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Oedipus is Innocent by Nicolas Calas, trans. Lena Hoff

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Nicolas Calas (1907–1988) was a truly international poet, critic and polemicist. He wrote in Greek, French and English. He designed a chess-set with André Breton, wrote an anthropological study with Margaret Mead, appeared in a film by Hans Richter and first translated Louis Aragon, Benjamin Péret and TS Eliot into Greek. One of the early Greek Surrealists, he tried to combine avant-garde poetics with Trotskyism, Freudianism and Marxism, first in Athens, then in Paris and New York.

Oedipus is Innocent is the first collection of Calas’ poems in English translation, a selection of his best work from 1933–82. From Futurist and Surrealist experiment to harsh satire, revolutionary fervour to dispassionate mockery, Calas’ work employed shock, paradox, surprise, alienation and transformation to lay bare what he regarded as the falseness of Western society and the dishonesty of capitalist morality.

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