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A New Cavafy Is Born

Collected Poems by Daniel MendelsohnC. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems
Translated, with introduction and commentary by Daniel Mendelsohn
Knopf, 547 pages, $35.


Unfinished Poems by Daniel MendelsohnC. P. Cavafy: The Unfinished Poems

Translated, with introduction and commentary by Daniel Mendelsohn
Knopf, 119 pages, $30.

 

 

 

 

OF THE THREE famous gay bachelors of literature—Henry James, Marcel Proust, and Constantine Cavafy—only one was a poet. Most people agree that Cavafy (1863-1933), an Alexandrian who wrote in modern Greek, is the greatest of the 20th-century poets when it comes to dealing with gay subject matter. It’s a thematic preoccupation that centers on the author’s own experience as well as on the lives of well-known or obscure figures from Greek and Byzantine history and literary culture.

The publication of Daniel Mendelsohn’s twin volumes presenting new translations of Cavafy’s poetry is an event that I’ve anticipated ever since he announced more than a decade ago that it was underway.

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