Kostas Karyotakis ( Greek Κώστας Καρυωτάκης , * October 30, 1896 in Tripoli ; † July 21, 1928 in Preveza ) was a Greek poet and prose writer and is one of the most controversial personalities in modern Greek literary history. It shaped an entire generation and triggered the phenomenon of karyotakism , but was rejected by many critics. Today he is one of the most widely read modern Greek poets.
Karyotakis was the son of the engineer Georgios Karyotakis and his wife Ekaterini (née Skagianni). He was the middle of three siblings: his sister Nitsa (* 1895), who was one year older than him, married the lawyer Panagiotis Nikoletopoulos, his three years younger brother Thanos (* 1899) was a bank clerk. Due to the father's job, the family had to move several times. She lived on Lefkada , in Patras , in Larisa , in Kalamata in Argostoli , in Athens (1909–1911) and in Chania , where she stayed until 1913. 1912 published Karyotakis first poems in children's magazines and was awarded by the youth magazine Pedikos Astir (Παιδικός Αστήρ).
In 1913 he enrolled in the law school in Athens, where he received his diploma in late 1917. As a result, he tried to gain a foothold as a lawyer, which failed due to the labor market situation at the time. Instead he chose a civil servant position and worked as such in Thessaloniki , Syros , Arta and Athens.
In 1919 he published his first collection of poems The Pain of Man and Things ( Ο Πόνος του Ανθρώπου και των Πραμάτων ), which did not bring him particularly good reviews. In the same year he published the satirical magazine I Gamba ( Η Γάμπα ), but it was banned after six issues. His second collection was published in 1921 under the title pain medication ( Νηπενθή ). During this time he became friends with the poet Maria Polydouri , who worked with him in the administration of the prefecture of Attica . In December 1927 he published his last collection of poems with elegies and satires ( Ελεγεία και Σάτιρες ). In addition to his poems, Karyotakis also wrote prose texts .
Karyotakis worked in various ministries, was also involved in union activities and was involved in civil servants' strikes. In January 1928 he was elected General Secretary of the Athens Civil Service Association. On the basis of a publication authorized and signed by him, which criticized his superior minister, he was transferred to Patras on business in February 1928 , and finally to Preveza in June . Kostas Karyotakis suffered from syphilis in the last few years of his life .
The transfer to Preveza, a small town in western Greece, made Karyotakis difficult. His letters to relatives from this period reveal his desperation at provincial life and the petty bourgeoisie. On July 20th, he tried unsuccessfully to drown himself. The following day he visited a café in Preveza and shot himself a few hours later. He carried the following suicide note with him:
It's time to reveal my tragedy. My greatest imperfection was my unbridled curiosity, my sick imagination, and my endeavor to want to know something about all feelings without being able to experience most of them. I hate the vulgar act ascribed to me. I only sought its ideal atmosphere, the extreme bitterness. I am also not the right person for this job. My entire past testifies to it. I hated any reality. I felt dizzy with danger. And I receive the danger involved with an open heart. I pay for everyone who, like me, did not find an ideal in their life, who have always been victims of their hesitation or who have found their life a game without meaning. I see them coming in ever greater numbers over the centuries. I turn to them. After tasting all the delights !! I am now ready for a dishonorable death. I am sorry for my poor parents, I am sorry for my siblings. But I go with my head held high. I was sick. I ask you to telegraph my uncle Demosthenes Karyotakis (Monis Prodromou street, side street of Aristotelous street, Athens) so that he can prepare my family.
[PS] And so that we take on a different note: I advise all those who can swim never to try to kill themselves in the sea. Last night I fought the waves for ten hours. I swallowed a lot of water, but my mouth kept coming back to the surface, I don't know how. If I am given the opportunity, I will certainly write about the impressions of someone who drowned.
