photo by Aris Konstantinidis

Andreas Embiricos was born in 1901 in Braila, southeastern Romania, and died in Athens in 1975. Between 1926 and 1931 he lived in Paris where he became acquainted with Andre Breton and other Surrealists, and began psychoanalysis with Rene Laforgue.
In 1935 he gave a lecture in Athens on Surrealism and published his first collection of Surrealist poetry Blast-Furnace. It was around this time that he introduced psychoanalytical techniques to Greece, which he practised up to 1951.
Many of his works were published after the war, while in 1990 the longest and boldest prose work to be written in modern Greek, The Great Eastern, went into print for the first time. Embiricos had spent some twenty-five years between 1945 and 1970 working on this novel.
Most of Embiricos' works have been published by Agra.
The year 2001 marks the centenary of Embiricos' birth.

Principal works:

Blast-Furnace (1935)
Inner Land (1945)
Writings, or Personal Mythology (1960)
Argo, or the Voyage of a Balloon (1964-65)
Oktana (1980)
Today as Tomorrow and as Yesterday (1985)
The Great Eastern (1990-1991)
USSR Russia (1995)
Zemphyra, or The Secret of Pasiphae (1997)
Nikolaos Engonopoulos, or The Miracle of Elbasan and the Bosporus
Journey to Russia
A case of mental neurosis with premature ejaculation and other Psychoanalytical texts (2001)


A. Embiricos in Mytilini, Greece,
in 1935.



The Greek state celebrates the centenary
of the great Greek surrealist poet and writer

In March 1935, eleven years after the publication of the first manifesto of surrealism by Andre Breton, two hundred copies of a collection of sixty-three prose poems entitled Blast-Furnace were circulated in Athens. The collection was signed by one Andreas Embiricos (1901-1975), the offspring of a well-known shipping family, with no work published before then. Born in Braila, Romania, to a Greek father and a Russian mother, Embiricos studied economics in Switzerland, literature and philosophy in London and psychoanalysis in Paris. In 1929 he entered the circle of French surrealists, was initiated into the technique of automatic writing and made the acquaintance of Breton in person. Two months before Blast-Furnace appeared, he gave a lecture on the subject of surrealism to "a grim middle-class audience who listened in obvious annoyance", as an on-the-spot witness named Odysseus Elytis (Nobel Prize 1979) noted.
Blast-Furnace holds a unique place in modern Greek poetry. No poet prior to Blast-Furnace - in spite of indications that surrealism was known in Greece before 1935 - and no poet since, has put together a book so heretical, so cryptic and so 'difficult' - one which nevertheless sold out in no time, 'not because it was of interest, but because it was considered so scandalous, written by someone deranged', as the poet himself reminisces. Without punctuation, in a language mainly scholarly and precocious - something which the proponents of demotic Greek found particularly
annoying - with interminable phrases, perfectly constructed but without any apparent logical coherence, yet with the typically Greek fifteen-syllable meter clearly
discernible, Blast-Furnace seems to have met the requirements of free association and the resultant automatic writing. It would be difficult however plausibly to maintain that these poems had an 'automatic' or 'chance' origin or that no work was done on them, in spite of the fact that Embiricos himself stated that his poems do not always develop 'within the limits of consciousness'. Every poem, he says, is a 'poem-event', dynamic and self-contained, and its elements remain 'free of any compromised or standardised aesthetic, moral or logical construction'. The recipe was never to be repeated, in spite of the fact that the experiment succeeded in bringing to the forefront the most authentic Greek surrealist writing.
Embiricos' next collection, Inner Land (1945), as well as a short volume of prose, Writings or Personal Mythology (1960), contain texts bathed in surrealist light, but with coherence and logical consistency. It is now quite clear that what was mainly of interest to Embiricos was to keep alive the subversive and emancipating strain of the European surrealist movement and to promulgate the vision of a world free of every type of oppression, a world 'without borders and without limits'. Political, social and particularly sexual liberation were Embiricos' main concern, so much so that he emerged as the Greek poet and visionary par excellence of a world system of politics and co-existence. His city, Oktana, described in the collection bearing the same name, "will be the capital of the New World, in the heart of mankind's future", a universal city, filled with poetry, love, pleasure, justice and freedom. The eight-volume novel The Great Eastern (1990-1), is the most extensive and the most daring modern Greek text, where all of Embiricos' fantasies, doctrines and visions are
developed in an epic tone.
(Y. Yatromanolakis, from the volume Greece-Books and Writers, National Book Centre of Greece, 2001).



French and English editions of works of Andreas Embirikos



The Great Eastern
the 8-volume
erotic novel
of A. Embiricos.
It is the longest
and most daring text
of the modern
Greek Literature.

A condensed
one-volume version
will be published in January 2002.