Placing C. P. Cavafy among the modernists raises interesting questions. Which century can claim Cavafy? What does it mean to claim Cavafy for modernism? What space do we need to make for Cavafy in an approach to modernism that shapes and is shaped by his work? What re- and disorientations might that positioning require? Which nineteenth-century filiations does Cavafy carry over into his modernism? Is courage rather than contemporaneity a better guide in these orienteering exercises? This essay fleshes out these questions, asks a few more in the process, and attempts a set of triangulations and mediations between Cavafian and early twentieth-century words and worlds. This is not to trace influences or deep affinities but to deploy Cavafy as the “century's interlocutor,” in Paul's immodest but resonant phrase. Among the mediating or triangulated figures are F. T. Marinetti, E. M. Forster, T. S. Eliot, George Seferis, Ezra Pound, W. B. Yeats, Vernon Lee, and Pierre Louÿs, with cameo appearances by Bertolt Brecht, Arthur Rimbaud, and Eugène Marsan.
Cavafy among the Modernists
Vassiliki Kolocotroni is senior lecturer in English literature at the University of Glasgow. She works in the areas of international modernism and the avant-garde, theory, classical reception, travel, and film. She is the coeditor of Modernism: An Anthology of Sources and Documents, The Edinburgh Dictionary of Modernism, In the Country of the Moon: British Women Travelers to Greece, 1718–1932, and Women Writing Greece: Essays on Hellenism, Orientalism and Travel.
Vassiliki Kolocotroni; Cavafy among the Modernists. boundary 2 1 May 2021; 48 (2): 59–87. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-8936684
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