The exact background of the death is not clear. Giorgos Savvidis , who studied the writer's life and work intensively and also had insight into personal documents, proposed the theory of Karyotakis' drug addiction. Many passages in his work - according to Savvidis' thesis - are related to intoxicants. Among other things, the title of the second collection of poems (painkillers) , the connection to Baudelaire and his flight from reality, numerous individual passages in poems and above all the last prose text from June 1928 ( His life / Η ζωή του) could indicate that the poetry is not the only one The way out was that Karyotakis was trying to get out of his situation. This is supported by the fact that Karyotakis 'family had the passages with the "vulgar act" and Karyotakis' confession of illness removed from the suicide note before publication, as they possibly knew about his drug consumption and wanted to prevent his entire work from being viewed from this point of view . The philologist Lizy Tsirimokou supports Savvidis' theses.
The work of Kostas Karyotakis consists primarily of the three collections of poetry he published himself, which usually include the last, unpublished poems of 1928. In addition to his own poems, he also included translations of foreign-language poetry in the second and third collections, which are considered part of his own literary work due to Karyotakis' large poetic contribution to the translation. He also wrote prose texts that he published during the 1920s. In the complete edition of Savvidis (1965) there are also some poems that Karyotakis did not want to publish.
"The pain of people and things"
Karyotakis' first collection of poems was The Pain of Man and Things (Ο Πόνος του Ανθρώπου και των Πραγμάτων) in 1919. It contains only ten poems and is characterized by the poet's continued trust in the poetic word. The lyrical self speaks of love as a possible way out of those who have "tasted the pain". For Karyotakis, pain is a fundamental sense of the world, it comes from knowing the truth. As a poet who takes on the burden of naming this pain, he is ruled by it and becomes its victim; being a poet becomes a fateful burden.
In his second collection of poems, Painkillers (Νηπενθή), which was published only two years later (1921), Karyotakis' poetry appears in a different light: his poems are no longer a kind of dialogue with other people, as in the first collection, but monologues and experiences of loneliness. The title of the collection no longer denotes the content and origin of the poems (i.e. the pain), but the poems themselves: They serve the poet to temporarily alleviate the pain, but without actually eliminating it. Confidence in one's own poetic word has waned, a feeling of the ineffectiveness of poetry takes hold of the poet. Karyotakis is torn between the ambivalent aspects of lyrical life: on the one hand poetry gives him relief from pain, on the other hand it opens new wounds and aggravates his condition; it reveals truths and conceals at the same time. In his painkiller collection, Kostas Karyotakis offers different ways out: the nostalgic turn to one's own carefree childhood, love or the hope of fame. The more Karyotakis gains control over his lyrical language, the more he loses it about himself and his condition.
"Elegies and Satires"
The third and final collection of poems, elegies and satires (Ελεγεία και Σάτιρες), marked the climax in Karyotakis' work in 1927. It is his definitive and most representative cycle and represents a milestone in modern Greek poetry. Again, the title of the collection of poems describes its own content; it contains elegies that are in line with Karyotakis' previous poetry, as well as satires that represent the last major chapter of his poetic activity. While he still formulated possible ways out in the painkiller collection to cope with his painful perception of reality, he is now finally in a dead end and has given up the fight. His poetry - as Karyotakis feels - has failed, being a poet has become meaningless; the last step he can desperately take is turning to satire. With this he enters a poetic field beyond the elegy; reality, which is unbearable for him, is no longer lamented or openly named - for that has proven to be pointless and self-destructive; now it is caricatured with biting sharpness.
A continuation of the content of the third collection of poems are the last three poems (1928), which were written in Preveza and were no longer published.
Karyotakis also wrote some poems that he did not want to publish during his lifetime; this includes, for example, the poem Λυκαβηττός (Lykavittos) .
