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Kostas Varnalis 1883 – 1974

E. Dimitriadou - Efraimidou
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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His life
K. Varnalis was of Thracian origin and is one of the most powerful personalities in our literature with an important contribution in poetry, prose and criticism. He was a lyric, daring, sarcastic, sensational, Dionysian and subversive man who fought to bridge the distances and sharpen human and social oppositions with words. Even if his ideas were radical, he managed to preserve tradition and Greek character in art.

He was born in 1883 in Pirgos, Bulgaria (Northern Thrace, Eastern Romilia). After his studies at the Urban School of Pirgos, he continued in Zarifios Teacher’s College in Philipoupolis. In 1902 he came to Athens to study at the School of Philosophy with a scholarship. He graduated in 1908.

He was a teacher in Greek schools in Northern Thrace and high schools in Athens. Then he taught at the Pedagogical Academy.

Since 1911 he published his literary work: translations of ancient tragic writers and reviews and aesthetic studies during his collaborations with journals.

In 1919, after gaining a state scholarship, he went to Paris and studied Modern Greek philology and aesthetics. Since the First World War brought disappointment, he argued on dialectic materialism and the Marxist ideology. During that time he wrote two important compositional poems: “To fos pou kei” [The light that burns], in 1922, with the pseudonym Dimos Tanalias, published in Alexandria, and “Sklavi poliorkimeni” [Slaves besieged] in 1927, when he went to Paris again, after officially withdrawing from his state position due to his ideological beliefs. In the next years of his life he worked as a journalist and columnist in newspapers and journals.

In 1935 he was expatriated to Ai Stratis and Mitilini. In 1959 he was awarded the Lenin prize of Piece and on the 19th of December 1974 he died at the age of 91, at the same time he was honored in a display for his work, happy because dictatorship was over and his work was recognized.

His work

1. Kirithres [Honeycombs], 1905
2. Proskinitis [Pilgrim, 1919
3. To fos pou kei [The light that burns], 1922
4. Sklavi poliorkimeni [Besieged slaves], 1927
5. Piitika [Poetics], 1956 (ÅðéëïãÞ áðü ôï äçìïóéåõìÝíï Ýñãï ôïõ)
6. Eleftheros kosmos [Liberal world], 1965
7. Orgi laou [People’s anger], 1975

Theater: Atalos the third, 1972
1. O laos ton mounouchon [People of Mounouchi], 1923
2. I alithini apologia tou Sokrati [The real confession of Socrates], 1931
3. Zontani anthropi [Live people], 1939
4. Imerologio tis Penelope [The diary of Penelopy], 1946
5. Dichtatores [Dictators], 1956
6. Anthropi [People], 1968
7. Philologika apomnimonevmata [Philological memoirs], 1980

Studies – Reviews:
1. O Solomos choris metafisiki [Solomos without metaphysics], 1925
2. Solomika, 1957
3. Esthitika –Kritika [Aesthetics – Criticism] Á´ - ´, 1958

1. Aristophanes: Ipis, Nefeles, Irini, Lisistrati, Eklisizouses, Ploutos, Vatrachi
2. Evripidis : Ipolitos, Troaditises, Iraklis menomenos, Iraklides
3. Sophocles: Eas.
4. Xenophon: Apomnimonevmata [Memoirs]
Also translation of Moliere, Thervani, Flaubert and Baldric


1. A. Argiriou: Tasis tis kritikis skepsis sto Mesopolemo [Trends in critical thought]. Ston tomo “I kritiki sti neoteri Ellada” [Critics in Modern Greece]. 1981.
2. A. Argiriou: Proipothesis gia ti meleti tou piitikou ergou tou Varnali [Requirements for studying the poetic work of Varnalis]. vol. 35.
3. M. Avgeirs: Kritika – Esthitika [Criticism – Aesthetics], Athens, 1980.
4. G. Valetas: I zoi ke to ergo tou Varnali [Life and work of Varnalis]. Eolika gramata. vol. 87 and 81,13,82,33.
5. V. Varikas: K. Varnalis – Kariotakis. Plethron. Athens, 1978.
6. G. Veloudis: Protasis [Proposal]. Kedros. Athens, 1981.
7. M. Vitti: I genia tou trianta [The 1930s generation]. Ermis, Athens 1982.
8. T. Vournas: Ta peninta chronia tou Varnali. Dokimia Neoelinikis logotechnias ke istorias [Poems of Varnalis. Criteria in Modern Greek literature and history] . 1956.
9. T. Vournas: K. Varnali. To pnevmatiko ke to anthropino portreto tou [K. Varnalis: His spiritual and personal portrait]. Diabazo. vol.21.
10. Sp. Ginis: K. Varnalis. Ideologia ke esthitiki [K. Varnalis: Ideology and aesthetics]. Glaros, Athens, 1982.
11. K. Thrakiotis: “K. Varnalis, theorisi tou ergou tou” [K.Varnalis: His work]. Deltio tis penelinias politistikis kinisis. vol.
12. A. Karantonis: Phisiognomies [Physiognomies], part B. Athens, 1977.
13. Man. Labridis: I taxiki sinidisi sto ergo tou K. Varnali [Class conciousness in K. Varnali’s work]. Ipsilon 1982.
14. Ger. Likiardopoulos: Anafores [References], Erasmos, Athens, 1979.
15. M. Ligizos: Tomi sto sighrono theatro [An important moment in theatre], 1975. pp 103-109, reference “Atalos the third”, “Thoukididis”, Athens, 1986.
16. Th. Mousopoulos: Kostas Varnalis: O klasikos tis romiosinis [Kostas Varnalis: The classic of Greek people].
17. M. Papaioanou: O megalos Varnalis [The great Varnalis]. Kedros, Athens 1982.
18. Kl. Paraschos: “Sighroni Elines Logotechnes: K. Varnalis” [Contemporary Greek literature figures] Anagenisi vol.2 1927.
19. K. Stergiopoulos: “I pnevmatiki parousia kai piisi tou Varnali” [The spiritual presence and poets of Varnalis]. Peridiavazontas. vol.1. Kedros, Athens, 1982.
20. Nei protopori journal. no.2. 1935. {Glinos’ article)