The death of Edmund (Mike) Keeley was announced in several Greek newspapers yesterday. A professor of Modern Greek Studies at Princeton University and a loyal friend of the American School of Classical Studies where he served as a Trustee of the Gennadius Library for many years, Keeley will always be remembered for his translations of George Seferis's poetry. Among his many honors, he was the first recipient of the Gennadius Trustees (now Overseers)' Annual Award in 2003. I also remember how many times I reached out for his advice when we were about to acquire some collection of literary papers.
In memoriam of this kind and erudite man, I have found in the George Seferis Papers the first letter that Keeley addressed to Seferis. Written from Oxford on May 3, 1951, it has the charm of a young student who is trying to get all his questions answered in his first letter. Keeley concluded his letter by admitting: "You may feel that I am asking too much, and that may be the case, but I would appreciate any enlightenment, no matter how limited, even if it consists of a more or less candid reproach for my ignorance" (ASCSA Archives, George Seferis Papers, Box 45, folder 5).
P.S. After reading the quote from Keeley's letter to Seferis, Cathy Vanderpool, former President of the Gennadius Library and the one who invited Keeley to participate in the newly formed Gennadius Library Board, wrote me: "... in his own words, Mike captured that unique mix of brilliance, wit, charm, and modesty that characterized him throughout his life. In spite of his immense erudition and accomplishment, Mike was always the kindest of friends, the most approachable of scholars and poets and writers (all of which he was), the most helpful of mentors and advisors and counsellors to students and colleagues alike, always with a smile, a quip, a helpful word even in his final days."
1. Mike Keeley at the ASCSA for the centenary of the Corinth Excavations in 1996 (ASCSA Archives)
2-3. Keeley to Seferis, May 3, 1951, first and last page (ASCSA Archives, George Seferis Papers).