Karyotakis' prose work comprises a few, short texts whose role in the history of modern Greek prose is controversial. These are stories mostly without an objective plot, in which he processes, among other things, his experience as a civil servant. The texts, eleven of which were published between 1919 and 1928, increasingly represent an attempt in the last years of Karyotakis' life to find an alternative to poetry and thus perhaps the longed-for way out of his tragic life situation. According to the Karyotakis biographer and first editor of his complete works (1938), Charilaos Sakellariadis, Karyotakis decided in 1928 to dedicate himself only to prose and to leave poetry. The editor of the second complete edition (1965), Giorgos Savvidis, recognizes the prose piece The Last (τ τελευταία, approx. 1922) as one of the earliest great internal monologues in Europe. There is only one known prose translation by Karyotakis: that of the "Card Player" by Hoffman.
Karyotakis' poetry is heterogeneous and ambivalent: it fluctuates between quiet lyricism and romantic rhetoric, between elegiac in-itself agility and satirical sharpness. The contrast between empirical objectivity and a subjective experience of things is openly articulated. Lyrical topos is always the search for the ideal, which must fail; the longed-for alleviation of the pain of reality, which is only followed by new pain.
Poetic images are seldom found in Karyotakis' poems. Instead, the “dizziness of the void” predominates, objects usually only appear acoustically, not materially and vividly, and the determining motifs are those of walking away, of shadows, of darkness.
Karyotakis mostly used to in his poetry iambic , but also all other versification occur. Stanzas and verses are completely different lengths, and linguistically to Karyotakis distinguished variety: He never seals in free verse , but frees himself simultaneously from traditional patterns and conventions and dares his poetry in the form of many enjambement , incorrect emphasis and hiatuses a to give unusual shape. Any form of artificial singsong or romantic exaggeration is alien to him; his language is clear, sober, reveals the honest feeling of a deeply pessimistic person and contains neither the epic element of a Kostis Palamas nor the rationally thought-out element of a Giorgos Seferis . He writes in Dimotiki , but also allows high-level words and thus takes an individual point of view in the lyrical landscape of Greece at that time. Certain rhymes occur several times and are significant: γράφω ( grafo - I write ) - τάφο ( tafo - grave ). In the poem Wenden / Strophen (Στροφές) Karyotakis uses the plural of “chaos” (“στα χάη του κόσμου” - in the chaos of the world ), which actually does not exist in modern Greek .
Influences in the work of Karyotakis
It has been pointed out repeatedly that Karyotakis was strongly influenced by the French symbolism of Charles Baudelaire , but also of Paul Verlaine , Stéphane Mallarmé or Arthur Rimbaud . Baudelaire is not only represented in Karyotakis' work in the form of two translated poems, the title of the second collection of poems painkillers (Νηπενθή) also originally comes from Baudelaire, who in his work Les paradis artificiels (1860) describes opium as “pharmakon népenthès”, ie as a pain reliever. Karyotakis is clearly in the line of the bourgeois realism of Konstantinos Kavafis and resembles it as a tragic poet. Literary studies have also named many other knowledgeable or unknowing parallels and models of Kostas Karyotakis, such as Miltiadis Malakassis and Andreas Kalvos , to whom Karyotakis addresses himself directly in a poem.
- see main article: Karyotakism
Kostas Karyotakis delighted many young people with his poems, which often expressed deep hopelessness and the suffering of a sensitive person under an unbearable social situation. Around 1930 a movement of the imitation and mythification of Karyotakis emerged among young poets, which went down in modern Greek literary history as "Karyotakism" (καρυωτακισμός) and was unanimously rejected by literary criticism and even branded as dangerous, since Karyotakis cast a spell over the youth Spoil your feeling for language and art. Admittedly, his suicide made a decisive contribution to the fact that an aura of the mythical and heroic quickly developed around his person, as he had achieved through his deed what many longed for: the complete unity of life and work, in which suicide was a logical consequence and the inevitable continuation of lived poetry is understood. In fact, Karyotakis' imitators were mostly poetically unworthy imitations of the karyotakic, depressive style, which soon fell into oblivion and, unlike Karyotakis himself, no longer play a significant role. Even decades after Karyotakis' death, numerous poems by different authors made direct references to Karyotakis and his life - evidence of the deep traces he left behind.
