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During the Spanish Civil War, in early , he went to the UK to deliver some lectures and this became the start of an exile that lasted till the end of his life.

He taught in the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge before moving in to the US. In the s he moved to Mexico. While he continued to write poetry, he also published wide-ranging books of critical essays , covering French, English and German as well as Spanish literature. He was frank about his homosexuality at a time when this was problematic and became something of a role model for this in Spain.

His collected poems were published under the title La realidad y el deseo. The recollections and impressions of childhood contained in his poems, and the prose poems collected in Ocnos , suggest that he was always a solitary, introverted, and timid child whose unhappiness in the family led to his living vicariously through books and through his strong visual impressions of his native city.

In , they moved to Calle del Aire, where he would later write the poems of Perfil del aire. In he began to study Law at the University of Seville , where, during his first year, he attended classes in Spanish Language and Literature given by Pedro Salinas. His extreme shyness prevented him from mentioning his literary activities until Salinas' notice was caught by a prose poem published in a student magazine.

He gave Cernuda encouragement and urged him to read both classical Spanish poetry and modern French literature. As was the practice in those days, many such magazines published collections of poetry as supplements. His father died in and he continued to live at home with his mother and sisters. In he did military service in the Regiment of Cavalry.

These stimulated his poetic vocation and helped to guide his readings of French literature. He became a Bachelor of Law in September but was undecided about what to do next. He thought about joining the diplomatic service but decided not to on discovering that it would entail a move to Madrid.

His indecision about a choice of career continued through Although he took no direct part in the proceedings, he did get the chance to read some of his poems and he made the acquaintance of Lorca. His mother died in July and, at the start of September, Cernuda left Seville.

Although he had a law degree, he had no intention of making practical use of it. He was starting to realise that poetry was the only thing that really mattered to him.

Salinas arranged for him to become the Spanish lector at the University of Toulouse. He took up post in November and stayed there for an academic year. He also discovered a love of jazz and films, which seems to have activated an interest in the USA. Between his return from Toulouse in June to , Cernuda lived in Madrid and participated actively in the literary and cultural scene of the Spanish capital.

All through this period, he worked with many organisations attempting to create a more liberal and tolerant Spain. This difficulty in getting published gave Cernuda the chance to revise and reflect on his work.

It also occurred to him in the meantime that he could bring all his poetry together under the title La realidad y el deseo. Subsequent editions added new poems as separate books under this collective title. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, a friend of his, Concha de Albornoz , arranged for him to join her in Paris as secretary to her father, the ambassador Alvaro de Albornoz.

He remained there from July to September , but after that he returned to Madrid along with the ambassador and his family.

For perhaps the only time in his life Cernuda felt the desire to be useful to society, which he achieved by serving on the Republican side. From October to April , he participated in radio broadcasts with A. Serrano Plaja in the Sierra de Guadarrama , north of Madrid. In April , he moved to Valencia and began to write poems that would be collected in Las Nubes.

In at a salon hosted by Carlos Morla Lynch, a Chilean writer and diplomat attached to the Chilean Embassy in Madrid, Cernuda met an English poet called Stanley Richardson, nine years younger than him, who was making a brief visit to the country. They enjoyed some kind of intense but short-lived relationship, commemorated in a poem dated March and included in Invocaciones , before Richardson returned home.

At the time, Cernuda thought that he would be away from Spain for one or two months, however this was to be the start of an exile that would last for the rest of his life. The lectures never took place.

Richardson was well-connected, however, and arranged a party for him, attended by celebrities such as the Duchess of Atholl , Gavin Henderson, 2nd Baron Faringdon , the Chinese ambassador, Rebecca West and Rose Macaulay. Even by then, the situation in Spain meant that it was not advisable for Cernuda to return and so Richardson suggested that he should join a colony of evacuated Basque children at Eaton Hastings on Faringdon's estate. After a few months in England, penniless and barely able to speak English, he went to Paris with the intention of returning to Spain.

But he stayed on in Paris on receiving news of what was happening in his native land. Richardson was to die on 8 March in an air raid while dancing at the Ritz. Cernuda wrote an elegy for him which was included in Como quien espera el alba in Neither Glasgow nor Scotland appealed to him, which is perhaps noticeable in the downbeat tone of the poems he wrote there.

From onward, he spent his summer vacations in Oxford, where, despite the ravages of the war, there were plenty of well-stocked bookshops. In August , he moved to Emmanuel College, Cambridge , where he was much happier. The artistic life of Cambridge and London made it easier for him to develop his musical knowledge. A separate edition of this collection appeared in a pirated edition in Buenos Aires in He had been afraid that the situation in Spain after the end of the Civil War would create such an unfavourable climate for writers who had gone into exile like him, that his work would be unknown to future generations.

