Nights" by Melpo Axioti
"And now to whom am I to leave my heritage?... Not the material heritage-I do not have such, thus I am no more than a marble statue at a small crossroads…"
Melpo Axioti was born on 15th July 1905 in Athens. Forty days later, she was taken to Mykonos, where she spent her childhood and juvenile years. Her great grandfather Alexandros Axiotis had taken part in the Greek Revolution of 1821 and he had served as a prefect of Mykonos and Syra. Her grandfather Georgios was born in Mykonos. He settled in Marianoupolis and lived there for many years. He traded in cereals. The writer’s father Georgios (1875-1924) was born in Marianoupolis. He studied music composition in Napoli in Italy and when he went back to Greece he developed various activities. However, his disappointment due to his contemporary intellectuals and the reactions he had faced forced him to retire to Mykonos.
He got married to the Athenian Kalliopi Vavari. This brief, unfortunate marriage yielded him a daughter, Melpo, who was left without a mother from a very young age.
Melpo Axioti was brought up with a lot of care in her wealthy home environment. She finished her general studies in the School of Ursulines in Tinos (1918-22). In 1925 she married her professor of Divinity, Vassilis Markaris. They parted friends in 1929. The next year (1930) she settled permanently in Athens.
She entered the world of Greek letters with two short stories in the magazine “Mykoniatika Chronika” (1933-34). However, her actual appearance coincides with the publication of the novel
"Difficult Nights", written in 1937. For this novel Axioti was granted the first prize by the Women's Association of Letters and Arts in 1939.
During this critical decade she became member of the Greek Communist Party and she related with a lot of intellectuals (N. Eggonopoulos, G. Theotokas, N. Kavvadias, G. Seferis). During the years of the Occupation she was enlisted in the National Solidarity that founded the National Liberating Front, and she offered her services in the illegal press and in various cultural activities. In 1947 she decides to go to France in order to avoid the consequences of her multifaceted action. She continues her political fight there and gains the friendship and the estimation of the most distinguished intellectuals of the Left Party (Aragon, Eliar, Pablo Neruda, Pablo Picasso).
In September 1950, due to the Greek Government’s request and her revolutionary activity, she was deported from France and took refuge in Eastern Germany. She left Eastern Berlin and settled in Warsaw and then back again to Berlin where she taught Modern Greek and History of Modern Greek literature in the School of Philosophy in the University of Humboldt.
In 1964 she comes back with an authorization to visit Greece where she remained till her death. In the end of her life she was tormented with evolving amnesia and corporal sickliness. She passed away in 1973 and she was buried in Zografou cemetery in Athens.
The poetic collection "Coincidence-contrabbando"
Prose pieces “Maria, would you like to dance with
me?” 1940, novel, “Twentieth Century” 1946 novel,
“Good morning Comrades!” 1953 short stories,
“My home” 1965, narration,
“Kadmo” prose piece 1972
She also wrote Chronicles and Essays, she translated works of Gorky, Andersen, Chehov, Ionesko in Greek and folk songs from Greek to French, short stories of Dimitris Hatzis, and the novel
"Persons and houses" of Andreas Fragkias.
Her novel “Twentieth
century” was translated in 1949, in French, Bulgarian, German, Italian and Polish.