While trying to find the original publication date of the novel O diorthotis by Alexis Parnis for my LibraryThing catalog (I have the translation The Proofreader, but I like to add these scholarly details), I ran across a wonderful page on “Modern Hellenic (Greek) Literature: Literature of Authors of Greek origin: Ελληνική Λογοτεχνία,” just part of Michael Lahanas’s wide-ranging personal site (“WHO AM I? A Hellene and European. I provide with this website some maybe interesting information about Hellas.”). He has sections on Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Greece, which I confess I have not explored, because I’m so happy with the modern literature section: it’s an idiosyncratic selection of writers somehow connected with Greece (including Patricio Lafcadio Tessima Carlos Hearn, Ugo Foscolo [Ούγος Φώσκολος], and Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington), erratically supplying biographical information, personal evaluation, and outside links. It’s not easy to find information on Greek authors, and such a rich trove is this that I forgave him the fact that he had nothing useful for Parnis, not even the Greek version of his name. (I did find a bookseller’s site that indicated at least one edition of the book was published in 1978, so I’m provisionally using that.) Efkharisto, Mikhali!


  1. I have Parnis’ novel about the American mob, O Mafiozos (not very convincing, for what my opinion is worth), first published by the Hestia in 1980. They do present him as the author of the “internationally famous Diorthotis“, but, unfortunately, give no date for that first book (while it is not clearly said, O Mafiozos seems to be his second published novel). So 1978 seems credible enough for a first edition, but still, more certainty would not hurt.
    I am not sure what you mean about “the Greek version of his name”; I cannot write easily Greek here, but the old-school transliteration is “Aléxes Párnes”.

  2. Αλέξης Πάρνης.
    I should’ve checked the link to Diaspora to see you didn’t need it.

  3. Sorry, I meant the name written in Greek letters, something he usually provides. (I knew how the name was written, I was just noting the omission.)
    I’m not surprised the mob novel is unconvincing; why would a Greek leftie who’d spent years in Russia write about the American mob?

  4. It is 78 according to the Hestia website.

  5. We cross-posted. I vaguely remembered Greek-learned people who ask me for the tones sometimes, but I should’ve figured there couldn’t be any difficulty for you in this particular case.
    This is related to my memory of the Mafioso, which I read a long time ago: one of the protagonists of the longish orgy scenes illustrating capitalist decadence is a half-Italian prostitute named Claudia (Klaountia). The fact that the name was accented on the /u/ when I know it is on the /a/ annoyed me to no point (or do Americans say “Cla’udia”?).

  6. Michael Farris says

    I think most Americans would say ‘Cloddia. (I pronounce cot and caught the same, I’m not sure which it would be for people who differentiate them.)
    I have a certain amount of affection for foreign authors writing about America who get little details wrong (like a Polish novel I read that mentioned an American twenty cent piece or another set in the 70’s or 80’s where long distance calls had to be ordered in advance).

  7. Yeah, “Klaoudia” is wrong no matter how you accent it — it should be Klódia.

  8. Clawdia.

  9. Well, I am a bit surprised, given the importance of the Italian American population (though I shouldn’t be so amazed after seeing movies like My Big Fat Greek Wedding); I’d have to get used to “Klódia Kardinále”. What is strange about Parnes’ mistake is that it is hardly common in Greek, where I never heard anything else than the right Italian pronunciation (and the main character is a jazz musician from Piraeus who goes to play in America).
    Proper accentuation of names can be a problem even for native speakers, and even for first names: for instance, there is no doubt that the stress in “Stratis” is on the ‘-tis’ when talking about Stratis Tsirkas (the Akyvernites Politeies trilogy), but I know people who have doubt it is the same for Stratis Myrivilis (I zoi en tafo, etc.), because they attented his lectures at the Parnassos in the Fifties and they swear everybody said “Strátis”.

  10. Since we’re talking mob, one common Greek mispronunciation I can’t explain is “Mafía” instead of “Máfia” (only Italian-learned people don’t look funny at me when I say it that way).

  11. Yup, it’s right there in Lahanas’s page 2:
    Stratis Myrivilis (Efstratios Stamatopoulos) (Στράτης Μυριβήλης).
    But I’m confused as to why Greeks are confused: since Greek, unlike Russian, writes accents as a matter of course, wouldn’t everybody be aware of the proper accent as soon as they saw the name written?

  12. See, that’s the problem: Lahanas writes it that way, but Kampanis, in his Istoria tis neas Ellinikis logotekhnias (1948, but still great), has it with a perispomene on the ‘-tis’. Of course, the solution would be to look it up in one of Myrivilis’ books, right? Well, I only have I zoi en tafo left (the others are gone, sad story), and it does have the name five times on and in it. Every time in capital letters, unfortunately not the Byzantine ones where the accents are written.

  13. Αχ, βαχ! Time for a big “pan sur le bec“, as they say at the Canard enchaîné. For almost twenty years, I’ve been unfair to Mr. Parnis: I just had a talk with a relative who, unlike myself, has lived in Greece as an adult, and convinced me that “Klaoúntia” is actually the most natural pronunciation for a Greek who doesn’t speak Italian. Of course, I underestimated the power of trisyllabic rule. Reflexively, it seems that I unconsciously corrected it whenever I heard it, like one tends to do with obvious typos.
    Anyway, I was totally wrong to say that “it is hardly common in Greek”, the opposite is true. I can easily explain that by the fact that I learned Italian very early as a child (my modest polyglossy was built on the Greek-Italian-French triad), therefore I tend to consider some things so natural that I cannot even imagine other Greeks would have difficulties with them (though I was always conscious of the “mafia” thing, and deformations in loan words).
    Glossa kai diaspora. I’ve been taught a lesson. Naturally, I have other, less trivial reasons, to dislike the book.

  14. Yup, it’s right there in Lahanas’s page 2:
    Stratis Myrivilis (Efstratios Stamatopoulos) (Στράτης Μυριβήλης).

    Yes, and the Ta Nea article he links to also stresses it that way, so this confirms what my people who saw Myrivilis live tell me, but infirms Kampanis (who of course doesn’t talk about Tsirkas, for whom Lahanas has the right tone: Στρατής Τσίρκας).
    [By the way, a lot of Etiemble’s Greek comes from his friendship with Tsirkas. I could never finish I Nykhterida, the last tome, for personal reasons: me ponáei.]

  15. RE: Patricio Lafcadio Tessima Carlos Hearn, famous Greek-Anglo-Irish writer from the Greek island of Lefkas, you forgot his Japanese name Yakumo Koizumi.

  16. Right, Koizumi Yakumo 小泉八雲.
    Only the characters and the Japanese order (family name-given name) are missing from Lahanas’ first page. LH’s praise for that site is quite justified.

  17. How is the name “Mikhali” pronounced? … you can email the answer to me at
    thank you

  18. mee-KHAH-lee, with KH like the -ch in Bach or Spanish j.

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