The breaks of syntax, the eruption of the unintelligible, the "mysteriousness" of the much late modernista poetry prefigure the works of later vanguardista poets. Because external structures are dissolving for example, the shifting and changing social-class alignments, a new role for the artistwriter, new economic structures due to industrialization , the structures of poetry formal poetic meter, rhyme also show rearrangement.
Given these realignments, the position of the speaking subject in poetry must be shifting as well. We see the dispersal of the framing poetic voice, the fragmentation of landscape, and a heightened experimentation with conventions of rhyme, rhythm, and meter. Here the notions of voyeurism and fetishism in language aid us in establishing how these subversions in language are created.
The breaks in logic and syntax in poetry resonate with the absence of former poetic patterns, making them even more haunting for the reader of today who can read with the tradition of modern poetry as well as the tradition of modernismo. The role of the reader must also be taken into account if we are to understand the changing evaluations of the impact of modernista poetry.
Any study of the historical context of modernismo must be attentive to the massive changes that took place in the late nineteenth century. The late ninteenth century witnessed the loss of the dream of the organic hierarchies of romanticism that had held sway even though romanticism itself stressed personal and turbulent self-expression.
In essence, the oneiric tendencies of romanticism were difficult to maintain in a context of rapid modernization and relativization of values. The mythopoetic vision of the organic hierarchy reemerges in modernista poetry in only fragmented form, and here the return to the visual metaphors of the map, the landscape, the spatial contours of the city or of the interior space aid us in seeing this process of dislocation. Within the late nineteenth-century matrix, we see poets such as Lugones and Herrera reasserting, often with violence, certain elements of heirarchy in their poetry, only to deflate subtly within the poetry itself any claims to former totalities.
With their seemingly blind ingenuousness faced with imported and local models, they open the space for a playfulness and experimentation in modern poetry which later poets have used to full advantage. They recast the vision of the city, the woman, and provincial landscapes through the eyes of a poetic self that makes few claims to structure.
Later poets would use the fragments left by these late modernistas as the building blocks for a new diction often an incoherent diction that make Spanish American poetry of this century so distinct from its earlier models. This book will attempt to show that an element of modernismo generated change in a way that has usually been credited to the more overtly political mundonovista inheritors of modernismo or to the vanguardista poets. While poets such as Lugones do not explicitly theorize on the Spanish American subject in their poetry although Lugones does so abundantly in prose , the dislocations and questionings of the materials offered by the epoch combine to dissolve the very foundations of the assumptions of dependence in Spanish American modernista poetry.
Roland Barthes distinguishes in Writing Degree Zero what he calls the "Hunger of the Word," which "initiates a discourse full of gaps and full of lights, filled with absences and overnourishing signs, without foresight or stability of intention, and thereby so opposed to the social function of language that merely to have recourse to a discontinuous speech is to open the door to all that stands above Nature.
Because modernismo does not highlight the social function of language, its contributions have been relegated often to the categories of verbal pyrotechnics and individual eccentricities. Such experiments have nevertheless been seeds of change for twentieth-century poetry. Why do contemporary readers dismiss modernismo as an ossified movement? Its impact would be easier to forget if its visions and rhythms were not still reverberating through a whole century of poetry celebrated for its novelties and distances from modernismo.
Why is there so much suspicion of it as a movement? There seems to be a desire to collapse its multiplicity and subtleties into a single profile, despite the many fine studies on individual poets of the era. By returning to a poet who fully participated in modernismo 's currents, but who at the same time maintained a skeptical questioning distance within his work, some fissures that vein the movement can come to light.
Leopoldo Lugones exploded part of the masquerade of modernismo with Lunario sentimental, but only to the extent that he brought to the surface some of its latent questions. Suspicious, in the end, of a kind of urban modemism and of its dislocations, Lugones finally turned his back on change and sealed off the path toward the unknown with tight rhyme and patriotic melodies.
This is surely not the direction foreseen by the modernistas, but Lugones' development gives us clues to a way certain ideologies speak through poetic form and poetic movements, and not only in their changing thematics. His voracious consumption of his epoch's poetic trends and his peculiar transformations of them are eloquent testimony of the constraints and possibilities of his cultural and social context.
Much of what seems tedious in modernista poetry for the modern reader is its overloading of rarefied objects, its jewel-studded interior spaces, the amethyst shafts of light that make vision difficult. We find it hard to move around these ornately furnished rooms and especially amidst the heavy-lidded goddesses.
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While modern taste prefers clean, spare lines, white walls, and open spaces, the modernistas work from a different set of culturally determined preferences. Just as they held a penchant for ornately decorated physical spaces, language itself had to be filled, decorated, and overburdened until it groaned under the excess of sensory paraphernalia. With rhyme, rhythm, and extended imagistic development, every inch of space was filled, inviting crowding, violence and, ultimately, parody. And this is precisely the process we see in several late modernista poets.
Growing agitation, slicing through not only the images but the very contours of the poems themselves, carried modernista innovation to frenzies of linguistic activity. Dealing with a set of culturally valued icons usually derived from a European, especially French, context, the Spanish American writer has often been seen in a position of dependence. The acceptance of codified images in modernismo for example, the femme fatale, twilights, emphasis on luxury and sonority usually implies acceptance of the whole cultural aura that surrounds these images.
