Odysseas Elytis (1911-1996)

Odysseas Elytis (Odysseus Elytis or) is a pseudonym for Odyseus Alepoudelis. He was a Greek poet born in Heraklion in 1911 as the son of a wealthy soap manufacturer. It was to avoid association with his wealthy family, he changed its name. The name Elytis he found by combining the words 'Ella' (Greece), 'Elpida' (hope), 'Eleftheria' (freedom) and 'Eleni' (in Greek mythology, the personification of beauty and sensuality).

Elytis began to be interested in poetry when he was around 17 years old. He was inspired by French surrealism, which had just begun to emerge in France and began to work to incorporate this new way of thinking in the ancient Greek literary tradition.

Elytis debuted in 1936 with the collection 'Orientations', a tribute to the Greek landscape, youth and sun. He interrupted his writing to participate in the second World War. In later collections of poems such as 'The Sovereign Sun'(1943) and 'A Heroic and Elegiac Song of the Lost Second Lieutenant of the Albanian Campaign' from 1945, he was inspired by his experiences as an officer during the Italians' attack on Greece and Albania 1940-41.

His next release came after a period of more than 10 years of silence, (Worthy It Is, 1959). This work is generally considered his masterpiece. It was especially known for being set to music by Mikis Theodorakis. The poem was inspired by Byzantine liturgy. A kind of creation or life story, linking the individual's life to the great whole.

Elytis's reputation as a great poet was cemented when he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1979. It its The reason for the award the Nobel Price Committee described his poetry as works that "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."

Elytis also worked as a literary critic, as advisor to different theaters and as a board member for Greek TV. Elytis died in 1996.

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