C. P. Cavafy. The Canon: The Original One Hundred and Fifty-Four Poems. Trans. by Stratis Haviaras. Ed. by Dana Bonstorm. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.

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C. P. Cavafy. The Canon: The Original One Hundred and Fifty-Four Poems. Trans. by Stratis Haviaras. Ed. by Dana Bonstorm. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.
  Translation and Literature  17 (2008) nirgends’/‘or also nowhere’/‘ou encore nulle part’). Both editions are valuable, precisely because they take separate courses so well. And sinceboth include the German, they can lead back to it in their different ways. Charlie Louth The Queen’s College, Oxford DOI: 10.3366/E0968136108000320 C. P. Cavafy: The Canon; The Original One Hundred and Fifty-Four Poems . Translated by Stratis Haviaras, edited by Dana Bonstorm.Pp. 465. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies, 2007.Pb. £16.95.Cavafy’s complete poems have been translated several times – by JohnMavrogordato (1951); Rae Dalven (1961); Edmund Keeley and PhilipSherrard (1975, revised 1992); and Aliki Barnstone (2006) – there is acomprehensive list at http://www.cavafy.com/companion/bibliography/select.asp. Now this bilingual edition brings face to face with the Greekthe body of translations by Stratis Haviaras first published by HermesPublishing in Athens (2004). The appeal of Cavafy’s poems for anEnglish readership is well attested, and its strange survival in Englishtranslation is well enough known. E. M. Forster praised Cavafy’s poeticuse of personal experience, Rex Warner his ‘discovery of what amountsto a personal mythology’; W. H. Auden argued that Cavafy’s uniquetone of voice made it ‘as easy, or as difficult, for a person from analien culture to appreciate as for one of the cultural groups to whichthe poet happens to belong’. In a foreword to this volume SeamusHeaney suggests that ‘Cavafy’s poems survive translation better thanmost’ because their virtues, their quite distinctive tone, belong notto the Greek language but to Cavafy himself. And by that route,the poems come to belong to us all. Forster characterizes Cavafyas a man ‘standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to theuniverse’. Heaney offers Cavafy’s view of the human predicament asone ‘presented neither as divine comedy nor fully blown tragedy,but...seen from a viewpoint located somewhere between Olympusand Gesthemane’. Stratis Haviaras has pondered Cavafy and Cavafy’ssubject matter for thirty years, and in 2003, the seventieth anniversaryof the poet’s death (the 140th of his birth), was prompted to preparean English of the complete ‘canon’, the 154 poems approved byCavafy for publication and published posthumously in 1935. Further‘unpublished’ or ‘hidden’ poems were published in 1968; ‘unfinished’poems came out in 1994. 267   Reviews Cavafy himself would have marvelled at his reception. Forsterrecords his gentle disavowal of such possibilities – ‘You could neverunderstand my poetry, my dear Forster, never.’ And then hisamazement at Forster’s managing with his ‘public school Greek’ tomake a start on ‘The God Abandons Antony’ – ‘Oh, but this is good, mydear Forster, this is very good indeed.’ And so, acting as his own firstEnglish translator, he led Forster through the poem. ‘It was not myknowledge that touched him but my desire to know and to receive. Hehad no idea then that he could be widely desired, even in the stumblingNorth. To be understood in Alexandria and tolerated in Athens was theextent of his ambition.’Manuel Savidis’ introduction locates the necessity for newtranslationsinthechangingnatureofpoetryreaders’expectations,andtheir changed perceptions of how past and present relate to each other.Cavafy’s work is an essential part of modern Greek poetic tradition,and also of the Greek tradition as a whole. Haviaras’ translationis the first in English to announce so prominently the ‘canonical’character of the collection, an expression normal in discussion of Cavafy’s work, and perhaps more resonant in Greek than in English.But as well as indicating simply that Haviaras has included onlyauthorially approved material, the notion of a Cavafy ‘canon’ givesembodiment to Fredric Jameson’s idea that canonicity representsa suspect ‘alliance between the older philologists...who have agenuine historical interest in and commitment to the past, and thenewer aesthetes who are the true ideologists of some (late) modern’.Cavafy’smodernistaestheticismgenerouslyincludeshistoricalrealities,managed (as Seferis and G. P. Savidis remark) with ‘whirling agility’.Some of these realities are personal: Cavafy’s roots in the Greekcommunities of Constantinople and Alexandria, his Greek and Britishcitizenship, his life on the margins of mainland Greece. This new bookitself, culturally disengaged (Seamus Heaney’s foreword written fromGlanmore, Savidis’ introduction from Athens, Haviaras’ translationfrom Cambridge, Massachusetts) is still obliged to make an imaginativereturn to Alexandria or Antioch to capture the authenticity of ‘TheFirst Step’ (an early poem) or ‘In the Outskirts of Antioch’ (his lastcanonical poem). And Cavafy’s poetry can as easily talk about ‘KingDemetrios’, ‘Thermopylae’, and ‘The Tomb of Evrion’ as about anyplace and space he sees and imagines: ‘In Church’, ‘Of the Shop’, ‘Atthe Café’s Door’, ‘Down the Street’, ‘The Tobacconist’s Window’, ‘In theHarbor’, ‘Outside the House’, ‘On the Ship’, ‘In an Old Book’, ‘By anItalian Shore’, ‘In the Dreary Village’, ‘In the Tavernas’. 