Gerasimos Grigoris 1907-1985 Lefkádian author

He famously had one of his works banned in Greece because he was a communist. This book was Focus of Resistance.

He also won 2 literary awards in 1958 and 1963. I find this strange though because of the above information yet you find the same information repeated on many websites. If you also think of all the previous people (George Seferis, Odysseus Elytis ) etc who have gained awards for whatever reason, there compliant and help the country in some way. So as usual this makes no sense and no explanation can be found.

There is also an example of his work on display in the Lefkás national gallery but unless your looking at the fact sheet you would never know.

I don’t think the locals thought highly enough of him for there to be a statue, plaque or road named after him. His family can’t have been wealthy, influential or big enough to exert any power on his memory to make a memorial of some kind which is usual here. (See my post on Meganisi for evidence of this).

He does however get mentioned on tourist websites and websites dedicated to famous Lefkádians so he can’t be thought of that badly. As you may be coming to realise, there is a lot of contradictory information out there and I’m unsure which is correct due to the fact I’m writing about dead people whose brief biographical information is online but not much else.

There may be more information in the Nikos Svoronos Library or the Haramoglis Library but I can’t find it despite walking round in circles several times on a couple of occasions.

Do you have any authors in your country that were banned for the political ideals?

He is part of my novelist series :-

Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Art, Authors, Musicians, Museums, Specialist fields of interest, Conversation, Famous Greeks, Greek islands and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

George Theotokas Greek novelist, playwright, critic, essayist, editor, 1906-1966

George Seferis poem to George Theotokas
George Seferis poem to George Theotokas

George Theotokas was born in Constantinople, moved to Athens in 1922 because of the population exchange, then studied law in Paris, Athens and London so was part of the same crowd as everyone else who was well heeled at that time.

His work is mainly autobiographical in nature with a healthy dose of folklore included for good measure. It inspired some of the work by Nikos Kazantzakis.

He (Theotokas), became involved in the national Greek theatre becoming the director twice. He was also great friends with George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis the 2 Nobel prize winning poets of Greece.

As usual this is a Greek whose Wikipedia article in Greek https://el.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Γιώργος_Θεοτοκάς tells you far more information than the English version George Theotokas . He is also a guy that requires you to have the prerequisite books available to research about him. It’s been acknowledged in the research that I have found that is unlikely he will ever find success outside of Greece but he was neither a leftist or involved with the right. He had a centrist view on things which is how he was able to be so successful in his own country.

He is the fourth part of my Greek author series:-

Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Art, Authors, Musicians, Specialist fields of Interest, Conversation, Famous Greeks, Greek islands and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Stratis Myrivilis pen name of Efstratios Stamatopoulos Greek novelist 1890-1969

He was nominated for the Nobel prize in Literature 3 times in 1960, 1962 and 1963. He was also born in Lesbos and died in Athens. Additionally he followed the route that everyone seemed to follow in those days and that is leaving your initial job to go to Athens and study Law. Then you leave your degree to go fight somewhere since it was an era full of conflict in many places.

It’s astonishing that the background they all have is so mundane but they manage to make some of the greatest poetry of modern times. They lived through tumultuous times in there own country though with the Balkan war of 1912, First World War of 1914-1918, Second World War 1939-1945, military junta 1967-1974. So this shaped the 1930’s generation into what they became.

He was a newspaper columnist and general programme director for the Greek National broadcasting institute in 1936 until 1951 where he inspired the Greek population to resist the occupation of the country by Italians and Germans.

In a brief intermission to his previous job he founded the national society of Greek writers in 1946 and became its first president.

After 6 attempts he was finally allowed to join the Academy in Athens in 1958.

Here are the details of his personal life from Wikipedia Stratis Myrivilis. What will probably be more fulfilling though is the link in the follow up article.

He is part of my Greek authors series

Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Art, Musicians, Museums, Specialist fields of Interest, Famous Greeks, Greek islands, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways.Series links

Best wishes

Angela

Oh Brother Where art thou?

These are lines from one of George Seferis poems about the Odyssey.

O Brother Where Art Thou is a Coen brothers movie that has taken Homer’s Odyssey and translated it into 1930’s America. Initially the idea that George Clooney escapes from a prison chain gang doesn’t sound too interesting but it’s much better than that. It’s an exploration of what life was like in those times.

