North American Scholar

THANIEL, George

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1938-02-22
  • Born City: Trahila Messinia
  • Born State/Country: Greece
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1991-06-22
  • Death City: Athens
  • Death State/Country: Greece
  • Death Notes: Edward Phinney
  • Education:

    B.A. U. Athens, 1962; M.A., McMaster, 1968; Ph.D., 1971.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchr secondary sch., Greece; emigrated to Canada, 1964; Taught Lat. & Gk., Can. Public schools, Chapleau, Ont.1964-67; part-time Lectr. Modern Gk., U. Toronto, 1971-72; asst. prof., 1972-77; asso. prof., 1977-87; prof. 1987-91.

  • Dissertation:

    "Themes of Death in Roman Religion and Poetry" (McMaster, 1972).

  • Publications:

    Poems: Κύκλος (Cycle) (Athens 1957); Άργυρή Βροχή (Silver Rain) (Piraeus 1959); 0i Πρoκες : Ποιήματα σε Πεντε Μέρη (The Nails: Poem in Five Parts) (Montreal: Lotofaghos, 1968); The Linchpin (Montreal: Anthelion Press, 1969); Τo Δοχείο (The Vase) (Toronto: Amaranth Editions, 1974); To Μαρούλι (The Lettuce) (Athens: Kouros, 1976); Poems in English (Toronto: Amaranth Editions, 1979); Τ’Aδιέξοdα καί ta Τερπνά. Poiήmata (Mazes and Pleasures. Poems) (Thessaloniki: Εghnatia, 1980); Τa Επίqετα. Ποιήματα 1968-1980 (Epithets. Poems 1968-1980) (Toronto: Amaranth Editions, 1980); 0i Πρoκες : Ποιήματα (The Nails. Poems), Second Edition (Athens: Nefeli, 1981); Seawave and Snowfall. Selected Poems 1960-1982, trans. Edward Phinney (Toronto: Amaranth Editions, 1984); Tά Επίθετα. Ποιήματα (Epithets. Poems 1968 -1984), Second Enlarged Edition (Athens: Ρrοsρerοs, 1984); Articles: “Turnus' Fatal Stone,” Classical News and Views, 15 (1) (1971)  20-22; “Vergil's Leaf- and Bird-Similes οf Ghosts,” Phoenix, 25 (3)(1971) 237-45; “Εcce ... Palinurus,” ΑC 15 (1972) 149-52; “Libitina,” LÉC 41 (1) (1973) 46-49; “Le scepticisme et le refus de croyance touchant 1'aυ-de1a dans la Rome du premier siecle avant J.C.,”AC 42 (1) (1973) 155-66; “Lemutes and Larvae,” AJP 94 (2) (1973) 182-87; “Α Note on Aeneid 3, 623-626,” CB 50 (1) (1973) 10-12; “George Seferis's Thrush and the Poetry of Ezra Pound,” CLS 11 (4) (1974) 326-36; “Nikos Kachtitsis (1926-1970),” Νεοελληνικός Λogος 1974, pp. 66-99; “Προσανατολισμοί στήν Κίχλη Toυ Σεφέρη” (“Tendencies in Seferis' Thrush”), Parnassos, 17 (4) (1975) 539-55; “George Seferis' Thrush and T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets,” Νeοhelicon, 4 (1976) 261-82; “Nodum Informis Leti,” ΑC 19 (1976) 75-81; “The Etruscan Underworld and the Romans,” Platon, 28 (55-56) (1976) 37-43; “H Τομή” (“Selection”) (on certain Greek women poets) Καινούρια Εποχή, (Winter 1976) 137-140; “George Seferis' Thrush: Α Modern Descent,” Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, 4 (1) (1977) 89-102; “Ατταλος o Τρίτος Tou Κ. Βάρναλη” (“Attalus the Third by Κ. Varnalis”), Νεοελληνικός Α6yος '75-'76 (Athens: Kedros, 1977) 26-29; “Τo Ραδιόφωνο στήν Κίχλη Tou Σεφέρη” (“The Radio inSeferis's Thrush”), Αiολικά Γράμματα, 7 (1977) 285-87; “0 Σωκράτης στήν Κίχλη Tou Σεφέρη” (“Socrates in Seferis's Thrush”), Νεοελληνικός Logος, 26 (1978) 1-4; “Odysseus and Death. Α Study of Kazantzakis's Odyssey,” NeoHellenika, ΙΙΙ (1978):68-80; “Α Modern Greek View [Seferis's] of Homer,” Ρlaton, 30 (59-60) (1978) 58-61; “Σεφέρης καί 'Αγγλία. oδοιπορικό” (“Seferis and England. ΑTravelogue”), H Καθημερινή (10 March 1979); Ο Λεπιδοπτερολόγος της Αgωνίας Νίκος Καχτίτσης. Εισαγωγή στη Ζωή του. Ανέκδοτες Επιστολές. Πρωτότυπα Κείμενα (The Lepidopterologist οf Suffering Nikos Kachtitsis. Introduction to his Life. Unpublished Letters. Original Texts.) (Athens: Nefeli, 1981); “The Poetry οf Alexis Sakythinos,” The Amaranth, 4(1982) 23-33; “‘H 'Εμπνευση και η Τόλμη στο 'Εργο τοu Νίκοu Γαβριήλ Πεντzίκη” (“Inspiration and daring in the work of Nikos Gabriel Pentzikis”), Εύθύνη, 130 (October 1982) 500-1; “‘H Τέχνη του Γιώργου Σικελιότη” (“The art of George Sikeliotes”), The Amaranth, 4 (1982) 1-2; Homage to Byzantium. The Life and Work of Nikos Gabriel Pentzikίs (St. Paul, MN: North Central, 1983); Entries on “Stratis Myrivilis” and “Alexandros Papadiamantis” in The Revised Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century (New York: F. Ungar, 1983) 342-343 and 471-472; “Ο Πεντzίκης και τα Media” (“Pentsikis and the Media”), Ο Πολίτης, 60 (1983) 56-58; “Ο Ζωγράφος Στάθης Τραχανατzής,” (“The Painter Stathis Trahanatzis”), The Amaranth, 6 (1983) 2-9; “'Εξι Στιγμές της Σίφνου” (“Six Moments on Sifnos”) Πορφύρας 20 (1983) 81-85; “Επτά Νoτες' για τον Καβάφη” (“Seven Notes about Cavafy”), Η Lέxh, 23 (1983) 242-46; “Δύο Kαλλιγραφήματα' του Μαρινέττι” (“Two Calligraphs of Marinetti”), Πορφύρας, 23 (1984) 221-25; “Σεφέρης και Πεντzίκης, φίλοι αντίθετοι” (“Seferis and Pentzikis, Opposite Friends”), Τομές, 80 (1984) 40-41; “`Επτά Στιγμές της Σαμοθρακης. Μικρo Οδοιπορικo. Ιοuλιος 1983” (“Seven Moments on Samothraki. Short Travelogue. July 1983”), The Amaranth, 7 (1984) 31-42; “Στην Ιταλία. Οδοιπορικo του 1984” (“In Italy. Travelogue of 1984”), Ελληνοκαναδikά Χρονικά ( 28 November 1984); “Α Survey of Greek American Poets,” The Amaranth, 9 (1985) 2-11; “Περιθωριακή Κατάθεση για τον Ελύτη” (“Marginal evidence about Elytis”), Γράμματα και Τέχνες, 43-44 (1985); “Στην Κούβα” (“In Cuba”), Το Δένtro, 12 (1985) 29-31; “H Αλληλογραφία Σεφέρη-Καχτίτση” (“The Correspondence of Seferis and Kachtitsis”), Η Lέxh, 53 (1986):358-63; “Οι 'Ελληνες Πoιητές της Διασποράς (Βoρεια Αμερική)” (“The Greek Poets of the Diaspora (North America)”), Πρακτικά του Πέμπτου Συμποσίου Ποίησης. Κοινωνία και Ποίηση (Proceedings of the Fifth Symposίon on Poetry. Society and Poetry) (Athens: Gnosi, 1986) 235-77; To Δένtro, 19-20 (1986) 70-74; 21-22 (1986) 74-79; “Sixteen English Letters to George Seferis,” with an introduction and