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Complete Plus - The Poems of C.P. Cavafy in English


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About the Author

Constantantine Petrou Cavafy (Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis) was born in 1863 in Alexandria, to Greek parents. His father was a trader who had previously lived in England and had acquired British nationality. After his father's death in 1870, Cavafy and his family settled for a while in Liverpool in England. In 1876, his family faced financial problems due to the Long Depression of 1873, and, by 1877, they were forced to return to Alexandria. In 1882, a revolt in Alexandria against Anglo-French control of Egypt, caused the family to move temporarily to Constantinople. In 1885, Cavafy returned to Alexandria, where he lived for the rest of his life. He first woredk as a journalist, but then took up a position with the British-run Egyptian Ministry of Public Works for thirty years. He published his poetry from 1891 to 1904 in the form of broadsheets, distributed amongst his close friends. Eventually, in 1903, he was introduced to mainland-Greek literary circles through a favourable review by Xenopoulos. He received little recognition because his style differed markedly from mainstream Greek poetry of the time. It was only 20 years later, after the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), that a new generation of almost poets would find inspiration in Cavafy's work. A biographical note written by Cavafy reads as follows: "I am from Constantinople by descent, but I was born in Alexandria - at a house on Seriph Street; I left very young, and spent much of my childhood in England. Subsequently I visited this country as an adult, but for a short period of time. I have also lived in France. During my adolescence I lived over two years in Constantinople. It has been many years since I last visited Greece. My last employment was as a clerk at a government office under the Ministry of Public Works of Egypt. I know English, French, and a little Italian." He died of cancer of the larynx on April 29, 1933, his 70th birthday. Since his death, Cavafy's reputation has grown. He is now considered one of the finest European and modern Greek poets.

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