Elytis, Odysseus

Elytis, Odysseus ōdē´so͞os ĕl´ētēs˝, ōdĭs´ēəs [key], pseud. of Odysseus Alepoudelisäl˝āpo͞o´dĕlēs [key], 1911–96, Greek poet, b. Iraklion, Crete. Strongly influenced by surrealism, especially the works of Paul Éluard, in the 1930s he began publishing individualistic and sensuous lyric poetry replete with imagery of the Aegean Islands. He fought with the antifascist resistance in World War II; after the war, his work retained an optimism tempered by violence and hardship. His most impressive work, 11 years in the writing, was To Axion Esti [Worthy It Is] (1959; tr. 1974). A three-part poem that fused the poet's personal experiences with evocations of Greek myth and history, it catapulted him to fame and became extremely popular with the Greek public, particularly those parts that were set to music. In 1979 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Among his works in English translation are the selected poems of The Sovereign Sun (1974) and What I Love (1986).

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