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Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations$
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Rajendra Chitnis, Jakob Stougaard-Nielsen, Rhian Atkin, and Zoran Milutinovic

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620528

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620528.001.0001

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Translating as Re-telling: On the English Proliferation of C.P. Cavafy

Translating as Re-telling: On the English Proliferation of C.P. Cavafy

(p.165) Chapter Nine Translating as Re-telling: On the English Proliferation of C.P. Cavafy
Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations

Paschalis Nikolaou

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on a rare success story among the poetries of small European nations: the transition of the Greek C.P. Cavafy (1863-1933) from national to global poet. The chapter shows how the poet’s status and image abroad is effectively defined by a synergy of actual translation and retranslation and diverse forms of imitation, which over the course of decades, and in a context of intense dialogue between literary systems, has changed Greek critical attitudes towards the poet and fostered international interest in Greek poetry. Centrally, Cavafy experiences fresh ‘translation’ in the poetry of others. In various examples where a poet’s encounter with Cavafy is dramatized in verse, the lines are blurred between appropriation, elective affinity and near-fictionalization. Anthologies of poetry inspired by Cavafy translated into Greek have changed his status in Greek literature and enhanced his myth. In turn, projects like 12 Greek Poems after Cavafy show how a poet’s presence within world literature creates interest in the inner workings of his or her national literature.

Keywords:   Greek poetry, Anthologies, World literature, Poetry translation

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