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Spanish Civil War poetry

Spanish Civil War poetry. Death of a Militiaman, Robert Capa. “The literature of political engagement” -- Travers. the role of the writer/artist in the face of rising fascism the writers’ survey of 1937

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Spanish Civil War poetry

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  1. Spanish Civil War poetry Death of a Militiaman, Robert Capa

  2. “The literature of political engagement” -- Travers • the role of the writer/artist in the face of rising fascism • the writers’ survey of 1937 • M. Hernández: “all theater, all poetry and all art has to be, today more than ever, a weapon of war.” • Stephen Spender: “an obligation to save the world from fascism” • Camus: “It was in Spain that men learned that one can be right yet beaten, that force can vanquish spirit, that there are times when courage is its own recompense.”

  3. On the right Song for the Desired Spain I want a Spain the same as that Spain That 200 years ago fell asleep on us… A perfect and generous Spain, compendium Of constant efforts and supreme conquests. A Spain, like that one, fruitful and beneficent And, like her, hated and attacked; Made from dreams of virtue and from love, And with the rigor of effort and discipline… Captains of Flanders, seamen of Lepanto, Heroes and missionaries of the Indies, Teachers of Alcalá and Salamanca, Painters and sculptors of Seville…! Theologians of Trent, craftsmen of the Escorial, You poets who sang to the Eucharistic God, You saints who felt and taught The internal laws of mysticism...! All you who enjoyed that eternal toil, All you who felt that restless life, Give us your swords and your bright pens, Your faith, your efforts, your rhymes. And join us in the toil of combat To know our venture and enjoy our day…! Spaniards of today, Saints and Martyrs, Heroes of independence and reconquest. Spaniards of today. The clock of time Has struck the hour of the immortal watchword: Let us make a Spain like that Spain That 200 years ago fell asleep on us …! Miguel Martínez del Cerro, Antología poética del alzamiento, 1936-1939, 1940

  4. Nationalists (fascists) • culture for the elite • use of traditional forms (rejection of fragmentation): unity, totality • order, geometry, classical form • extalled: discipline, hierarchy, paternalistic authority • the Church • traditional Spanish womanliness: motherhood • cult of violence • war as a sport, a game to be enjoyed, a crusade • cult figures: the Cid, Santiago, Virgin & saints

  5. Look at the following poem: • “The fire” • “I’ll explain a few things” (131-133) • “The battle of Jarama River” (136-7) • “Short Prayer for a Hero of the Republic” (141) & “Mass” (145-146) • “Like an Amadís of Gaul” & “Women” (142-143) • “Ultima Ratio Regum” (153) • “Fall of a city” (157) • “A Letter from Aragon” (259-260)

  6. Discuss: • The characterization of: • the war • education/culture • the masses • the fascists • role of women • the past and the future • uses of religious imagery • other imagery • In your opinion, does the political message detract from its artistic value?

  7. Polarities • democracy / fascism • communism / Catholicism • innovation / tradition • civilization / chaos • east / west • light / darkness • good / evil • life / death

  8. Characteristics of Republican poetry • war waged for & by the people • purpose: a new society • religious imagery announcing a modern day Christ • Christian values of brotherhood • education / literacy • popular culture for benefit of all & social improvement

  9. Characteristics • importance of role of women • innovation in poetic form • influence of surrealism • idealization of the masses • collective love of mankind • war as a painful necessity • death as a source of new life

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