Tradition, Modernization and Canon in XXth Century Spanish Poetry (1900-1940)

Emilio Quintana

Abstract


In this presentation we deal with the frame of the relationship between Modernity and Tradition in the Spanish Culture (low and high; poetry, cinema, mass media) in the first half of XXth Century. Spain as a peripherical country was put under tension in the own process of social and cultural modernization. When an avant-garde artist like Rafael Barradas (1890-1929) was painting his urban landscapes in Madrid 1919 –under the influence of Futurism-, sheeps were around the Atocha railway station (as we can see at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid). Meanwhile, in rural Andalusia, a poet like Rogelio Buendía (1891-1969) was writing in his provincial poems about Bessemer furnaces that were contaminating the ideal landscape sung before by the symbolist poet –and Nobel Prize in Literature- Juan Ramon Jiménez. This kind of contradictions marks the way toward Modernization of the cultural, social and political landscape in Spain. We will also consider the inter-war period, between the first avant-garde "ultraísmo" (1918-1922) and the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), and how this movement enters in a crisis in the Thirties: Great Depression, II Spanish Republic and Civil War. In fact, Literary Francoism is about a return to the ideological traditional symbolist canon, as opposed to modern world, machines and urban life, considered as a foreign influence that have to be purified. All of this, with a strong support of new cultural institutions, media (we consider Federico García Lorca´s poems in the "new country"'s mass media) and educational system. We'll be also talking about: Spanish Civil War as a car crash, the Spanish Anarchist Utopia and Catholic iconography (churches and department stores as spaces of political and cultural iconoclastic fight), the rise and fall of the Falangist Project in Spain, through cinema and popular culture, and high poetry as well, etc.

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