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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Signposting Without Signposting (2)

The “late modernism” that developed in Spanish poetry during the final decades of the twentieth century—identified with José Ángel Valente, Antonio Gamoneda, and similar poets—is not a mere revival of historical modernism, but a highly selective revision of the cultural poetics of Spanish modernism as developed in the work of three figures: Miguel de Unamuno, María Zambrano, and Federico García Lorca. A complete intellectual genealogy of the late modernist movement would have to include several other precursors as well, from Heidegger to Machado, Cernuda, and Lezama Lima. Nevertheless, the particular strain of Spanish cultural exceptionalism inaugurated by Unamuno, with its exaltation of Saint John of the Cross, occupies a privileged place in the development of Spanish late modernism.

The importance of María Zambrano for Valente and numerous other contemporary poets and critics in the late modernist line is self-evident, since her name appears so frequently in connection with theirs. Unamuno and Lorca, in contrast, exert their influence in less direct and obvious ways. Unamuno’s influence is filtered through Zambrano’s further elaboration of his poetics of Spanish cultural identity. Lorca would not appear to form part of the lineage of late modernism at all, since this tradition emphasizes pensamiento (thought) and Lorca is still considered to be a naïve genius or poeta tonto. Yet Spanish late modernism also emphasizes forms of Spanish cultural exceptionalism and prelogical forms of intuition that are strongly reminiscent of Lorca’s duende. The author of “Juego y teoría del duende”casts a long shadow over the late modernist poetics of Valente and Gamoneda.

This is another attempt at the introduction to an article without explicit signposting. The rest of the article will consist of three main sections. One on Unamuno and Zambrano, the second on Zambrano and Valente, the third on Lorca and Valente, with a line thrown in about Gamoneda. So the intro (with some footnotes you aren't seeing here) does tell the reader what to expect, but without the type of language that says: "First, I will examine the influence of X on Y. Then I will return to Z." My idea is that as long as a reader is not lost, she will not complain about the absence of signs.

3 comments:

Thomas said...

That first sentence strikes me as too long, too qualified. Is there anything wrong with something like this:

The “late modernism” that developed in Spanish poetry during the final decades of the twentieth century is not a mere revival of historical modernism. The work of José Ángel Valente, Antonio Gamoneda, and similar poets is in fact a highly selective revision of the cultural poetics of Miguel de Unamuno, María Zambrano, and Federico García Lorca. A complete intellectual genealogy would have to include several other precursors as well, from Heidegger to Machado, Cernuda, and Lezama Lima. Nevertheless, the particular strain of Spanish cultural exceptionalism inaugurated by Unamuno, with its exaltation of Saint John of the Cross, occupies a privileged place in the development of Spanish late modernism.

Jonathan said...

That would be an improvement, I think. Thanks.

Thomas said...

Any time. Also, would an "of course," between "as well" and "from Heidegger" be in its place? (It would establish a rapport between the writer and the implicitly knowledgeable reader. But perhaps that knowledge should not be implied?)