One may look for a disruptive or questioning movement on other levels, however. Yet even in modernista poetry or prose that seems to have a fetishistic fascination with overloading itself with riches from a more highly ranked cultural order, a subversive movement is sometimes triggered by the overloading process, which calls attention to the overabundance within the closed circles of pleasure and excess by making stark contrast with the emptiness surrounding it. In our desire to show temporal "progress" in poetic development, an anxiety to seek equations between social progression or regression and to see literature as its prophet or mirror, at times we exalt certain stages of poetry because of their explicit commentary on certain political or social movements.
We judge. It is interesting to note critical appraisals of modernismo and the polemics it has aroused. Our idea of modernismo often takes on the image of a closed space, an escapist, ivory-tower world or an old trunk full of faded costumes and photos. We see less often its disparity, its violence of language, its fetishistic insistence on the bodily form, and its legacy in more contemporary poetry. For instance, the female figure in modernismo is an object almost at one with the language, heavily decorated, distant and elusive, sometimes spiedon, while the veil of mystery surrounding her is like the web of musicality that encases the poetry.
Mocking irony, the intrusive presence of deflation by social issues and discordant sounds and voices, even in gentle pastoral scenes, cannot be reconciled within this setting. What is most striking in the production of these poets is their violence, a violence turned inward against the grain of language and outward against the usual signs of fulfillment, plenitude, and richness.
In general, this plentitude is seen as treasure of physicality, often as stolen treasure. These poets insist on showing the physicality of the referent, shoving it to the forefront, as well as accentuating the physical nature of the words themselves. Like resistant yet malleable bodies, words are to be used and taken apart. Severo Sarduy, in Escrito sobre un cuerpo, states:. La casa es el lugar del Mismo, la ciudad el del Otro. The home is the place of the Self, the city, [the place of] the Other.
Arena of the erotic search; a body waits for us, but the road that leads to it—our word —is almost inexpressible in the excessive codification of city language. A road crowded, erased in the very act of its trace, blind sign on white repetition, without intervals, of the streets. To create new indices, to conceive surfaces of orientation, completely artificial marks, this is our attitude in the face of the city, this is the explanation of our frenzy of signposting. Only visual perceptions, then, are important. Texts, lights, arrows, keys, posters, that rise up like iconic, authoritative presences; fetishes: they are our natural indices.
Every other perception: sight, sound, scent, etc. Sarduy's remarks, here in the context of a comparison with the Renaissance city, may be set next to Jean Baudrillard's definition of the fetish. The attention is directed to the surface quality, to the construction process itself, not to the design as a whole. In other words, objects are emptied of their real that is, tangible information of representation, their physical density, and are presented in their signifying sense as signs, as emblems of the process of production.
In this sense, their use is like that of objects in the baroque, not valuable for mimetic representation, but for their ability to be read as opposite signs, not straining to build bridges of relation between the objects of images themselves. In the same way modernismo is striking in its profusion of glittering sign—objects. Perhaps it is this almost fetishistic insistence of overloading signs which has closed it off to so many later readers.
The Dissonant Legacy of Modernismo
Yet these scenes are dismantled time. This distracting or subversive movement does not involve a confrontation of opposites. We simply see the workings of the backdrop of the machinery. A touch of decor is out of place—something prosaic wanders into a rarefied setting, or the clanking of the rhyme becomes overbearing, drawing too much of our attention. Thus our gaze is distracted by the distancing noise. These moments of hesitation, withdrawal, or suspension serve as equivalents of elision in a sentence, or, as described by Julia Kristeva, of an erasure of the real object of the speaking subject, similar to the process of desemanticization by obscene words or the fragmentation of syntax by rhythm.
With the passage of time we are given a new way to read modernista poems. While working within patches of this modernista discourse, later poets allow us to sense the absences, rather than the accumulations, which make us feel that we are in new territories. The received images that constitute our repertoire for viewing the productions of modernismo allow us to see them in a different light from their contemporaries.
Banat Su'ad: Translation and Interpretive
And it is precisely through the works of those poets who drew most heavily from them that the movement in modernismo itself can be felt. By postmodernista rejections, exaggerations, and parings-down of modernismo 's stock images and procedures, we can trace the shifting points of view that were already present in the construction of modernismo 's seemingly fixed scenes.
If we consider the procedures of enclosure or binding in modernista poetry to be part of the exaltation of objects, of landscape scenes, of the female figure, and of decorative form, then our reading must also take into account our own fetishization of this production. By freezing it in time, by surrounding it with rites of previous and current criticism, modernismo becomes a useful object, a museum piece or point of reference.
Just as luxury can point out poverty, or monstrosity normality, a limited view of modernismo has restricted our sense of its power in our readings of later poets. If order is a necessary precondition for transgression or for vice, these static landscapes and enclosed gardens, which seem to offer the reader a single, directed point of view, in effect are engineered for more possibilities. Their stillness contains a slight wayward movement or distracting gesture that destabilizes the entire backdrop. The metaphor of eroticism as one of the bases for inquiry is not merely a descriptive scheme.
The body, as origin and object of desire, is constantly given to us, sometimes as a lavishly decorated spectacle, other times as a mutilated scrap heap. As one looks closer, this same insistence on dismantling the erotic image is reflected in the framing picture of these prized icons. Things will not stand still under the poetic gaze. Margins are always dissolving, and fin de siglo props are being undermined by the intrusion of off-key elements. These poems are strategic, outflanking readers by beating them in the distancing game through means of more and more elaborate schemes and of towering lookout points of internal commentary.
