Tuesday, September 11, 2012


From "The quest for Ithaca," a June 8 blog post by one Matt Pickles on Arts at Oxford, one of the many blogs to be found at Oxford University's website (I'd been rummaging around in Bruges but somehow ended up in England):

His poetry [Cavafy's] only gained widespread recognition after his death but his work has since become an inspiration for many – his poem Ithaca was even read aloud at the funeral of Jacky Kennedy.

Hmm. It would be nice to read into this typo, but it's doubtful that was the author's intention.

And personally, I stick to Ithaka, though it's not mandatory. 

I went on to learn from a NYRB podcast with Daniel Mendelsohn, Cavafy often wrote notes ("not for publication but should remain here") in English because "he was fluent in English -- he grew up in England, actually -- which is why we're told he spoke Greek with an English accent."

As trivia goes -- as cocktail party chit-chat (the kind Slate used to serve up and may still) -- the influences of England and Englishness on Cavafy are more interesting than Jacqueline Onassis' request for "Ithaka" to be read at her funeral. (Unless there is something really earth-shaking about the request--perhaps there is. Meanwhile, I'm looking ahead to February when Elfriede Jelinek's play about the editor and former first lady arrives -- we can't all make that trip to Toronto in 2006.)

"Undated working manuscript of “Ithaka” in
Cavafy’s hand, Cavafy Archive, S.N.H."

"Last photograph of Cavafy, taken just
before his death in 1933 S.N.H."
[ artwork from Cavafy's World ]

No comments: