Sheeps and Trains. Futurism and Modernization in the Spanish Poetry (1909-1940)

Emilio Quintana
Estocolmo, Suecia

Intervención en forma de hipertexto en Future/ism. A Century Later Conference – Lódz, Poland, 20-22th May 2010

The first appearance of the Marinetti’s Manifesto was misunderstood in Spain. We are going to analyze Futurism in the first Spanish movements of avant-garde, especially Ultraist Movement. The approach of the” ultraísmo” was ambiguous, struggling between pure cubist and “creacionista” poetry, namely Vicente Huidobro, Gerardo Diego and others poets, and the radical but paradoxical acceptance of former symbolist poets. In Madrid, machines and rural landscapes are seen as a mix of creation and confusion.

Spain as a peripherical country was put under tension in the own process of literary modernization. In the Spanish way to Cultural Modernity is not so funny the Wyndham Lewis´s “boutade” to Marinetti when in London: “You wops insist too much on the machine. You plows always on about these driving belts, you plows always exploding about internal combustion. We’ve had machines in for England to donkey’s years, they’re nothing new to us”.

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 literary tradition in Spain.

We will also consider the way Futurism go across 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 War. In fact, Literary Francoism is about a return to the ideological traditional symbolist literature, as opposed to Modern World, machine and urban life, considered as a foreign influence that have to be purified. This will be an important point in our poetic and historical outlook.

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