 1911March 18 1996) was a Greek poet, considered as one of the most important representatives of romantic modernism in Greece and the world. In 1979 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Contents

Biography

Descendant of the Alepoudhelis, an old industrial family from Lesbos, he was born in Heraklion (Candia) on the island of Crete, 2 November 1911. His family was later relocated to Athens permanently, where the poet completed his high school studies and later attended courses as an auditor at the Law School at Athens University. In 1935, Elytis published his first poem in the journal New Letters (Νέα Γράμματα) at the prompting of such friends as George Seferis. His entry assisted to inaugurate a new era in Greek poetry and its subsequent reform after the Second World War.

The war

In 1937 he served his military requirements. Being selected as an army cadet, he joined the National Military School in Corfu. During the war he was appointed Second Lieutenant, placed initially at the 1st Army Corps Headquarters to later be transferred at the 24th Regiment, on the first-line of the battlefields. Elytis was sporadically publishing poetry and essays after his initial foray into the literary world.

Programme director for ERT

He has twice been Programme Director of the Greek National Radio Foundation (1945-46 and 1953-54), Member of the Greek National Theatre's Administrative Council, President of the Administrative Council of the Greek Radio and Television as well as Member of the Consultative Committee of the Greek National Tourist's Organisation on the Athens Festival. In 1960 he was awarded the First State Poetry Prize, in 1965 the Order of the Phoenix and in 1975 he was awarded the Doctor Honoris Causa in the Faculty of Philosophy at the Thessaloniki University and received the Honorary Citizenship of the Town of Mytilene.

Travels

During the years 1948-1952 and 1969-1972 he settled in Paris. There, he audited philology and literature seminars at the Sorbonne and was well received by the pioneers of the world's avant-garde (Reverdy, Breton, Tzara, Ungaretti, Matisse, Picasso, Chagall, Giacometti) as Tériade's most respected friend. Teriade was simultaneously in Paris publishing works with all the renowned artists and philosophers (Kostas Axelos, Jean Paul Sartre,Francoise Gilot, Rene Daumal...) of the time. Elytis and Teriade had formed a strong friendship that solidified in 1939 with the publication of Elytis first book of poetry entitled "Orientations". Both Elytis and Teriade hailed from Lesbos and had a mutual love of the Greek painter Theophilos. Starting from Paris he travelled and subsequently visited Switzerland, England, Italy and Spain. In 1948 he was the representative of Greece at the International Meetings of Geneva, in 1949 at the Founding Congress of the International Art Critics Union in Paris and in 1962 at the Incontro Romano della Cultura in Rome.

In 1961, upon an invitation of the State Department, he traveled through the U.S.A.; and —upon similar invitations— through the Soviet Union in 1963 and Bulgaria in 1965.

Death

Odysseas Elytis died in Athens at the age of 84. He was survived by his niece Myrsene and his older brother Evangelos, who was bestowed the writ of condolence from the mayor of Athens on behalf the nation at the funeral.

The Poetry of Elytis

Elytis' poetry has marked, through an active presence of over forty years, a broad spectrum of subject matter and stylistic touch with an emphasis on the expression of that which is rarified and passionate. He did derive certain elements from Ancient Greece and Byzantium but devoted himself exclusively to today's Hellenism, of which he attempted —in a certain way based on psychical and sentimental aspects— to build up the mythology and the institutions. His main endeavour was to rid people's conscience from unjustifiable remorses and to complement natural elements through ethical powers, to achieve the highest possible transparency in expression and finally, to succeed in approaching the mystery of light, the metaphysics of the sun of which he was an idolater —by his own definition. A parallel manner concerning technique resulted in introducing the inner architecture, which is clearly perceptible in a great many works of his; mainly in the phenomenal work Worthy It Is (Το Άξιον Εστί). This work due to its setting to music by Mikis Theodorakis is a revered anthem whose verse is sung by all Greeks for all injustice, resistance and for its sheer beauty and musicality of form. Elytis' theoretical and philosophical ideas have been expressed in a series of essays under the title The Open Papers (Ανοιχτά Χαρτιά). Besides creating poetry he applied himself to translating poetry and theatre as well as creating a series of collage pictures. Translations of his poetry have been published as autonomous books, in anthologies or in periodicals in eleven languages.

