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Articles tagged "Greek Literature"

“Orthokostá” by Thanassis Valtinos

History, it is often said, is written by the victors. But who exactly are the victors of a conflict as brutal and complicated as the Greek Civil War? Part of the Cold War, the Greek Civil War was rooted in the Nazi invasion of the country and funded by world superpowers including the Soviet Union and the United States. Tens of thousands of Greeks died, and much of the nation’s infrastructure was laid to waste. Certainly the narrators of Orthokostá would not be counted among the...

The Making of Originals: The Translator as Editor (Part 2)

Read the first part of this essay here. My answer to this question—an emphatic yes—is undoubtedly colored by my own experiences translating unstable originals. The first book-length translation I ever published was of an 800-page quasi-autobiographical novel called Glafkos Thrassakis by the Greek writer Vassilis Vassilikos (most famous for his political novel Z, which formed the basis for the 1973 film of the same name directed by Costa-Gavras). The novel had...

Timon vs. Newton

Timon and Newton were arguing about fruit. Netwon said: "I prefer the apple since I discovered gravity while peacefully dozing under the shade of an apple tree." Timon shot back with stinging words: "Newton, you're an idiot, a fool and utterly conceited in your intelligence. By Zeus, do you know how to bring owls to Athens! Your argument reveals nothing new. All the still corpses that dangled from the branches of my fig tree fell straight to the ground, but, unlike Icarus,...

Timoniad

Sing, Muse, of that misanthrope, who was homeless and forever wandering, since he had yet to chop down his fig tree. In the city he ignored the many routine evils of most men as he strove to keep alive, with a sorrowful heart, his fig tree and the warm pot of food for his friends. But, hard as he tried, he could not save himself. The fool, ruined by his own wasteful ways, saw the amount of wealth he had squandered, all of the cows and goats he had eaten, while his friends...

An Interview with Dimitris Athinakis

The Greek poet Dimitris Athinakis came of age with the new millennium.  Raised in a Greece of fast and cataclysmic change, he belongs to a new generation of writers whose works are bringing brave new directions to the Modern Greek literary continuum.  Peter Constantine: We last met in clouds of tear gas during the May 2010 riots in Athens, in a Greece that seems markedly changed.  How does this new Greek reality affect you as a poet?     Dimitris...

from “Inside a Girl Like You”

October 27, 2006 Tamara, I’m writing to send you my new address. In case you’re still getting mail for me, you can forward it here: Katina Mela, Erodiou 8 (off Euripidou), Athens. I’ll find out the zip code and send that, too. The apartment here is smaller than ours, the main bedroom is more or less connected to the living room. Well, it’s separated by a sliding door, but you can hear everything if someone’s in the living room. (Not that there’s...

Half Sleep Half Death

Half sleep half death. My hands in springtime my heart in mud. Thus I transform myself. Between spring and not spring where trees are deep and waves strike root. Thus I transform myself. Half Nikos half death.  

Hermes In Retrogression

With fingers—fingertips and edge of nail— he plots fires with tongues of snakes, a child yearning for sheer drops, with paper wings on his shoulders, thinking and thinking of fires and acts of violence. For years he lives in the basement of his polychrome dreams where dampness lingers and moldy poison drips from walls. He devours his scribblings and is never hungry, but only whines for water which he likes winter-chilled, not cold. He stubs out his cigarettes on the...

Call Me at Home, Flambé

darling, when it comes to strawberries you’re like me more, and more and sugar, brandy in mom’s tin pan all summer. you’ve strawberried yourself you leave my tongue red my taste sweet sweet from thoughts, and red. the red, the thoughts, not hidden. just joined. with simmering smiles and minds set fire.   Translation of "Pare me sto stathero." Copyright Yiannis Moundelas. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2010 by Sarah McCann....

Night Does Not Fall

Night does not fall nor does it come   Night slowly breaks within me   Because I am a lake ever faceless and I am mud in the dreams of secret stars   So night no longer falls nor does it come night takes leave like a good guest  

Day, A

gulls woke me and the sun the month january at the foot of the mountain my day at sea, in raging waves, i proved an awful captain, anchor caught in a burnt fir.   Translation of "Iméra, A." Copyright Yiannis Moundelas. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2010 by Sarah McCann. All rights reserved.

From “Mezzanine”

The pages that follow were found by me in a sorry state of disorder, amidst a number of other worthless papers, spotted with tropical mildew, ready for the fire, in the basement of a bookstore where I worked for a number of years as a classifier. What follows is the personal history, and last-minute confessions, of a man and his ways. Before presenting this book to the Greek world of letters, I feel it necessary to publicly thank, in these very flat lines, Mr. Realon Delorean, an old...

From “Paris–Athens”

I first wrote this text in French. I finished it on November 20, 1988. I chose French because I wanted to make sense of my relationship with this language in which I have also written other books. I translated it as faithfully as I could: I don't touch upon events that took place after 1988; I simply omitted some explanations that were necessary for the French public and added others for the Greek reader.— V.A. I. Silence I don't know when I began to write this book. I...

