Odysseas Elytis : biography
Odysseas Elytis ( born Οδυσσέας Αλεπουδέλλης; November 2, 1911 – March 18, 1996) was regarded as a major exponent of romantic modernism in Greece and the world. In 1979 the Nobel Prize in Literature was bestowed on him.
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. Günter Dietz (Hamburg 1969)
- The Axion Esti. Tr. E. Keeley and G. Savidis (Pittsburgh 1974 – Greek & English)(repr. London: Anvil Press, 1980 – English only)
- The Sovereign Sun: selected poems. Tr. K. Friar (1974; repr. 1990)
- Selected poems. Ed. E. Keeley and Ph. Sherrard (1981; repr. 1982, 1991)
- Maria Nephele, tr. A. Anagnostopoulos (1981)
- What I love: selected poems, tr. O. Broumas (1986) [Greek & English texts]
Descendant of the Alepoudellis, an old industrial family from Lesbos, Elytis was born in Heraklion on the island of Crete, on November 2, 1911. His family later moved to Athens, where the poet graduated from high school and later attended courses as an auditor at the Law School at University of Athens.
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 with a distinctively earthy and original form assisted to inaugurate a new era in Greek poetry and its subsequent reform after the Second World War.
From 1969–1972, under the Greek military junta of 1967–1974, Elytis exiled himself to Paris. He was romantically linked to the lyricist and musicologist Mariannina Kriezi, who subsequently produced and hosted the legendary children's radio broadcast "Here Lilliput Land". Elytis was intensely private and vehemently solitary in pursuing his ideals of poetic truth and experience.
In 1937 he served his military requirements. 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, then transferred to 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.
He was a member of the Association of Greek Art Critics, AICA-Hellas, International Association of Art Critics.
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He was twice 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 Thessaloniki University and received the Honorary Citizenship of the Town of Mytilene.
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, Francoise Gilot, 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, René 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.
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