Critic and writer
Kostas Karyotakis' poetry was received with divided opinion from the start. While he found admirers in Kostas Varnalis , Kleon Paraschos and Tellos Agras , he met with harsh criticism, especially from the circles of the militant-patriotic and anti-communist magazine Ellinika Grammata ( Ελληνικά Γράμματα ). Above all, Vassilis Rotas in an article in 1928, which Karyotakis still lived through, and Andreas Karandonis in 1935 criticized Karyotakis - after initially benevolent assessment - not only because of his poetically worthless poetry in their opinion, but also because of his ambiguous commitment to the unadulterated vernacular, because of its Melancholy and the ruthless social criticism that Karyotakis had articulated in his satires. Karyotakis responded to Rotas' criticism and, in 1928, accepted a back and forth between protest letters on the one hand and hateful, published statements by the editorial staff of Ellinika Grammata on the other, but did not experience the hottest phase of the controversy about himself and his work. The critics K. Dimaras and G. Theotokas completely rejected Karyotakis, found, in contrast to Rotas and Karandonis, not a single positive word and even denied him the rank of poet; however, they too could not deny that Karyotakis had become a symbol and representative of an entire epoch. Especially in the 30s than with Andreas Embirikos of Surrealism in Greece was introduced and one from the Soviet Union the spirit socialist realism was blowing, a general change in sentiment was recorded; one longed for authors who would spread optimism and produce poetry of strength and the high or visionary. The attention of the critics turned relatively quickly away from Karyotakis, whose pessimistic poetry was regarded as the "end" of a side branch of the modern Greek literature, and new poets like Giorgos Seferis , Odysseas Elytis , Nikos Engonopoulos and others. Even in the 1950s, Karyotakis' poetry was occasionally referred to as dangerous.
Classification in the modern Greek literary history
The role of Kostas Karyotakis in modern Greek literary history remained unexplained for a long time. It is only in the last few decades that research has been able to free itself from the many one-sided criticism triggered mainly by karyotakism and gain a clearer picture of the poet's work. As an outstanding representative of a petty-bourgeois culture of the interwar period, a generation that was under the bad impressions of the First World War , the Asia Minor catastrophe , unemployment and political instability, Kostas Karyotakis marks a milestone in the history of modern Greek literature and at the same time an isolated case because he did not can be classified into a larger circle of similar poets. He developed Kavafi's urban realism further into neo-bourgeois realism, which no longer draws its material from all epochs, but focuses exclusively on the present. Even if Karyotakis' poetry has repeatedly been referred to as the "end" and dead end, it has influenced literary greats such as Jannis Ritsos , Giorgos Seferis and Odysseas Elytis in their careers. Today Kostas Karyotakis is undisputedly one of the most important personalities in modern Greek literary history, and his poems are still among the most widely read.
- Savina Yannatou published several of Karyotakis' poems in sung version in 1982.
- In 1983, Mikis Theodorakis set a number of songs from Karyotakis' three volumes of poetry, and in 1985 he dedicated his first opera The Metamorphoses of Dionysus (Kostas Karyotakis) to him .
The original text of the farewell letter is:
Είναι καιρός να φανερώσω την τραγωδία μου. Το μεγαλύτερό μου ελάττωμα στάθηκε η αχαλίνωτη περιέργειά μου , η νοσηρή φαντασία και η προσπάθειά μου να πληροφορηθώ για όλες τις συγκινήσεις , χωρίς, τις περσότερες, να μπορώ να τις αισθανθώ. Τη χυδαία όμως πράξη που μου αποδίδεται τη μισώ. Εζήτησα μόνο την ιδεατή ατμόσφαιρά της, την έσχατη πικρία. Ούτε είμαι ο κατάλληλος άνθρωπος για το επάγγελμα εκείνο. Ολόκληρο το παρελθόν μου πείθει γι 'αυτό. Κάθε πραγματικότης μου ήταν αποκρουστική.
