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The Crucified Mind

The Crucified Mind: Rafael Alberti and the Surrealist Ethos in Spain

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 276
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  • Book Info
    The Crucified Mind
    Book Description:

    Why is the Spanish input to Surrealism so distinctive and strong? What do such renowned figures as Dalí, Buñuel, Lorca, Aleixandre and Alberti have in common? This book untangles the issue of Surrealism in Spain by focusing on a consistent feature in Spanish avant-garde poetry, art and film of the late twenties and thirties: its supersaturation in religion. A repressive religious upbringing, typically under the Jesuits, intensifies both the paranoiac and the mystical - Surrealism's twin pillars - which were already deeply ingrained in the Spanish psyche. Striking examples are Lorca's prophetic voice in New York, Dalí and Buñuel's Eucharistic transformations, Alberti's Loyolan materio-mysticism. Alberti is the fulcrum of this study since his poetry goes the full distance of Surrealism's evolution from Freudian catharsis to metaphysical transcendence until it expires in a Marxist reaction to church-bound tradition when his nation convulses in civil war, the surrealist ethos in Spain is not reducible to measuring how closely it imitates French theory. It is 'more serious' than the French, says Alberti, and its bearings are found on a cross of mental suffering and in a journey out of hell that made real art in practice. ROBERT HAVARD is Professor of Spanish, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-059-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-vii)
    (pp. viii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Robert Havard

    My first priority in this book is to shed new light on the poetry Rafael Alberti wrote in his avant-garde period, 1927–38. My second is to unravel the complexities that beset the issue of Surrealism in Spain and offer a pragmatic approach to its distinctive ethos (it being accepted here that a varietal difference between Surrealism in Spain and in France – its HQ – is inevitable for the simple reason that the two countries have two very different cultures). In practice my priorities are complementary, for it should be mutually enlightening to compare Alberti’s work with that of such radical...

  6. 1 The Crucified Mind
    (pp. 1-38)

    No major creative writer in Spain covers as much ground as Alberti in these critical years from 1927 to the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. Equally important is that the sweep of his work matches in all essentials the evolution of Surrealism itself as the movement’s thinking was directed in Paris by André Breton and his circle, notably in the manifestoes of 1924 and 1929 and in the journalsLa Révolution surréaliste(1924–29) andLe Surréalisme au service de la révolution(1930–33).³ Alberti, for his part, was actively involved in the nearest Spanish equivalents of...

  7. 2 Under the Jesuits
    (pp. 39-79)

    James Joyce started his schooldays with the Jesuits in 1888 at Glongowes Wood, a somewhat exclusive boarding school in County Kildare. After a brief interlude with the Christian Brothers on North Richmond Street near his family home in Dublin, he was with the Jesuits again at Belvedere College in the heart of Dublin from 1893, and he finished his formal education with them at University College, Dublin, from 1898 to 1902. A fellow pupil at Belvedere College, Judge Eugene Sheehy, tells the following tale about his famous schoolmate:

    One day when Father Henry, SJ, the Rector, was taking my class...

  8. 3 Last Things First: Scatology and Eschatology
    (pp. 80-111)

    Ernesto Giménez Caballero, though not a writer of the first rank, is an influential figure in the Spanish avant-garde on two counts: as founder–editor ofLa Gaceta Literaria(1927–32) [The Literary Gazette], Spain’s nearest equivalent toLa Révolution surréaliste, and as author of one of the most risqué works of the period,Yo,inspector de alcantarillas[I, Inspector of Drains] (1928). A precocious and enterprising figure, who liked to be known by his initials asGecéor GC, Giménez Caballero had a strict religious upbringing and surprisingly reconverted to a church-based fascism during a visit to Rome with...

  9. 4 From Pain to Prophecy
    (pp. 112-151)

    In a clear echo of the Passion Lorca refers inPoeta en Nueva Yorkto his ‘voz de mi abierto costado’ (498)³ [voice of my open side], an allusion indicative of the speaking role he adopts in this volume as a poet–seer whose visionary gift – like that of Jeremiah, ‘the weeping prophet’⁴ – is grounded in suffering. From the opening line, ‘Asesinado por el cielo’ (473) [Murdered by heaven], the dominant theme in this Lorca’s most avant-garde collection is suffering. Moreover, it is a suffering derived from, conditioned by and even acted out in a conspicuously religious context, as a...

  10. 5 Transubstantiation and Metamorphosis
    (pp. 152-190)

    Lorca’s favourite game as a child was to celebrate mass, critics have confirmed via friends of the poet.³ Carmen Ramos, the daughter of Lorca’s wet nurse, tells how Federico used to place a statue of the Virgin on a low wall in the backyard of his house at Fuente Vaqueros and have his family, servants and friends sit before this improvised altar while he, dressed in assorted garments, said mass with enormous conviction. The seven-or eight-year-old Lorca stipulated that everyone should cry during his sermon, an order that Carmen’s mother – tear ducts as obliging as lactic glands – always fulfilled. Luis...

  11. 6 Come the Revolution
    (pp. 191-231)

    Political commitment in Alberti is foreshadowed by his antipathy towards religion which prompts his adoption of a rebellious poetic mode.Sermones y moradas[Sermons and Dwelling Places], I have suggested, is characterized by Alberti’s imitation of a religious register, that of sermonic discourse. This bears superficial resemblance to Aleixandre’s mystic style, but, in keeping with his subversive intentions, Alberti appropriates different linguistic traits. As to subversion, it will be clear that to mock a religious register is to strike at the heart of religion itself, for, as David Crystal says, there is a ‘close relationship… between language and religion’, especially...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 232-233)

    Though Breton ultimately failed to join Surrealism with Communism, this does not mean the two were incompatible. Nor does the fact that Alberti embraced Communism in the 1930s diminish his standing as a surrealist; rather, it shows he went the full distance. Surrealism is ‘ an extremely eclectic movement’, Helena Lewis says,¹ which is evidenced in the list of forerunners Breton acknowledged in theFirst Manifestoand, more particularly, in the movement’s evolution. We have described this under three broad headings, the psychoanalytical, metaphysical and Marxist, and we have seen Alberti engage in all three, mirroring developments in France. In...

    (pp. 234-241)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 242-251)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 252-252)