Paschalis Nikolaou (Ionian University)


Paschalis Nikolaou is Associate Professor in Literary Translation at the Ionian University. Essays on aspects of translation studies have been included in edited volumes; criticism and translations have appeared in The London Magazine, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Hopkins Review and Parnassus, among others. With Maria-Venetia Kyritsi, he has co-edited Translating Selves: Experience and Identity between Languages and Literatures (2008), and with Richard Berengarten, The Perfect Order: Selected Poems 1974-2010 by Nasos Vayenas (2010). A small anthology of Greek Cavafy-inspired poems in English translation appeared in 2015, and he is also author of ‘Translating as Re-telling: On the English Proliferation of C.P. Cavafy’, which was published in Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations (Chitnis et al., Liverpool UP – 2019: 165-183). His study, The Return of Pytheas: Scenes from British and Greek Poetry in Dialogue (2017) also included a final chapter entitled ‘The Shade of Cavafy’. In recent years, he edited Encounters in Greek and Irish Literature: Creativity, Translations and Critical Perspectives (2020) and guest-edited an issue of Synthesis (12. 2019; ‘Recomposed: Anglophone Presences of Classical Literature’).  In the Spring of 2021, Nikolaou held a Fulbright Fellowship at the Department of Classics of The Ohio State University. A new monograph, Creative Classical Translation. Was published in the summer of 2023 from Cambridge University Press.

Cavafy’s Languages: Some Notes on the Poet Inflecting Other Literary Traditions in the Wake of Modernism

This paper considers the early phases of translating Cavafy’s poetry into minor and major languages; starting from the final decades of the poet’s life and appearances in journals but also, importantly, after his death in 1933, when the first book-length selections of his poems were published, initially in major languages such as French, English, and Spanish. The aim of this presentation is not only to offer a clearer picture of key junctures of Cavafy’s reception beyond Greek – and of the points where crucial dialogues between translators, editors and publishers were established or key accelerations of the circulation of his verse were observed – but to also connect these developments with wider discussion about Cavafy helping install new vocabularies in poetry in the wake of modernism – through translation. Since then, the continued, and increasingly global presence of Cavafy is arguably suggestive of the vitality ascribed to key aspects of his poetics, as well as reflective of receptions encapsulated by the behaviour of certain publishers and translators alike. What is more, the evidence from a vast, and ever-growing corpus of Cavafy in other languages, richly comments on issues such as retranslation: its modes and uses. In this sense, a key parameter, explored in the context of this panel, has to do with constitution, and perception, of Cavafy as a proto-modernist poet: his work validated by early translators, publishers and journal editors all the while a literary movement was being shaped. Acts of translation then, especially of certain poems, arguably partake in a process of confirming and amplifying developing tenets of modernism: both concerning specific themes that are of interest in literary modernism, for instance, Cavafy poems that question colonialist narratives and track fragmentations of identity and nationhood, but also with regards to form, where key decisions Cavafy made, also offer parallels to some of the directions pursued by literary modernism in Europe.