notes, Modern Greek Studies Yearbook, 2 (1986) 121-42; “The Poetry of Andonis Decavalles,” The Charioteer, 28 (1986) 143-51; “Τρεις Στιγμές με τον Σεφέρη” (“Three Moments with Seferis”), Διαβάzω, 142 (23 April 1986) 91-93; “Eπτά παρά ένα Δελτία για τον Ελίτη” (“Seven Minus One Bulletins on Elytis”), Χάρτης, 21-23 (1986) 476-81; “Κώστας Βάρναλης” (1884-1974), Περίγραμμα, 11-12 (1986) 341-45; “Ή (πάντα) Κρίσιμη Γλώσσα” (“The Always Critical Language”), To Δέντro, 27 (1986) 139-43; “Αλόννησος. Οδοιπορικό του 1984” (“Alonnisos. Travelogue of 1984”), Περίγραμμα, 9-10 (1986) 296-99; “Α Mediterranean Encounter. George Seferis and Henry Miller,” Studies in the Humanities, 14 (2) (1987) 79-94; “Seferis and England. Α Greek Poet in an English Landscape,” Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 5 (1987) 142-79; “Μία Θαλασσινή προσέγγιση στην Τέχνη του Βιργιλίου”(“Α Sea Approach in the Art of Vergil”), Ekivolos, 16-17 (1987) 1649-657; “Στην Ήπειρο. Μικρό Οδοιπορικό του 1984” (“In Epirus. Short Travelogue οf 1984”), Νέες Τομές 9 (1987) 146-148, 165-167; “Σκίαθος. Οδοιπορικό του 1984” (“Skiathos. Travelogue of 1984”), To Δένtro, 33-34 (1987):161-64; “Dwellers in the Greek Eye. George Seferis and Lawrence Durrell,” Scripta Medίterranea, 8-9 (1987-1988) 3-31;  Four entries (“Greece, Modern Theatre,” “Nikos Kazantzakis,” “Marika Kotoρouli,”'Pandelis Prevelakis”) in The Cambridge Guide to Word Theatre, edited by. Martin Banham (Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 412-14, 543, 563, 790; “Βυζαντινοί Περίπατοι. Συζήτηση με To Ν. Γ. Πεντζίκη” (“Byzantine Walks. Conversation with Ν. G. Pentzikis”), Σύναξη 27 (1988) 97-104; “Στα Χώματα του Φραγκίσκου” (“On the Soil οf Francis”) Περίgραμμα, 21-23 (1988) 1-7; “Τέσσερεις Στιγμές με το Σονέτο” (“Four Moments with the Sonnet”), Aνακύκληση, 14 (1988) 27-28; “The Moon, the Heron, and the Thrush. George Seferis, Douglas LeΡan, and Greek Myth,” Classical and Modern Literature, 4 (9) (1989) 315-25; “Σολωμός, Φωσκολος, καί Παβία,” To Δένtro, 44-45 (1989) 118-120; “'Οποu Δήμος Ονείρων. Φαντασίεs και Φούγεs me touς `Eλληνες Υπερρεαλιστές. Ε. Χ. Γονατάς” (“Where a Land of Dreams. Fantasies and Fugues with the Greek Surrealists. Ε. Χ. Gonatas”), Άνακuκληση, 21 (1989) 138-39; “Στήν Κέα. Μικρό Οδοιπορικό τοu 1987” (“On Kea. Short Travelogue of 1987”), Εντεuκτήριο, 8 (1989) 76-81; “Oι Eλληνες τηs Κορσικής και η Γαλλική Επανάσταση” (“The Greeks of Corsica and the French Revolution”), Sχεδία 6 (1989) 30-31; “'Αγγελοι, Οράματα και Αποκρυφισμός στον Σεφέρη” (“Angels, Visions and Occultism in Seferis”), To Δέντρo, 55 (September-October 1990) 67-70; “Η Ποιήτρια `Eφη Πανσέληνου,” epilogue to Efi Panselinou, Πετροθάλασσα και Όλα τ' Άλλα Πoιήματα (The Rock Sea and all the Other Poems) (Athens: Grovostis, 1990) 165-83; “Cuba, si!” Προσωπείο, 8 (1990-91) 58-59; Άνακομιδή. Μικρά Κριτικά (Retrieval. Short Critical Articles) (Athens: Estia, 1991).

