The road from Edmund Keeley’s birthplace to Damascus to a distinguished academic career at Princeton has been a wandering one; it has taken him to schools in Montreal, Thessaloniki, and Washington, D.C. before bringing him to Princeton as an undergraduate in 1945. Then he wandered again – into the Navy-before coming back to receive his B.A. in 1949. He departed once more in 1952 for a D.Phil. at Oxford, followed by a year of teaching at Brown University and a Fulbright Lectureship at Thessaloniki University before finally settling at Princeton.
The product of those wandering years has been the nurturing of a colleague and many talents and interests. At Princeton, Professor Keeley taught in the English department, directed the Creative Writing Program, and virtually created the Hellenic Studies Program, while at the same time creating a reputation for himself as a novelist and translator of modern Greek poetry. His fiction won the Rome prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the NEA/PEN Fiction Award, and his translations of Seferis, Cavafy, and Ritsos have earned him deserved praise and honors, including the Columbia Translation Center Award, the Landon Award of the Academy of American Poets, and the Premier Prix Europeen de traduction de law Poesie.
In the larger world of American letters, Professor Keeley has been an important member of many organizations, including the Modern Greek Studies Association, of which he was its first president, and the Society of America, of which he was vice president. He has served on the editorial boards of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Translation Review, and The Journal of Modern Greek Studies. For fifteen years he was active in the PEN American Center and served as its president from 1991 to 1993. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science. He retires as the first holder of the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professorship in English.