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Alexandrian CosmopolitanismAn Archive$
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Hala Halim

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251766

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251766.001.0001

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Of Greeks, Barbarians, Philhellenes, Hellenophones, and Egyptiotes

Of Greeks, Barbarians, Philhellenes, Hellenophones, and Egyptiotes

Chapter:
(p.56) Chapter One Of Greeks, Barbarians, Philhellenes, Hellenophones, and Egyptiotes
Source:
Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism
Author(s):

C. P. Cavafy

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823251766.003.0004

This chapter's deconstructs the Eurocentric critical misprisions that present Cavafy as a lone Hellenic (read: civilized) voice in the wilderness (read: the barbarians). It sets that binary in his poetry and overlooked prose texts in relation to a range of other categories—Philhellene (lover of things Greek), Hellenophone (Greek-speaking), and Egyptiote (Egyptian Greek). The argument is that in virtually all of the categories, there is some evidence of binarism at work, but that Cavafy's texts yield an anti-essentialist permeability. That is, attending closely his texts, we find a continuum of shifting identities and an anti-colonial empathy with Egyptians that bespeak his exposure to mutually modifying discourses, including Egyptian nationalism. The chapter addresses the relationship between Neohellenism and Neo-Pharaonism and also dwells on a poem Cavafy wrote on a flagrant instance of British colonial injustice, the Dinshiwai affair, and relates it to contemporary Egyptian texts. The discussion also takes stock of Cavafy's statements later in life promoting readings of the output of Egytiote writers that would bring out the influence of their Egyptian context and expressing the hope that they would acquaint the Greek-speaking world with contemporary Egyptian Arabic literature. The chapter also discusses Cavafy's Arabic reception, analysing his resonance in criticism, in poetry and in translation.

Keywords:   Barbarian, Philhellene, Hellenophone, Egyptiote, Neohellenism, Neo-Pharaonism, Dinshiwai, Cavafy's Arabic reception

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