Two Remarkable Greeks
Hello! This week we have a profile of the stunning songstress Roza Eskenazi and a favorite quote from poet Odysseus Elytis.
Roza Eskenazi was one of a small handful of rebetisses, or female rebetiko singers, that populated the urban music scene in 1930s Greece.
Still reeling from the forced population exchange of the Lausanne Convention and crammed into the slums of the port cities like Pireaus and Thessaloniki, some Greeks from Asia Minor turned to the underworld for sustenance. Hashish, petty crime, and dive bars became the staples of a new breed of bouzouki-loving tough guys - the mangkes - and a brand new form of music sprang up around this lifestyle called rebetiko or rembetiko.
In this rough and tumble - and very male! - world, there arose a young Greek Jewish girl from Constantinople, who went on to become one of the biggest and best-paid stars of the era.
A decade or two later, a young Greek man studying at the Sorbonne in Paris would go on to spend over 40 years writing poetry that would culminate in the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1979. One of the loveliest and most hopeful quotes about Greece is up in our Culture area.
Given Greece's decade-long economic struggle (which hopefully now they seem to be shaking themselves out of), I think many people have likely found it comforting.
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