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Reframing DecadenceC. P. Cavafy's Imaginary Portraits$
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Peter Jeffreys

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801447082

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801447082.001.0001

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Pictorialist Poetics

Pictorialist Poetics

Transpositioning Word and Image

(p.57) 3 Pictorialist Poetics
Reframing Decadence

Peter Jeffreys

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the pictorial dimensions of C. P. Cavafy's poetry and how the Parnassian proto-decadent lineage of his pictorialism relates to the “transposition d'art” salon critiques of Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, and J.-K. Huysmans. Cavafy evolved as an adherent of postromantic Parnassianism to full-blown literary decadence, a transformation that owed much to the lingering influence of the French poets associated with the Parnassian movement. The chapter considers how the transposition d'art tradition found its way into many of Cavafy's poems and manifested itself as a full-fledged pictorial poetics. It also undertakes intertextual readings of poems and paintings that highlight Cavafy's affinity with the plastic arts. Finally, it looks at some examples of pictorial art directly inspired by Cavafy's poems.

Keywords:   poetry, C. P. Cavafy, pictorialism, Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, J.-K. Huysmans, Parnassianism, literary decadence, transposition d'art tradition, plastic arts

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