Cover image for The few things I know about Glafkos Thrassakis
The few things I know about Glafkos Thrassakis
Vasilikos, Vasilēs, 1934-
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Publication Information:
New York : Seven Stories Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
ix, 356 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
"My own translation is based primarily on the most recent publication, entitled Glafkos Thrassakis, by Livanis (Athens) in 1996. However, I did also make use of the 1989 Gnosis ed., also entitle Glafkos Thrassakis. In addition, one substantial cut from the 1996 ed. was made by Vassilikos himself during our first meeting concerning the text. This means that an approximately 200 page section from the Livanis ed. was not included in my translation"--e-mail from Karen Emmerich, the translator, Sept. 8, 2002.
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PA5633.A46 A8813 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Translated by Karen Emmerich Published in Greece in 1978 and never before translated into English, this novel is widely considered one of Vassilikos's finest. Brilliant and inspiring, the story is told in the voice of a mysterious, deceased Greek writer's biographer. As his research unfolds and the biography develops, the boundary between the fictive and the real fuse together, until the narrator ends in questioning the very existence of Glafkos. Irreverent and comically absurd, this masterpiece stands at the crossroads of magic realism and political fiction.

Author Notes

Born in 1933 in Kavalla in Northern Greece, VASSILIS VASSILIKOS grew up mostly in Salonika. After the military coup in 1967, he spent seven years in exile, returning to Greece in 1974. Author of some 120 books, translated into more than twenty foreign languages, Vassilikos is Greece's formost living novelist. His novel, Z, was adapted for film by Costa Gavras, winning the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1969.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The travails of a literary biographer are the subject of this playful, dense patchwork of a novel by the esteemed and prolific Greek writer best known for his 1967 novel Z. Reworked over a period of decades and further amended for the English edition, the novel satirizes various aspects of literary and political life in Greece over the last 75 years. In the whimsical, cheekily morbid opening chapters, the unnamed biographer-narrator outlines the story of fictional, pseudonymous Greek writer Glafkos Thrassakis. Thrassakis's controversial work forced him into exile, where he was finally devoured by cannibals on a remote island in Papua New Guinea. So far so good, but the novel loses ground when some of Thrassakis's lost manuscripts are discovered, which leads to a long, uninteresting middle section in which the narrator launches into an in-depth retelling of his subject's stories. The third-hand perspective drains the energy from the narrative, and Vassilikos's attempts to get things going again in the final chapters are only fitfully effective as he describes Thrassakis's various conflicts with the government and his legacy in the world of Greek letters. Vassilikos is an engaging, literate writer whose ironic humor emerges at unpredictable intervals, and he offers intriguing observations on the Greek experience of World War II, the country's civil war and its 1967-1974 military dictatorship. But the uneven structure and the long-winded treatment of Thrassakis's work reduces the effectiveness of this elegantly written (and pristinely translated) satire. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved