This Ghostly Poetry: History and Memory of Exiled Spanish Republican Poets

By Daniel Aguirre-Oteiza

© 2020

The Spanish Civil War was idealized as a poet’s war. The thousands of poems written about the conflict are memorable evidence of poetry’s high cultural and political value in those historical conditions. After Franco’s victory and the repression that followed, numerous Republican exiles relied on the symbolic agency of poetry to uphold a sense of national identity.

Exilic poems are often read as claim-making narratives that fit national literary history. This Ghostly Poetry critiques this conventional understanding of literary history by arguing that exilic poems invite readers to seek continuity with a traumatic past just as they prevent their narrative articulation. The book uses the figure of the ghost to address temporal challenges to historical continuity brought about by memory, tracing the discordant, disruptive ways in which memory is interwoven with history in poems written in exile. Taking a novel approach to cultural memory, This Ghostly Poetry engages with literature, history, and politics while exploring issues of voice, time, representation, and disciplinarity.

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Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Iberic
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 392 pages
  • Illustrations: 15
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP005309

  • PUBLISHED MAR 2020

    From: $71.25

    Regular Price: $95.00

    ISBN 9781487503819
  • PUBLISHED APR 2020

    From: $71.25

    Regular Price: $95.00

Quick Overview

This Ghostly Poetry explores the fraught relationship between poetry and literary history in the context of the Spanish Civil War, its aftermath, and ongoing debates about historical memory in Spain.

This Ghostly Poetry: History and Memory of Exiled Spanish Republican Poets

By Daniel Aguirre-Oteiza

© 2020

The Spanish Civil War was idealized as a poet’s war. The thousands of poems written about the conflict are memorable evidence of poetry’s high cultural and political value in those historical conditions. After Franco’s victory and the repression that followed, numerous Republican exiles relied on the symbolic agency of poetry to uphold a sense of national identity.

Exilic poems are often read as claim-making narratives that fit national literary history. This Ghostly Poetry critiques this conventional understanding of literary history by arguing that exilic poems invite readers to seek continuity with a traumatic past just as they prevent their narrative articulation. The book uses the figure of the ghost to address temporal challenges to historical continuity brought about by memory, tracing the discordant, disruptive ways in which memory is interwoven with history in poems written in exile. Taking a novel approach to cultural memory, This Ghostly Poetry engages with literature, history, and politics while exploring issues of voice, time, representation, and disciplinarity.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Iberic
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 392 pages
  • Illustrations: 15
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "This Ghostly Poetry is engaged with history, but resists easy reduction to the analysis of ‘content.’ With impressive erudition, this book will be considered one of the best books on its subject matter, and will be required reading for graduate students."


    Jonathan Mayhew, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Kansas

    "In this beautifully written book, Daniel Aguirre-Oteiza reads the poetry of Spanish Republican exiles like Max Aub, Luis Cernuda, and Tomás Segovia to make an incisive argument against Spanish literary history as we know it. Rather than forcing the exiles’ work into the teleological, referential straitjacket of the nation, Aguirre liberates the disruptive power of poetic memory to blow that straitjacket to shreds. A groundbreaking intervention in literary history and memory studies, This Ghostly Poetry also makes a compelling case for the continued relevance – literary and political – of exilic poetry today."


    Sebastiaan Faber, Department of Hispanic Studies, Oberlin College

    "This Ghostly Poetry is not haunted by stale critical leftovers and dusty remnants but freshens up and refurbishes subtly overlooked Spanish Civil War exile déjà vu(s). A luminous journey!"


    José María Naharro-Calderón, School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Maryland

    "Aguirre-Oteiza’s book is a most welcome addition to recent bibliography on Spanish Republican exile. His study of exilic poetry is the most significant contribution so far to this aspect of the field to appear in English. Aguirre-Oteiza provides new intellectual arguments to open up and explore the critical and aesthetic possibilities of a corpus that has been neglected by Hispanists for far too long. Through a theoretically savvy argument on the specificity of the poetic form that is convincingly backed by rigorous close textual analysis, this work authoritatively unveils the potential for (re)reading exilic poetry as transcending and resisting its containment within facile national paradigms. Moreover, by invoking their political role in memory work, Aguirre-Oteiza’s readings activate the capacity of these poetic voices to speak to and be appropriated by readers today. Combining conceptual ambition with historical specificity, this book will be of great interest to specialists in the fields of exile and diaspora studies, poetics and memory studies as a whole and in their intersections with twentieth-century Spanish literature and cultural studies, Hispanism, and transatlantic studies."


    Mari Paz Balibrea Enriquez, Department of Cultures and Languages, Birkbeck University of London

    "No one has ever studied more closely and intelligently the discontinuous relationship ‘between exilic poetry and national cultural and literary history.’ This book is a bold departure from critical approaches that consider poetry written in exile a hiatus in a national narrative. Aguirre-Oteiza uses the phenomenon of exile, broadly construed, as a means of questioning the reductive, nation-oriented or nationalistic narratives that have long dominated the historiography, criticism, anthologizing, and teaching of literature from Spain and Latin America. Resisting any sort of teleological narrative, Aguirre-Oteiza gives us an entirely new perspective on writers whose work is ‘non-chronological, border-crossing, plurivocal,’ multilingual and ‘ghostly,’ whether the ghostliness gestures toward an absent original, a poetic ancestor, or a former poetic self. This is an eye-opening book by an acute and gifted reader of poetry."


    Christopher Maurer, Department of Romance Studies, Boston University
  • Author Information

    Daniel Aguirre-Oteiza is a professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University.
  • Table of contents

    Part I. Exiles in Literary History

    1. Introduction: On Forewords and Historical Ghosts
    From Inside the National Canon
    On Poetic Voices and Voicings

    2. Re-Engaging with Ghosts in the Poetic Machine
    Exiles and Teleologies of National Culture
    War Narratives, Memory, and Poetry

    3. Writing the War, Re-Writing the Nation, Embodying the Voice of the People
    (Re)Distributing Poetic Voices
    A Politics of Exilic Poetry?

    Part II. Exiles in Poetic Memory

    4. Juan Ramón Jiménez
    “Photography is Death Itself”: Visionary Poetics, Ruins, and the Testimony of Antonio Machado

    5. Luis Cernuda
    “Remember Him and Remember Him to Others”: Historical Memory, Self-Elegy, and Mythopoetic Figuration

    6. Max Aub
    “Enclosed in Myself, Purblind, Mute”: Margins of the Poetic “I” and Testimonial Memory
    Usurping the Apocryphal: Exilic Testimony, Cosmopolitan Memory, and National Culture (The Case of Antonio Muñoz Molina)

    7. Tomás Segovia
    “In Exile from Exile”: Nomadic Ethics and the Broken Language of Ghosts

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