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Tales from a Greek Island

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About the Author

Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851-1911) was the author of four novels and about one hundred seventy short stories and sketches. Elizabeth Constandinides was coordinator of the Program in Modern Greek Language and Literature at Queens College of the City of New York.


The setting of these 12 tales is the Aegean island of Skiathos, the birthplace of Papadiamantis, a 19th century writer in the naturalist tradition of Hardy and Maupassant. He celebrates the folkgoatherds, weavers, olive gatherers, sailors, and ne'er-do-wellswhose fates are determined by centuries of custom, by the beauty and severity of the island and by ordinary passions. Disease, usually consumption, claims young lives, as in ``The Matchmaker,'' or in ``Civilization in the Village,'' where a doctor will not interrupt his card game at the tavern to save a child. Experience repeats the patterns of ancient myths. In ``The Haunted Bridge'' a father's superstitious need to be rid of his daughter evokes Iphigeneia's sacrifice. The sea's lure is omnipresent: ``The Homesick Wife'' shimmers with fairy-tale beauty, but often the sea takes men to the Americas, where they disappear. Revered by present-day Greek writers, Papadiamantis commands a highly accomplished narrative art and a view of humanity tinged with melancholy charm. (May 11)

The 'saint' of modern Greek letters,... Papadiamantis wrote with graphic realism and unequalled passion about the extreme hardships of the day, the ravages of tuberculosis and alcoholism, the plight of women abandoned by their husbands and sons. Other stories, more personal in tone, have a quality of reverie. * Times Literary Supplement * Steeped in Greek history, quick with Biblical allusions, poised with a commendable knowledge of local superstition, Papadiamantis transports us to the ambience of the golden moment, a lyrical fairyland, the mythos of Greece past. Or so it seems at the outset, and how deceiving are appearances, because what is really happening beneath the illusion of pastoral dalliance belies the relaxed, nostalgic mood. * Studies in Short Fiction * Papadiamantis shines in this slim important new collection. * Athenian * Papadiamantis has created a mythical world where everyone has a natural place and where it is that place, and not individual choice, that creates the shape each life eventually takes. What is amazing is that this world proves convincing... Elizabeth Constantinides deserves both admiration and praise. * Philadelphia Inquirer *

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