Sunday, 15 November 2015

A Remarkable New Insight into Cavafy

Cavafy revealed.
I have mentioned Reframing Decadence by Peter Jeffreys in an earlier post.  That was when it was still in proof.  The book has now been published and I have a copy in my hands. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the formation of one of the twentieth century's greatest poets.

Reviews on the back cover.
After reading the book in proof I contributed a review which is reproduced on the back cover and which I repeat below.
Until now Cavafy’s adolescence in England has been buried in obscurity; and much of his creative life in Alexandria has been unexplained.  But now we have a work of literary criticism backed by genealogy and solid ethnography which places the extended Cavafy family at the heart of the artistic avant garde in 1870s London.  Peter Jeffreys reveals the family’s intimacy – both as patrons and lovers – with leading painters and poets.  The precocious young Cavafy was raised in a milieu that gave shape to his poet’s technique and sensibility, that encouraged him to be sexually bold and shameless, and that directed his art for the rest of his life.  Linking aestheticism in England to the decadence of Cavafy’s poetry, Jeffreys has done more than follow a literary thread; he has shown how Cavafy was literally a child of these movements. With this new advance, Jeffreys is well on his way toward a comprehensive literary biography of Constantine Cavafy. 
More about the book can be learnt by going to the website of Cornell University Press.