C.P. Cavafy and the Poetics of the Innocent Form


  • Vrasidas Karalis The University of Sydney


In this short essay we are interested neither in genetic or constructivist theories abouthomosexual behaviour nor in their application to Cavafy’s poetry; we are simplyinterested in addressing the issue of how Cavafy constituted the homosexual within hissubjectivity and how he represented it with his poetry. More specifically, we will discussthe formal representations he chose to employ in order to make each one of his poemschronicles of the creative need that generated them and, at the same time, we willattempt to problematise the homosexual as a literary dimension in his work. However, wedon’t in any way wish to hypo statise and substantify the particularity of his behaviour orto transform it into a “core-quality” of being, as an essential element of his existence. Thehomosexual in Cavafy’s poems is the specific expression of the need for self-realisation, asevery erotic behaviour indeed is; but the actualisation of this need takes place in givensocial formations and spatial frames which essentially make its representation a symbol oflived experience and temporal self-understanding – and in this Cavafy’s poems map theterritory of the homosexual repre sentation in its own terms, in opposition to thedominant forms of heterosexist or hetero-imitative modes of symbolic articulation.