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A Companion to Spanish American Modernismo (Monografías A)
Varey General Editor Stephen M. Although the splendor of modernista poetry is still one of its most admired aspects, modernismo is now understood as a broad movement whose impact was felt just as strongly in the prose genres: In general terms, it was characterized by the appropriation of French Symbolist aesthetics into Spanish-language literature.
However, other significant traits were its cultural cosmopolitanism, its philological concern with language, literary history, and literary technique, and its journalistic penchant for novelty and fashion. The modernistas were well aware of the boldness of their move, for it was a bid by writers from nations that were still striving towards modernity in other spheres, to achieve full literary modernity.
There are no permanent works, because works produced during times of realignment and restructuring are shifting and unsettled in their very essence: Gone are the days of high fences; now is the time of broken fences. Speech is not a sin, but a gala occasion; listening is not heresy, but a pleasure, a habit, and a style.
The ears are ready for anything; thoughts have hardly sprung up when they are already laden with flowers and fruit and leaping off the page and penetrating every mind like a fine, rarefied dust. Alsijo vanquish the wilderness; newspapers, the human wilderness.
Sunlight penetrates the fissures in old tree trunks. All is expansion, communication, contagion, diffusion. It is wrong to say that the Sun never sets on the dominion of our former metropolis: Let each race preserve its essential characteristics; but it should not isolate itself from pedr, nor reject others, unless it wishes to shrivel up and die.
Free trade is good for intellectual commerce. Esther Allen New York: Penguin Classics,pp. Literary people may grumble at my use of these plebeian commercial terms, but I find no others in which I can better translate my thoughts. To understand the origins of modernismo it must be kept in mind that the Spanish America in which this movement arose was no longer the convulsed continent of libri generations.
A Companion to Spanish American Modernismo (Monografías A) – PDF Free Download
By the late lbiro the civil strife that had riven the region since Independence in had come to an end and a period of national consolidation had set in. Throughout the latter part of the nineteenth century, Spanish American urban life becomes more Europeanized as prosperity again comes to the upper and middle classes.
Technological improvements such as gas lighting and tramways make city life safer and more comfortable. Railway systems, built mostly to link production centers with seaports, nevertheless make travel to the interior of countries such as Argentina, Chile, and Mexico less difficult. All translations are mine, save where otherwise indicated. Immigration from European countries such as Spain and Italy is a significant factor in the growth of many urban centers, particularly in the Southern Cone region, and on the whole the population of Spanish America grows at an impressive rate: This condition of being a passive servant of modernity has often created the impression that Spanish America is not modern at all.
Thus, throughout the nineteenth century there arose in Spanish America a series of discourses addressing not praado the problem of the existence of a Spanish American modernity but also the possibility of making that modernity a reality. On the other, there were the diverse literary or quasi-literary texts that obliquely reflected the modernizing project.
All of these texts have in common the peero that they are, to a greater or lesser extent, pleas, proposals, or programs geared towards establishing modernity in Spanish America. Instead of speaking about the need to be modern, the modernistas wrote literary works based on the presupposition that they already were modern.
Modernity, at least for the early modernistas, was irreversible and irrevocable: Were the modernistas really able do this? How could modernismo live up to its promise of modernity? Critics of diverse ideological tendencies have proposed a variety of answers: Afrodisio Aguado,p. Universidad Central de Venezuela,p.
Duke University Press, A more sophisticated if also more abstract view was that proposed by Octavio Paz. Modernismo is modern not only because it tries to imitate the social, political, and cultural institutions of modernity, but also because it explicitly or implicitly critiques them, and even casts a self-critical eye upon its own modernity: Antimodern modernity, ambiguous rebellion, modernismo was an antitraditionalism and, in its first epoch, an anti-Hispanism — a negation of a certain Spanish tradition.
I say a certain because at a second moment the modernistas discovered the other, the true Spanish tradition. Their admiration for all things French was a kind of cosmopolitanism: Cosmopolitanism led them to discover other literatures and to reevaluate our indigenous past. Their exaltation of the pre-Hispanic world was above all an aesthetic one, of course, but it was also something more: Paz, however, glosses over precisely how it was that the modernistas came into contact with that critical philosophical tradition and transformed it into an aesthetic vision.
El Colegio de Mexico, Del romanticismo a las vanguardias Barcelona: Seix-Barral,p. Chief among these were philology, journalism, and literature. Modernista writing can be productively visualized as existing within a triangular field whose boundaries are marked by these three discourses, which, as the nineteenth century wore on, became progressively more institutionalized, that is, embodied in universities, newspapers, and literary circles often associated with literary journalsand in the practices fostered by these organizations.
