Alberti, Rafael

Alberti, Rafael
b. 1902, El Puerto de Santa María (Cadiz)
   When he returned to Spain in April 1977 at the age of seventy-four, Rafael Alberti had spent over half of his life in exile. With a vigour that belies his age, he has seemed determined to maintain the élan embodied in the angel of haste, one of the many angels through which he expressed his complex thoughts and feelings in his masterwork of the 1920s, Sobre los ángeles (Concerning the Angels). As an unwavering member of the Communist party since the early 1930s, he has had to flee countries, has been refused entry to others, and has been welcomed with open arms by many more. As a candidate of the Communist party he was elected to the Spanish Senate in 1977 in the first elections after Franco's death; he resigned three months later. Prolonged exile has enabled Alberti to display an extraordinary poetic and personal stamina independent of Spain, for he had not grounded his writings in Spain and even less in his native Andalusia. His ability to detach himself and to re-attach himself, to throw down roots that grow into books of poetry, has converted his travels into a creative odyssey whose stages are clearly marked in such titles as Baladas y canciones del Paraná (Ballads and Songs of the River Paraná), Sonríe China (China Smiles) and Roma, peligro para caminantes (Rome, A Danger to Pedestrians). In declaring on his ninetieth birthday "I regret nothing. Commitment has never jeopardized my work", Alberti exhibited that confidence and fortitude that have sustained him throughout his life, especially when he has been the target of vilification, from being called "Russian" after his travels to Soviet Russia in the 1930s to the accusation in 1993 that he signed death warrants during the Civil War. The rush to defend him against a charge that was quickly withdrawn by the historian Torcuato Luca de Tena is testimony to the reverence he inspires in Spain, which has showered him with prizes and honours that, after a forced hiatus of almost fifty years, crown the promise of a distinguished career heralded by the award in 1925 of the National Prize for Literature for his first book of poetry, Marinero en tierra (Sailor on Land). The prestigious Cervantes Prize, the title "hijo predilecto de Andalucía" (favourite son of Andalusia) and honorary degrees from the Universities of Granada and Cadiz acknowledge, however tardily, the status of a man whose creativity was celebrated in the international congress organized in Cadiz in 1990 to coincide with his eighty-eighth birthday and the establishment of the Rafael Alberti Foundation. The award in 1981 of the National Prize for Theatre reminds us that Alberti, though celebrated mainly as a poet, is an accomplished dramatist. He is also a fine writer of prose, whose long awaited second volume of memoirs documents the life of a man who has been an actor on the world's stage: accounts of his escape from France, of his precarious life in Argentina, of friendships, of the fascination exercised by the shape of letters, evince a vitality that animates the many articles he has published since in El País. It is significant that he recalls the angel of haste and quotes lines from that poem in a book of poetry written between 1979 and 1982, Versos sueltos de cada día (Verses Written Day by Day), where his definition of poetry as "no estar sentado" (not to be seated) maintains his faith in the mobility that has been for him a physical reality and a psychological necessity, one that has led him to style himself "un marinero en tierra por el aire" (an airborne sailor on land) and "un poeta errante y callejero" (a vagabond poet of the streets). These designations allude to the many flights he has taken in his travels around the world; they also define him in relation to what he was, positing fidelity to self and continuity of self as canons that explain the allusions to Marinero en tierra and to a work which in the 1930s advertised the indivisi-bility of poet and political missionary, El poeta en la calle (The Poet in the Street). Throughout his career Alberti has evinced assurance about who he is and faith in what he does, situating himself at the centre of his works and adopting manners appropriate to the role he selects: since his return to Spain, the roles are those of the common man and commentator, of the diarist, and of the exalted lover. Whatever the role, he acts it masterfully, speaking out from the printed page as eloquently as in his public appearances and recitals, where he invariably astounds his audience with his legendary memory, and in his political campaigning in verse, where, in Nuevas coplas de Juan Panadero (New Rhymes by John the Baker), he uses a transparent alter ego to assail social injustices and to exalt ideals of liberty and friendship in the limpid manner of Andalusian popular verse. Private rather than public concerns energize Versos sueltos de cada día, where despondency about his advancing years is a sad counterpoint to his buoyant insistence that his marriage, at the age of ninety-two, to María Asunción Mateo "is for me like an injection of youth…I am ageless". Precise echoes of Sobre los ángeles point to the emotional turbulence underlying Versos sueltos de cada día, where jottings unified by mood as well as by a confessional manner reveal a mind assailed by memories of forced activity, of political involvement and its cost, and of his first wife, María Teresa León, whose redemption of him in the 1920s is seen in contrast with the incapacitating illness that claimed her mind and then her life. Maintaining that line of self-deprecatory humour initiated by an early poem entitled "El tonto de Rafael (Autorretrato burlesco)" (The Fool Rafael (Burlesque Self- Portrait)), Alberti presents himself in this work as a man who, aware of his age, defies it in words by styling himself an "Icaro pretencioso sin edad, con las alas prestadas" (pretentious, ageless Icarus with borrowed wings).
   As if to prove his vitality, he postulates survival as a positive state in Los hijos del drago (The Sons of the Dragon), opposing to the hideous Adefesia the eternal figure of Venus, who is named here as Beatriz. Although love has never been a strong theme of Alberti's poetry, in Los hijos del drago, and then in Canciones para Altair (Songs for Altair), he seems anxious to make up for lost time. Adopting the manner of the adoring lover wounded by love, he kneels before his mistress, whose body he celebrates with a rhetorical elegance faithful to the cultured manner he cultivated in the 1920s in homage to the seventeenth-century poet Luis de Góngora. Increasing the temperature of his passion, Alberti conjoins two venerable topics to present Altair as both Venus arising from the waves and a star that has come down from its constellation. The explicit drawings which accompanied the poems in the first edition illustrate his depiction of her as "palpable": the woman exalted as Altair has enabled Alberti to transcend and triumph over his years, to challenge prejudices and expectations, and to extend the limits of his own poetry. Alberti's poems continue to surprise and to radiate an energy whose message is positive as they illustrate the continuing benefits for him as creator and for us as readers of the "hambre vital" (hunger for life) he admired in Picasso.
   Major works
   Alberti, R. (1929) Sobre los ángeles (1927–8), Madrid: Castalia; trans. G.Connell, Concerning the Angels, London: Rapp & Carroll, 1967 (poetry).
   —— (1952) Retornos de lo vivo lejano (1948–1952) (Remembrances of Things Living and Distant), Buenos Aires: Losada (poetry).
   —— (1959) La arboleda perdida. Libros I y II de memorias, Buenos Aires: Compañía General Fabril Editores; trans. G.Burns, The Lost Grove, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976 (autobiography).
   —— (1966) Selected Poems, ed. and trans. B.Belitt, Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press (poetry).
   —— (1982) Versos sueltos de cada día (Verses Written Day by Day), Barcelona: Seix Barral (poetry written 1979–82).
   —— (1986) Los hijos del drago y otros poemas (Sons of the Dragon and Other Poems), Granada: Exma. Diputación Provincial de Granada (poetry).
   —— (1987) La arboleda perdida. Libros III y IV de memorias, Barcelona: Seix Barral (autobiography).
   —— (1989) Canciones para Altair. Con seis dibujos del autor (Songs for Altair. With Six Drawings by the Author), Madrid: Ediciones Hiperion (poetry).
   Further reading
   - Jiménez Fajardo, S. (1985) Multiple Spaces: the Poetry of Rafael Alberti, London: Tamesis. Popkin, L.B. (1975) The Theatre of Rafael Alberti, London: Tamesis.
   - Wesseling, P. (1981) Revolution and Tradition: the Poetry of Rafael Alberti, Valencia: Albatros Hispanófila.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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  • Alberti, Rafael — ▪ 2000       Spanish poet and playwright (b. Dec. 16, 1902, Puerto de Santa María, Spain d. Oct. 28, 1999, Puerto de Santa María), was regarded as one of the leading poets of the 20th century; his oeuvre also included essays, plays, and works of… …   Universalium

