The Nobel Prize in Literature 1963
Born: 13 March 1900, Smyrna, Ottoman Empire (now Izmir, Turkey)
Died: 20 September 1971, Athens, Greece
Residence at the time of the award: Greece
Prize motivation: “for his eminent lyrical writing, inspired by a deep feeling for the Hellenic world of culture”
Prize share: 1/1
Giorgos Seferis was born in Smyrna, present day Izmir, Turkey. When his family moved to Paris in 1918, Seferis studied law at the University of Paris and became interested in literature. He returned to Athens in 1925 and began a long diplomatic career. During World War II, Seferis accompanied the Free Greek Government in exile and returned to liberated Athens in 1944. He continued to serve as a diplomat before retiring.
Giorgos Seferis’ many travels as a diplomat provide the backdrop for much of his writing, which is filled with themes of alienation, wandering, and death. His first collection of poems, Turning Point, was published in 1931. Seferis’ later poetry ¬– e.g., Mythistorema (1935) and Imerologio Katastromatos I–III (1940–1955) (Logbook I–III)– often intertwines contemporary speech and experience with Homeric myth.