Books by Edmund Keeley

SOME WINE FOR REMEMBRANCE by Edmund Keeley
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

"The details of individual stories are gripping and real (Keeley has also written extensively about Greek culture and translated contemporary Greek poetry), but the deposition-style narrative and the dud of an American protagonist keep the story from realizing its dramatic potential."
From prolific novelist Keeley (School for Pagan Lovers, 1993, etc.), a sincere if somewhat uneven story about the Nazi massacre of an entire Greek village near the end of WWII, and the effort decades later to pin the deed on a prominent Austrian statesman (Kurt Waldheim by any other name). Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: May 1, 1999

Sunny, island-hopping philhellenism as encountered in Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi and Lawrence Durrell's Prospero's Cell and Reflections on a Marine Venus. Translator, scholar, novelist, and well-respected Hellenist Keeley (School for Pagan Lovers, 1993, etc.) lets himself fall under the spell of the characteristically colorful Greek travel writings of Miller and Durrell in the same way that they fell under the spell of prewar, pretourist Greece. Durrell and his wife moved to the island of Corfu in 1935, after a little bohemianism in Paris, where they had known Miller, and they eventually enticed him to visit in 1939. Durrell had already settled into the island's community, discovered C.V. Cavafy's poetry, and spent most of his time bathing in the warm Mediterranean and the country's Homeric heritage. Miller also found the countryside, company, and literary life convivial. Among those with whom they struck up friendships were the gourmand and man of letters George Katsimbalis, who would figure as Miller's "Colossus," and George Seferis, who would become Greece's first Nobel laureate, in 1963. Miller's paean to Greece—"No country I have visited has given me such a sense of grandeur . . ."—came long after he had traveled all over the islands, and Keeley retraces his wanderings with unhurried pleasure. With WWII, Miller and Durrell were forced to leave, Miller never to return, Durrell for only a few years, and Keeley's account of what their friends suffered under the Nazis is a spare but moving example of how literature survives and helps others to survive. Keeley, as longtime translator of Cavafy, Seferis, and others, skillfully works excerpts from their poetry into his account's sun-drenched landscape, giving a sense of how modern Greek culture still lives on Homer's islands. Learned literary tourism about literary tourism, in one of the best places on earth for it. Read full book review >
SCHOOL FOR PAGAN LOVERS by Edmund Keeley
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 20, 1993

This seventh novel from Keeley (A Wilderness Called Peace, 1985, etc.), a well-known translator of modern Greek poetry, tells of young lovers crossed by war and fate—a story more enervating than erotic, despite all the lengthy and explicit sex scenes. The setting is late-1930's Salonika, where an American family with an exquisite sense of bad timing has relocated. While the father heads up a division of an American-sponsored vocational school, the two sons, Hal and Sam, make friends with the locals. The elder, 16-year-old Hal, is enrolled in the city's German school, supposedly the best but increasingly dominated by Nazi propaganda. He also knows very little German, which doesn't help his grades, so his parents ask high-school senior Magda Sevillas, the stunningly beautiful daughter of a Jewish father and a Greek mother, to tutor him. Hal is soon head over heels, of course, and on an end-of-the-year-treat—a visit to a local secluded beach—he confesses his love, and Magda is not exactly discouraging. But when her father insists she marry an older man, Magda, who wants to go to the university, runs away to a small island, where Hal finds her hiding in the home of a White Russian healer and nurse. Hal moves in, and the two are soon lovers. But paradise is always on loan; the lovers realize that they must return to the mainland. There, their plans are thwarted by a dog that attacks and badly wounds Magda. She has to go home, as does Hal, who (with war imminent) is packed off to the US. After the war, the two meet again in Athens, where Hal finally begins to understand that all that was left for them was the past they'd had together. Disappointingly lifeless love story that pushes all the right buttons but makes no music. Read full book review >