In September 2022 the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection acquired the private library of the late Thanasis Maskaleris, professor of comparative literature and classics at San Francisco State University and founding director of its former Center for Modern Greek Studies. The collection consists of ca. 3,000 volumes of books, journals, and magazines; approximately 100 audiovisual recordings; and approximately nine linear feet of Maskaleris’ writings, notes, and related materials. This collection was donated by the Modern Greek Studies Foundation (MGSF).
Born in Arcadia, Greece, in 1930, Maskaleris immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17. He studied philosophy and English at the University of Oklahoma, and comparative literature at Indiana University. Professor Maskaleris taught comparative literature, classics and creative writing at San Francisco State University for many years, where he was Founding Director of the Center for Modern Greek Studies and led the effort to establish the Nikos Kazantzakis Chair.
He wrote and translated poetry in both Greek and English. His first major publication (1972) was a critical introduction to the work of poet Kostis Palamas, published as part of the Twayne’s World Authors series. His more recent publications include Modern Greek Poetry: An Anthology (2003), co-edited with Nanos Valaoritis, and The Terrestrial Gospel of Nikos Kazantzakis (2011, rev. ed., 2014), an anthology of passages from the works of Kazantzakis centering on nature and the workers of the soil. His last work was My Life on the Ragged Paths of Pan: Selected Poems and Translations, including 40 original poems and translations of 11 of Greece’s greatest poets, published in 2015.*
“The Modern Greek Studies Foundation was honored to be entrusted with the expansive library collection of the late Professor Thanasis Maskaleris, founding Director of the Center for Modern Greek Studies at San Francisco State University,” said Chris Gus Kanios, President of the Modern Greek Studies Foundation. “We are now honored to gift this entire collection to the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection, where it will receive the trustworthy and professional curation it deserves and will serve as a testament to the dedication of Professor Maskaleris in promoting Hellenic culture and values.”
The book collection is particularly rich in the area of Modern Greek poetry, including many signed editions, and literature. Kazantzakis is the best-represented author of the collection, along with Palamas and a variety of other prose writers in Greek and English translation. There is also a section on ancient Greek culture and mythology. Likewise, there are various materials on Modern Greek history, art and architecture, theatre, cinema, and travel. Maskaleris’ manuscript collection consists of correspondence, research files, and other unpublished writings.
The materials in Maskaleris’ private library wonderfully complement those of the MGSF Collection in Memory of Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, donated earlier in 2022, which is strong in materials on Modern Greek language, literature, history, and culture, including the Hellenic diaspora in California.
We are again extremely grateful and honored that MGSF selected the Tsakopoulos Hellenic Collection as the new home of this rich collection.
* Biographical information taken from Maskaleris’ obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle, page C4, Dec. 2, 2017.