  • Notes:

    George Thaniel was born in a seaside village in the Upper Mani, south of Kalamata. In 1949 his family moved to Piraeus, where he learned English at Ionidhios High School and French at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic School, where he also developed a love for Virgil. In 1955 the Alliance Française awarded him a trip to France where he visited the land of his beloved Chateaibriand, Hugo, Merrimée, and Stendahl. His time in France also confirmed his intention to become a poet in the Romantic mold. After a year of service acting as English translator or the Greek Navy, he received a degree in literature from the University of Athens in 1962. In 1964, he emigrated to Canada. After teaching French and Latin in high schools of northern Ontario for several years, he entered the graduate program in Classics at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, where he received his MA. degree in 1968 and Ph.D. degree in 1971. The topic of his dissertation was “Themes of Death in Roman Religion and Poetry.” In 1971, George Thaniel was hired as a part-time Instructor of Modern Greek in the Department of Classics at the University of Toronto. In 1972, he became the University of Toronto's first full-time Instructor of Modern Greek. After receiving tenure in 1977, he became the University's first (and only) full Professor of Modern Greek in 1987.Although George Thaniel published articles on Classical literature, he was more widely known for his literary criticism of Greek poets. In Greece and among Greeks of the Diaspora, he was best known for his own poetry. His critical works included two book-length studies of his friend the Greek-Canadian novelist Nikos Kachtitsis, and one of the Greek novelist Nikos Gabriel Pentzikis. Thaniel collected his shorter critical pieces (on Cavafy, Seferis, Elytis, and Varnalis) in a volume entitled Anakomidhi “Retrieval”, published in Athens by Estia shrtly before his death. In the Athens newspaper I Kathimerini, a reviewer says of this volume that the “texts are characterized by strength of diction, sound judgement, and deep perception” (Vivlio section, July 26, 1991, p. 6). George Thaniel’s best known volume of Greek lyric verse was I Prokes “The Tacks.” Published in Montreal by Lotophagos in 1968 and in Athens by nepheli in 1981. This volume won praise for no less a poet than George Seeris, who called the poems in this series atophia, or genuine. Most of the poems in I Prokes were published in translations by Edward Phinney in two volumes, Beyond the Moment (New York, 1983) and Seawave and Snowfall (Toronto 1984). In 1984, a new volume of Greek lyric verse, called Ta Epitheta “Epithets” was published in Athens by Prosperos. At the time of his death, George Thaniel was collecting poems from 1984-1991 for a new volume. In general, the lyric poems of George Thaniel are characterized by economy, careful construction, Greek themes and language drawn from all periods of Greek history, and profoundly implicit meanings. He celebrates the universality of the Greek experience, and the loneliness of the poet who illuminates it. As a professor of Modern Greek, George Thaniel took special interest in the children and grandchildren of Greek immigrants, and attempted to interest them in the tradition and language of their ancestors. He was active in Greek affairs in Toronto and appeared frequently on television programs targeted for Greek-speaking audiences. He was also a member of the University College Creative Writing Committee, and spent many hours every year helping to select the winners but also encouraging the losers. Finally, he was proud of being a Canadian. One of his last books was a translation into Greek of Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood’s Surfacings. In accordance with his wishes that he be buried wherever he died, George Thaniel rests in Kaisariani, his fatherland and the country whose tradition he dearly loved.

  • Sources:

    APANewsletter (December 1991) 16-17; DAS 6, 3:464.

  • Author: Edward Phinney