Synopses & Reviews
An extraordinary literary event. The collected works—including the previously unpublished final poems—of the greatest modern Greek poet, translated by the renowned critic, classicist, and award-winning author of The Lost,
and published simultaneously in two handsome volumes.
No modern poet brought so vividly to life the history and culture of Mediterranean antiquity; no writer dared break with such exquisite lyricism the early-twentieth-century taboos surrounding homoerotic desire; no poet before or since has so gracefully melded elegy and irony as the Alexandrian Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy (1863–1933). Now, after more than a decade of work and study, and with the exclusive cooperation of the Cavafy Archive in Athens, Daniel Mendelsohn is uniquely positioned to reveal the full extent of Cavafy’s genius. Here at last is the remarkable music of his poetry, and the rhymes, assonances, and rhythms of the original Greek that have eluded previous translators.
The more than 250 works in Collected Poems cover the vast sweep of Hellenic civilization from the Trojan War through Cavafy’s own lifetime. Powerfully moving, searching, and wise, Cavafy’s poetry and the stories he tells—whether advising Odysseus as he sets out for Ithaca, or portraying a doomed Marc Antony on the night of his death—brilliantly make the historical personal. He also explores, with striking universality, longing and loneliness, fate and loss, memory and identity, all with a profound, humane sympathy. Including an in-depth introduction by Mendelsohn and extensive commentary that situates the work in a rich historical, literary, and biographical context, the Collected Poems is also a revelatory window into classics and classical history.
Equally exciting is the publication of The Unfinished Poems—thirty nearly complete drafts that Cavafy left behind at the time of his death, which languished in the Cavafy Archive for six decades and have never before been translated into English. These astonishing texts—as evocative and lyrical as Cavafy’s finished work—and the introduction and commentary that augment them, provide a fascinating glimpse into the poet’s creative process and allow the reader to take part in a major literary discovery.
These splendid translations will stand as definitive, firmly establishing Cavafy’s place in the pantheon of the finest artists of the modern era.
A remarkable discovery, an extraordinary literary event: the never-before translated Unfinished Poems
of the great Alexandrian Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, published for the first time in English alongside a revelatory new rendering of the Collected Poems
—translated and annotated by the renowned critic, classicist, and award-winning author of The Lost.
When he died in 1933 at the age of seventy, C. P. Cavafy left the drafts of thirty poems among his papers—some of them masterly, nearly completed verses, others less finished texts, all accompanied by notes and variants that offer tantalizing glimpses of the poets sometimes years-long method of rewriting and revision. These remarkable poems, each meticulously filed in its own dossier by the poet, remained in the Cavafy Archive in Athens for decades before being published in a definitive scholarly edition in Greek in 1994. Now, with the cooperation and support of the Archive, Daniel Mendelsohn brings this hitherto unknown creative outpouring to English readers for the first time.
Beautiful works in their own right—from a six-line verse on the “birth of a poem” to a longer work that brilliantly paints the autumn of Byzantium in unexpectedly erotic colors—these unfinished poems provide a thrilling window into Cavafys writing process during the last decade of his life, the years of his greatest production. They brilliantly explore, often in new ways, the poets well-established themes: identity and time, the agonies of desire and the ironies of history, cultural decline and reappropriation of the past. And, like the Collected Poems, the Unfinished Poems offers a substantial introduction and notes that provide helpful historical, textual, and literary background for each poem.
This splendid translation, together with the Collected Poems, is a cause for celebration—the definitive presentation of Cavafy in English.
The collected works--including the previously unpublished final poems--of the greatest modern Greek poet, translated by the renowned critic, classicist, and award-winning author of "The Lost." Powerfully moving, searching, and wise, Cavafy's poetry and the stories he tells brilliantly make the historical personal.
About the Author
Daniel Mendelsohns reviews and essays on literary and cultural subjects appear regularly in numerous publications, including The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. His previous books include the memoir The Elusive Embrace, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year, and the international bestseller The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Prix Médicis, and many other honors. Mr. Mendelsohn is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism. He teaches at Bard College.