The poetic idiom of Surrealism

In the inter-war period, Greece came into contact with a new poetic idiom that liberated language and gave the subconscious the chance to express itself with the effortless impulsiveness of dreams. This was Surrealism.

The first Surrealist elements appeared in the work of Nikolaos Kalamaris or Kalas, a poet who was in continuous contact with international trends, translated foreign writers and was influenced by the teachings of Andre Breton. Soon, however, he abandoned Greece and later became internationally known mainly as an art critic. Andreas Embeirikos, a poet and psychoanalyst, made his debut with the poetry collection
Ypsikaminos in 1935. Both in this and his next work, Endochora (1945), written in the 1930s, French influence, as well as the psychoanalytic theories of Freud, found expression in the application of automatic writing. This is a form of writing that springs directly from the subconscious and in his case was conveyed with an ironic but nevertheless ritualized katharevousa. At the same time Nikos Engonopoulos, beginning his poetic career wtih the collection Min omileite eis ton odigon (1938) and continuing with Ta kleidokymvala tis siopis (1939), followed Surrealism consistently, leaving his mark also in paintings and seeding his work with references drawn from Greek landscape and history. Finally, at the start of his career Odysseus Elytis made the most of some of the concepts of the Surrealist movement in his own personal manner, particularly in his poetic collection Prosanatolismoi published in 1940.