From the start, Professor and Mrs. Keeley had been on the coronary heart of the campus social scene, organizing events and picnics for brand new hires, graduate college students and visiting professors.
“Newcomers to Princeton had been made to really feel welcome amid a blinding ensemble of writers, poets, professors, and mates from each Princeton and New York,” mentioned Joyce Carol Oates, who arrived in 1978 intending to show only one yr however, thanks partly to Professor Keeley’s generosity, stays on the college immediately.
On the time, scholarship about Greece at Princeton was restricted to the previous and centered within the Classics Division. Beginning within the Nineteen Seventies, Professor Keeley constructed what grew to become the Seeger Middle for Hellenic Research, now one of many main establishments of its type within the nation.
By way of the middle, he invited Greek artists and students to go to the USA and took scores of scholars on journeys to Athens and its environs, standing on the entrance of the tour bus, microphone in hand, lecturing about his favourite Greek poets.
“It will be honest to say that for the final half-century he was America’s main cultural ambassador to Greece,” Dimitri Gondicas, who now directs the middle, mentioned in a cellphone interview.
Professor Keeley’s curiosity in Greece was at all times formed by his household’s connection to it. He was lengthy haunted by rumors that his father, as an American diplomat, had performed a task within the nation’s efforts to quash left-wing dissent. His sense of guilt almost definitely knowledgeable his presidency of PEN America.
After he retired from each Princeton and PEN America, he turned to writing full time. He had already written a number of novels, and he went on to jot down a number of extra — eight in all, most of them set in Greece and revolving across the theme of foreigners coming into contact with Greek tradition.
He additionally took up poetry. Amongst his final works was “Daylight,” which appeared final yr in The Hudson Evaluation. A meditation on the Covid pandemic, it reads partly:
Why not go away all of it to Nemesis
And take a protracted stroll exterior
In no matter path holds the prospect
Of your recovering issues to recollect
From these lighter years in open areas
That shore beside an countless sea.
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