Είχα τον ίλιγγο του κινδύνου. Και τον κίνδυνο που ήρθε τον δέχομαι με πρόθυμη καρδιά. Πληρώνω για όσους, καθώς εγώ, δεν έβλεπαν κανένα ιδανικό στη ζωή τους, έμειναν πάντα έρμαια των δισταγμών τους, ή εθεώρησαν την ύπαρξη τους παιχνίδι χωρίς ουσία. Τους βλέπω να έρχονται ολοένα περσότεροι, μαζύ με τους αιώνες. Σ 'αυτούς απευθύνομαι. Αφού εδοκίμασα όλες τις χαρές !! είμαι έτοιμος για έναν ατιμωτικό θάνατο. Λυπούμαι τους δυστυχισμένους γονείς μου, λυπούμαι τ 'αδέλφια μου. Αλλά φεύγω με το μέτωπο ψηλά. Ημουν άρρωστος.
Σας παρακαλώ να τηλεγραφήσετε, για να προδιαθέση την οικογένειά μου, στο θείο μου Δημοσθένη Καρυωτάκη, οδός Μονής Προδρόμου, πάροδος Αριστοτέλους, Αθήνας.
Και για ν 'αλλάξουμε τόνο. Συμβουλεύω όσους ξέρουν κολύμπι να μην επιχειρήσουνε ποτέ να αυτοκτονήσουν δια θαλάσσης. Ολη νύχτα απόψε, επί 10 ώρες, εδερνόμουν με τα κύματα. Ηπια άφθονο νερό, αλλά κάθε τόσο, χωρίς να καταλάβω πώς, το στόμα μου ανέβαινε στην επιφάνεια. Ωρισμένως, κάποτε, όταν μου δοθή ευκαιρία, θα γράψω τις εντυπώσεις ενός πνιγμένου.
- cf. Savvidis 1989, p. 108ff. and 130
- cf. Lizy Tsirimokou in: [Εταιρία Σπουδών Νεοελληνικού Πολιτισμού και Γενικής Παιδείας] 1998, pp. 63-92
- cf. Filokyprou 2006, pp. 93-104
- cf. Filokyprou 2006, pp. 104-128
- German translation by Maria Oikonomou-Meurer and Ulrich Meurer, quoted from: Mitsou, Marie-Elisabeth; Oikonomou, Maria (Ed.): Reflections. Essays by modern Greek authors , Munich 2005, pp. 149f.
- cf. Filokyprou 2006, pp. 128-163
- German translation by Maria Oikonomou-Meurer and Ulrich Meurer, quoted from: Mitsou, Marie-Elisabeth; Oikonomou, Maria (Ed.): Reflections. Essays by modern Greek authors , Munich 2005, p. 137
- On Karyotakis' prose see Savvidis 1989, pp. 116-136; Eratosthenis Kapsomenos in: [Εταιρία Σπουδών Νεοελληνικού Πολιτισμού και Γενικής Παιδείας] 1998, pp. 27-42; and Alexis Ziras ibid. pp. 93-104
- cf. Mariliza Mitsou in: [Εταιρία Σπουδών Νεοελληνικού Πολιτισμού και Γενικής Παιδείας] 1998, pp. 335-348; and Tellos Agras in: Mitsou, Marie-Elisabeth; Oikonomou, Maria (Ed.): Reflections. Essays by modern Greek authors, Munich 2005
- cf. for example Lizy Tsirimokou in: [Εταιρία Σπουδών Νεοελληνικού Πολιτισμού και Γενικής Παιδείας] 1998, pp. 63-92, and Mariliza Mitsou ibid. pp. 335-348
- cf. Dimitris Tziovas in: [Εταιρία Σπουδών Νεοελληνικού Πολιτισμού και Γενικής Παιδείας] 1998, p. 118
Collections of poems edited by Karyotakis himself
- The pain of people and things (Ο Πόνος του Ανθρώπου και των Πραμάτων, 1919)
