On This Day: Influential Greek novelist, Alexandros Papadiamantis, dies

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Alexandros Papadiamantis is one of the greatest Greek novelists and is regarded as the father of modern Greek literature. He also worked as a journalist and as a translator.

To mark the occasion of his death today, we take a look back at his incredible life achievements.

Early Life:

Papadiamantis was born on March 4, 1851 on the Greek island of Skiathos. His parents had nine children, two of which died at birth. He was their fourth child and eldest living son.

As Papadiamantis’ father was a priest, he was accustomed to a pious and serene way of life.

He had a diverse and interrupted education. He was schooled on his island until the age of eleven, then he moved to Athens in order to complete his high school studies.

Papadiamantis was born on March 4, 1851 on the Greek island of Skiathos.

In 1874, he went to the Philosophical School of the University of Athens. He attended the University for two years but he never received his degree. It was during this period that his cousin, Alexandros Moraitidis, introduced him into various journalistic circles.

Journalism and Novels:

Papadiamantis started to work as a journalist in several newspapers and magazines. His first novel, entitled ‘The Migrant,’ was printed in instalments in the newspaper, Neologos, in 1879. In 1887, his first story titled ‘The Christmas Loaf,’ marked the feast and set a pattern for his writing.

Papadiamantis’ longest works were the serialised novels ‘The Gypsy Girl,’ ‘The Emigrant,’ and ‘Merchants of Nations.’ However, his novella, ‘The Murderess,’ is considered his best masterpiece.

His stories provide lucid and lyrical portraits of country life in Skiathos or urban life in the poorer neighbourhoods of Athens, with frequent flashes of deep psychological insight.

Papadiamantis (centre) was a shy and retiring man, as the few extant photographs of him testify.

Most of his work is tinged with melancholy and resonates with empathy with people’s suffering, regardless of whether they are saints or sinners, innocent or conflicted.

Personal Life and Death:

Papadiamantis never married. He was a shy and retiring man, as the few extant photographs of him testify. He appeared to be a man seemingly not of this world despite his acute observations of it.

Despite his introspective nature, he had a small circle of close friends including Pavlos Nirvanas and Yannis Vlachoyannis, well-known Athenian men who on various occasions undertook the role of literary agents and helped him during hard times.

Papadiamantis died on January 2, 1911 in Skiathos from pneumonia. The whole country mourned his death. Several articles were published in his memory and memorial services were carried out in various cities.

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