Constantine Cavafy, who identified as “Hellenic” but lived in Egypt, never published a commercial book. Instead, he circulated hundreds of copies of a dozen different hand-made editions whose assemblage was radically fluid: they utilized multiple bindings, drew together multiple media, experimented with alternative orderings of the poems, and shifted through multiple imprints and revisions within each copy of each edition. This fluidity continued without any aim of final consolidation until Cavafy’s death. Only thirty years later, in the early 1960s, did the philologist George Savidis publish what we now call the complete edition, yet it stands as a false witness to the nature of Cavafy’s own editions. Through a combination of close reading, analytical bibliography, and historical contextualization, the present paper argues that Cavafy’s books functioned not as closed objects but open-ended assemblages, suspending consolidation and extending composition indefinitely. This suspension and extension occurred even as the books circulated. This last point is crucial, for in this way Cavafy’s assemblages subtly invited other agents, such as printers, binders, and readers, to join the process of creation and revision. Their agencies have remained unexplored by Cavafy scholarship, where the figure of the author looms large.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 278-316
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.