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ANTONIO MACHADO AND THE SEARCH FOR THE SOUL OF SPAIN: A GENEALOGY

RICHARD A. CARDWELL
Anales de la literatura española contemporánea
Vol. 23, No. 1/2 (1998), pp. 51-79
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25641998
Page Count: 29
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ANTONIO MACHADO AND THE SEARCH FOR THE SOUL OF SPAIN: A GENEALOGY
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Abstract

Machado, despite his early Symbolist poetry, has traditionally been classified as a member of the so-called Generation of 1898, in part because of the theme of the people and the landscape of Spain in his mature poetry, especially Campos de Castilla, a concern shared with other writers of the period, notably Unamuno, Azorín and Ortega. Recent studies of a so-called 1989 Movement have stressed the intellectual and scientific origins of this preoccupation in the work of Hippolyte Taine. In the case of Antonio Machado, however, the case is less clear than can be shown for Ganivet and Unamuno. Indeed, it is probable that other influences, nearer at hand, were more powerful in shaping Machado's vision and in colouring the way in which he was to perceive his adopted homeland. The question of the influence of Antonio Machado y Álvarez on his son has been generally focussed on the folkloric element in the son's verses rather than the vision of Castile. The present essay seeks to complement earlier studies to argue that the roots of Machado's vision are more complex and have a longer history than has previously been supposed by studying the family connections reaching back to the 1830s and Agustín Durán as well as an intellectual genealogy or group of preoccupations shaped by determinism-guided Romanticism which each generation expressed: a "genealogy" of family and discourses that stretch over nearly ninety years. From Durán to Antonio Machado there remains a line of shared concerns: Spain's spiritual backwardness and the search for an all-embracing nucleus which might be found in the discovery of Spain's soul or national spirit. In the work of Durán, Machado y Núñez and Machado y Álvarez a direct line of concerns or intellectual "genealogy" can be traced. Rooted in early nineteenth-century nationalism, especially German nationalism, which has its roots in the search for lost virtues and ideals, the psychological impellent to discover an alma nacional forms a constant over the century and beyond. Machado is distinct in that he evokes the landscapes of Castile in which to situate his musings and obsessions. His forebears concern themselves primarily with literature and, principally, Andalusian popular literature. Nevertheless, they are also concerned with the creators of that literature, the common man, and with the environment in which he lived. It is possible to trace, I submit, a direct family genealogy and a direct intellectual descent from the moment of the a acculturation in Spain in the 1820s of the ideas of Naturordnung and Volksgeist. There exist notable coincidences of phrasing and outlook across five generations despite differences of emphasis and political colouring, despite the differing nature of the crisis points which shaped and inspired the series of meditations studied here. The present evidence would suggest, then, that the intellectual roots and the history of the ideas expressed by the finisecular writers in Spain, and especially Machado, reach back further into the nineteenth century than has been recognised hereto.

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