1977 : Vicente Aleixandre

1977 : Vicente Aleixandre

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“for a creative poetic writing which illuminates man’s condition in the cosmos and in present-day society, at the same time representing the great renewal of the traditions of Spanish poetry beween the wars”



April 26, 1898

Place of birth


Seville, Spain



December 13, 1984

Place of death


Madrid, Spain







Notable award(s)


Nobel Prize in Literature 1977


Vicente Aleixandre y Merlos was established in 1898 as the son of a locomotive leader in Seville was born and spent his childhood in Malaga. From 1909 he lived in Madrid, where he also Jura and studied economics. In 1922 he learns in the Ateneo in Madrid, Rafael Alberti, who like Aleixandre itself, as one of the most important members of the Generacion del 27 shall apply. During these years he had a passionate relationship with the actress Carmen de Granada. He traveled through Portugal, England, Switzerland and France, in silence, he began his first poems to write. From this period dates also his very first poem Ambito. His initial project, to be a merchant, he had to abandon for health reasons, and so, he dedicated himself entirely to the 1925 literature. 1934 he was awarded for his work La destruccion o el amor, the Spanish National Prize for Literature awarded. Because of the anti-fascist nature of his works he had in the years 1936 through 1944 publication ban, but he secretly circumvent publications. 1950, he became a member of the Real Academia Espanola.


Works in Spanish:

  • Ambito – Malaga : Litoral, 1928

  • Espadas como labios – Madrid : Espasa–Calpe, 1932

  • Pasion de la tierra – Mexico City : Fabula, 1935

  • La destruccion o el amor – Madrid : Signo, 1935 – Rev. ed. 1944

  • Sombra del paraiso – Madrid : Adan, 1944

  • En la vida del poeta – Madrid : Real Academia Espanola, 1950

  • Mundo a solas : 1934-1936 – Madrid : Clan, 1950

  • Poemas paradisiacos – Malaga, 1952

  • Nacimiento ultimo – Madrid : Insula, 1953

  • Historia del corazon – Madrid : Espasa– Calpe, 1954

  • Algunos caracteres de la nueva poesia espanola – Madrid : Instituto de Espana/Gongora, 1955

  • Mis poemas mejores – Madrid : Gredos, 1956

  • Los encuentros – Madrid : Guadarrama, 1958

  • Poesias completas – Madrid : Aguilar, 1960

  • Poemas amorosos – Buenos Aires : Losada, 1960 – Enl. ed. 1970

  • Antigua casa madrilena – Santander : Hermanos Bedia, 1961

  • Picasso – Malaga : Cuardernos de Maria Cristina/ Guadalhorce, 1961

  • En un vasto dominio – Madrid : Revista de Occidente, 1962

  • Presencias – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1965

  • Retratos con nombre – Barcelona : Bardo, 1965

  • Dos vidas – Malaga : Guadalhorce, 1967

  • Poemas de la consumacion – Barcelona : Plaza & Janes, 1968

  • Obras completas – Madrid : Aguilar, 1968 – Rev. ed., 2 vol. 1978

  • Antologia del mar y de la noche. – Madrid : Al– Borak, 1971

  • Poesia superrealista – Barcelona : Barral, 1971

  • Sonido de la guerra – Valencia : Cultura, 1972

  • Dialogos del conocimiento – Barcelona : Plaza & Janes, 1974

  • Antologia total – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1975

  • Antologia poetica – Madrid: Alianza, 1977

  • Aleixandre para ninos – Madrid : Ediciones de la Torre, 1984

  • Los cuadernos de Velintonia : conversaciones con Vicente Aleixandre – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1986

  • Epistolario – Madrid : Alianza Editorial, 1986

  • Nuevos poemas varios – Barcelona : Plaza & Janes, 1987

  • Prosas recobradas – Barcelona : Plaza & Jane?s, 1987

  • Lo mejor de Vicente Aleixandre : antologi?a total – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1989

  • En gran noche : ultimos poemas – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1991

  • Mire los muros – Madrid : Ediciones de la Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, 1991

  • Dia?logos del conocimiento – Madrid : Ca?tedra, 1992

  • Mundo a solas – Madrid : Concejali?a de Cultura del Ayuntamiento de Madrid, 1998

