Harvard Library Acquires Archive of Greek Poet Nikos Gatsos

The archive of Greek poet and lyricist Nikos Gatsos has found a permanent home at Harvard Library. The acquisition is a key addition to the Library’s collections in Greek literature and civilization and will be made available to students and scholars around the world.

Nikos Gatsos (1911-1992) had a profound influence on the post-war generation of Greek poets. Writing of both loss and hope, Gatsos’s unique blend of surrealism, symbolism and folk song created intense admiration and assured his place alongside his friends, Nobel laureates Odysseas Elytis and George Seferis, as one of the great twentieth-century Greek poets.

Panagiotis Roilos, George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard, strongly encouraged the Library to acquire the archive.

“Nikos Gatsos was one of the most prominent figures of the European avant-garde. His long poem Amorgos, which was published in 1943, during the occupation of Greece by the Germans and their allies, was almost instantly hailed by both critics and poets as an emblematic work of Greek surrealism.”

Roilos continued, “The Gatsos archive will be a major addition to Harvard’s archives on European modernism and of course to its unique collection on Greek literature and culture. I cannot stress enough the potential educational and research value of the archive for several scholarly areas, including Greek and broader European cultural history, comparative literature, Greek world literature and translation studies.”

Gatsos’s poems and lyrics have been translated into English, French, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Korean, Swedish, Turkish, and Finnish. In 1987, he was awarded the Athens City Prize for his life achievements and in 1991 he was recognized as Deputy Member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Barcelona for his contribution to the promotion of Spanish literature in Greece.

The Gatsos archive includes a rich collection of manuscripts, typescripts, notebooks, correspondence, books, photographs, and musical recordings. Users will find:

  • eighteen letters from Odysseas Elytis (ranging from three to twenty-five pages)
  • fifty years of postcards from his good friend and popular singer Nana Mouskouri
    record albums signed by composers
  • cassette tapes labeled “songs in progress”
  • the script of Elia Kazan’s America (with annotations by Kazan)
  • annotated typescripts by George Seferis, Archibald MacLeish, Desmond O’Grady, and Charles Haldeman

(Source: Harvard Library)