Kostas Varnalis was one of the most important and wonderful writers in Greece. He wrote poetry, narrative works, criticism and translations. He was born on February 14, 1884 and died on December 16, 1974. He was born in Bulgaria (Burgas) and experienced the climate of the Grek-Turkish war (1897) at a great extend. His surname, Varnalis, originated from Varna.(Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and in Northern Bulgaria, third-largest in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv), In 1898 Varnalis finished high school as well as his elementary studies in the Zariphios Greek high school in Plovdiv. After that he moved to Athens to study literature at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. There, he participated in the dispute of the language issue as a supporter of demoticists (over the supportres of the katharevousa).
When he completed his studies, he worked as a part – time journalist and translator but also taught literature in Burgas, Amaliada and Athens. More specifically, in 1907 he co-founded the poetry magazine “Hegeso”, that released ten issues. Between 1910 – 1916 he started his literature translation on the following works; Herakleides Euripides, Sophocles' Ajax, the memoirs of Xenophon and the Temptation of St. Anthony in Flaubert. In 1919 he received a scholarship and moved to Paris to study philosophy, literature and sociology. It was only then that he became a Marxist lover and revised his ideas on poetry both in theory and in practice. The poem “Proskinitis” was the main reason for making change his ideas. In 1921 he wrote “To Fos pou kaiei” (The Burning Light) that was issued a year later in Alexandria under the nick name “Dimos Tanalias”. In 1922 he also published “Oi Moiraoi” (fatal) in the Youth magazine and “Freedom” in the Muse magazine. Moreover, In 1924 he taught Modern Greek Literature at the Pedagogical Academy (under Glinos’ direction). However, his political alignment resulted in his being barred dismissed from his teaching position at the Paedagocical Academny in 1926.
Therefore, he turned to journalism and moved to France as a correspondent of “Progress”. In 1929, he married the poetess Dora Moatsou and in 1932 he published Socrates’ “True Apology” . In 1935 In 1935 he took part at the Congress of Soviet Writers in Moscow (as an agent of Greek writers) and then was exiled to Lesbos and Agios Efstratios. Kostas Varnalis was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1959. Below you can have a brief view of his most important works:
(1905) “Kirithres” (Honeycombs)
(1919) “O Proskynitis” (The Pilgrim)
(1922) “To fos pou kaiei” (The burning Light) – NickName: “Dimos Tanalias”
(1927) “Sklavoi poliorkimenoi” (Besieged Slaves)
(1956) “Poiitika” (Poetic Works)
(1965) “Eleftheros Kosmos” (Free World)
(1975) “Orgi laou” (The Wrath of the People)
Prose and Literary criticism:
(1923) “O laos ton mounouchon” (The eunuch people) - NickName “Dimos Tanalias”
(1925) “O Solomos horis metafysiki” (Solomos without metaphysics)
(1931) “H alithini apologia tou Sokrati” (The True Apology of Socrates)
(1938) “Alithinoi anthropoi” (Real People)
(1947) “To imerologio tis Pinelopis” (The diary of Penelope)
(1957) “Pezos logos” (Prose)
(1957) “Solomika” (On Solomos)
(1958) “Aisthitika Kritika A kai B” (Aesthetic Critical Works A and B)
(1958) “Anthropoi. Zontanoi – Alithinoi” (Humans. Alive – Real)
(1956) “Oi diktatores” (The Dictators)
(1980) “Filologika Apomnimonevmata” (Philological Memories)
(1972) “Attalos o Tritos” (Attalos the Third)
“Burning Light” – A short Intro
Staring at the sea, not satiating it
From the mountain up high
laminar and blue by being enriched within
made of many jewelries
Winter afternoon, being
under a sudden rain
bulk from inside the clouds through a blurred laughing
sun without cover
islands, ropes travel in the air
Beach like silk dimming
and with the gulls escorts once a ship
open to get the heavens
Fresh and clean by moving down
dancing through the red side
pines, golden pines and jewelries’ flower
dripping hair the aromatic
And close to them by dragging to their light dancing
until inside the blue (sea/water)
the empty snow houses, and them within their dream
singing through a long sleep
Elytis Odysseus (1911-1996)
Born in Crete to a Lesvos family of soap manufacturers. He studied law in the University of Athens and, in 1940, he served as an army lieutenant on the Albanian front during the Greek-Italian war.
Palamas Kostis (1859-1943)
He was born in city of Patra and his formative years coincided with the explosion of romanticism in Greece. He published his first poems in 1886 and he became the central figure of the Greek literary scene for the rest of his life.
Kavafis Konstantinos (1862-1933)
One of the best poets, the son of a wealthy businessman, he was born in Alexandria where he lived most of his life.
Seferis Georgios (1900-1971)
The Nobelist poet was born in Smirni. His father, a University professor, is considered the best translator of Lord Byron's poetry.
Ritsos Yiannis (1909-1991)
He was born in Monemvasia and his childhood was marked by dramatic family conditions, bankruptcy, illness, deaths, which were probably the reason for his love of everyday life and his penetrative vision for love.