ALEXANDRIA STILL: Forster, Durrell, and Cavafy by Jane Lagoudis Pinchin

ALEXANDRIA STILL: Forster, Durrell, and Cavafy

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Alexandria has been twice built and three times destroyed in the twenty-three centuries since Alexander first conquered Egypt, and it's produced a pantheon of strange historical characters--Cleopatra and the weakened Antony, Euclid, Plotinus, and Mohammed Ali, the city's second founder, among them. Perhaps the last was Constantine Cavafy, a Greek by heritage, an Alexandrian by birth, and the chief modern poet of Alexandria's Hellenistic, Arab, and Christian past. In this useful and scholarly book, Jane Pinchin examines the ways in which the city nourished and inspired Cavafy's major work in the 1890s and 1910s; how Cavafy, in turn, provided entree to the past splendor of the diminished modern city for his friend and literary advocate, E. M. Forster; and how after WW II and Cavafy's death, Lawrence Durrell made use of the work and spirit of ""the old poet of the city"" to supply an almost geometrical inscription for the Alexandria Quartet. The two appendices review available translations of Cavafy's work, and reconstruct the chronology of Forster's composition of A Passage to India. A pendant, in a sense, to Cavafy's Alexandria (p. 1067).

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press