By the heads of the literary documentation working group, Michalis Chryssanthopoulos, Professor of General and Comparative Literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Takis Kayalis, Professor of Modern Greek Literature at the Hellenic Open University


The objective of the literary documentation working group for the Cavafy archive was to supplement the archival description of each item with specialized philological information and to establish useful thematic access points, which would aid current and future literary research. Our approach was shaped by two goals: a) to respond fully to the complex needs of Cavafy specialists, in Greece and around the world, as well as to the interests of the casual reader who might wish to gain familiarity with the wealth of archival material; and b) to avoid framing the archival items with personal opinions or evaluations, including commentary that could be understood to indirectly guide or influence research. We thus tried to keep our commentary as neutral and perfunctory as possible, and to frame the items with information primarily of a factual nature. At the same time, in order to preserve the historicity of the archive even in terms of its literary description, we chose to link archival items to their corresponding entries in the G. P. Savvidis Historical Catalogue, which are available to the user through hyperlinks.


Whenever an archival item is expressly or clearly related to a published work by C. P. Cavafy, that connection is reflected in the field “Related works by C. P. Cavafy,” with a citation of the work’s first publication, based on its entry in the Vivliografia of C. P. Cavafy (1886-2000), Centre for the Greek Language, Thessaloniki, 2003 (e.g. “Alexandrian Kings” >A129). These references, among other possibilities offered to the researcher, allow users of the digital application to quickly and easily locate all archival material related to a particular poem or other published work by C. P. Cavafy.

The field “Additional comments” contains clarifactory details regarding the contents of the item under examination: information of literary or philological interest; drafts or variants of works by Cavafy; references to titles of articles, books, or other published materials; as well as information regarding the publication of texts quoted or commented upon in the item. In all cases, the literary documentation working group avoided an interpretive approach to archival information, including the extensive deployment of existing secondary bibliography, which might prove limiting for the archive’s user.

As regards the “Access points” (keywords intended to facilitate basic searches in the archive), the literary documentation working group helped populate the categories “Persons,” “Corporate bodies,” “Place access points,” and “Families.” Chiefly, though, the group’s members undertook to develop the category “Subject access points” (access points of a philological interest), which was subdivided into the following thematic subcategories:

  • Works by C. P. Cavafy
  • Works by other authors
  • Journals
  • Newspapers
  • Works by C. P. Cavafy in translation
  • Literary and other characters

For the last of these thematic categories, the figures in poems and prose works by Cavafy have been divided into Historical, Literary, Invented, and Mythological characters, in a manner that facilitates searching for them in the archive, either separately or in combination.

In the English-language version of this application, the rendering of titles of poems by C. P. Cavafy, as of the place names and the names of figures we encounter in those works, are taken primarily from the translations by Daniel Mendelsohn1; for Cavafy’s prose works, we use the translations by Peter Jeffreys2. Alternate versions of those terms that appear in other English translations (such as those by Rae Dalven3, Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard4, and Evangelos Sachperoglou5) have also been codified so as to facilitate English-language users’ searches in the archive regardless of which translation they are using.


As we submit the present work, we feel proud of what we were able to accomplish in a relatively brief period and would like to thank the staff at the Onassis Foundation and the Cavafy Archive for their excellent collaboration and for providing every possible support. We owe a special thanks to the members of the literary documentation working group, our colleagues Sophia Zisimopoulou and Alexandros Katsigiannis, who devoted far more time, energy, and care to our joint effort than was strictly required, and contributed crucially to its successful outcome.

  1. C. P. Cavafy, Complete Poems. New York: Knopf, 2012. 

  2. C. P. Cavafy, Selected Prose Works, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010. 

  3. The Complete Poems of Cavafy, New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1961. 

  4. C. P. Cavafy, Collected Poems, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975. 

  5. C. P. Cavafy, The Collected Poems, New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.