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Inventing Paradise


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This title won the 1999 Criticos Prize given by the London Hellenistic Society for the best book about Greece in English.

About the Author

Edmund Keeley is the Charles Barnwell Straut Professor of English Emeritus at Princeton University, where he served for some years as the director of the Creative Writing Program and of the Program in Hellenic Studies. The author of novels, poetry, and works of nonfiction, including Cavafy's Alexandria, he is also the noted translator of many important modern Greek poets; his translations of poetry earned him the Harold Morton Landon Award from the Academy of American Poets. In 1999 he received an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.


Keeley, a noted scholar and translator of Greek poetry, has written an interesting blend of biography, travel guide, and literary criticism. Focusing on Henry Millers and Lawrence Durrells love affair with the Greek isles and their warm friendships with George Katsimbalis (as seen in Millers Collosus of Marousi), George Seferis, and other poets, Keeley celebrates this little band of friends who together...worked to create their individual images of an earthly paradise against the backdrop of the coming war. For Keeley, the spirit of this closely knit group kept poetry alive in Greece and served as a ray of light during the dark days of the German occupation. In return, argues Keeley, their encounter with Greece liberated the imaginations of these writers and provided them with paradisal models for future works. Quirky and unusual, this book is more fun to read than you might expect, and Keeley does make his case. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY

"In this masterly weave of scholarship and personal experience, Keeley, a renowned translator of modern Greek poetry, uses letters, journals, and poems, and his own lucid prose to recreate the world of Miller's 'little band of friends' and track them through the war."
--New Yorker

"Writing of past and present, of Miller and Seferis, of Seferis and the gods and, occasionally, of himself and Seferis, Professor Keeley has made a complex and illuminating connection."
--Richard Eder, New York Times

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