Works

Poetry

  • Orientations (Προσανατολισμοί, 1939)
  • Sun The First Together With Variations on A Sunbeam (Ηλιος ο πρώτος, παραλλαγές πάνω σε μιαν αχτίδα, 1943)
  • An Heroic And Funeral Chant For The Lieutenant Lost In Albania (Άσμα ηρωικό και πένθιμο για τον χαμένο ανθυπολοχαγό της Αλβανίας, 1946)
  • To Axion Esti — It Is Worthy (Το Άξιον Εστί, 1959)
  • Six Plus One Remorses For The Sky (Έξη και μια τύψεις για τον ουρανό, 1960)
  • The Light Tree And The Fourteenth Beauty (Το φωτόδεντρο και η δέκατη τέταρτη ομορφιά, 1972)
  • The Sovereign Sun (Ο ήλιος ο ηλιάτορας, 1971)
  • The Trills Of Love (Τα Ρω του Έρωτα, 1973)
  • The Monogram (Το Μονόγραμμα, 1972)
  • Step-Poems (Τα Ετεροθαλή, 1974)
  • Signalbook (Σηματολόγιον, 1977)
  • Maria Nefeli (Μαρία Νεφέλη, 1978)
  • Three Poems under a Flag of Convenience (Τρία ποιήματα με σημαία ευκαιρίας 1982)
  • Diary of an Invisible April (Ημερολόγιο ενός αθέατου Απριλίου, 1984)
  • Krinagoras (Κριναγόρας, 1987)
  • The Little Mariner (Ο Μικρός Ναυτίλος, 1988)
  • The Elegies of Oxopetras (Τα Ελεγεία της Οξώπετρας, 1991)
  • West of Sadness (Δυτικά της λύπης, 1995)

Prose, essays

  • The True Face and Lyrical Bravery of Andreas Kalvos (Η Αληθινή φυσιογνωμία και η λυρική τόλμη του Ανδρέα Κάλβου, 1942)
  • 2x7 e (collection of small essays) (2χ7 ε (συλλογή μικρών δοκιμίων))
  • (Offering) My Cards To Sight (Ανοιχτά χαρτιά (συλλογή κειμένων), 1973)
  • The Painter Theophilos (Ο ζωγράφος Θεόφιλος, 1973)
  • The Magic Of Papadiamantis (Η μαγεία του Παπαδιαμάντη, 1975)
  • Reference to Andreas Empeirikos (Αναφορά στον Ανδρέα Εμπειρίκο, 1977)
  • The Public ones and the Private ones (Τα Δημόσια και τα Ιδιωτικά, 1990)
  • Private Way (Ιδιωτική Οδός, 1990)
  • «Εν λευκώ» (συλλογή κειμένων), (1992)
  • The Garden with the Illusions (Ο κήπος με τις αυταπάτες, 1995)

Translations

  • Second Writing (Δεύτερη γραφή, 1976)
  • Sappho (Σαπφώ)
  • The Apocalypse (by John) (Η αποκάλυψη, 1985)

Reference works

  • Mario Vitti: Odysseus Elytis. Literature 1935-1971 (Icaros 1977)
  • Tasos Lignadis: Elytis' Axion Esti (1972)
  • Lili Zografos: Elytis - The Sun Drinker (1972); as well as the special issue of the American magazine Books Abroad dedicated to the work of Elytis (Autumn 1975. Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.A.)
  • Odysseas Elytis: Anthologies of Light. Ed. I. Ivask (1981)
  • A. Decavalles: Maria Nefeli and the Changeful Sameness of Elytis' Variations on a theme (1982)
  • E. Keeley: Elytis and the Greek Tradition (1983)
  • Ph. Sherrard: Odysseus Elytis and the Discovery of Greece, in Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 1(2), 1983
  • K. Malkoff: Eliot and Elytis: Poet of Time, Poet of Space, in Comparative Literature, 36(3), 1984
  • A. Decavalles: Odysseus Elytis in the 1980s, in World Literature Today, 62(l), 1988

Translations of Elytis' work

  • Poesie. Procedute dal Canto eroico e funebre per il sottotenente caduto in Albania. Trad. Mario Vitti (Roma. Il Presente. 1952)
  • 21 Poesie. Trad. Vicenzo Rotolo (Palermo. Istituto Siciliano di Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici. 1968)
  • Poèmes. Trad. Robert Levesque (1945)
  • Six plus un remords pourle ciel. Trad. F. B. Mache (Fata Morgana. Montpellier 1977)
  • Korper des Sommers. Übers. Barbara Schlörb (St. Gallen 1960)
  • Sieben nächtliche Siebenzeiler. Übers. Günter Dietz (Darmstadt 1966)
  • To Axion Esti - Gepriesen sei. Übers. Güinter Dietz (Hamburg 1969)
  • The Axion Esti. Trans. Edmund Keeley and G. Savidis (Pittsburgh, U.S.A. 1974)
  • The Sovereign Sun. Trans. Kimon Friar (Philadelphia, U.S.A. 1974)
  • Selected poems. Ed. E. Keeley and Ph. Sherrard (1981)

External links

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1968-1980, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Sture Allén, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1993

Template:Nobel Prize in Literature Laureates 1976-2000

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