Getting Acquainted with Giorgos Sarantaris (1908–1941)

Katherine Cassis


A slight and solitary figure with a prominent Italian accent and a child-like honesty andinnocence that is somehow in keeping with a flagrant inattention to the fundamentals ofgood grooming – this is the portrait painted by relatives and friends of the poet GiorgosSarantaris.2The portrait is, at the very least, romanticised. The poet’s slightness and lackof “manly” beauty, his sometimes brutal frankness and his disinterestedness towards prac -tical affairs are conveniently transformed into indicators of his status as prophet3; hisslightness testifies to his Stoic frugality, his lack of physical beauty to his exclusion fromearthly distractions and pleasures, his Italian accent (in so far as it indicates life outsidethe parameters of Greek society) to his detached and even “objective” perspective onGreece (though his Italian background could just as easily be perceived as an obstacle toa true appreciation of the “Greek geist” if his criticism were to fall below the mark offlattery), his frankness to an unwavering commitment to some “absolute truth” and,finally, his immunity to practical concerns (like using his law degree to earn a living or toenter the political arena) to his prophetic other-worldliness.

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