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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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Paterian Decadence

Paterian Decadence

Hellenism, Hedonism, and the Matter of Rome

(p.93) 4 Paterian Decadence
Reframing Decadence

Peter Jeffreys

Cornell University Press

This chapter offers a parallel reading of C. P. Cavafy and Walter Pater to show how the former was influenced by the Victorian aesthete in terms of both a shared aesthetic historicism and an emerging homoerotic sensibility. Before analyzing Cavafy's poetry in light of Pater's writings, the chapter discusses Pater's oeuvre and its relevance to the decadent movement. It then turns to a number of poems that reveal Cavafy's use of Paterian motifs and decadent themes. It also considers Pater's distillation of art criticism into his “euphuistic” writings as well as his Hellenism in relation to homosexuality, Cavafy's favoring of Rome as a setting for many of his poems, and his debt to Victorian classicism. Finally, it explores the interplay and amalgamation of pagan hedonism and Christian asceticism in Cavafy's work.

Keywords:   poetry, C. P. Cavafy, Walter Pater, historicism, decadent movement, Hellenism, homosexuality, classicism, hedonism, asceticism

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