The tear Lugones made in modernismo 's fabric of social and sexual dynamics is still being rewoven by contemporary poets. Lugones' intrusiveness created a lingering discordance, and no amount of dispassionate criticism can gloss over the uneasy spaces he created. The subversive shifts and overt disavowals they make of a veiled authoritative order are the weapons they use in dismantling hierarchical form, including a realignment of the speaking subject.
They are not simply naive consumers of European influences. Each in his own way plots a path to lead the reader to question even the poetic forms that tradition supplies. Lugones' dramatic confrontation with the upheavals of his times, with the disintegration of accustomed literary exchange the pact between writer and complicit initiated reader is ech-.
Devouring several genres at once, lurching back and forth between extremes, Lugones dramatizes the conflict between modernismo 's formalism and the shift into the twentieth century's more private sense of poetic language. Still striving to preserve a mythic framework for poetry, which presupposes an underlying order or ultimate frame of reference, the dynamism of his work prefigures new rearrangements. Later poets find themselves with the task of reassembling fragments of symbolic structures, of a previous poetic heritage, now devalued as bearers of intention. Lugones' uneven experiments point the way for a revolution in poetic language.
All language, not excluding that of liberty, ends up becoming a prison, and there is a point at which velocity becomes confused with immobility. The great modernista poets were the first to rebel, and in their mature works they go beyond the language that they themselves have created. In this way they prepare, each one in his own. Paz, in his now classic study of modern poetry, Los hijos del limo, continues his distinction between the two great poets of modernismo.
The ironic note, voluntarily antipoetic and therefore more intensely poetic, appears precisely in the noontime of modernismo [ Cantos de vida y esperanza, ] and appears almost always associated with the image of death. With Lugones, Laforgue penetrates Hispanic poetry: symbolism in its antisymbolist moment. Along with poetic techniques, Paz also compares the natures of both poetic movements, modernismo and vanguardismo, in their initial stages. Although both movements were first tied to their European, especially French, models, each movement turned later toward native or American sources.
In its first moment, the Spanish American vanguard depended on the French, just as before the first modernistas had followed the Parnassians and the Symbolists. The rebellion against the new cosmopolitanism assumed again the form of "nativism" or "Americanism. How can it be that modernismo, a movement first celebrated as well as attacked for its audacity and claims to spiritual transformation, now is seen as a series of artifacts in a museum, relics of a deadened, almost asocial language? The paradoxical nature of the claims of modernismo —its espousal of anarchic and egalitarian principles along with an aristocratic claim to power in language—are not so paradoxical as they seem.
Although its poets often used the languages of both mysticism and politics, suppressing their inherent contradictions, their goals were generally directed toward a revolution of personal expression, seen in conflict with an authoritarian state of language itself. Much of the attraction of the forbidden fruit of modernismo is lost to us now.
As readers removed from the space of dangerous pleasure by the passage of time and the presence of new surprises, it is sometimes difficult to understand the uproar and scandal that moments of the poetic works of Leopoldo Lugones evoked. However, we can recreate some sense of understanding by following the traces of this poetry in works more accessible to us.
Although the influence of Lugones and of his contemporary Herrera y Reissig is evident in these poets and even in the. The elements of rarefaction, the flaunting of excess and riches, as well as a heavily loaded surface of verbal texture were in great part a reaction to what they saw as the poverty of their circumstantial reality.
If the modernistas remain unforgiven, it is neither for their luxury nor their abundance. The extravagance of style, the heaping up of exotic detail, is surely no sin. It is the self-containment or exclusiveness that offends. The poets of modernismo shut the door to their garden of delights.
Invited in were only the initiates, those who knew the secret codes to decipher the mysterious rites of the poetic process. Like the preceding generation who flaunted their wealth by the ritual trip to Europe, thereby making more visible the poverty of those left behind, so the modernistas, rich only in knowledge, separated themselves from others by their European voyage of reading and reworking the treasures they brought back. In the same way they viewed what surrounded them as an impoverished state. This is the true insult of the excesses of modernismo. The discordant element appears to be banished.
Severo Sarduy described this same movement of excess and expulsion of dissonance in the Baroque:. The horror of the vacuum expels the subject from the surface of the multiplying extension, to signal in its place the specific code of a symbolic practice. In the Baroque, poetry is a Rhetoric: language, the autonomous and tautological code, does not admit in its dense, loaded net the possibility of a generating I, of an individual, centered frequent referent, who may express himself—the baroque functions in a vacuum—who may orient or check the growth of signs.
The fixed scene cannot afford dissenting or distracting movement within its confines, and the perspective of the viewer must remain fixed also. Even more pleasurable is the recognition of a fragment from a text by D'Annunzio, signaling perversity and rarefaction not permitted to the masses, whose limitations moral, social, or educational prohibit them from penetrating into the inner sanctum.
Just as the paintings of Gustave Moreau and the Pre-Raphaelites are made increasingly grotesque by later exaggerations and transformations one thinks of the details in paintings by Klimt and the sadistic touches Munch added to his erotic goddesses , so the excesses of the forbidden fruit of modernismo are packed so closely together that they begin to decompose. The spirit of play takes on its darker side.
Just as abundance creates poverty by contrast, so frivolity invites its lurking counterpart. Lost among the excesses of the textual surface, the speaking or acting subject reasserts itself with a gesture that draws our attention outside the static scene. The works of both Lugones and Herrera y Reissig show the marks of this intrusiveness into the enclosure of preciosity and abundance.
