Papadiamantis in Athens — Tracing the footsteps of the “saint of letters”
Alexandros Papadiamantis / Αλέξανδρος Παπαδιαμάντης (Skiathos, March 4, 1851 — Skiathos, January 3, 1911) is one of the most important Greek writers, also known as “the saint of Greek letters”. He wrote mainly short stories and his work occupy a prominent place in modern Greek literature. Papadiamantis was born at the island of Skiathos, which would figure prominently in his work. His father was a priest, and his family was poor. He moved to Athens as a young man to complete high school at the Varvakeios School and enrolled in the University of Athens, but never completed his studies due to financial difficulties.
He supported himself by writing anything from journalism and short stories to several serialized narratives. From a certain point onwards his works became very popular, and newspapers and magazines offered him substantial fees. However, he did not care for money and spent them carelessly. He took no care of his clothing and appearance and was known to be a recluse, whose only true cares were writing and chanting at church. Therefore he was usually referred to as “kosmokalogeros” (which means “a monk in the world”).
During his stay in Athens, he lived in the poor neighbourhood of Psyri (Ψυρρή) and his daily life was spent in this area as well as in the neighbouring Monastiraki (Μοναστηράκι). As a result, his heroes and stories were influenced not only by the island of Skiathos but also by these two areas of Athens. So let’s take a walking tour in the centre of Athens and try to trace the places where this great writer lived and wrote.