The Murderess

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Product Details

New York Review of Books
Publish Date
5.06 X 7.96 X 0.48 inches | 0.37 pounds
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About the Author

Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851-1911) was born and raised on the Aegean island of Skiathos, the setting not only of The Murderess but of many of his short stories, literary sketches, and novels. His mother was a descendent of an established local family and his father was a Greek Orthodox priest. As a young man, Papadiamantis spent seven months in a monastery and studied philosophy at the University of Athens before taking up a career as a journalist and translator. He enjoyed popular success as the author of historical adventure novels like The Gypsy Girl (1884), which were serialized in daily newspapers, but it was not until he turned to writing short stories and novellas that he gained critical recognition. Though a heavy drinker and smoker, Papadiamantis was devout, poor, and solitary, known as the saint of modern Greek literature. He lived in Athens rooming houses until 1908, when he returned to Skiathos. Two years later, he died of pneumonia.

Peter Levi (1931-2000) was a poet, translator, novelist, and professor of classics at Oxford. Educated at Catholic schools, he was ordained as a priest in 1964 and remained one until 1977. He wrote more than twenty volumes of poetry, and from 1984 to 1989 held the chair of Professor of Poetry at Oxford.


"...this chillingly beautiful work should win for Papadiamantis the new English readers he certainly deserves." --Arts & Book Review

"Certain poets like Constantine Cavafy, George Seferis and Odysseus Elytis have responded positively to his writings. They have especially expressed appreciation for his distinctive use of language, powers of simple narration and masterly blending of the cruel exigencies and exquisite natural surroundings of a way of life that resonates with folkways, myth and religious sensibility. With his place among Greece's modern writers now secure, Papadiamantis merits the attention of the larger audience that translation into English gives him. His novella, The Murderess...should be required readingR30;" -George Economou, The New York Times

"The narrative unfolds with a retrospective reticence that is stunning, and concludes with a passion whose dramatic simplicity is enthralling."

--Stathis Gourgouris

"Promises a study of defeat in the Hardy tradition..." -Los Angeles Times

An "exquisite novelist..." -M.J. Politis, The New York Times

"the greatest Modern Greek prose writer" -Milan Kundera

"The 'saint' of modern Greek letters...Papadiamantis wrote with graphic realism and unequalled passion..." -Times Literary Supplement

"It is books such as The Murderess which remind us of the miraculous nature of prose fiction." -Gabriel Josipovichi

"Papadiamantis's characters portray in miniature the eternal passions of man-jealousies, loves, ambitions, hatred, murders, and misfortunes-in an almost hieratic movement, like the rhythm of a chorus in tragedy, scarcely perceptible but sufficient to suggest the deeper, the pure nature of the world. Therein lies the magic of Papadiamantis." -Odysseus Elytis

"An excellent opportunity for those who do not read Greek to sample a novel from the pen of one of Greece's finest modern prose writers...a powerful and disturbing story which will haunt you." -Greek Review International

"Alexandros Papadiamantis is Greece's foremost prose writer. In his novellas and stories he presents a universal picture through the microcosm of the tight-knit society of a Greek village on a remote island. Papadiamantis is a clear-eyed realist, but woven into his stories are village magic, vestiges of myth and ancient lore, and the dour superstitions that governed the daily life of the Greek peasant. His plots are at times touched by a magic realism reminiscent of Márquez." -Peter Constantine, Conjunctions