Best wishes

Angela

Kostis Palamas Greek poet 1859-1943

He was born in Patras but received most of his education in Mesolonghi which is where the infamous British poet Lord Byron ended up.

He went to university in Athens to study law, economics and political science but left shortly afterwards to become a journalist.

He is a well known poet Kostis Palamas as he has had his work translated into English by Theodore Stephanides which helped to increase his fame abroad. He is extremely popular because whenever the generation of the 1930’s is mentioned “Angelos Sikelianos, Odysseus Elytis C G Karyotakis,George Seferis, Nikos Kazantzakis , “etc his name turns up. Here is the view of a Greek so you know why this happens Kostis Palamas.

He is another one of those well connected people who has university buildings named after himself in Athens.

He wrote the Olympic hymn which was used in 1896 and every year since 1960.

At his funeral Angelos Sikelianos led a riot of 100,000 against the establishment to try to overturn the government.

This is the tenth post in the series of Greek but mainly Lefkádian writers and poets which includes a bonus post from Sententiae Antiquae on Sappho.

Aristotle Valaoritis

C F Cavafy

Angelos Sikelianos

Lefkadia Hearn

George Seferis

C G Karyotakis

Ioannis Valaoritis

Odysseus Elytis

Andreas Emberikos

Other series include Greek Authors, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Foreigners who have an interest in Greece and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Theodore Stephanides Greek doctor 1896-1983

I was inspired to write this post because one of my comments previously mentioned about the connections between India and Greece which I was unaware of and the Wikipedia article he suggested was very lacking in information. I would like to thank my readers for giving this feedback and ideas to write posts that your actually interested in, rather than just stuff I’m personally interested in. Also for the fact that comments are sometimes worth exploring in greater detail later on when I have the time.

Theodore Stephanides was part of the ancient raj that was the ruling British culture of India until independence in 1947. His parents were Greek but his mother was born in Russia to a wealthy family from Chios (Greek island). He grew up in Bombay (now Chennai) and moved to Greek at 11 where he learnt his Greek.

He was a poet translating Kostis Palamas from Greek to English after World War One when he was a gunner. He later studied medicine and started the first Xray machine in Corfu as shown on the Durells.

He was lifelong friends with both Gerald Durrell and Lawrence Durrell assisting with the completion of their novels, My family and other animals as well the Greek Islands.

He also wrote his own books on radiology, Corfu and botany.

He is the second part of my Famous Greeks series.

Pavlos Santorinis

Other series include Greek poets, Painters, Authors, Musicians, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

C G Karyotakis 1896-1928 Greek poet

I’m sure your all getting the feeling now that the area surrounding Lefkás known for its poetry because of the amount of poets I have so far covered. Also, I rather like poetry which is not a thing you would initially think considering I’m quite logical and a scientist.

This poet deserves a post because I was struck by the beauty of his poetry and he lived such a short life.

He also talks about Preveza, the biggest town in the area. Which from everything I’ve ever heard and seen about the place, hasn’t changed at all and will inspire the same melancholic poetry in yourself. (The poet committed suicide shortly after writing that poem).

Kostas Karyotakis suffered the fate of most people born before there time in that his work was only appreciated after he died. He knew his brilliance but couldn’t convince others so this gave him great pain. This is sometimes reflected in his work especially later on.

He was highly intelligent, studied law and became employed in clerical work which he highly disliked. This comes across in his poems but he was able to revolutionise the way poetry was written so there is always a silver lining to everything in life.

He had syphilis which at the time couldn’t be cured which is mainly responsible for his suffering, inability to settle into any position and therefore constant changing of where he was living.

He was sad, suicidal and unfulfilled for the majority of his life so it’s no surprise that he ended his life rather quickly by shooting himself through the heart under a eucalyptus tree.

This is the sixth post in the series of Greek but mainly Lefkádian writers and poets which includes a bonus post from Sententiae Antiquae on Sappho.

Aristotle Valaoritis

C F Cavafy

Angelos Sikelianos

Lefkadia Hearn

George Seferis

Best wishes

Angela

Henry Miller

He was friends with Lawrence Durrell and an inspiration to him. They had a life long friendship upon meeting and he was also another prolific writer. He wrote novels, poetry and plays of the slightly scandalous variety. At least by 1930’s standards anyway.

His most famous works are Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and The Colossus of Maroussi which was written about the couple of years he spent in Greece with Lawrence Durrell in the 1930’s.

I haven’t actually read any of his work nor do I have any copies of it. However for a man who had to publish in France because his work was banned in the USA and England until at least the 1960’s due to the provocative content. With some not even being published until after his death in 1980; this isn’t surprising. His work isn’t in circulation as much due to its risqué content and his first novel has never been published.

For details by someone who is more familiar with his work read Cristian Milai’s article here Henry Miller.

Here are the details of Miller’s personal life.Henry Miller.

He is part of my series of articles on writers that are connected in some way to Greece.

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Lord Byron

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

Lawrence Durrell

I have already written about the Durrell’s TV series featuring Lawrence and his family mother Louisa, brother Gerald, sister Margo, and brother Leslie here.

Since Lawrence was a prolific writer through out his life I thought he desired a post all of his own. His personal website is here Lawrence Durrell.

I have read parts of Bitter Lemons of Cyprus and I just love the peek into the world of yesterday. The language he uses is phenomenal. Yes some of the terms are now dated and obscure but if you ever needed an education in the English language you couldn’t go wrong by borrowing a few of his terms. You may sound archaic but there is always a time and a place for formal English.

Lawrence lived and worked all over the world during his life so he wrote about the lives and environment of where ever he happened to be with great authenticity. He spoke Greek which greatly assisted with his integration as there were no learning resources in those days and the locals most certainly would not have known English.

His works of which I have some start with Prospero’s Cell which is an account of his life in Corfu. It also includes more well known work such as the Alexandria Quartet based in Alexandria Egypt which links in with C F Cavafy as they knew each other. He even features him in some of his work.

The Avignon quartet is written in the same manner about his travels in France. We are now coming to the works that I know little about having just read about them for the purposes of this post but I will eventually get around to reading them.

His continued employment with the British Foreign Service meant that a posting to Rhodes enabled him to write Reflections on a Marine Venus.

Another assignment to Belgrade allowed him to publish The White Eagles over Serbia.

A bit further along in time he makes a Sicilician Carousel about the aforementioned island. He also comes up with the Greek islands.

So it’s a real journey around the Mediterranean from the birds eye view of an English subject. This was before everyone was required to learn English for business purposes and the days of widespread tourism. So you get to see what the culture was like before the traditional values got watered down with western values.

For more details about his personal life you can read his Wikipedia article Lawrence Durrell.

This is a new series I have started on writers who have an interest or have written about Greece.

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

Lord Byron

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Have you ever wanted to live in an previous era to see what life was really like then?

Best wishes

Angela

Rebetika – Traditional Greek music from the 1920’s onwards

1920’s Turkish style Rebetika is most famously sung and played by Mikis Theodorakis. His music is often referenced in Victoria Hislop books (my effort is here A life of Halcyon Days) as there set in either the same era or afterwards as he has had such an influence on the music of the area. It’s often comprised of guitars and bouzouki. Sometimes containing bouzoukia which are smaller versions as well. Literature from the period details very little from the musical point of view. Even in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin there isn’t much about this. The mandolin must be only in Corfu as I’ve never seen one here Lefkás before. I’ve also not come across mention of the music in the books I’ve read about the Durells family. I think Gerry was too interested in his animals and although Lawrence was interested in a great many things, it doesn’t seem that music was one of those.

I got a bilingual book on this subject as shown above. So it was good for me to learn about this evocative style of music that has been so influential on Greek culture. Rebetika has changed so much over the years through the many musicians that have practiced it. The instruments changed into electronic versions, the venues changed drastically as did the clientele and the amount of money that could be made improved significantly. However, all things have there dips also and many rebirths mean that the style will always evolve to suit its circumstances. Sometimes simpler and covert, other times flashy and ostentatious.

For a taste of even older Greek music see here Ancient Greek music.

This is part of my series on Greek music and musicians.

Mikis Theodorakis

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any similar styles of music in your country?