Needless to say, the modernistas, who were voracious readers, also read directly from the major and minor European writers of the past and present, but it was philology, an already well established modern discipline of textual analysis, which helped them assimilate their readings in a coherent fashion. The founders of the modern spirit are the philologists. Their knowledge of philology linked the modernistas with the most advanced and radical thinking about language and literature that Europe had produced so far.
The lack of publishing lobro in late nineteenth-century Spanish America made journalism the only regular outlet for literary production. Journalism, however, probably taught the modernistas far more than they would have wanted to know about writing.
Like philology, journalism makes use of texts in its daily activity, and it also aspires to an empirical understanding of the world. Nevertheless, while philology regards texts as objects of knowledge, journalism considers them merchandise; while philology seeks to produce a totalizing synthesis from textual analysis, journalism only seeks to capture the instant, the fleeting moment, in all its empirical detail, without attempting a prqdo.
Ernst Cassirer Berlin, Cassirer, —18p. Their main model for literature as an institution came from French literature, traditionally one of the most institutionalized in Europe, with its schools, cenacles, and academies.
As their prose reveals, however, the modernistas were far from being the mere imitators of their French models they were often accused lbro being.
From the literature of their European counterparts, the modernistas learned, above all, to subvert philology by using words with an awareness not only of their etymology but also of their musicality. Words are enveloped by a layer of use; it is necessary instead to seek out their bodies. In this search, it feels as if something is breaking and one can see into the depths. Words must be used just as they peado in their depths, in their real, etymological, and primitive meaning, which is the only robust one, which ensures that ideas expressed in them will last.
Words must be resplendent like gold, light like wings, solid like marble. On the other hand, modernista texts ;edro presuppose that most, if not all, of human knowledge prdro already been codified amd collected in a single place: The Library not only allows access to a fund of knowledge, but also allows that knowledge to be borrowed and used in an eclectic manner.
Modernismo was, to a large extent, the appropriation and partial reorganization of the Library of European culture by Spanish America. As libgo said at the beginning, the modernista movement spanned a period of approximately forty years.
An historical overview of its growth and development will allow us to introduce many of the major authors and works of epdro movement, as well as some of its main themes and concerns.
A Report on Knowledge, trans. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,pp. Selected Essays and Interviews by Michel Foucault, ed.
Cornell University Press,pp. Byhis activities against Spanish colonialism in Cuba had led to his deportation to Spain, where he completed his studies in law and philosophy at the University of Zaragoza. His restless and intense life, which combined a deeply felt nationalism with a highly refined and cosmopolitan approach to culture and the arts in general, had a profound effect on the Spanish American writers of his own and of younger generations.
The first one who came to visit me was a young Cuban, verbose and sociable, with thick black hair, lively and searching eyes and gentlemanly and communicative demeanor. His long record of Pan-American diplomacy is well known. He wrote an abundant prose, full of vitality and color, of plasticity and music. One could clearly see in it his study of the classics and his knowledge of all literatures ancient and modern, and, above all, the spirit of a great and marvelous poet. I arrived punctually to my appointment, and as night fell I entered along with Gonzalo de Quesada by one of the side doors of the building where the great fighter was to speak.
Critics have usually divided modernismo into two periods or stages, separated by the Spanish—Cuban—American War of By Exquisite Design Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, The textual legacy left by that first group of modernistas was considerable: Duke University Press,pp. An Essay on History New York: At their worst, these readings are trivial attempts to show that major modernistas were closet homosexuals. The best studies of this kind, however, show how the modernistas reflected in their writings about the changing attitudes towards sexual gender and about the relation between sexual gender and literary writing.
Beatriz Viterbo Editora,pp. In Cuba, journals founded by modernista sympathizers, such as La Habana Elegante —96 and La Habana Literaria founded ingave pride of place in their pages to poets such as Casal. In he returned to Nicaragua, and remained in the Central American region until During those years, he married for the first time, his first son was born, and he published a second revised edition of Azul… My literature is mine in me; whoever follows my tracks like a slave will lose his personal treasure.
One historical event in particular, the Spanish—Cuban—American War ofmarked the life of the Nicaraguan poet as well as that of all other Spanish-speaking intellectuals. During the early decades of the twentieth century, the US would occupy Panama —14Nicaragua —25Haiti —34the Dominican Republic —24and Cuba — The ideology of this social upheaval, inasmuch as it had an ideology, was mostly liberal and petit-bourgeois in orientation.