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Spanish American Poetry after 1950

Spanish American Poetry after 1950: Beyond the Vanguard

Series: Monografías A
Volume: 251
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 190
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  • Book Info
    Spanish American Poetry after 1950
    Book Description:

    Providing a basis for understanding the main lines of development of poetry in Spanish America after Vanguardism, this volume begins with an overview of the situation at the mid-century: the later work of Neruda and Borges, the emergence of Paz. Consideration is then given to the decisive impact of Parra and the rise of colloquial poetry, politico-social poetry [Dalton, Cardenal] and representative figures such as Orozco, Pacheco and Cisneros. The aim is to establish a few paths through the largely unmapped jungle of Spanish American poetry in the time period. The author emphasises the persistence of a generally negative view of the human condition and the poets' exploration of different ways of responding to it. These vary from outright scepticism to the ideological, the religious or those derived from some degree of confidence in the creative imagination as cognitive. At the same time there is analysis of the evolving outlook on poetry of the writers in question, both in regard to its possible social role and in regard to diction. DONALD SHAW holds the Brown Forman Chair of Spanish American literature in the University of Virginia.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-593-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. 1 Preliminaries: The Vanguard and After
    (pp. 1-21)

    Why begin a book about modern Spanish American poetry using the mid-twentieth century as the point of departure? Because, as William Rowe has pointed out (Rowe, 2000, 17), Vanguardism as a movement had largely run out of steam by the 1940s and “In the poets who began to write in the 1950s, there is a concern with new starting points”. Other critics (cf. Salvador, 1993, 262) agree. We can now see that the clearest illustration of this concern is to be found in the Poemas y antipoemas (1954) of Nicanor Parra. But as we examine this collection we notice that,...

  4. 2 Neruda and Parra
    (pp. 22-43)

    Three factors are traditionally taken into account in explaining Neruda’s shift from the Vanguardist thematics and diction of the first two Residencias to the more Americanist and populist poetry in and after Canto general. One is the formulation of the doctrine of Socialist Realism in Russia at the Moscow Writers’ Conference of 1934, a doctrine which took on a new lease of life after World War II. The second is, of course, Neruda’s reaction to the Spanish Civil War which in his own view was the key to his poetic development thereafter. The third is the evolution of politics and...

  5. 3 Borges and Cardenal
    (pp. 44-73)

    I have attempted to show that the the mid-twentieth century constituted a watershed in Spanish American poetry. This is confirmed by two more important facts of literary history. The first is that Borges was now about to begin writing a significant amount of poetry again, after having all but abandoned the genre since 1929. The second is that in 1954, the year which saw the first volume of Neruda’s Odas and the publication of Parra’s Poemas y antipoemas, Ernesto Cardenal began to write his first major poem, Hora O.

    Paul Cheselka (1987, 125) writes:

    By the time Borges published El...

    (pp. 74-115)

    What the foregoing account of the work of some of the major figures in Spanish American poetry around and immediately after the mid-twentieth century seems to illustrate is that two different attitudes towards the production of poetry faced each other. One emerges directly from Paz and has been admirably studied by Thorpe Running in The Critical Poem (1996). The other connects with Neruda’s Odas elementales, the view of poetic language espoused by Parra, and the practice of Cardenal, explored by Alemany Bay in Poesía coloquial hispanoamericana (1997). To see the difference in a nutshell, all that is necessary is to...

  7. 5 Pacheco and Cisneros
    (pp. 116-158)

    Pacheco is regarded by some as the foremost Mexican poet after Paz, as well as being an important prose writer. From the outset, however, we may feel a certain surprise at finding him categorized alongside poets like Cardenal, Fernández Retamar and Dalton. The kind of adjectives commonly used to describe his poetry: “meditative”, “introspective”, “philosophical”, “sceptical” and “ironic” seem to set him apart. Indeed, if we perceive, with Alemany Bey, colloquial poetry to be closely associated with overt political commitment and protest (1977, 85–6), Pacheco does stand apart. Though such elements are present in some of his poems, his...

  8. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 159-164)

    As we survey the scene presented by Spanish American poetry after the mid-twentieth century, what strikes us most is the virtual absence of any critical framework within which we can situate all but the most famous of the individual poets. The critic’s situation is rather like that of someone hacking a way through a jungle which contains a few clearings here and there but remains basically unmapped. Occasionally he or she will meet someone who is similarly engaged and exchange a few cautious signals, before both proceed on divergent paths. The trees are many; the landmarks few; the danger of...

    (pp. 165-176)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 177-184)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. None)