  • Poemas de la consumacio?n – Madrid : Alianza, 1998

  • Correspondencia a la generacion del 27 (1928–1984) – Madrid : Castalia, 2001

  • Poesias completas – Madrid : Visor Libros, 2001

  • Prosas completas – Madrid : Visor, 2002

  • Cartas de Vicente Aleixandre a Jose? Antonio Mun?oz Rojas, (1937–1984) – Valencia : Pre–Textos, 2005

  • Antologi?a de la poesi?a oral trauma?tica, co?smica y tana?tica de Vicente Aleixandre – Me?xico : Frente de Afirmacio?n Hispanista, 2005

Translations into English:

  • The Cave of Night – San Luis Obispo, Calif. : Solo Pr., 1976

  • Destruction or Love / translated by Hugh A. Harter – Santa Cruz, Cal. : Green Horse Three, 1977

  • Twenty Poems / translated by Lewis Hyde and Robert Bly – Madison, Minn. : Seventies Press, 1977

  • A Longing for the Light :Selected Poems / translated by Lewis Hyde – New York : Harper & Row, 1979

  • The Crackling Sun / translated by Louis Bourne – Madrid : Espanola de Libreria, 1981

  • A Bird of Paper / translated by Willis Barnstone and David Garrison – Athens, Ga. : Ohio University Press, 1982

  • World Alone / translated by Lewis Hyde and David Unger – Great Barrington, Mass. : Penmaen Press, 1982

  • Shadow of Paradise / translated by Hugh A. Harter – Berkeley : University of California Press, 1987

  • Destruction or Love = La destruccio?n o el amor / introduction, translation, and illustrations by Robert G. Mowry – Selinsgrove, Pa. : Susquehanna University Press, 2000

Literature (a selection):

  • Bousono, Carlos, La poesia de Vicente Aleixandre : imagen, estilo, mundo poetico – Madrid, 1950

  • Schwartz, Kessel, Vicente Aleixandre – New York : Twayne, 1970

  • Colinas, Antonio, Conocer, Vicente Aleixandre y su obra. – Barcelona – Dopesa, 1977

  • Cano, Jose Luis, Los cuadernos de Velintonia : conversaciones con Vicente Aleixandre – Barcelona : Seix Barral, 1986

  • Murphy, Daniel, Vicente Aleixandre’s Stream of Lyric Consciousness – Lewisburg, PA : Bucknell Univ. Press, 2001


1977: Nobel Prize in Literature.

Presentation Speech:

Presentation Speech by Dr. Karl Ragnar Gierow, of the Swedish Academy.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year’s Nobel prizewinner in literature, Vicente Aleixandre, is hard to understand and in one way controversial. The latter may be due to the former. For even his devoted admirers offer varying interpretations of his poetry. It is doubtful if anyone has yet been able to sum it up properly, one reason being that fifty years after Aleixandre’s debut his writing still seems to be forging ahead. His two most remarkable collections of poems, the twin crowns of his career to date, appeared in 1968 (Poemas de la consumacion) and 1974 (Dialogos del conocimiento).

On one point, however, all are agreed: Aleixandre’s place and importance in the spiritual life of Spain. In the history of literature he is part of the current that broke into Spanish poetry in the 1920s with unequalled breadth and force. One of the names of the vigorous avantgarde was the Pleiades. It is all the more suitable as no one with the naked eye can make out the correct number in the group of stars that we colloquially call The Seven Sisters. There are many more of them, and in the firmament of Spanish poetry these Pleiades are usually numbered at around twenty-five – a brilliant cluster of lyric talent. Among those who came to shine the brightest and the longest is Vicente Aleixandre.

The affinity of the new style with French surrealism is striking. There are those in Spain who prefer to call it apparent. They are sometimes reluctant to stress the points in common, asserting their unconformity all the more strongly. The Spanish declaration of independence is not without ground. The Second Golden Age, which is another name for the breakthrough and epoch of the Pleiades, referred directly and expressly to the first, Spain’s century-long age of greatness, the baroque. When the young guard banded together to strike their big blow they chose as a standard to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Luis de Gongora, the creator of the hair-splitting “estilo culto” who originated and gave his name to the ingeniously and extravagantly ornamented gongorism. Virtuose pastiches on Spanish baroque poetry in frills, and beside them folksong variations of rustic themes, were characteristic elements in the renewal during the 1920s south of the Pyrenees, and they distinguish it undeniably from the manifestos up by the Seine.

