Dogma and Geopolitics

Odysseus Elytis

1911–1996

Odysseus Elytis

[source]

Odysseus Elytis was relatively unknown outside his native Greece when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1979. Although the Swedish Academy of Letters had in recent years bestowed the honor upon other previously little-known writers—among them Eugenio Montale, Vicente Aleixandre, and Harry Martison—their choice of Elytis came as a surprise nonetheless. The academy declared in its presentation that his poetry “depicts with sensual strength and intellectual clearsightedness, modern man’s struggle for freedom and creativeness. . . . [In] its combination of fresh, sensuous flexibility and strictly disciplined implacability in the face of all compulsion, Elytis’ poetry gives shape to its distinctiveness, which is not only very personal but also represents the traditions of the Greek people.”

To be a Greek and a part of its twenty-five-century-old literary tradition was to Elytis a matter of great pride. His words, upon acceptance of…

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