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Complete Poems Hardcover

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 0307959511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307959515
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,092,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had already bought the two-volume hardcover edition. (It is a pity that this edition is not also in a hardcover form considering it is slightly revised.) I have no more than a smattering of modern greek; but I have eleven different english translations of at least the Canon. Comparing Professor Mendelsohn's translation of "The God Abandons Anthony" (my favourite) with those and the original greek, I find his exemplary. N.B. Professor Mendelsohn's surname IS spelt with only one "s"---consult your own image of the cover.
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This new translation has extensive notes. It's very helpful. If you love Cavafy, you will love this new translation. If you are unfamiliar with Cavafy, this is a great introduction.
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I must say that I am partial to the Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard translations. Simply put, they are more accessible, poetic and evocative. I admit that Mendelsohn has done a yeoman's work in looking anew at the poems and offering these translations and he must be commended. However, they are mostly clunky, oblong and cumbersome, however "accurate" they may academically be. The introduction makes a very clear case for the approach but in practice I find it unconvincing. All that said, I am still glad I bought the book. The more Cavafy the better!
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Mendelsohn has completely retranslated all of Cavafy into English. As he says in the Introduction, [Cavafy's poetry is] "deeply, hauntingly rhythmical, sensuously assonant when not actually rhyming. It seemed to me worthwhile to try to replicate these elements whenever it was possible to do so." Since I know no Greek, my previous exposure to Cavafy has been the Dalven translation, and while the latter adequately captures the sense of Cavafy's poems, the Mendelsohn translations are remarkable for their blend sense and sound. To pick one small example from hundreds of pages, the poem "Second Odyssey" begins: A second Odyssey and a great one, too, / greater than the first, perhaps. But alas, / without a Homer, without Hexameters. Mendelsohn's lucid introduction and detailed notes are essential for the modern American reader with no special background in Hellenic and Hellenistic culture and the Greek diaspora. I now appreciate much of Cavafy far more deeply than I did before. Altogether the book is an amazing amalgam of scholarship and art. Between the freshness of the poetry and the wonderful annotations it's hard to find a poem that doesn't "work," and many more now seem extraordinary.
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Mendelsohn provides a thorough and thoughtful discussion of Cavafy's poetry: the historical background for Cavafy, his Hellenistic interests, his use of demotic and classical Greek ,his preferred subjects The analysis of Cavafy's style, his attention to meter and rhyme is especially helpful and of particular interest is the history of the "unpublished poems," poems translated into English here for the first time.
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