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Culture: Greece designates 2013 Year of Constantine Cavafy

On 150th anniversary of birth of the great poet from Alexandria

04 January, 10:10

    A portrait of Constantine Cavafy A portrait of Constantine Cavafy

    (ANSAmed) - ATHENS - The Greek culture ministry has designated 2013 as the Year of Constantine Cavafy to mark the 150the anniversary of the world-renowned poet's birth.

    Born within the then thriving Greek community in Alexandria of Egypt, Cavafy (April 29, 1863 - April 29, 1933) was one of the most influential literary figures produced by Greece in the early 20th century and instrumental in establishing modern Greek poetry on the international scene, where he is still being studied and translated into many languages well into the 21st century.

    Fifty new titles and 21 translations, 10 of them into English, were added to the Cavafy bibliography between 2001-2010, poet Dimitri Daskalopoulos wrote in a special insert on Cavafy in To Vima weekly.

    Characterized by strong symbolism, Cavafy's poetry is always current. ''Every time I read about the crisis in Greece and in Europe, about the fragility of European culture, I think of Cavafy. These were the themes that interested him: cultures being born and being lost,'' Bard College Professor Daniel Mendelsohn, who has translated Cavafy's entire oeuvre into English, commented on the pages of the magazine.

    Cavafy also inspired musicians, with 50 Greek composers and 30 international ones using his words as the basis of 350 compositions in 20 languages, as University of Michigan Professor Vassilis Lambropoulos and Vienna pianist and professor, Pantelis Polychronidis, pointed out.

    ''Cavafy does not need anniversaries to be remembered,'' Palermo University Greek Literature Professor Renata Lavagnini wrote. ''In the 80 years since his death, his words have proven their ability to adapt to lives different from the poet's own.

    The direct, familiar tone in which he speaks to the reader explains why his public is so vast.'' Also on the poet's anniversary, the Onassis Foundation beat out stiff competition from universities around the world to buy out the entire Cavafy archive, guaranteeing it will remain in Greece.

    ''This acquisition is of national importance, not just because the documentation will stay in Greece, but also because we will use it to teach new generations about the poet,'' Onassis Foundation President Antonis Papadimitriou explained on the pages of To Vima.

    ''The archive has a kind of magnetic pull, because it brought to light documentation that had gone missing,'' Lavagnini wrote.

    ''Among other things it includes poems, literary and philological texts, personal objects, and the archive of Alexandria Art magazine, which the poet edited. The international literary community will honor the year of Cavafy by publishing a double issue of French magazine Europe.'' (ANSAmed).

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