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

Eva Palmer-Sikelianos

She was born in New York, emigrated to Paris and here she met her future husband Angelos Sikelianos . She then became his wife and moved to Lefkás to live there and learnt weaving of which there are examples of in the museum.

She in fact had learnt this much earlier but she learnt the traditional styles endemic to Lefkás while she lived there.

While reading this post you will have to remember that like all good poets and artists; they like their life to be presented in a certain way which is not necessarily the truth. They have employed artistic license or spin as we might call it now to how there life is displayed for prosperity. As politicians say never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

There is also an element of historical correction/heavy censorship involved to make there lives fit in with what we now deem appropriate for that era. In short they miss out a lot of their social lives because they wish to be remembered purely for their artistic endeavors.

She (Eva), famously said after visiting her ailing mother “I decided that I would never ever wear another thing made by a machine again!” She then proceeds to throw a trunk full of couture clothing from Paris out of the train window.

In truth, she had abandoned wearing western dress long before this moment and it was only her mother that caused her to occasionally wear it so that she would not upset her anymore.

She was also friends with Nikos Kazantzis and George Serefis. Angelos and Eva lived together in a house in the south of Lefkás as well as the one in Lefkás town that houses the museum you see above.

She was responsible along with her husband for the 1st and 2nd Delphic festivals but these were to prove the undoing of the couple as the economic cost was too great.

She also helped to revive and prevent the loss of some of the weaving techniques for her clothing. She taught them to Angelos’s second wife Anna Karameni when she was finally able to return to Lefkás just before her death in 1952. Anna lived to be over a 100 dying in 2006.

This museum is more a testament to the Sikelianos family and Anna rather than an accurate portrayal of the lives of Eva and Angelos as it’s so heavily edited. They didn’t live virtuous lives either of them. It’s probably why there is no museum to Byron that I can think yet he is memorialized everywhere. The Greek memory is highly selective and hypocritical given what we know about the sex lives of classical Greeks.

For some more personal details which are extremely lacking in the museum visit here – Eva Palmer Sikelianos. Or if you want an uncensored version from her point of view as opposed to the Greek masculine dominant view that is presented here read or listen to Eva Palmer-Sikelianos-A Life in Ruins.

After listening to the above book I really felt the need to edit this article as previously it only provided one side of the story. So I felt the heavy bias needed to be corrected. This is despite the fact the museum takes up the entirety of the 3 story house it’s contained in.

She is part of my foreigners who helped Greece series:-

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

Lord Byron

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

Do you have any notable power couples from the past in your country?

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

Virginia Woolf

She was a well known society lady who was well connected and widely read. She also wrote many books. She fought for the right of ladies to study Greek as previously this was a subject that only men were able to study. It was thought not right that women should be so educated as they wouldn’t know there proper place in the world. A very patriarchal attitude that was extraordinarily prevalent in the Victorian era.

Victoria Woolf was flamboyant in the way that only the landed gentry could be in those days. She also indulged in various sexual aspects which may be why she was interested in Sappho. She was said to be a lesbian also but who knows. She did come from the island of Lesbos (sometimes now known as mytliene) though and she apparently died on the island of Lefkáda hence there is a place called Sappho’s leap here.

Here is her Wikipedia article for the background details of her life. Virginia Woolf.

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

Lawrence Durrell

Virginia Woolf

Henry Miller

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.

Are there are any similarly notorious characters in your culture that you can think of?

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 Durells

This is good Sunday night television as it’s relaxing and idyllic. It’s set on Corfu in the 1930s. It features Greek conversation between the natives but also Lesley Durrell.

Sometimes you just need something that isn’t intellectual to practice on. The speech isn’t very distinct but there are subtitles to help. Normal speech tends to be quick and you only catch the most accented words. This can be problematic so going with the gist can be useful since this is only for enjoyment. However, the problem comes when you need to put this into real life. I will hopefully get better this year but as I’ve learnt this isn’t something you can rush. It happens at its own pace.

Do you have any tips that you use to increase your foreign language learning abilities?

Αντιο

Αγγελικα

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

A rest from cerebral matters

Today I wasn’t sure what to do so I got creative and made some fairies. I also looked up the Greek for the phrases that I wrote. By the way the word Eirini while meaning peace is also a girls name.

You can also see a book I’m reading, Max Tegmark’s Our Mathematical Universe, My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. So you see that I can’t always be intellectual. Sometimes I need a break to be a little more childish.

Literature

I am a keen reader of books of all kinds as I love words. This makes it fitting that I also have a love of the Greek language as so many words in the English language originate from there. In a bid to help me learn all about the Greek culture I read every book and watch every movie that I can get my hands on to further my knowledge of this fascinating culture.

To acquire this bounty it includes such classics as Zorba the Greek (book and movie), as well as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres (so far only the movie); and some of the vast media catalogue on the Durell’s for instance, the TV show about their lives as a family on Corfu and books like The Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence or the well known My Family and Animals by Gerald. However, no list could be complete without also adding in more recent books like all of Victoria Hislop‘s books and to have another Greek point of view, I’m going to start on Panos Kanezis books, The Maze etc shortly.

I can usually be found with my head stuck in a book and since I read at an astonishingly quick pace if the book is well written, I’m soon to be found in want of a person to tell them all about the book I just devoured with great relish. These are my latest interests but I do have a book on how Virginia Woolf et al fought to learn the Greek language as it was the language of the learned people and an anthology of Greek poetry from the last 2000 years as Lefkás has Sappho and the poet Aristotle Valaoritis island nearby and his shrine.

I wish to have a balanced viewpoint of people and their cultures through time hence there are books by the English living in Corfu and various other Greek Islands from the 30’s-50s (Durell’s), some of whom could speak Greek (Lawrence in particular) but there is also Victoria Hislop who has written on many aspects of Greek life as she can also speak Greek. It helps to lend an authentic air to her stories when you know she has mixed with the locals to gain inspiration for her stories. There is nothing quite like reading a Nikos Kazantzakis novel though with the gravitas that he lends to his writing. It is truly a spectacular talent that he had as he lifted all that read his masterpieces to a higher plane of thought. There should be greater appreciation of his work outside of his native lands but if I praise him too much that means the books will go up in price and I will not be able to buy them so cheaply anymore 😉

Best wishes

Angela