When this vital generation of poets, with Lorca at the head, stormed the Spanish Parnassus, Aleixandre too was busy with his pen. He was then writing about the need of rationalization and pension and insurance problems on the Spanish railways, where he was employed. But in 1925 something happened which was to determine the whole of his existence and still does today. He was taken seriously ill with renal tuberculosis. It changed his life in two ways. He had to leave his employment and he could take another position with communications of a different kind: those of poetry. When the Gongora anniversary was celebrated he had not yet published his first volume of verse, but he had printed poems in the Pleiades’ magazines and was already a member of the group. He was perhaps the one least concerned about the connexion with “the golden century” and to that extent also the one who came closest to the new doctrines from Paris. This may be the background to a somewhat defiant declaration by one of his poet friends that Spanish surrealism had given French surrealism what it had always lacked – a great poet: Vicente Aleixandre. But he has never been a mediator in this literary frontier dispute. Against the basic article of faith “l’ecriture automatique” he has reiterated his belief in “la conciencia creadora”, creative consciousness. He went his own way.

In extremely simplified terms it is the way from a cosmic vision to a realistic close-up. One of Aleixandre’s conclusive collections of poems is called La destruccion o el amor (Destruction or Love). The title is thematically pregnant with meaning and certain Aleixandre connoisseurs have taken it to mean an Either-Or, to quote Kierkegaard: without love all that is left to us is destruction. But the word “or” can mean not only two alternative contrasts but also an explanatory addition, and what the title then says is: Destruction, in other words love. It would agree better with the perspective of creation in its entirety that these poems, and those that followed, aim at depicting and that Aleixandre has been striving for ever since his debut with Ambito. “Man is an element in the cosmos and in his being does not differ from it”, as he himself says. Love is destruction, but destruction is a result of or an act of love, of self-effacement, of man’s innate yearning to be received back into the world order from which, as a living being, he has been separated and cast out – “segregado – degradado”. His decease therefore has nothing of despair at a meaningful life meeting with a meaningless death. Only with death does life acquire its meaning and is complete; it is the last birth, Nacimiento ultimo, as one of the later collections of poems is called. Aleixandre does not hesitate to carry his vision to the paradoxical extreme: “Man does not exist.” In other words: so long as he is alive, he is actually unborn.

But out of the conviction that man is an element in a cosmic whole grows of necessity the awareness that our short life on earth is also a part of the same course of events. It is that knowledge which has brought Aleixandre back to “the tellurian world”, as he calls it, given his continued writings a proximity to life, an openness and directness which formerly he was not capable of or did not strive for, and has made his last two books, mentioned in the introduction to this presentation, the peak of his work hitherto. On his way there, but conscious of where he was heading, he wrote in Historia del corazon a poem called Entre dos oscuridades un relampago, A Lightning Between Two Darknesses. In it is the earth, in it is man, and life must be affirmed so long as we have it. Intentionally or not one of the gifted dreamers of our time here quotes the words of another visionary when the meaning of the play is to be explained:

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on,

and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

Outwardly too Aleixandre went his own way. When the civil war came he was bedridden and listened to the bombs exploding. Lorca was murdered, other poet friends died in prison, and when the remainder went into exile at the end of the war, a constellation scattered to the four winds, they had to leave the invalid behind. But mentally as well Aleixandre survived the regime. He never submitted to it and went on with his writing, frail but unbroken, thereby becoming the rallying-point and source of power in Spain’s spiritual life that we today have the pleasure of honouring.

The Swedish Academy deeply regrets that owing to his state of health Mr Aleixandre can’t be here today. But as his representative we greet his friend and younger colleague, Mr Justo Jorge Padron, and I ask you, Mr Padron, to convey to Mr Aleixandre our warmest congratulations and to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded to him, from the hands of His Majesty the King.

