Poet (1900 – 1971)
George Seferis was a poet, translator and diplomat, widely regarded as one of the greatest men of letters in modern Greek history. As the main representative of the “Generation of the 30’s”, a group of writers who made their debuts in the letters in the 30’s, Seferis dominated the world of literature and poetry at his time, becoming a figure of international influence. He was the first Greek to be awarded the Nobel Prize.
He was born in Smyrna. He studied in Athens and in Paris, where he obtained a degree in law. Upon his return to Athens, he was admitted in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was the start of a long and successful career in diplomacy. Throughout his career, he held important posts, most notably Royal Ambassador to the United Kingdom.
Seferis’ first major work published was Strophe (Turning Point) in 1931, which indeed would mark a turning point not just in the author’s life but also on the world of modern literature. The interest that was sparked by the poem helped establish young Seferis as an important and promising poet, thus gaining acceptance from the higher echelons of literature, in spite of some inadvertent controversies from certain circles.
Seferis’ poetry inaugurated a new era of literature in Greece. 1935 marked an important year in Seferis’ life, with the publication of his work Mythistorema, a collection of 24 short poems alluding to works and myths of the grandfather of world literature, Homer. Indeed, Seferis’ mature poetry draws inspiration from Greece’s ancient past and it is through his poetry that the ancient Greek miracle translates into the present world.
Beginning from the 50’s Seferis’ work was translated and published abroad, further boosting his fame worldwide. He wrote essays, though fewer in number than his poems, as well as compiled translations, most importantly the works of T.S. Elliot. By 163, George Seferis had been recognized as the “representative Hellenic poet”, with his monumental poetry being a product of the ancient Greek thought and spirit.
He died in 1971 during the junta and his funeral became a national outcry against the regime in Greece. He was one of the few poets to enjoy recognition while he was still alive. Throughout his life, he received several honorary doctorates from international universities, was elected Honorary Fellow of the Modern Language Association as well as Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1963, the Swedish Academy awarded him with the Nobel Prize of Literature “for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture”.
- George Seferis. Poetry Foundation. www.poetryfoundation.org. November 27, 2018. Web.
- Giorgos Seferis – Biographical. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2018. Tue. 27 Nov 2018.
- Γιώργος Σεφέρης. Σαν σήμερα. Sansimera.gr. Web. Retrieved November 27, 2018.