Best wishes

Angela

Panos Karnezis

Author of the Maze, the Birthday Party and Little Infamies. He has also written the Fugitives and the Convent. Here is the Wikipedia article on himself Panos Karnezis

I was reading the maze on a cruise I was on last year and I was tempted to nick it since there were two copied but I was good and bought myself a copy off Amazon when I got home. It’s always good to support authors since they put so much effort into their work. It’s there livelihood and we need them to maintain their creative focus so that they can continue to entertain us with their words.

The Maze is a book about the Ottoman war and it’s very evocative of an era that was in the recent past but most of us don’t really know what it was like because we weren’t alive then. I love the way he draws you in so you can’t put the book down and you just want to continue reading one more page!

I have previously read Little Infamies and it had the same effort on me. This might be a little more fictional but it’s still based in reality and those stories still could happen today.

The Birthday Party is set in time of Aristotle Onassis but I haven’t read that one yet. It’s probably just as good as the others given the standard of the previous books.

The Convent I have just found out about by researching for this article and it’s set in a Spanish nuns convent. I think this will be quite different to the other books so it will be intriguing to see how this one plays out.

The Fugitives is another I was unaware of and it takes places in South America. It again has quite a religious lean to it by dealing with Catholic’s but it is a big part of life over there so I think he will do the themes in the novel justice.

Are you the type of person like me who when you find an author you like, devour everything that they have written as quick as possible?

This is the second post in my Greek author series.

Nikos Kazantzakis

Other series include Greek poets, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways.Series links

Best wishes

Angela

Nikos Kazantzakis – Zorba the Greek

He is the author of Zorba the Greek the most famous Greek movie. It has spawned many restaurants of this name and for most people this is in fact all they know about modern Greek culture.

For those that don’t know this is based on a book. It’s an amazing book that puts the movie into the shade. While the movie is very good when you have read the book you can see how much has been missed out a bit like with the LOTRs trilogy.

The prose, philosophy and humour that he injects into his main character Alexis Zorba is astounding. I have a feeling I’ve written this before but a little deja vu is ok here. He makes a very good counterpart to show how much you can know about the world in terms of academic learning yet know nothing about what matters in life. He makes it his mission to teach his rather staid English companion how to loosen up and enjoy life. It’s a rather entertaining jaunt throughout the story learning about the adventures that they get up to together. They make a great partnership and there is also a purpose that they fulfil. I adore the insight into Greek culture and history that you get from this story. I don’t want to repeat myself too much but this really is a must read book.

He has also written many other books but they are not quite as well known so are more difficult to get hold of. I have some of them, but I haven’t read them yet so I can’t comment on there content. I believe they will be just as good.

  • Christ Recrucified
  • Captain Michalis
  • The last Temptation of Christ
  • Freedom and Death
  • This is a sampling of the works that are usually available. Try Amazon if you can’t find him in your local bookstore.

Here is the Wikipedia article on him if you want some background in his life. Nikos Kazantzakis. If you want even more info go here Nikos Kazantzakis.

He ties in nicely with my series on Greek (mainly Lefkadian) poets as he happened to have not only met Angelos Sikelianos, but the 2 became great friends along with Angelos’s wife Eva Palmer-Sikelianos.

This is the first post in the Greek author series.

Panos Kanezis

Other series include Greek Poets, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any favourite novelists?

Best wishes

Angela

Angelos Sikelianos – Lefkadian poet

I recently went to Lefkás town and while I was there I went to one of its book shops. Inside was a copy of Angelos Sikelianos poems. It’s bilingual so that will be a very useful learning exercise.

Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Gallery
Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Gallery

There is also an Angelos Sikelianos museum dedicated to him.

The museum is signposted on the main street and it’s on tourist maps along with Google maps but considering how close it is; I was completely unaware of its location for many years because the sign on the front is flat to the wall so you can’t see it unless your looking at it. In addition to this, the side that has his signatures on it is in the opposite direction but they might have a new sign outside advertising its location if your lucky but you gotta look up. This covert style of advertising is like how you discover most of the treasures in Lefkás. You have to know they are there to find them. If your just idly looking for something to do then your probably not going to find it as they wish to keep everything for themselves and you can’t blame them as Lefkás is a relatively undiscovered jewel.