Borges points out the traits that separate the works of modernismo from the tastes of later readers:. En escritores ulteriores—en Armando Vasseur y paladinamente en Herrera y Reissig adquiere un don de ejemplaridad y los conceptos se entrelazan con un sentido semejante al de los ramajes trabados. El estilo mismo arborece y es hasta excesiva su fronda.
Up until now, however, the tree has only been treated as the subject of description. In later writers—in Armando Vasseur and openly in Herrera y Reissig—it acquires the gift of exemplar, and concepts intertwine like knitted branches. The style itself branches out and its foliage is even excessive. Despite our admiration, is not this vehement showiness which covers Los parques abandonados by chance intimately foreign to us, men of the pampa and straight paths? Here he uses a graphic corporal analogy of wounding and scars:. El tiempo las cancela y la que antes brillaba como una herida se oscurece taciturna como una cicatriz.
The mistake of the poet [and of the symbolists who counseled him] was in believing that already prestigious words constitute the lyric act in themselves. They are a short cut and nothing more. Time cancels them, and what shone before like a wound darkens quietly like a scar. Even more clearly for the discussion of modernismo at hand, Borges continues by pointing up the static pictorial quality of.
This visual undertaking was joined to a stubborn desire for isolation, a prejudice against becoming personal. It polished up the images; it sealed its lips to the diction of ancient beauty; it put crushing weights of gold on the world. In verse it searched for pictorial preeminence, it made of the sonnet a scene for the passionate dialogue of the flesh. As it was then for Borges, it is the programmatic and derivative aspects of modernismo which still puzzle many readers. How could a movement that espoused the romantic principles of spiritual liberty, access to the sublime through synesthetic experiments of sound, color, and rhythm, be best known today for its formalism, for its sometimes grotesque exaggeration of the iconography of French Parnassian, symbolist, and decadent styles?
The modernistas were seemingly shameless in the appropriation of the iconic symbols of all things exotic or distant. The very formalism of the verse form, enriched to saturation, distances the modern reader by its practiced theatricality. Critics rarely treat the movement of modernismo for its intrinsic value. Its worth is measured instead by a series of resemblances—its differences from previous and subsequent changes in poetic practice. Yet modernismo is, quite distinctly, a movement, a self-identified and coherent esthetic program, despite its internal variations. Though the term avant-garde is applied to a later generation, the modernista quasi-militarist language and messianic claims for their work leave no doubt as to the movement's coherent purpose.
Renato Poggioli discusses the militaristic and apocalyptic terminology adopted by avant-garde movements in The Theory of the Avant-Garde:. Avant-garde deformation, for all that the artists who practice it define it as antitraditional and anticonventional, also becomes a. In this way, deformation fulfills not only a contrasting, but also a balancing, function in the face of the surviving conventions, academic and realistic, of traditional art. The deformation is determined by a stylistic drive, which inaugurates a new order as it denies the ancient order.
Modernismo has most often been seen as a movement of dependence, as a group of poets who looked to Europe, especially France, as a source of inspiration. Many have even seen this movement as a trend based in imitation, as mere translation from one literary culture into another. An examination of the nature of information transmission from one culture to another, however, as well as from one language to another, can help in understanding the specific patterns of transmission of poetic traditions.
Given the developments in linguistics and semiology in recent decades, the study of a phenomenon such as modernismo can find methods with which to examine this transposition of literary patterns from one culture to another, taking into account extraliterary codes as parallel ways of enlarging our perspectives.
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Even the simplest formulation as the dichotomy langue code, grammar, system as opposed to parole speech, usage is especially relevant to a study of poetic transmission. The use of these terms, along with other concepts, will provide a basis for examining the poetic language of modernismo in its transmission and transformations. In modernismo we see the collision of several aesthetic codes at once. The transmission from emitter to receptor is not direct, however—the message does not necessarily remain intact in its transmission.
Receptive factors, such as comprehension of a foreign language accuracy of translation , completeness or incompleteness of texts, cultural factors audience, possibilities for publication are essential factors to consider in the reception of the emitted message. In the case of artistic texts, the transmission is even more complex. Literature is not an isolable commodity. It shares various functions in a given epoch and cul-. It is clear that differing opinions about modernistas are not rooted exclusively in the message content they bear nor even in the particular form rhythm, meter, rhyme that shapes content.
Although the modernistas were first attacked for their audacity in breaking the traditional rules, within a decade they were scorned by vanguardista poets for their adherence to rigid form. Surely, cultural and artistic contexts alter not only the transmission of fixed message content but its recpetion as well. It is this reception or reading of texts in different contexts that produces "aberrant" texts or misreadings. These same variations of reception can be of profound importance for the generation of new texts. A look at the pictorial qualities of modernista verse can clarify some puzzling issues.
As Pierre Bourdieu suggests,  the way we design our living spaces reflects and determines our ways of ordering the metaphors by which we live. In the modernistas ' eagerness to fill up space with the treasures of a more highly valued culture do they not also implant in these scenes a seed of doubt? At what point does gentle mocking of their borrowed wares become overt parody?
Any history of the evaluation of poetic modernismo in Spanish America would constitute in itself a history of social and esthetic values of this century. Although the modern critic does not expect consensus on the relative worth of a particular work nor even dare to prescribe definitive standards for what constitutes an exclusively "literary" work, modernismo is still strongly associated with "dependence.
