Alexandros Papadiantis

4 March 1851 – 3 January 1911) was an influential Greek novelist, short-story writer and poet.

Alexandros PapadiamantisPapadiamantis was born in Greece, on the island of Skiathos, in the western part of the Aegean Sea. The island would figure prominently in his work. His father was a priest.
He moved to Athens as a young man to complete his high school studies, and enrolled at the School of Philosophy of the University of Athens, but never completed his studies. 

This happened because he had economic difficulties, and had to find a job to make a living. He returned to his native island in later life, and died there. He supported himself by writing throughout his adult life, anything from journalism and short stories to several serialized novels. From a certain point onwards he had become very popular, and newspapers and magazines vied for his writings, offering him substantial fees.

Papadiamantis did not care for money, and would often ask for lower fees if he thought they were unfairly high; furthermore he spent his money carelessly and took no care of his clothing and appearance.

He never married, and was known to be a recluse, whose only true cares were observing and writing about the life of the poor, and chanting at church: he was referred to as “kosmokalogeros” (κοσμοκαλόγερος, “a monk in the world”).

He died of pneumonia. Papadiamantis’ longest works were the serialized novels The Gypsy Girl, The Emigrant, and The Merchants of Nations. These were adventures set around the Mediterranean, with rich plots involving captivity, war, pirates, the plague, etc. However, the author is best remembered for his scores of short stories.

Written in his own version of the then official language of Greece, “katharevousa” (a “purist” written language heavily influenced by ancient Greek), Papadiamantis’ stories provide lucid and lyrical portraits of country life in Skiathos, or urban life in the poorer neighborhoods of Athens, with frequent flashes of deep psychological insight
An example of Papadiamantis’ deep and even-handed feeling for humanity is his acknowledged masterpiece, the novella The Murderess. It is the story of an old woman in Skiathos, who pities families with many daughters: given their low socioeconomic status, girls could not work before marriage and they could not marry unless they provide a dowry; therefore, they were a burden and a plight to their families.
After killing her own newborn granddaughter, gravelly ill with pertussis, she crosses the line from pity to what she believes is useful and appropriate action, the “mercy killing” of young girls. He kills three young girls in succession by throwing them into wells and then pretending to be trying to save them in order to justify her presence there

As coincidences keep piling up, she is confronted with a stark fact: her assumption that she was helping was monstrously wrong, and she gradually slips into mad torment.

His work is seminal in Modern Greek literature: he is for Greek prose what Dionysios Solomos is for poetry. As Odysseas Elytis wrote: “commemorate Dionysios Solomos, commemorate Alexander Papadiamantis”. It is a body of work, however, that is virtually impossible to translate, as the magic of his language is founded on the Greek diglossia: elaborately crafted, high Katharevousa for the narrative, interspersed with authentic local dialect for the dialogue, and with all dialectical elements used in the narrative formulated in strict Katharevousa, and therefore in forms that had never actually existed.