Nobel Lecture:

December 12, 1977

In an hour like this, so important in the life of a cultivator of the arts, I would like to express, with the most beautiful words, the emotion that a man feels and the gratitude that you experience in some events such as those now being developed. I was born in a bourgeois family, but I had the good fortune of their vocation and widely open and liberal. My restless spirit drove me to practice professions contradictory. I was a professor of Business Law, in a railway company employee, the financial journalist. Since this young concern that I speak to an exalted pleasure: reading, and then, the writing. At age 18 he became the apprentice of his first poet to write verses, which I furtively drawn, amid the din of a life, which still have not been focusing on its real axis, I might call adventurous. The destiny of my life, straightening it brought him a failure in my body. I fell seriously ill, a chronic disease. Hube to abandon all my other chores to escape and called the body to the countryside, far from my previous activities. The vacuum that this rn left quickly filled it another chore that did not need the collaboration and body was consistent with the rest that doctors had recommended me. This invasion unforgettable, evictions, was the exercise of the letters, poetry activity fully occupied vacant. I started to write full time, and then, really, then, is taken over from me the passion that I never had to leave. Hours of solitude, hours of creation, hours of meditation. Solitude and meditation brought me a feeling again, a prospect that I have not ever lost: that of solidarity with the men. Since then I have always proclaimed that poetry is, using the word at that precise meaning. Poetry is a succession of questions which the poet is doing. Every poem, every book is a demand, a solicitation, a question and the answer is implied, but also successively, and it gives the reader with his reading over time. Beautiful dialogue in which the poet and reader questions quietly gave its full response. With beautiful words I would say now what is the Nobel Prize for the poet. No way, I can only say that I am among you in body and soul, and that the Nobel Prize is like the answer, not sequential, not silent, but clustered and overlapping, sudden, a voice which is generously and miraculously and only answered the question without a truce that has been leading the men. So, my gratitude to the symbol of the bundled voice and simultaneous that the Swedish Academy has made me listen to the senses of the soul, and why here I publicly thank my rendered. On the other hand, I think an award like that today I receive is, in all circumstances, and I think without exception, a prize for literary tradition in which the author in question, in this case, myself, have been formed. Well, no doubt, poetry, art, is always and above all, tradition, in which each author does not represent anything other than to be at most a modest step in transit to a different aesthetic expression; someone whose fundamental mission is to , Using another metaphor, transmit a live torch to the younger generation, which is to continue on the arduous task. There may be a poet who was born with the highest pledges to bring a destination. Nothing or very little you can do if you do not have the luck of being located in a stream of artistic enough force or entity. I think, however, perhaps a less gifted poet would do better if he has the role of fate occur in half of a literary movement truly creative and alive. I came to the world, in that sense, estrella good, because from a wide enough time, before my birth, the Spanish culture had been undergoing a major process of rapid flashbacks that today, I think, is no secret to anyone. Novelists like Galdos; poets like Machado, Unamuno, Juan Ramon Jimenez, and, earlier, Becquer, philosophers like Ortega y Gasset; prose as Azorin and Baroja; men of theater as Valle-Inclan, painters such as Picasso and Miro; musicians like no Falla are the improvise or fruits are random. My generation was well assisted and enriched by this warm environment, for this spring, for that fecundisimo breeding grounds, without which it would be nothing any of us. From the gallery in which I am writing to you now I wish therefore to associate my word to all that generous stock of my compatriots from another age and in the most diverse ways we got in and helped us, me and my fellow generation, to reach a site from which we could speak with one voice or maybe genuine itself.