Criticism can reflect a society's ideas about itself, and much recent criticism reflects modernismo 's own self-questioning. With the nineteenth century's emphasis on the idea of romantic "genius," of the specially selected transmitter of spiritual energy or revelations, the classical division of public and private languages breaks down. And to a large degree, the stability of genre is shaken. The late nineteenth century refuses even more the notion of writer as public spokesperson, either as legitimizer or adversary—critic of society.
One has only to think of the role of poet—statesman in early nineteenth-century Spanish America to see the contrast with the generation of modernistas. The emphasis on interiority and personal expression even fragments the idea of the author or the book concept. The individual writer is seen on personal terms, and the concept of a coherent work gives way to fragmentary expression. As personal consciousness rather than social or ethical norms becomes increasingly the organizing principle, the individual style itself acquires new functions.
If the frame of reference is personal consciousness and individuality, then style must allow for personal idiosyncrasy, even invention or destruction of genre. If we read these works of modernismo as clues. Except for the clearly defined stance of those who take the adversary role to a certain power group as is the case in protest literature , even national literatures receive ongoing evaluations and reassimilations. In this vein, a general tendency in Spanish American criticism has been to lump together all modernista writers under the label "rubenista" and to assume that the enclosure of the rich poetic forms of modernismo were prisons from which more recent poets have needed to liberate themselves.
Although countless studies have pointed out the many styles, sources, and individual patterns of modernista poets, the survival of a facile critical grouping is difficult to overcome. In "What Is an Author? Texts, books, and discourses really begin to have authors other than mythical, "sacralized" and "sacralizing" figures to the extent that authors became subject to punishment, that is, to the extent that discourses could be transgressive.
Perhaps it is time to study discourses not only in terms of their expressive value or formal transformations, but according to their modes of existence. The modes of circulation, valorization, attribution, and appropriation of discourses vary with each culture and are modified within each. The manner in which they are articulated according to social relationships can be more readily understood, I.
In short, it is a matter of depriving the subject or its substitute of its role as originator, and of analyzing the subject as a variable and complex function of discourse. The movement of modernismo, which is usually chronologically delineated between the years and , has been credited with revitalizing the Spanish poetic idiom by means of three major contributions: 1 innovations in meter, rhyme, and syntax; 2 an expansion of subject matter; and 3 a change in the perception of the poetic function.
This type of criticism centers on the rebellious aspects of the movement, its attempt to break away from the models and archetypes of Spain and the colonial heritage. Variously called torremarfilismo, cosmopolitismo, or decadentismo, the movement of modernismo has been criticized as an aberrant faction of escapist writers who would not accept their immediate environment nor reflect it in their poetry.
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Less attention has been focused on the reasons for the conscious attempt to join another order of writers, however, an order more far-reaching than their present one. The innovations of modernismo are based on the modernistas ' widening awareness of their dependence, both economic and cultural, on traditional and European models and their decision to fill the cultural vacuum resulting from this dependence.
Their innovations arose from a necessity of invention. Having become aware of the smaller sphere of action accorded to the writer, they sought to reclaim the lost importance and to develop a different role for the poet. In the same manner, their rebellious attitude manifested itself in a willful transgression of the public norm and its tastes.
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Their rebellion united them in a common purpose, with an emphasis on virtuosity and individual expression. An important element in defining the goals of the modernistas is the examination of the. A look at their social and economic position can clarify the reasons for their decisions. During the last part of the nineteenth century the major cities in Spanish America, especially Buenos Aires and Mexico City, were assimilating European movements at an accelerated pace. The transmission was manifold and simultaneous, and the proliferation of new ideas and styles—in the sciences, in the arts, and in literature—constantly thrust a choice upon the intellectuals.
In part, the adoption of a style inaccessible to a large public was a reaction against the narrow range of roles assigned to the writer. With the diversification of society, due in large part to massive European immigration and growing industrialization,  there was no longer an absolute identification between the ruling classes and the intellectual. New immigration, varying degrees of industrialization, and labor-oriented social movements changed the maps of Spanish American cities in the early twentieth century. As the poet was thrust into the marketplace for example, journalism and adoption of new "marketing" techniques , so poetry would follow its poets into turbulent urban spaces.
At the same time that modernismo as a poetic movement is flowering, poets and intellectuals are calling for an upheaval of old traditions. In his "Discurso en el Politeama" of he calls for the overthrow of the old order:. In this work of reconstitution and vengeance we cannot count on the men of the past: the aged and decayed stumps have already produced their evil-smelling flowers and their bitter-tasting fruits. We want new trees to give new flowers and fruit! Old ones to the tomb, young ones to the task!
Modernismo 's emphasis on the ideal of an intellectual, and not necessarily an economic, aristocracy was part of a persistent search to create a new role for artists in a society whose hierarchies were being dissolved. As professional roles became more specialized, the role of the intellectual was also being reduced. No longer a sideline activity in addition to other professional ones, writing was becoming a specialized occupation, although a financially precarious one. Literary and social critics such as Walter Benjamin and Michel Foucault have provided cogent explanations for the elevation of art to a religious discipline in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
With the advent of photography and other means of reproduction, literature seemed to be losing its hold on the quasi-mystical role assigned to the artist. The rising demands of egalitarian social movements also threatened to displace the artist's rank. A cult of writing was aroused to restore confidence in literature as a separate reality, rather than as a range of styles, interchangeable and therefore dispensable.
Poets were to be interpreters of a medium that offered mystical insights. Attention to the techniques of such a discipline was therefore of the highest importance. Several studies in Spanish America have been especially influential in their examination of the changes in the writer's status and the impact of these changes of poetic practice. Among the critics who have interpreted the nature of this artistic as well as social phenomenon, some have concentrated more on the socioeconomic aspect of its web, while others have sought its secrets in the rich texture of surging aesthetic theories and practices current in Europe at the time.
The analyses of Rama and Paz point up the two complementary aspects. There is here a primary proof, so general, that it was a commonplace of the last two decades of the century: the desertion of the poets is a consequence of the new machine age, more precisely, of the economic system which it imposed, which, in addition, transformed the poets into servants of imperative economic necessities. Yet even to speak of markets, machines, and modernization in terms of the artist hardly brings forth the image of the hurried businessman—writer.
As Rama points out, "Por el momento, el 'mercado' literario no exist??? As Roberto J. The book market is completely paralyzed, which naturally is reflected in literary activity, extremely scarce, which has had to take refuge almost exclusively in the press. La Revista Nacional has been the first periodical in Buenos Aires that has paid its contributors, thus demonstrating that it was time for productions of genius to be valued for what they were worth, to facilitate the advent of professional writers, the only ones who can give us our own literature.
Striking is his description of the magical practice involved in pushing out the daily passages, as if the heightened speed of' market rhythm increased the flow of' creative power. He not only explains the economic necessity of working with periodicals but praises it as a new source of' inspiration. Writing about commonplace events provides practice for less mundane efforts:. You know about the struggle of the man of letters, everywhere atrocious or martyred, but nowhere as in these societies of Latin America, where even the soul feels its way about, and intellectual speculation has almost no place.
You have had a good field for experience, and that is the daily newspaper. I have heard it maligned and depicted as the tomb of the poets. Well, if continued work on different topics doesn't make us agile and flexible in thought and in speech, what then will? It is clear, despite his attachment to the ideals of the superiority of beauty, that the changing sounds and rhythms entered his perception. The dependence on Europe by the financial and social elite had also led to a devaluing of local productions of all kinds.
In the case of literary production and outlets for publication, the lack of faith in local writers resulted in little financial support for their efforts. In Argentina, for example, publishers cited the scarcity of national literary works of quality and the absence of a large reading public as reasons for promoting mostly foreign works. Paul Groussac, when introducing the influential journal La Biblioteca in , describes the attitude he wished to counter with the creation of his new publication:. It has been said to us, on the one hand, that we will not find in Argentina the necessary amount of contributions to fill monthly the pages of a great journal, lacking among ourselves the necessary.
The devaluing of local writers and of the public in general was heightened by the financial crisis of the last decade of the nineteenth century. Publishers found it more convenient and less costly to copy foreign works for which they did not have to pay royalties, and they were assured of a readership by the already established fame of major European writers:. Between a foreign work that costs nothing and whose success is assured by the popularity of the author, and a national work, for which one must set aside several hundred pesos, running the risk that it will be badly received by the public, the choice is clear.
As if we had made a pact to be constant tributaries of Europe, we maintain ourselves exclusively on what it produces in the arts, science, industry and literature. What's more, even the texts in elementary schools, high schools and even in the University are, for the most part, foreign ones. In Argentina the literary and social elite that immediately preceded Lugones and his generation was losing its sense of homogeneity and its all-encompassing directive role in the establishment of political and social values.
This was due to the realignment of social and economic forces and to the increasing complexity of Argentine society. The Generations of and had seen their role as a political as well as an artistic one, and their task as the stabilizing and maintaining of the authority of their social class. The majority had defined their role as. Radicalism of the religion of art required a sincere disdain for the bourgeoisie, and the bourgeois was anyone who did not think as we did on aesthetic issues, since social and economic issues were secondary to us.
It was a complete dislocation of categories which, in its grotesque ingenuousness, led us to the point of believing that the ideal society would be composed of poets more or less Baudelairian, or pickled in absinth like Verlaine, or trained in the satanic chiaroscuro of the watercolorist Rops or in the theatre of black masses like Huysmans.
The Dissonant Legacy of Modernismo
The style of excess that Tablada stresses took the form of a rebellion in taste and personal behavior, which often led to an unconscious parody of the very codes the modernistas sought to follow. Slavish copying was an attempt to approximate as closely as possible the European mode, and much of Lugones' production strikes this note time after time. The modernistas' cult of the exotic and of the self is in part a reaction to what they saw as their poverty.
By striking a blow at the neo-realists among other writers, they were also objecting to diversification and compartmentalization. Their emphasis on virtuosity arose from the necessity of inventing a place for themselves. Octavio Paz evaluates the movement's negations as a positive search for universals and for modernity:. It has been said that modernismo was an evasion of the American reality. It would be truer to say that it was a flight from the local present reality—which was, in their eyes, an anachronism—in search of a universal reality, the only true reality. The search for universality was indeed a prime motive, with a keen desire for participation in a cosmopolitan world of modernity as much as for timeless universals.
The goal of progress, so strong in nineteenth-century thought, was an important motivating factor, although it is a concept difficult to reconcile with a spiritual ideal of timeless unity, or with a cult of art. The idea of progress for the modernistas was not merely an abstract concept. Increased contact with other nations, growing industrialization, and new immigration from Europe brought an expanded network of communication. Las ideas no hacen familia en la mente, como antes, ni larga vida. Now the trees of the forest have no more leaves than the cities have tongues; ideas mature on the beach where they are learned and, going hand in hand, and step by step.
Speaking is not a sin, but a glory. Listening is not heresy, but taste and habit and custom. Everyone's ears are always open; thoughts barely germinate before they are loaded with flowers and fruits, and jumping onto the paper; they enter everyone's mind like fine powder; the railroads tear down the forest; the newspapers, the human forest. The sun penetrates the fissures of the old trees. Everything is expansion, communication, flowering, contagion, dispersement.
The periodical deflowers grandiose ideas. Ideas don't create a family in the mind, as before, nor long life. They are born on horseback, mounted on lightning, with wings. They don't grow in a single mind but through the commerce of all minds. They don't delay in benefiting, after a difficult emergence, a small number of readers; rather, as soon as they are born, they show benefit. Like leaves falling from a tree, ideas are dispersed and lost even as they are born.
Yet such an analogy illustrates some of the paradoxical spirit of cosmopolitismo embraced by the poets of the moment. Although exalting a common language of beauty and universal rhythms, at the same time this mixed analogy rejects the rootedness of a national past profile and the boundaries imposed by strong national identity. Spiritual universalism and a mystical aestheticism combine con-. It is a hothouse flower, a strange and pampered vegetation that could scarcely arise from the venal explosion of wild sap which the youthful vitality of American thought has poured out until now, sometimes channeled into coarse and robust trunks that endure like brutal forms, but dominators of our Nature; and more often diffused in babbling, tropical vines, whose remains enrich the ground with vegetal earth, useful for future flowerings.
It is balance and harmony for which Nature strives, allowing for the occasional orchid, ruby or diamond, swan or pheasant. As they reject the referential emphasis on language and turn away from "realism" and civic poetry, the modernista poets idealize poetry as a striving toward beauty and the ideal. The cult of the exotic, the emphasis on sonority, the enrichment of poetic meter, the delight in verbal play for its own sake, helped create for the modernistas a self-containment for poetry, setting it off from the everyday, communicative functions of language. By attributing conscious moral decisions to each artistic gesture of its practitioners, critics have either condemned, defended, or condoned the modernista production with its context of "modernization.
If we analyze modernity and modernismo not as separate and parallel systems, but as exchange systems, we may examine how such new systems of production are entwined with new systems of representation. In the midst of the shifting systems of representation and the fascination with the new products of science and industry, the modernistas encountered a perplexing situation. Exposed, by means of greater communication to the images of modernity, nevertheless, it is clearly apparent that the Spanish American did not share fully in the production of such novelties.
If Spanish America is new by autonomy, how can modernity be founded without history, without the density of the past and the evolution required for the "breakthrough"? The most striking characteristic of modernity in Spanish America is its awareness of its falseness. If modernity, according to Octavio Paz, is synonymous with criticism and is identified with change, then modernity in Spanish America is characterized more by its fragility, of which it is aware. Todo artificio es producto, no naturaleza; producto, no proceso.
Things proliferate, but precisely because they appear not in a net of relations which reflect reality, but in an immediate, poetic code which joins them together. The thematic hypostasis of this phenomenon is found in the scandalous artificiality of setting created by modernismo. Every artifice is production, not nature; product, not process. Given concrete historical circumstances, it must be noted that such references to new technologies were often part of stylistics rather than a reflection of local realities, since the industrialization and modernization of Spanish America was by no means consistent in different countries.
Far from being innocent consumers of a European series of productions valued more highly because of their origin , these poets, sharing in the critical tradition of philology and science, offered up their own literary productions as an affirmation of this "Yo organizador" that sought to integrate, within a new aestheticism, the multiple strains of both mythic and scientific inheritance. Striving toward an eclecticism of several foreign cultures and literary movements, they also reordered scientific information.
The critical stance of the modernistas was more encompassing than is generally believed. They sought to refound literature in its vital connection with the natural world and to discover its secret basic harmonies, its underlying organic structure. From all over Spanish America writers circulated ideas and formed a network of exchange by means of the many literary magazines founded during this period, in addition to those that combined political statement as well.
The two most important centers of publications were Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Despite their insistence on being the enemies of utilitarianism and other manifestations of positivist thought, the manifesto clearly shows a dialectic between the ideals of an art striving toward pure form and an awareness of the role of the artist in society.
This crusade, despite its direction toward realms of art and regions or dream, retains a sense of place, time, and political motivation. Although stressing the merits of innovation to revive poetic traditions deadened by lifeless imitation, the possibilities of the "Nuevo Mundo" are inextricably linked with a past, though partly buried, tradition. According to most of the modernista generation, the responsibility to develop or mine these treasures is in the hands of the intellectual aristocracy, the group formed within a strong poetic tradition.
Instead of a break, this change in poetic process is to involve a new focus. Significantly, the direction of the crusading impulse is inward-turning, to better recover elements from a distant past, as well as the outward turning to exotic realms of legend and history. The notions of mission and combat—the holy crusade—are constants in the poetic manifestoes of the modernistas. They view their role not as visionaries who have chosen isolation but as prophets who have been forcefully removed from certain spheres by their enemies, the forces of utilitarianism and bourgeois conservatism. In our Latin republics, the wind of mediocrity blows over the Creole spirit.
Our recently formed societies don't take care of the spirit; Art cannot have life where Religion is losing ground, and where Profit and Politics swell up their enormous bellies more every day. Despite modernismo 's connections with the legacy of romanticism, a closer look shows a refusal of many of romanticism's values.
