Lecture: "Writing After War and Exile: The Poetry of Rafael Alberti"
November 01, 2010
Suffolk University Professor of Humanities and Spanish Sandra Barriales-Bouche was the guest speaker for the October 27th lecture titled "Writing After War and Exile: The Poetry of Rafael Alberti." The lecture was a part of Emmanuel's Department of Foreign Language's series "The Memory of Trauma and the Trauma of Memory. The Spanish Civil War and its Aftermath. Insights for Spain and Beyond."
Barriales-Bouche began her lecture with a short history of the Spanish Civil War, as Spain celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2009. There has been a recent boom in history books focused on the topics containing key words such as "civil war" and "exile" due to the anniversary and a 2002 national exhibit that brought in approximately 90,000 visitors. While critics explain the interest in the past as a new trend, Barriales-Bouche feels it has always been present.
"The sense of responsibility toward victims of the past is not new," she said. "If we go back to the Spanish transition to democracy, the Republican victims already showed a deep sense of debt to the events of the past."
She described the impact that the war and consequent exile had on the poetry of a prominent Spanish poet and public figure, Rafael Alberti. Alberti was one of the most prominent members of the so-called Generation of 1927, the same group of poets to which Federico García Lorca, internationally recognized Spanish poet, dramatist and theatre director, belonged. Due to their commitment to the Second Republic (1931-1936), most of the writers of this generation had to leave Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
Alberti's experience throughout the exile made him feel a certain obligation to those who had lost their lives. He thought of his life and poetry as a commitment to the dead. In the final days of his exile, Alberti had mixed emotions about his return home.
His initial euphoria in the journey toward democracy was responded to by opposing opinions of the citizens. Eventually, his enthusiasm and optimism gave way to an embittered poetic voice.
"Witnessing the deaths of others during the Spanish Exile awoke Alberti to a new responsibility towards the absence of others," said Barriales-Bouche. "Toward the absence of the ones he survived."