  • Alberti, Rafael — ► (1902 99) Poeta y dramaturgo español. Pertenece a la generación del 27. Marinero en tierra (1925) le valió el premio Nacional de Literatura. En 1931 se afilió al Partido Comunista. Participó activamente en la Guerra Civil española. En 1934,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Rafael Alberti — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Para otros usos de este término, véase Alberti. Rafael Alberti Rafael Alberti (1968) …   Wikipedia Español

  • Rafael Alberti — Merello (El Puerto de Santa María, December 16, 1902 October 28, 1999) was a Spanish poet, a member of the Generation of 27. Alberti published his first books of poetry towards the end of the 1920s: Marinero en tierra ( Sailor on Dry Land , 1925) …   Wikipedia

  • Rafaël Alberti — Rafael Alberti Pour les articles homonymes, voir Alberti. Rafael Alberti Rafael Alberti Merello (16 décembre 190 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Rafael Alberti — (* 16. Dezember 1902 in El Puerto de Santa María, Provinz Cádiz; † 27. Oktober 1999 in El Puerto de Santa María) war ein spanischer Dichter. Er wird der sogenannten Generación del 27 zugerechnet, die nach dem …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Alberti — may refer to:In places: * Alberti Partido, a partido of Buenos Aires Province, ArgentinaPeople with the surname Alberti: * Rafael Alberti (1902 1999), Spanish poet of the Generation of 27. * Leone Battista Alberti (1404–1472), Italian Renaissance …   Wikipedia

  • Alberti — Alberti, Domingo Alberti, Leone Battista Alberti, Rafael ► Familia florentina de comerciantes y banqueros, rival de los Albizzi. Tomó parte importante en las luchas que sostuvo Florencia en los ss. XIV y XV …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Rafael Alberti — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Alberti. Rafael Alberti Rafael Alberti Merello (16 décembre 1902 à El Puerto de Santa María …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Alberti — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Alberto Alberti († 1445), italienischer Kardinal Alberto Alberti (ca. 1932 2006), italienischer Musikproduzent Aldouin Alberti († 1356), italienischer Kardinal Angela Alberti (* 1949), italienische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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