Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

Nikos Pentzikis might be called the odd case of modern Greek literature, for he combines in his poetry as well as in the much larger body of his prose a restless and inquisitive spirit typical of the modern era with a kind of pre-Renaissance, more particularly Byzantine, religious mysticism. The young hero of his first novel, Andreas Dhimakoudhis, published in 1935, suffers from unrequited love and commits suicide. This death is symbolic of Pentzikis’s own early disappointments in love, the “death” of his sentimental self. His second book, O pethamenos ke i anastasi (wr. 1938, pb. 1944; the dead man and the resurrection), a stream-of-consciousness narrative, deals again with a young man (unnamed this time, but an obvious persona of his creator), who, though he regains his trust in life, regains it at the level of myth. He upholds the religious traditions of his country and accepts a metaphysical explanation of the world while returning and developing his sense of the concrete, his love for the world of shapes and colors. From that time on, Pentzikis cultivated his metaphysical and physical certainties in the parallel activities of writing and painting.

Pentzikis’s love of the concrete is particularly evident in his book Pragmatognosia (1950; knowledge of things), which deals mostly with the realities of Thessaloníki, his native town, and in two works in diary form, Simiosis ekato imeron (1973; notes of one...

(The entire section is 441 words.)