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Thracian Tales


Translated by Peter Mackridge
Georgios Vizyenos (1849-1896) is one of Greece’s best-loved writers. His stories, written in 1883-4, are set in his native Thrace, a corner of Europe where Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey meet. Each title poses an enigma: Where did Yorgis’ grandfather travel on his only journey? What was Yorgis’ mother’s sin? Who was responsible for his brother’s murder? At the end of each story the narrator possesses some knowledge that forces him – and his readers – to revise their earlier assumptions, which were based on incomplete knowledge. Because Vizyenos wants us to experience the difficult transition from ignorance to knowledge, he leaves us in suspense until the very end.
Vizyenos’ stories evoke a time when individual Greeks and Turks could share each other’s joys and pains despite the hostile relations between their governments.
Cover illustration by Panagiotis Stavropoulos.
All three stories in this powerful little book take us behind closed doors. […] Each tale here contains a surprise ending and a plot replete with hidden treasures. […] We are very fortunate [Vizyenos] left us his stories, and very fortunate, too, for these excellent translations.
— Times Literary Supplement
Refined language and close observations mark Vizyenos’s dense prose. Charged with strong emotions and a love of nature, it is a triumph that the stories’ romanticism comes across fresh and true today. The demanding, complex tales are replete with character development, probing psychology and detailed descriptions.
— Publishers Weekly
Vizyenos brings into question the nature of identity and of reality as constructed by reason and senses.
— Roderick Beaton
Professor Emeritus
King’s College London

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