And I am not referring only to those figures which are the immediate tradition, always the most visible and decisive. Refer also to the other tradition, the medium term, if more remote in time, capable of linking with us warmly, made up our tradition of classical Golden Age, Garcilaso, Fray Luis de Leon, San Juan de la Cruz, Gongora, Quevedo, Lope de Vega, with which we were also linked, and we have received many essences. Spain was able to be reborn and renewed thanks to which, through the generation of Galdos and then through the generation of’98, was desobturo, let’s say, and it was accessible and flowed abundantly at us all the nutritional sap that most of us came remote past. The generation of 27 did not want to ignore anything that was still very much alive in this long past, suddenly opened before our eyes like a lightning long uninterrupted beauty. We were not deniers, but of mediocrity, our generation tended to the affirmation and enthusiasm, not skepticism or the sullen reticence. We are keenly interested in everything that had value, no matter where it was located. And if we were revolutionaries, if we could be, it was because before we had loved and absorbed even those values against those who were going to react now. We strongly supported them in order to be able to drive and launch fearful leap forward in the assault of our destiny. Do not be surprised therefore that a poet who began as superrealista do today advocacy of tradition. Tradition and revolution. These are two words identical. And then the tradition, not vertical, but horizontal, we acorria as incentive and fraternal emulation from our side, on the same side of our path. I mean that another group of young (when I was too) who ran with us in the same race. Lucky me to have to be able to live and get along with poets such as the admirable hube that I know and assume as a contemporaries of mine! To all the loved one by one. And loved, just because I was looking for something else, something else that was only possible by finding differentiation and contrast for those poets, my classmates. Our only be reached, his true individuality with others, against the neighbor. The more human contours have that quality in our personality that is done, the better for us. I can say that here too I have had the fortune of having made my destination from one of the best companies possible. Time is of name in all its multiplicity: Federico Garcia Lorca, Rafael Alberti, Jorge Guillen, Pedro Salinas, Manuel Altolaguirre, Emilio Prados, Damaso Alonso, Gerardo Diego, Luis Cernuda. I speak, therefore, solidarity, communion, and contrast. This was, moreover, the feeling that is more deeply embedded in my soul, and that beats in one way or another, with more force behind most of my poems. It is only natural then that takes a lot to do with it the same way that entreveo man and poetry. The poet, the poet decisive, it is always a revealing, is essentially vate, a prophet. But his “prediction” is not, of course, prediction of the future: it may be because of past tense: prophecy is timeless. Illuminator, dealt light, GOLPEADOR of men, possessor of a sesame seed that is somehow, mysteriously, word of his fate. Ultimately, the poet is a man who was more than a man, because he is also a poet. The poet is full of “wisdom”, but can not vain, because maybe it is not theirs: an unknowable force, a spirit speaks for her mouth: that of his race, his peculiar tradition. Hincados with both feet into the ground, a prodigious stream condenses, is agolpa under its plants to run on his body and stand by their language. Then is the same land, soil depth, which llamea snatched by that body. But other times the poet has grown, now towards the top, and with his face embedded in a sky speaks with the voice stellar, with cosmic resonance, while’re feeling in her chest the same breath of the stars. Everything is done fraternal and communicating. The tiny ant, the blade of fresh grass on which rests his cheek on other occasions, are not different from himself. And he can understand them and their secret spy sound, which is delicately noticeable among the rumor of thunder. I do not think the poet is defined primarily by his silversmith work. The perfection of his work is gradual aspiration of the bill, and nothing worth your message if you offer a rough surface or inappropriate for men. But the emptiness is not saved by the tenacious efforts of the metal rinse sad. Some poets – this is another problem, and not of speech but about starting point – are poets of “minorities”. They are artists (no matter the size) that are aimed at addressing man, when are characterized, at the exquisite items of strict, a refined bias (what a delicate and profound poems did Mallarme to the fans!); To decantadas essences, expressive of the individual our thorough civilization. Other poets (no matter the size) are addressed to the permanent men. No difference to what refinement, but essentially what unites them. And if you are in the midst of his contemporaries civilization, feel their pure naked under his clothes unchanged unirradiated tired. Love, sadness, hatred and death are unchanged. These poets are poets and spoken to the radical primary, as elemental human. They can not feel poets of “minorities”. Including myself. Therefore the poet is that I am, as I say vocation communicative. I’d like to hear from every human breast, because, somehow, his voice is the voice of the community, to which the poet provides, for a moment, his mouth away. Hence the need to be understood in other languages, other than his own home. The poetry may be only partially translated. But from that area of real movement, the poet made the experience truly extraordinary, to speak differently to other people and be understood by them. And then an unexpected happens. The reader is installed, as by a miracle, in a culture that largely is not theirs, but since the pound naturally feels that his own heart, which thus communicates and lives in two dimensions of reality: yours itself and granted asylum to the new host. This remains true, I think, again upside down, and referred, not the reader, but the poet poured into another language. The poet also feels like the dreams of these characters that are perfectly identified, two different personalities: So the author feels that resulted in another two people: the one that gives it a new verbal robe that covers him now, and yours truly, that , Below the other, and still insists it is. I conclude by drawing on the poet and a symbolic representation: to encrypt on his person a yearning for solidarity with the men, whose achievement was instituted precisely the Nobel Prize.


Sombra Del Paraiso

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