Constantine Cavafy in Astana (Kazakhstan)

kavafisConstantine Petrou Cavafy, Alexandrian A.D. 1863-1933 Introduced in Astana by an American A.D. 2013

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Κωνσταντίνος Καβάφης (1863 – 1933)
α. όλα β. έργα γ. μελέτες / άρθρα δ. ξενόγλωσσα


April 2013
This past April celebrations were held to commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the poet C. P. Cavafy. A rather obscure figure in the world of letters for most of
the twentieth century, in the past twenty years his fame has ballooned to such an extent that UNESCO could justify coordinating these celebrations in conjunction with Greek embassies and universities around the world. One such event was held by my university in Kazakhstan and sponsored by the Greek embassy there, the purpose being to introduce Cavafy to a Russianspeaking audience that had never heard his name before, let alone read his work. The extent to which their interest was whetted when they heard Brodsky’s translations of him into Russian, or\ when they came across that unfortunate clip on Youtube of Sean Connery reciting Cavafy’s most famous poem, “Ithaca,” I can only guess at.
What follows is, for the most part, a transcript of a talk written for the purpose of introducing one of the most original writers of recent memory to an audience perhaps unaware of his ever having existed. What better way of beginning than with a short poem written some time between 1916 and 1918: