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Pablo Neruda

Essay by   •  December 13, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  2,046 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,747 Views

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'Así sea la poesía que buscamos, gastada como por un ácido por los deberes de la mano, penetrada por el sudor y el humo, oliente a orina y a azucena salpicada por las diversas profesiones que se ejercen dentro y fuera de la ley. Una poesía impura como un traje, como un cuerpo...' (Pablo Neruda, 1935). Discuss Neruda's lines in relation to the debate about 'poesía pura' and 'poesía impura' in modern Spanish literature.

A major shift occurred at the end of the 1920's (1929-1936) that was connected with the aesthetic, political and economic developments of the time. By 1929 the Spanish literary scene was changing, right along with Spanish history. An economic depression present throughout the West since 1929, and political and economic chaos in Spain, leading to the fall of the monarchy and the creation of the Republic in 1931, the revolution in Asturias in 1934 and finally the outbreak of the Civil War in 1936 have devastated the prior stability and ended an aesthetic climate in which writers had been able to focus on the idealistic goals of giving form to universal meaning. Literary and life issues could no longer be kept separate. Even Dámaso Alonso agreed that Gongora's literature, which he previously had re-evaluated now became too abstract and was lacking in vital themes.

In the year 1935 the long -term debate between the poets became worse. In the first edition of Pablo Neruda's magazine, Caballo Verde Para La Poesía, he published the famous manifesto about the impure poetry aimed against the poetic ideology represented by Juan Rámon Jimenez 'pure poetry' under the title "Sobre una poesia sin pureza." In order to understand the core of this debate we have to start by looking back at the beginning of the Generation 27.

The Generation of 1927 had a double and conflicting legacy, which contributed to the richness and complexity of their work. They respected the poetry of past centuries (e.g. Góngora) and also revealed an impertinent element, acquired from their avant-garde predecessors.

The Spanish group of the poets of Generation 27, though each one was diverse, they also shared some common fundamental aesthetic values that Geist points out in his book: "La primacía de la metáfora, la evasion de la vida cotidiana, la importancia del cine, la revindicación poética de lo pequeño, el predominio del poema breve, el signo ahistórico y apolítico de la poesía."

In 1922 Juan Ramón Jiménez published "Segunda Antolojia", which initiated the purist movement in Spain. In his work he stated that through the precise process of modification one could achieve simplicity and spontaneity. Pure poetry included wide vanguard elements from ultraism to cubism and put a great emphasis on elimination of non-poetic elements.

Between the years 1921 and 1928, the poetry was portrayed as either 'pure poetry' or 'dehumanised'. The second term was explained in the famous essay written in 1925 by José Ortega and Gasset named La deshumanizacion del arte, which states that this type of poetry is: "como alejado de la realidad objetiva, de los sentimientos...y dedicado a un juego de la inteligencia." The search for pure poetry, or the essence of things, is directly linked to the strong influence in France Juan Valéry and in Spain of Juan Ramón Jiménez. Poets such as Jorge Guillén, Pedro Salinas, Vicente Aleixandre, Luis Cernuda, Emilio Prados represented this trend. They looked for the essentiality of reality, transcendence, abstraction and elimination of the anecdote. They also sought for the exact word, clean and simple. They all followed the definition of the pure poetry written by Paul Valéry: "poesía pura es todo lo que permanence en el poema después de haber eliminado todo lo que no es poesía. Pura es igual a simple, químicamente hablando." The most important element in any poem is it's purity, beauty, and accomplishment of an aesthetic aim and not it's human part or the ability of the poet to transmit his feelings or his life experiences.

The purist aesthetics that elaborated throughout the 1920's started to lose its charm for many writers at the end of the decade. This radical effort to try to distance the poetry and life could not last forever due to dramatic changes in the country. Rehumanisacion of the group of 27 started to be visible more or less from the year 1928. Even Jorge Guillén, the great purist, admitted that this type of cold aesthetic climate was dangerous and that poetry which too pure was: "demasiado inhumana, demasiado irrespirable y demasiado aburrida." He asked for a little bit of humanity and passion in poetry and believed that complex poetry would be a mixture of poesía and otras cosas humanas, a poetry that would be pure but not too pure to the extent in which it would stop being human. In the second phase of the Generation of 27, as Geist says: "surge el ideal de la 'impureza'poética" which according to him "aspiraba a romper el círculo de autorreferencialidad, buscando la comunicación con un publico cada vez más amplio y popular."

The magazine edited by Neruda and his manifest against the pure poetry emphasised the anti purist process of this generation. Most of the writers from the Generation of 27 and some from the Generation of 36 collaborated with Neruda and this new movement. All these attacks against the pure poetry caused a rupture between J. R. Jiménez and the majority of the poets of 27. Some of them became real enemies, which became more visible after the Civil War ended. J.R Jiménez was very offended and took this article (Sobre la poesía sin pureza) quite personally and responded throughout the time directly or indirectly on the pages of El Sol newspaper that he collaborated with quite frequently since 1931. In the debate Purists recriminated their opponents for using such terms as cloaca-sewer, while the latter in turn decried the icy sterility of their adversaries. They have also defended pure poetry as the authentic and the poetry of a great quality.

When Pablo Neruda arrived in Madrid in the February of 1935 the intellectual and artistic life was flourishing. His poetry brought a fresh, renewing light into the literary scene, where artists where largely influenced

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