The atmosphere of romanticism and classicism, with its exaltations and pompous expressions, the themes of pessimism and the katharevousa (purist language), were contested by a literary trend expressed by new poets about 1880.
Indeed, that year three significant poetic collections appeared: the Gelotes (Laughs) by Dimitris Kokkos (1856-1891), the Istoi arachnis (Spider Webs)
by Georgios Drosinis (1859-1951) and the Stichoi (Verses) by Nikos Kampas (1857-1932).
This group again had links with the tradition of the Heptanesian School and contributed to the re-examination of the attitude of earlier scholars, such as Georgios Tertsetis and G. Ch. Zalokostas, who were more or less opposed to the prevalence of archaism and wrote in the popular language.
Their themes are less dramatic, suppressing the great moments, the great disappointments and the depression of their predecessors. A poetry emerged based on everyday life and love as a source of happiness, not as a permanent bearer of discouragements and suicides. It constitutes one of the most characteristic changes of direction in method and thematic selection in the history of Greek literature.
The new European trends of realism and later of symbolism affected this evolution.
In the following years Drosinis also remained one of the pioneers of his generation. He published collections called Stalaktitai (1881) and Eidyllia (1884). Two other important poets of the group were Ioannis Polemis (1862-1924) and Georgios Stratigis (1860-1938). In the same period, Georgios Vyzyinos (1849-1896) produced the collection Atthides avrai (1883), while the humorous writings of Georgios Souris began to appear, mainly in the journal Romios that he himself published.
But the most significant personality of the generation of the 1880s was Kostis Palamas (1859-1943). He appeared with Tragoudia tis patridos mou (Songs of my country) in 1886. Then followed the Ymnos eis tin Athina (Hymn to Athens) (1888), Ta matia tis psychis mou (The eyes of my soul) (1892) and his last collection of the period, Iamvoi kai anapestoi (Iambs and Anapaests) (1897). In these years Palamas formed his literary personality which would be expressed through his great compositions at the beginning of the 20th century: O Dodekalogos tou gyphtou (The Twelve Lays of the gypsy) and I Flogera tou vasilia (The King's flute).
One of his most important creations, apart from his poetry, was his criticism, through which he brought to notice the work of Dionysios Solomos. Throughout his oeuvre, Palamas put the demotic language under the spotlight and made a decisive contribution to the prevalence of new choices of expression and themes in Greek poetry.
Finally, the contribution of two more literary men is noteworthy: despite the fact that they lived abroad, they both shared the restlessness of the main representatives of the New Athenian School. These men of letters are Argyris Ephtaliotis (1849-1923) and Alexandros Pallis (1851-1935).