Kaspar Hauser in a Desolate Land from “The Double Book”

I haven't seen that chain-smoking Spanish girl for days. Not at our ten o'clock break, and not during the shift. I guess she's been fired. Keine Disziplin!—no discipline. She'd told me in the corridor that she can't handle all this. What can't she handle? She can't handle all the rules, all that Disziplin. A village girl like her couldn't cope with walking on concrete city sidewalks after our shift. Maybe she's dead. But if she'd died, her...

From “God Tells Them All”

Sotiris Dimitriou's novels and short stories are known for their focus on the underside of contemporary Greek society, in particular the experiences of an immigrant underclass. Importantly, they are equally well-known for their daring and provocative use of language: Dimitriou mixes a number of ethnically marked vernaculars and registers of language to recreate the Greek language and also challenge the preconceptions of a mainstream reader. Dimitriou thus places language at the very...

Nazif the Turk from Ioannina

The last car—let's call it the leader's—flashed its headlights, and the signal was relayed from car to car all the way to the first in line, which was then responsible for promptly finding an appropriate place to park. The convoy of expensive cars slid purposefully off the tarmac, their wheels shuddering on the gravel until they came to a stop, arranged haphazardly on sparse intersecting shadows. The drivers emerged and made their way towards the last car to see what...

From “The Sleepwalker”

"Flying Dolphin!" Alan leapt out of bed. It was a quarter to seven and he had missed the boat. He had packed his bags and dressed for the trip the night before, and though it was May he'd even put on his Burberry raincoat so as to be completely ready. Then he sat on his bed smoking and drinking coffee, listening to the church bells marking the hours, counting them as they passed, holding his watch up to his ear to make sure it hadn't stopped. He saw the whole night pass before...

From “Suit in the Soil”

The cab driver was in the mood for conversation, but his passenger wasn't. So the tape deck came on and Angela Dimitriou started work at seven-thirty in the morning. Side by side in a silver twin frame on the dashboard, the singer and the Virgin Mary kept the driver company. He was a thirtyish, scrawny man with a huge mustache and big brown eyes, a frappé in a special holder, and a well-cared-for car with good tires that was now leaving the olive groves behind, climbing the...

Can Anybody Hear Me?

Galina Petrova was walking to work under the weight of a humid, suffocating heat. There were only two blocks to go, but she had started dragging her feet. She stopped at the kiosk on the corner to catch her breath and drank from her water bottle. She thought of the conversation she'd had that morning with her husband, Liosha, and instinctively bit her lip. That's how birds make their nests, by stealing. Well, we're birds, too. Those had been his exact words. Exhausted, she...

From “The Book of Andreas Kordopatis, Part I, America”

I kept walking slow-like, straight ahead, the road took me back to the river. Same place the ship stopped the first day, then it left and went further up. I saw someone who looked like a watchman. I ask him, Grik sala? No answer. I ask him again, he points further up the road. I walk along in that direction, there was a small house with a fence around it, real low. I go inside. Hello, I say, they look at me, two men and some women, they don't say a thing. I turn to go,...

From “A Short Border Handbook”

I woke up the next morning with my head on a stranger's thigh while the head of another stranger was resting on my leg. My entire body was stiff, I was freezing cold and shaking all over. Someone had lit a fire inside the warehouse to get warm. The cold pierced right through your bones. They were taking a risk because if the Greek police spotted it, they would go berserk. I started to move cautiously, trying not to wake either the man above me or the man underneath me. I was partially...

Modern Greek Literature,  Inside (and) Out

It has never been possible to speak of Greece in terms of a simple opposition between what it contains on the inside, and what lies beyond its borders. Even before the founding of the Greek state in 1830, independence was actively pursued by bourgeois, cosmopolitan Greeks living in cities as far-flung as Istanbul, Alexandria, Odessa, and Marseilles. Greece was, then, an idea long before it was a reality—an idea promoted, in large part, by the literature of ethnic insiders living...

Bats

My cousin and I entered a dense cornfield that was taller than either of us. It was a large tract behind Aunt Tasia's house. We were only thirteen. We blended in, so we were invisible. Like being in the jungle. We forged a path among the rows, pushing aside the tall stalks, and they just kept snapping back in our faces. We'd laugh out of sheer delight. It was afternoon, and everyone was asleep. We were oblivious to everyone. We reached the chicken coop. All was quiet. Afterward...

Light

After the rain, the clouds shrank and the sky shone silver. The phone would ring any minute now. I was standing over the receiver when its shrill snarl echoed in the room. "How are you?" "Fine. And you?" "Fine." "Any news?" "The same. And you?" "Same here too." "Did you think it over?" "I thought it over." "Well?" "I don't know, we'll see." We hung up and each took a sip of coffee, in her own kitchen, standing in front of her own window, feeling guilty for...

Chinese Woman’s Spirit

You are pallid, you are losing blood and life. You stop a cab. The driver peers into his rearview mirror. You are not there. You leave a sword on the back seat in lieu of the fare. You become a trickle of holy water, a yellow aircraft, a toy train. You remove the mask, your pallid dream. You serve breakfast to Kung Jiang with his long, aged fingers. You write love letters in Minoan script and leave them on the kitchen table.  

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