Odysseus Elytis, In the Name of Luminosity and Transparency
1979 NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE
WIth an Introduction by Dimitris Daskalopoulos
size: 13 x 20.5 cm.
The poetry of Odysseus Elytis owes as much to the ancients and Byzantium, as to the surrealists of the 1930s and the architecture of the Cyclades, bringing romantic modernism and structural experimentation to Greece. Collected here are the two speeches Elytis gave on his acceptance of the 1979 Nobel Prize for Literature, which are still strikingly relevant today. He addresses a hypertrophic and atrophic Europe in moral chaos, with as many coexisting values as languages-and to this he offers the "common language" that is found in poetry, in art, and in their base materials of sense, aesthetic, intuition. Ultimately, his is a powerful ode to beauty amid utilitarianism, and the need for poetry as "the art of approaching that which surpasses us" and "puts us at the threshold of the deepest truth".
Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996) has been a leading figure in the "Generation of the 1930s", whose poets, influenced by surrealism, renewed contemporary Greek poetry. During the post-war years he lived for long periods in France, where he associated with the pioneers of the world's avant-garde (Reverdy, Tzara, Breton, Ungaretti, Matisse, Picasso, Giacometti). He published seventeen collections of poetry, translations from ancient Greek and modern European poets, and two volumes of prose. In 1979 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
"And, lo and behold, here I am today in Stockholm, my only treasure a few Greek words. Humble words but alive, because they are on the lips of a whole people. They are three thousand years old, but as fresh as if just drawn from the sea, from the pebbles and sea-weed of an Aegean shore: from the deep blue and total transparency of the aether".
From Odysseus Elytis' speech at the Nobel Banquet
City Hall, Stockholm, December 10, 1979
Cover artwork: Panagiotis Stavropoulos