Constantine Petrou Cavafy, widely recognized as the greatest of modern Greek poets, was born in Alexandria in 1863 into a family originally from Constantinople. After some childhood years spent in England and a stay in Constantinople in the early 1880s, he lived his entire life in Alexandria. It was there that he would write and (for the most part) self-publish the poems for which he became known, working all the while as a clerk in the Irrigation Office of the Egyptian government. His poetry was first brought to the attention of the English-speaking public in 1919 by E. M. Forster, whom he had met during the First World War. Cavafy died in Alexandria on April 29, 1933, his seventieth birthday; the first commercially published collection of his work appeared posthumously, in Alexandria, in 1935.
Daniel Mendelsohn was born on Long Island and studied classics at the University of Virginia and at Princeton. His reviews and essays on literary and cultural subjects appear frequently in The New Yorker andThe New York Review of Books. His books include a memoir, The Elusive Embrace, a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; the international best seller The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; and a collection of essays, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken. He teaches at Bard College.