268  Translation and Literature  17 (2008) Cavafy’s 1911 poem ‘Ithaka’ has a long tradition in translation. In July 1924, it appears in  The Criterion  in G. Valassopoulo’s version:‘When you start on the way to Ithaca, / Wish that the way be long, /Full of adventure, full of knowledge.’ In 1951, Mavrogordato rendersthis as: ‘Setting out on the voyage to Ithaka / You must pray thatthe way be long, / Full of adventures and experiences.’ In 1961 the voyage full of ‘experiences’ is transformed again into ‘knowledge’ byRae Dalven, followed by Aliki Barnstone. The Keeley-Sherrard revisededition of 1992 has: ‘As you set out for Ithaka / hope the voyageis a long one, / full of adventure, full of discovery.’ Haviaras’ newrendering is: ‘When you set out on your way to Ithaka / you shouldhope that your journey is a long one: / A journey full of adventure, fullof knowing.’ Thisknowing translation into slightly unidiomatic Englishforces a deeper consideration of ‘  ´  o   ν ´  ’ than might theopposed options of achieved ‘knowledge’ and ‘discovery’ in process.Haviaras is well attuned to Cavafy’s subtleties. In ‘The God Abandons Anthony’ (1911), he advises Anthony: ‘make your way to the window, /and listen closely with your heart’ – ‘with your heart’ for ‘  ´  ’rather than the ‘emotion’ or ‘deep emotion’ which have been standardsince Valassopoulo, or ‘with feeling’ (Barnstone) – a small change yet asignificant one. It is the same effect achieved when in ‘Return Often’(1912) he begins with ‘Return often, return to embrace me’, ratherthan ‘take hold of me’ or ‘take me’ (for ‘  ´   ’), when in ‘Passage’(1917) he translates ‘And so he wanders about, / and stays out all night,and is seduced’, (‘seduced’ for ‘  ´  ’) instead of ‘gets involved’or ‘is led astray’, or ‘swept away’, or when in ‘Days of 1909, ’10, and’11’ (1928) he refers to ‘ancient times’ or ‘days of antiquity’ as ‘thosebygone days’ (for ‘  o   ´  o   o´  ’). His unfazed choice of sensually charged words, ‘heart’, ‘embrace’, ‘seduced’, shows his deeperinvolvement with Cavafy’s world, in which he treads softly. At times, hegives poems titles that would explain their drift, as when (for the 1918poem ‘Nó  ’, previously translated as ‘Understanding’, ‘Perception’,or ‘Meaning’) he offers ‘Significance’: ‘The years of my youth, my lifeof pleasure – / how well I grasp their significance now. / Regrets areso unnecessary and pointless.’ At times he retains such literal titles as‘Painted’ (for ‘Z  ´  ’, previously rendered as ‘Pictured’, ‘OnPainting’, or ‘Representation’), a puzzle explained in what turns out tobe a poem about the diligence behind a completed work of paintingnot the poet’s own: ‘I’d rather be looking at things than talking...I sithere and gaze at him endlessly in this way; / finding respite in art fromthe strain of composing it.’ 269   Reviews This collection usefully includes endnotes reworked fromG. P. Savidis’ historical notes in the 1963 edition of Cavafy’s  Poems (1896–1933) . This reader would have welcomed more detailedtranslator’s notes explaining less than obvious choices. Translating‘In the Same Space’ (1929), Haviaras gives us ‘In the surroundingsof home, of nightclubs and neighborhoods’, with ‘nightclubs’ for‘  ´  ’, rendered by Mavrogordato as ‘city centres’, by Dalven as‘centres’, and by Keeley and Sherrard as ‘cafés’. Why?Cavafy’s last Greek passport of 1932 stated his occupation as ‘poet’. Any attempt to translate his work entails assuming the occupationof poet for oneself. Haviaras succeeds in that with the musicality heachieves in poems such as ‘When They Rouse’ (1916) – ‘Strive to keephold of them, poet, / when they rouse in your thoughts, / whetherat night or in the glare of noon’ – or by respecting the formality of poems, such as the 1921 ‘I’ve Brought to Art’, lapidary enough to meritinscription in stone: I sit here, yielding to reverie. I’ve brought to Artdesires and notions: certain things half-seen –countenances or figures; certain vague recollectionsof loves unfinished. Allow me to lean on Art; Art knows how to fashion an Image of Beauty,doing so subtly, completing lifeby blending impressions, mingling together the days. Haviaras translates Cavafy’s poetry with an assurance that reveals deeppersonal involvement with this most individual of poets. Konstantina Georganta University of Glasgow DOI: 10.3366/E0968136108000332 Second Finding: A Poetics of Translation . By Barbara Folkart. Pp. xxiii + 562. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2007. Pb. $40.Dryden famously distinguishes three modes of translation:‘metaphrase, or turning an author word by word, and line by line’,‘paraphrase, or translation with latitude, where the author is kept in view by the translator...but his words are not so strictly followed ashis sense’, and ‘imitation, where the translator...assumes the liberty,not only to vary from the words and sense, but...taking only somegeneral hints from the srcinal, to run division on the groundwork, ashe pleases’. The trajectory of poetic translation in the West has seenexamples, variants, and hybrids of all three of these methodologies 270
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