American philhellenic researcher Edmund Keeley dies at 94

Edmund Keeley at an event in Athens. 1 credit

Renowned scholar, translator and philhellene Edmund Keeley died on February 23 at the age of 94.

Also a leading essayist and poet, Keeley brought many people’s first encounter with the works of the great Greek poets George Seferis, Odysseas Elytis, Constantine Cavafy, Yiannis Ritsos and Angelos Sikelianos through his English translations, faithful to the spirit of the originals.

He has also received several awards for his work, both in fiction and in translation.

The son of a diplomat, born to American parents in Damascus in 1928, Keeley spent his childhood and youth in Syria, Canada and Greece during the interwar period when his father was American consul in Thessaloniki, before returning to the United States.

Edmund Keeley established the Association for Modern Greek Studies

A former of both Princeton and Oxford universities, Keeley taught English and creative writing at Princeton, where he also established the Modern Greek Studies Association in 1968.

Keeley was twice president of the Modern Greek Studies Association from 1970 to 1973 and from 1980 to 1982, and president of the PEN American Center from 1992 to 1994. He retired after a long career teaching English, of Creative Writing and Hellenic Studies at Princeton. University in 1994.

He has also served on the editorial boards of the journals Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies, Translation Review and The Journal of Modern Greek Studies.

His fiction and non-fiction are often set in Greece, where he spends part of the year, but also in Europe and the Balkans, where he has traveled frequently, as well as Thailand and Washington, DC.

He lived with his wife Mary Stathato-Kyris (married 1951) in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey from 1954 until his death in 2012.

In a statement on Keeley’s passing, Greece’s Culture and Sport Minister Lina Mendoni said, “For Keeley, Greece was more than just a country he knew well and lived in: c It was his second home. We say goodbye to him as a Greek, with immense respect for his important work and his great contribution to the spread of Greek culture.

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