Nikos Ghavril Pentzikis was born in Thessaloniki, Greece, on October 30, 1908. Pentzikis’s father operated a successful pharmaceutical business; his sister, Zoe Karelli (née Hrisoule Pentzikis), became a poet and translator, an active figure on the Greek literary scene. Pentzikis completed his elementary schooling at home and, beginning in 1919, attended a regular high school. Two years later, he was writing his first poems. Between 1926 and 1929, while studying pharmacology in Paris and Strasbourg, he read extensively in literature, particularly the Symbolists. Returning to his native city to take charge of the family business (his father had died in 1927), Pentzikis published some of his writings, but dissatisfied with the reaction they provoked, he burned them.
Pentzikis’s first book, Andreas Dhimakoudhis, reflected his student days in France and his emotional, restless nature. His second publication in book form, O pethamenos ke i anastasi, marked his return to, and conscious acceptance of, the traditions of his native land, particularly the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church. This reconciliation was also evident in his collection of poems Ikones (icons). The war years, although difficult for Pentzikis, were also formative for his subsequent literary production and rich in contacts with other Greek writers. Between 1945 and 1947, he issued—with the help of others—the literary journal Kohlias, an...
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