The appearance of these two books was a ray of hope for him. In July , he moved to a similar job at the Spanish Institute in London. He regretted leaving Cambridge, despite the range and variety of theatres, concerts and bookshops in the capital. He began to take his holidays in Cornwall because he was tired of the big city and urban life.

He was coming from a country that was impoverished, still showing many signs of war damage and subject to rationing so the shops of New York made it seem as if he were arriving in an earthly paradise. Although he was happy in Mount Holyoke, at the end of the year, a student advised him not to stay there and he himself began to wonder whether it was a beneficial force on his poetry.

This can be seen in the collection of prose Variaciones sobre tema mexicano , which he wrote in the winter of It became impossible for him to continue living in Mount Holyoke: the long winter months, the lack of sun, the snow all served to depress him. On his return from vacation in , he resigned from his post, [5] giving up a worthy position, a decent salary, and life in a friendly and welcoming country that offered him a comfortable and convenient lifestyle.

He had always had a restless temperament, a desire to travel to new places. Only love had the power to overcome this need and make him feel at home in a place, to overcome his sense of isolation.

In this, there is perhaps a clue as to one of the reasons that he was attracted to the surrealists - the belief in the overwhelming power of love. In addition, he always had a powerful attraction to beautiful young men. This helped him not to fall into provincial ways during his youth in Seville, whose inhabitants thought they were living at the centre of the world rather than in a provincial capital.

It also helped to immunise him against the airs and graces of Madrid or any other place in which he lived. Between and he was a lecturer at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In , the third edition of La realidad y el deseo was published in Mexico.

For this edition Cernuda wrote an essay Historial de un libro which considers his work in order to see not so much how I made my poems but rather, as Goethe said, how they made me. His two sisters died in This stay seems to have revitalised Cernuda and, on his return to Mexico, he began to write poetry again.

After a brief return to Mexico, he made his third and final visit to California in September , where he was a visiting professor at UCLA until June He spent the summer of in Mexico and, although he had an invitation to lecture at the University of Southern California , he declined it in August, because of the need to undergo a medical in order to extend his visa.

Luis Cernuda was one of the most dedicated poets amongst the members of the Generation of Altolaguirre and Prados are probably remembered more for their printing work than for their literary output. Alberti enjoyed fame for his political activism and Lorca was possibly as gifted in drama and music as he was in poetry. Cernuda drifted into university teaching simply as a way of earning a living and never held a prestigious post.

Everything in his life was incidental to his work as a poet. His published criticism is valuable for the insights it gives into his development as a poet - he tends to discuss the authors and works that had most influence on his poetry and thinking. He wrote:. Desire led me towards the reality that offered itself to my eyes as if only through possession of it might I be able to achieve certainty about my own life. But since I have only ever achieved a precarious grip on it, there comes the opposite tendency, that of hostility to the ironic attractiveness of reality And so, in my view, the essence of the problem of poetry is the conflict between reality and desire, between appearance and truth, permitting us to achieve some glimpse of the complete image of the world that we do not know.

A significant stage of his development occurred in , when he was doing military service. Every afternoon, along with the other recruits, he had to ride round the outskirts of Seville. One afternoon, he had an epiphanic experience as if he were seeing things for the first time. He also felt an uncontrollable need to describe this experience. This led to the writing of a whole series of poems which have not survived.

Another crucial phase of his development was his residence in Great Britain between and He learned English and read widely in English literature. He seems to have had a sense that he was predestined to read English poetry and that it corrected and completed something that was lacking both in his poetry and in himself.

His attitude to Britain was ambivalent. He learned a lot from the literature and greatly admired certain aspects of the national character, as displayed in wartime, but found it hard to summon up affection for the country and its people. This was the title that Cernuda gave in La realidad y el deseo to the revised version of his first published work Perfil del aire , which had been published by Litoral in April The collection was dedicated to Salinas, and Cernuda sent a copy to him in Madrid, where he was spending the university vacation.

It also really stung him that Salinas merely sent back a brief acknowledgement of receipt of the book. It was not so much a case of influence as a common, shared aesthetic. He was too thin-skinned for that.


Donde Habite El Olvido: Version Original del Texto y Manuscritos

During the Spanish Civil War, in early , he went to the UK to deliver some lectures and this became the start of an exile that lasted till the end of his life. He taught in the universities of Glasgow and Cambridge before moving in to the US. In the s he moved to Mexico. While he continued to write poetry, he also published wide-ranging books of critical essays , covering French, English and German as well as Spanish literature. He was frank about his homosexuality at a time when this was problematic and became something of a role model for this in Spain.

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Luis Cernuda




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