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Reviews 179 become a separate volume of the MIET series with little effort in editing, as it can stand on its own. I add here that missing from the Veremis-Kostés volume is a complete list of the documents in the bank archives relating to the period. The MIET published a highly valuable historical resource which adds considerably to the understanding of the Greek presence in Asia Minor. Both the bank and the editors of the volume are to be congratulated for the selection and presentation of 76 illustrations which give vividness to the text and a realistic appreciation of the drama that unfolds. Michael S. Macrakis Belmont, Massachusetts Yannis Ritsos, Exile & Return: Selected Poems 1967-1974, translated by Edmund Keeley. New York: The Ecco Press. 1985. Pp. xxii + 200. $17.50. A precedent to this publication has been Edmund Keeley's own Ritsos in Parenthesis (Princeton University Press, 1979), his translation of close to a hundred poems from three books of Ritsos published between 1946 and 1975, with the first two of them bearing the title Parentheses. In his "Introduction" to that selection Keeley viewed those poems in the light of their "symbolic logic" lending them "thematic coherence," while making them also "parenthetical " to the numerous short poems of Ritsos which generally "promoted political themes." This present volume contains translations of twice as many short poems of Ritsos, drawn from eight books of his mostly written during the seven years of the dictatorship of the Colonels in Greece (1967-1974). What, therefore, lends this selection its basic unity is its subtly reflecting its circumstance and the feelings and reactions caused by it to the poet. He was, once again, an exile retained for much ofthat time in camps of political prisoners, first on the island of Yaros, then at Partheni of Leros (1967-1968), and after a short hospitalization in Athens (October 1968), under house arrest at Karlovasi, Samos (1968-1970). One would have thought that such conditions were anything but favorable to concentration and creativity, yet, amazingly enough, those years made no exception to the rule that has prevailed in Rit- 180 Reviews sos' life since 1934, that of his leaving no day without its poetic record . It is unbelievable indeed that within those seven grim years a dozen volumes of numerous short poems were produced, side by side with ten longer compositions, while eight of his fifteen longer pieces inspired by ancient myth and tragedy were then either written or completed. The variety itself, one assumes, provided the poet with the psychological counterpoint and balance he needed to survive his experience. Ritsos' short poems themselves had, on the whole, been a sizable and essential part of his creativity since 1939, growing increasingly parallel to his longer ones, some of which earned him his wide reputation in the 1930s and 40s. These short poems became a major part of his work in the 1960s and 70s, most particularly in the years of the dictatorship, and this for understandable reasons. Their shortness , ranging from two to thiry lines, provided the small framework within which a craft substantially different from the one in his longer poems could practice what it could more easily afford. Suggestiveness , lack of rhetoric, of thematic development, and of exposition, along with objectivity and impersonality were the prevalent characteristics , where the things themselves (see Eliot's "objective correlative " and W. C. Williams' "no ideas but in things") speak their truth indirectly, mostly cryptically as to evade the understanding of his persecutors. Compactness, ellipsis, complex simplicity, the unexpected turn, surrealist free association, the natural fusing with the unnatural and the rational fusing with the absurd and the grotesque, would make the unnatural appear as more natural than the natural, and the irrational appear as more rational than the absurd. All these were given through the simplest possible means in terms of vocabulary (somewhat repetitive), syntax, item, image, using the common and trivial and humble with hardly any abstraction to be found. Concrete external things themselves, drawn from the settings in which the poet lived, inanimate things, silent figures, apparently insignificant gestures, acts and motions, effects without apparent cause and causes without effect, become vocal of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 179-181
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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