Konstantinos Kavafis, Poesie e prose, a cura di Renata Lavagnini e Cristiano Luciani, Giunti-Bompiani, Milano-Firenze 2021, pp. 2912.
For the first time all the poems of Konstantinos Kavafis (including the unfinished Poems) are published together with his most significant prose work. A bilingual volume – with the Greek texts and Italian translations, accompanied by extensive commentaries, indexes and an iconographic section – that allow us to grasp the many aspects of an extraordinary literary experience. Kavafis never wanted to collect all his poems together – preferring to distribute them from time to time in loose sheets, on which he could make corrections and variations. Only after his death (by which time he had acquired, not without controversy, fame and recognition in the literary milieu of Alexandria
and Athens) were the 154 published poems brought together in a volume in 1935. But his work is far more extensive. If the poems of his youth, which appeared in magazines and almanacs between 1886 and 1898, were put aside and implicitly disowned (Poesie rifiutate), others were continued over time but abandoned in a drawer (Poesie nascoste, 1884-1923). He continued to work on others until the end, leaving them in a state of draft (Poesie incomplete, 1918-1932). Kavafis speaks directly to today’s reader. And even in those poems in which cultured references are more present (especially historical ones, drawn from the Greek, Hellenistic and Byzantine world to which he consciously belonged as an epigone) it is possible to grasp messages of great topicality. In his Prose – finally collected for Italian readers – we can see the outline of an intellectual and erudite figure, always in dialogue with the authors and the most present themes of his time: reflections that constitute the premise and the background necessary to understand what the poetic work often only lets us guess.
Renata Lavagnini has taught Medieval and Modern Greek Philology at the University of Palermo. In her research she has dealt with European travelers in Greece, problems of the history of the Neo-Greek language, the fortune of Homeric narratives in Byzantium and in medieval Greek literature, the permanence of Byzantium in the culture of modern Greece and its fortune in European literature, with articles in journals and miscellaneous volumes. She has devoted much time to the work of K. P. Kavafis, studying his formation and European influences, with writings now largely collected in the volume Γύρω στον Καβάφη (Athens, 2020). She studied the editorial problems of the poems left in draft form by the poet and kept at the Kavafis Archive in Athens, then edited: K. Π. Π. Καβάφης, Ατελή Ποιήματα, 1918-1932 (Athens, 1994). He is secretary general of the Sicilian Institute of Byzantine and Neo-Hellenic Studies, member of the editorial board of the journal Κονδυλοφόρος (Thessaloniki).
Cristiano Luciani teaches Modern Greek Language and Literature at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”. He has worked on the relations between Italian and modern Greek literature, especially on the influences on the Cretan production of the 14th-17th centuries. He has published essays on texts from the Renaissance and modern periods, curating critical editions and translations. Some of his essays include the following: Vicentzos Komaros, Erotokritos, Athens, 2020; Γκιούστος Γλυκύς Πένθος θανάτου (Thessaloniki, 2018); Λογοτεχνικές Συναντήσεις. Μελέτες για τη νεοελληνική γραμματεία (15ος-20ος αιώνας) (Patras, 2017); Montale, Kavafis e la Grecia moderna (Rome, 2016); Estetica, filologia e politica nella Grecia nell’Ottocento Greco (Rome, 2014); Elisavet Moutzà(n)-Martinengu: Autobiografia e teatro. L’opera superstite di una nobildonna zantiota (Rome, 2013); Odysseas Elytis, Le poesie di Saffo (Rome, 2008); Voci dalla Grecia moderna (Rome, 2006); Manierismo cretese (Rome, 2005).
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