Harvard Library has held an event to mark its acquisition of the archive of Greek poet and songwriter Nikos Gatsos, originally announced in June last year.
Held last Saturday and attended by Gatsos’ life partner, poet and songwriter Agathi Dimitrouka, the event was organized by Panagiotis Roilos, a George Seferis professor of Modern Greek studies and professor of comparative literature at the University of Harvard, in collaboration with Mahindra Humanities Center, the Houghton Library and the Consulate General of Greece in Boston.
The acquisition of the archive, which will be made available to students and scholars around the globe, has been heralded as a key addition to the institution’s collections in Greek literature and culture.
Born in Arcadia in the Peloponnese in 1911, Gatsos had a profound influence on the post-war generation of Greek poets. His unique blend of surrealism, symbolism and folk song assured his place alongside his friends, Nobel laureates Odysseas Elytis and George Seferis.
In 1943, during the Nazi occupation of Greece, Gatsos published his most famous work, “Amorgos,” a surrealist epic named after the Aegean island he never visited. He died in Athens in 1992.
According to information made available on the Harvard Library website, the archive features a rich collection of manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks, correspondence, books, photographs and music recordings, including 18 letters from Elytis; 50 years’ worth of postcards from his good friend and international singer Nana Mouskouri; several record albums signed by composers; cassette tapes labeled “songs in progress;” the script of Greek-American director Elia Kazan’s “America” (with annotations by Kazan); and annotated typescripts by Seferis, Archibald MacLeish, Desmond O’Grady and Charles Haldeman. [Combined reports]