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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tales from the unreal city, 12 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: The Selected Poems of Cavafy (Penguin Modern Classics Poetry) (Paperback)
Cavafy was an enigma: a definitively Greek poet who was born in Egypt and lived most of his life there; an unassuming civil servant who lived in an alternative life as an adventurous youth in the world of his imagination.

This world was Alexandria, where Cavafy lived, and yet at the same time it was another place entirely - the remembered, imagined, longed-for Alexandria of antiquity - a centre of Hellenic culture rather than a decaying Egyptian city. Cavafy's poems are full of references to classical Greek culture. On the other hand, he shows little interest in the Greek culture which was contemporary with his time. This too is not his.

It's as though Cavafy's city was hidden inside the city in which he lived and worked. Almost as though they co-existed but in different dimensions. In a way that was true in a more mundane way: Cavafy was gay in a time when this had to be kept hidden. In expressing his life as a gay man through a filter of classical Greek culture he protected himself and those he encountered.

And so the poems: golden, lyrical, poignant. At times their Greekness can be a bit overwhelming but somehow the figure of Cavafy - just glimpsed - at the centre holds you and helps you enter inside them. Love and beauty are celebrated, but the overriding impression is of a soul in (self-imposed) exile.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A new poetry world for me, 20 Mar. 2010
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H. M. Kingston "gooner" (Worksop, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Selected Poems of Cavafy (Penguin Modern Classics Poetry) (Paperback)
I had heard of Cavafy's 'Waiting for the Barbarians', probably his most famous poem, and also heard of his reputation. But sometimes book buying is stimulated by something quite unforeseen: in my case it was going to a recent exhibition of David Hockney's early work and seeing there some black and white drawings inspired by Cavafy's poetry.

So, at last, I ordered this collection, and am slowly working through it. So far my favourites are 'Of Coloured Glass', 'Ithaca', 'Of the Shop' and the impressive 'Waiting for the Barbarians'.

I'm being transported to such a different world with this writing and relishing it.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All fine. As described, 5 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: The Selected Poems of Cavafy (Penguin Modern Classics Poetry) (Paperback)
All fine. As described.
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The Selected Poems of Cavafy (Penguin Modern Classics Poetry)
The Selected Poems of Cavafy (Penguin Modern Classics Poetry) by C. P. Cavafy (Paperback - 27 Mar. 2008)
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