THE LEADING POET OF THE GREEK DIASPORA
THE CAVAFY ARCHIVE PROMOTES THE POET’S LEGACY
By Marianna Christofi, Cavafy Archive
All images in this article are reproduced by kind permission of the Cavafy Archive. © 2016-18 Cavafy Archive, Onassis Foundation.
Photo portrait of C.P. Cavafy.
Photograph of three young boys in the photographer's studio. C. P. Cavafy in the centre, on a chair .
Born on April 29, 1863, in Alexandria, Egypt, where he died on the same day in 1933, Constantine P. Cavafy is the leading poet of the periphery, writing in Greek from the diaspora. His poems often feature historical figures or creations of the poet's imagination, with frequent references to elements of Homeric, Hellenistic, and Byzantine eras. Today his poetry comprises a discrete pole in Greek literature and he enjoys a prominent place in world literature as well, having been translated in several languages.
C. P. Cavafy collected and archived his work on a systematic basis, hence creating a unique literary and personal archive. Amongst the archival items are manuscripts of Cavafy’s poems, hand-compiled printed editions, prose literary works, articles, studies and notes by the poet, photographs, and more. Cavafy himself spoke and wrote "English, French and a little Italian". His handwriting provides the world of Greek letters with a unique legacy since it preserves the dying art of calligraphy.
Manuscript of Cavafy's poem "Ithaka".
The Cavafy archive was acquired by the Onassis Foundation in 2012. This acquisition safeguarded the archive’s continued presence in Greece and prevented a potential fragmentation. More than 2,000 archival documents have been digitized and re-documented by the Onassis Foundation and are now available online in both Greek and English.
The Cavafy Archive supports a range of educational programs directed at the Greek and international academic community, and the general public. The Onassis Foundation is currently organizing and preparing a museum dedicated to C. P. Cavafy in the center of Athens.
Reproduction of an etching by the engraver Jean Kefalinos, depicting Cavafy in 1921.