This legacy is more in the spirit of the monstrosity of Victor Hugo, in the suspended time of Baudelaire, than in Wordsworth's or Coleridge's attempts to mingle mind and nature. It singles out oddity, distorts organic form, and exalts discontinuity. The spatial dimensions of modernista scenes give an idea of the rearrangement of values that romanticism linked with organic form.
The mountain and the abyss are more likely to appear in miniature form perhaps enclosed in a Parnassian literary landscape painting with their scale reduced to manageable terms. Single figures draw the focus, rather than panoramic scenes. A distinguishing feature of modernista aesthetics is the inclusion of all the arts in theories of artistic creation.
The creative function can express itself through music, the plastic arts, and literature, especially poetry. Creative power is bestowed on certain individuals as a mysterious gift, enabling them to perceive the series of concordances between nature, humanity, and divinity. From this concept arises the belief in the natural aristocracy of the artist.
The modernista concept of the artist as one who is divinely inspired and who possesses the gift of perceiving the interrelationship of nature and spirit, has its roots in romanti-. Many of the social doctrines of romanticism, received quite differently in Spanish America at an earlier stage, were partially incorporated along with later doctrines.
The doctrines of romanticism were a primary factor in the later development of the concepts of the poet and poetic function, and the work of Victor Hugo was central to this development. In Hugo, then, all the romantic convictions and themes are summarized: organic, evolving nature, the view of poetry as prophecy, the view that symbol and myth are the instruments of poetry. In Hugo the reconciliation of opposites, the stress on the grotesque and evil ultimately absorbed in the harmony of the universe, is particularly clear even in his early aesthetic theories, as in the preface to Cromwell.
Victor Hugo's work, so important for later poets, has a long history in Latin America. The call for liberty, the allegory of nature, and the role of the poet as prophet  had a special meaning in the years of the formation of national entities. As will be shown in the discussion of Lugones' early work, Hugo's ideas on the function of poetry left an important and unmistakable stamp on Lugones, as well as on other modernista poets.
Romantic writings on the controlling principles of poetic creation and interest in the symbolic power of mythology showed a tendency to create an allegory of the spirit by means of natural and mythological symbols. In romanticism, a secular theology of language joined with concepts of human creativity and genius. Garrick's first appearance on the London stage exploited a loophole in the Licensing Act, whose provisions actors and managers soon sought to evade.
Thus, James Lacy, a stalwart of Fielding's company, had apparently mounted one-man shows in , while Tony Aston twice advertised 'Serious and Comic Oratory' in tavern venues—and Charlotte Charke turned to her puppets. But it was Henry Giffard who first engaged a full company and mounted regular performances, at his old theatre in Goodman's fields, through the device of promising a concert of 'vocal and instrumental music'—between the two parts of which 'will be presented a comedy, gratis, by persons for their diversion'.
This 'concert formula' must have enjoyed at least tacit government approval, since the plays were even submitted to the Lord Chamberlain, as his powers of censorship now required. Garrrick, fresh to the town as a law student turned wine merchant, was evidently on good terms with Giffard, for whose benefit he had written an entertainment at Drury Lane in then, in October , Garrick appeared anonymously in the title role of Richard III at Goodman's Fields. In the same year, a general election had returneed a majority favooring the vigorious pursuit of the war which—already in progress against Spain—was soon to involve all Europe.
And in February Sir Robert Walpole resigned, giving way to a 'broad-bottomed' Whig ministry dedicated to imperialistic expansion. As it turned out, the art of the new actor was ideally suited to the temper of the new age. These sketches, less posed than the formal paintings [further above and further below], better capture the fluent mobility and no less expressive tranquillity of Garrick's acting.
A fellow professional, Arthur Murphy, remarked of Garrick that ' off the stage he was a mean sneaking little fellow. But on the stage. Here he judiciously balanced popular demand against his perception of the dignity of the profession—and of himself. At home, Jacobitism finally flared out in the uprising of —less a genuine threat this time than an opportunity seized to eliminate all Scottish resistance at Culloden.
Henry V was duly brought on to stimulate patriotic fervour at the theatres, while in September the National Anthem for the first time accompanied the performance at Drury Lane—inaugurating a tradition which was to have audiences shuffling to their feet for well over two hundred years. And so, whereas the theatre of the s had been, if not the hotbed of opposition sometimes alleged, at least a constant irritant to officialdom, during Garrick's long ascendancy it tended rather to reflect the prevailing chauvinistic mood. Playing opposite him is Hananha Pritchard , who had first appeared at Drury Lane in , but moved to Covent Garden from to before joining Garrick for the remainder of her career.
She was favourably compared with Mrs Cibber both by Richard Cumberland, who claimed that she had 'more change of tone, and variety both of action and expression', and by Charles Dibdin, who declared: 'Mrs. Cibber's acting was delightful, Mrs. Pritchard's commanding. One insinuated herself into the heart, the other took possession of it. It made acting like a picture, with grand breadths of light and shade.
Although there is no doubt at all that Garrick was a great actor, part of his strength lay in his capacity to create a theatrical complement to this mood and, something of a snob himself—with a great need for the respect and admiration of others—he not only achieved but enjoyed the power to impose the greater measure of respectability he felt requisite.
This was made manifest not so much in flag-waving fervour as through his managerial drive towards a higher moral tone on stage and a compliant order in pit and gallery—ambitions which his audiences did not invariably share.