- Painkillers (Νηπενθή, 1921)
- Elegies and satires (Ελεγεία και Σάτιρες, 1927)
Posthumous complete editions
- Άπαντα , 1938 ed. by Ch. Sakellariadis (Χ. Σακελλαριάδης)
- Ευρισκόμενα , 1966 ed. by G. Savvidis (Γ. Σαββίδης)
- Agras, Tellos: Karyotakis and the Satires, in: Mitsou, Marie-Elisabeth ; Oikonomou, Maria (Ed.): Reflections. Essays by modern Greek authors , Munich 2005
- Angelastos, Dimitris (Αγγελάτος, Δημήτρης): Διάλογος και ετερότητα. Η ποιητική διαμόρφωση του Κ.Γ. Καρυωτάκη , Athens 1994
- Dounia, Christina (Ντουνιά, Χριστίνα): Κ.Γ. Καρυωτάκης , Athens 2000
- Filokyprou, Elli (Φιλοκύπρου, Έλλη): Παλαμάς, Καρυωτάκης, Σεφέρης, Ελύτης. Η διαρκής ανεπάρκεια της ποίησης , Athens 2006
- Leondaris, Vyron (Λεοντάρης, Βύρων): Θέσεις για τον Καρυωτάκη, in: Σημειώσεις 1 (1973), pp. 71-77
- Papazoglou, Christos (Παπάζογλου, Χρήστος ): Παρατονισμένη μουσική. Μελέτη για τον Καρυωτάκη. Athens 1988
- Savvidis, GP (Σαββίδης, Γ.Π.): Στα χνάρια του Καρυωτάκη , Athens 1989
- Stergiopoulos, Kostas (Στεργιόπουλος, Κώστας): Οι επιδράσεις στο έργο του Καρυωτάκη , Athens 1972
- Tokatlidou, Vasiliki (Τοκατλίδου, Βασιλική): Οι μεταφράσεις του Καρυωτάκη. Ένταξή τους στο ποιητικό πρωτότυπο έργο των συλλογών του , Thessaloniki 1978
- Vavouris, Stavros (Βαβούρης, Σταύρος): Ο Καρυωτάκης ποιητής μείζων, in: Γράμματα και Τέχνες 41 (1985), pp. 22-24
- Vogiatzoglou, Athina (Βογιατζόγλου, Αθηνά): Οι ποιητικοί κήποι του Κ. Γ. Καρυωτάκη, in: Η λέξη 79-80 (1988), pp. 882-87
- Voulgaris, Kostas (Βούλγαρης, Κώστας): Κ. Καρυωτάκης. Φύλλα Πορείας , Athens 1998
- [O. A.]: Συμπόσιο για τον Καρυωτάκη , arr . v. Μέμη Μελισσαράτου, Preveza 1990
- [O. A.]: Καρυωτάκης και Καρυωτακισμός. Επιστημονικό Συνέδριο 31 Ιανουαρίου και 1 Φεβρουαρίου 1997 , Εταιρία Σπουδών Νεοελληνικού, ολειτισ Γύ κκαεις Athens 1998αειςαισ
- Literature by and about Kostas Karyotakis in the catalog of the German National Library
- The complete works of Kostas Karyotakis (free e-book). Retrieved January 5, 2015 .
- English translation of the poem Στροφές . Archived from the original on March 2, 2012 ; Retrieved January 5, 2015 .
- Scene description of the Karyotakis opera by Mikis Theodorakis. Retrieved January 5, 2015 .
|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Greek writer|
|DATE OF BIRTH||October 30, 1896|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Tripoli (Greece)|
|DATE OF DEATH||July 21, 1928|
|Place of death||Preveza|