To show the Angelos Sikelianos effect here, he has his picture in the Lefkádian National Library, Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Library

Angelos Sikelianos Lefkádian National Library

there is a street in both Lefkás Town and Nidri, which is a nearby village, named after him. In addition there is a square on the entrance to the island called Poets square where there is also a statue of him. Plus he has his own square next door.

With his first wife Eva Palmer-Sikelianos together they organised the 1st and 2nd Delphic festivals in Lefkás in 1927 and 1930. It was so costly despite her American background and connections that they couldn’t afford to do it again. She went back to New York where she was from for a long time to promote awareness and gather funds. She stayed until his death as the US authorities prevented her from leaving. They also didn’t allow the awarding of the Nobel prize in literature to himself on several occasions in the 1950’s.

He was great friends with Nikos Kazantzakis and there are quotes attributed to him inside the museum. The three of them shared a house on the south of the island together. Another compatriot was George Seferis who is also quoted.

For the view of a Greek who isn’t Lefkádian look here Angelos Sikelianos.

This is the third of my posts on famous Greek but mainly Lefkádian poets.

Aristotle Valaoritis,

C F Cavafy

Lefkadia Hearn

The bonus post is by Sententiae Ancientae on Sappho.

Other series include Greek Authors, Painters, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Does your country have any similarly respected poets?

Best wishes

Angela

Victoria Hislop

I love all of her stories Victoria Hislop

  1. The Island
  2. The Return (based in Spain)
  3. The Thread
  4. The Sunrise
  5. Carte Postales
  6. Those that are loved
  7. (Short story – One Cretan evening and other short stories)
  8. (Short story – The last dance and other short stories)
  • Above is a list that I have read so far except Those that are loved as I couldn’t find it when I went looking for it yesterday. I admire the fact that she loved the story of the island of Spinalonga so much that not only did she feel compelled to write a novel about leprosy but also learnt Greek.

I too have learnt Greek as my recent outing to Lefkás town has given me a much needed confidence boost in that I can speak and understand the language in real time as far as shop and restaurant talk goes.

  • I write books too and one day hope to be as successful as she is. Here are my books :-
  1. How to teach autistic children effectively
  1. How I learnt Greek
  2. How to communicate with your autistic child
  3. Greek life
  4. How to improve your Greek
  5. How to learn any language
  6. A life of Halcyon Days
  7. Imagina
  8. A Life of Ice and Fire

I hope you enjoy reading these recommendations

She is part of my foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways series.

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

Lord Byron

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks and Rural Villages in Lefkás. All the links can be found here Series links.

Best wishes

Angela

The enjoyment of reading

I’ve just been reading the BFG to myself in Greek and this makes me quite happy that I can follow what is happening in the story. I don’t quite get all of it yet but if I continue I should be a lot better than when I started.

The first time I tried to read this book I was concentrating far too much on what I didn’t know so I didn’t understand the story at all. I know the story and I’ve seen various film adaptations but to actually read the original is quite different. I also referred to the English version far too much so I lost the flow as they don’t always correlate. What I do hate in writing though is the justification of words to fit in columns that results in lots of hyphens. It’s difficult enough to read the words and to have them split across 2 lines is just plain irritating. How am I supposed to read it out loud and put the emphasis on the correct part if I don’t even know what the word is?

This is The negative side of trying to learn to read in a foreign language.

Wishing you all the happiness in the world.

Angela

Mythos by Stephen Fry

I’ve been reading his retelling of the Greek myths and there even more fascinating that I expected. Most of us are raised on them so we know the principal gods and some of the adventures they got up to. This contains how all the different gods, goddesses, Titans, titanesses, nymphs, dryads and every other creature came to be. It gives their family tree, the stories of their birth and what they were responsible. It also explains how we get many of our words and how these words are also still present in the Greek language today. It’s written in a very amusing way that you would expect but also an intellectual one. A student of history or classics will love this just as a person studying languages, art, philosophy or just Greece and its people in general. It just goes to show that facts are forever reinterpreted by different cultures but that doesn’t stop them from being true. Or being based on real life events that previously we may have doubted since there only record was in religious texts. This is the best book I’ve read for a long time and I would most certainly recommend it.