Andreas Embiricos

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Andreas Embiricos (1901-1975) was a Greek writer, psychoanalyst and photographer.

Embiricos was born in Raila, Romania by Greek parents and raised in Athens. After taking some time in the business ventures of his family in ship broking, he moved to Paris where he lived between 1926 and 1931 and met with Andre Breton and his surrealist circle. He published several collections of surrealist writings (poetry and prose): Ypsikaminos ("Blast-Furnace" 1935), Endochora ("Hinterland" 1945), Grapta, e Prosopike mythologia ("Writings, or Personal Mythology" 1960) and Argo, e plous aerostatou ("Argo, or the Voyage of a Balloon" 1964-65). Most of his works, however, including his sex-themed eight-volume novel O Megas Anatolikos ("The Great Eastern") appeared posthumously.

In parallel with his career as a writer, he began practicing in Greece the profession of psychoanalyst after he was accredited by the French Psychoanalytic Association, continuously until 1951. Embiricos also took an interest in photography and made his first retrospective exhibition in 1965 in Athens.

In 2001 the Greek Ministry of Culture, to commemorate 100 years from Embiricos' birth, declared that year as "The Year of Andreas Embiricos" and sponsored a number of events in Greece and abroad, including public lectures about The Great Eastern and the publication of a collection of photographs titled Fotofraktes ("Shutter" 2001).

The Great Eastern

The Great Eastern is Embiricos' magnum opus novel, written in the 1940s and developed during the next decades as he read parts of the manuscripts to enthusiastic friends.

The novel recounts the sexual goings-on in "The Great Eastern", a steamship leaving England for the New World. In The Great Eastern all Embiricos' fantasies, doctrines and visions are developed under a formally polished style and archaic language. Full of literary references, his transgressive writting, which could put Marquis de Sade to shame, develops in several episodes of multi-level narrative, which features all the sexual taboos of his era, including homosexuality, interacial sex, bestiality, sado-masochism and all four variants (man/boy, man/girl, woman/boy and woman/girl) of pedophilia.

Embiricos must have based the characters of The Great Eastern on people he met during his experience as a psychoanalyst but also, as his correspondence reveals, in his study of sexual histories in sexological books. From his research, Embiricos knew well what went on in the sexual underground across Europe and the episodes in Great Eastern, though sometimes parodically hilarious or exaggerated, do not sound completely unbelievable.

Embiricos himself wrote a note that he would like to see The Great Eastern published after his death uncensored. His only compromise would be the use of a pseudonym to avoid implications for his family. Nevertheless, the latter, which owns his estate, decided to publish it using his real name. The work, based on the unfinished manuscripts which Embricos continuously re-edited up to his death, came out in eight volumes from Agra Publications in Athens between 1990 and 1992 and surprisingly, given its content, there was little, if any, controversy. Surely the Greek literary community's unanimous endorsement and praise of the work as great fiction must have helped.

Even though the eight volume work is primarily preoccupied with heterosexual practices and man/girl pedophilia, the book is of particular interest to boylovers in Greece, since there are several instances of sex between men and boys. Consider the following extracts, originally written by Embiricos in English (which does not do justice to the stylish Greek language used in most of the book) about a woman secretly reading the narrative of a diary:

"The well-known novelist (he was a man of about 60), who has just read a letter delivered by a good-looking messenger boy of about 13 years old, was asking the boy his name and how old he was and telling him he thought he looked very handsome." (Vol. 3, Part 6, Chapter 65, pp. 71-72)

The man makes a sexual advance, offering to pay the boy an extra half a crown. The boy reluctantly accepts the offer and scenes of mutual masturbation and oral sex follow.


As noted, Embiricos was also a prolific photographer. His early work includes surrealistic images of masks and other objects, while he later concentrated on portaiture and street photography. An important and much acclaimed aspect of his photographic work regards his candid and often erotic pictures of little girls. His contemporaries, like Nobelist poet Odysseas Elytis wrote favorably of this fascination of his, while his photography of little girls has often been compared to that of Lewis Carroll (of Alice fame). Embriricos also took many pictures of boys, some of them in the nude, that, nevertheless, were never erotic (an example of which can be found at the Fotofraktes collection).

External links

Official "Embiricos 2001" website by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and the National Book Centre of Greece.