Juan Ramón Jimenez

Literatura española contemporánea del siglo XX. Prosa poética. Premio Novel. Platero y yo # Biography. Works

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Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958)

Spanish poet who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1956. Jiménez made his birthplace Moguer in Southern Spain famous by his series of prose poems of a young writer and his donkey, PLATERO Y YO (1914, Platero and I), one of the classics of modern Spanish literature. Jiménez's early poetry was ornamental, romantic, and often filled with dreams of love. During his second period, from 1917, he wrote "naked" poetry, in which the images were reduced to their essence. A central theme in Jiménez's work was the oneness and beauty of the world.

¡Intelijencia, dáme
el nombre exacto de las cosas!
... Que mi palabra sea
la cosa misma,
creada por mi alma nuevamente...

(from '¡Intelijencia, dáme')

Juan Ramon Jiménez was born as the son of Victor Jiménez, a banker, and Purificación Mantecón y Lopez Parejo. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Moguer, an area of exceptional beauty. Later Jiménez celebrated its people and landscape in his works. Jiménez started to write early poetry, composing his first works at the age of seven. He attended a Jesuit Academy in Cádiz and then studied law at the University of Seville, showing there an interest in painting. However, Jiménez soon abandoned his studies, and also stopped painting, to devote himself entirely to writing.

In 1900 Jiménez was invited to Madrid by the poets Francisco Villaespesa and Rubén Darío, who had seen his verses in Vida nueva, a Madrid review. He became a member of the modernist literary circles and founded two literary reviews, Helios (1902) and Renacimiento (1906). Helios appeared for only one year, but it has much cultural-historical importance due to Jiménez's work.

When Jiménez's father died in 1900, he fell into a depression and returned to Moguer. His preoccupation with death lasted the rest of his life. Poetry, the experience of beauty, became for him a means of struggling against nothingness. To recover from his first bout of mental illness, Jiménez was sent to a sanatorium in France. Between the ages 24 and 31 he published nine volumes of poetry. Later he also revised early verses, trying to find perfection of expression, but knowing he would never reach it. Among the early collections were ALMAS DE VIOLETA, NINFEAS, both from 1900, RIMAS (1902), ARIAS TRISTES (1903), JARDINES LEJANOS (1904), and PASTORALES (1905). The works reveal the poet's mastery of metaphor and skill in capturing impressionistic images of nature. Impressionism also fascinated him in painting and he often listened Beethoven's VIth symphony and piano sonatas.

From 1905 to 1911 Jiménez lived in Moguer and wrote several collections of poetry. In ELEGÍAS PURAS (1908) and BALADAS DE PRIMAVERA (1910) Jiménez continued to experiment with different meters. He moved to Madrid in 1912, translated with the American Zenobia Camprubí the work of the Hindu poet Rabindranath Tagore, and wrote the popular Platero and I. Platero follows the poet on his trips to town and to countryside, its silent company is a contrast to the poet's ecstatic linguistic observations. After Platero's death he visits its grave and asks, "do you still remember me?" - it is the donkey who is supposed to remember, not the poet.

In 1916 Jiménez sailed in pursuit of Zanobia Camprubi to New York, and married her. This was the first crucial sea voyage in his life - the second happened in 1948. The sea led his thoughts to nothingness and the cold depth beneath the changing surface. The trip led to publication of DIARIO DE UNA POETA RECIÉNCASADO (1918), in which he used free verse and concentrated form. Many verses from this period sound almost like prose. ETERNIDADES meant a new direction in Jiménez's literary production. He decided to return to the simplicity of his earlier poetry, In BELLEZA (1923) he contemplated the writer's relationship to beauty.

Jiménez worked from the 1910s for the next twenty years as a critic and editor at various literary journals in Spain. His influence was seen on the early works of Vicente Aleixandre, and on others; in the 1920s Jiménez also met in Madrid the young Federico García Lorca, who studied law at the university. From 1923 to 1936 Jiménez did not publish any books of new poetry. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the Republican government appointed him honorary cultural attaché to the United States. He remained abroad from 1939, when Franco's forces won control of Spain. In 1951 Jiménez settled with his wife in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he lectured and gave classes at the university. However, he never considered himself a writer in exile, but a servant of poetry. In 1956, the same year he won the Nobel Prize, his wife died. Jiménez never recovered and died in San Juan on May 29, 1958.

Jiménez's poetic output was immense. His better-known works include SONETOS ESPIRITUALES 1914-1915 (1916), PIEDRA Y CIELO (1919), POESÍA, EN VERSO, 1917-1923 (1923), POESÍA EN PROSA Y VERSO (1932), VOCES DE MI COPLA (1945), ANIMAL DE FONDO (1947). LA ESTASIÓN TOTAL (1946), which appeared in Buenos Aires, was ignored in Spain. Jiménez's last book was DIOS DESENDO Y DISEANTE (1949, God Desired and Desiring), a testament and identification with all that is beautiful and creative in nature. As a Platonist, Jiménez believed in a universal consciousness that existed apart from individual consciousness. Colors and music were central to his work. In one poem Jiménez compared music to a "naked woman, running wildly in a clear night."

Las mil torres el mundo, contra un ocaso de oro,
levantan su hermosura frente a mi pensamiento.
Un éstatis de piedra de mil arquitecturas,
en undeslumbramiento, me lleva, mudo y ciego...
(from 'Retorno')

Selected works:

  • ALMAS DE VIOLETA, 1900

  • NINFEAS, 1900

  • RIMAS, 1902

  • ARIAS TRISTES, 1903

  • JARDINES LEJOS, 1904

  • PASTORALES, 1905

  • ELEJÍAS PURAS, 1908

  • ELEGÍAS INTERMEDIAS, 1909

  • OLVIDANZAS, 1909

  • BALADAS DE PRIMAVERA, 1910

  • LA SOLEDAD SONERA, 1911

  • POEMAS MÁGICOS DOLIENTES, 1911

  • MELANCOLÍA, 1912

  • LABERINTO, 1913

  • PLATERO Y YO, 1914 - Platero and I - Harmo ja minä

  • ESTÍO, 1915

  • SONETOS ESPRITUALES 1914-1915, 1916

  • DIARIO DE UN POETA RECIÉNCASADO, 1917

  • POESÍAS ESCOGIDAS (1899-1917), 1917

  • ETERNIDADES, 1918

  • PIEDRA Y CIELO, 1919

  • SEGUNDA ANTOLOGÍA POÉTICA (1899-1918), 1922

  • POESÍA, EN VERSO, 1917-1923, 1923

  • BELLEZA, 1923

  • UNIDAD, 1925

  • OBRA EN MARCHA, 1929

  • SUCESIÓN, 1932

  • POESÍA EN PROSA Y VERSO, 1932

  • PRESENTE, 1934

  • I (HOJAS NUEVAS, PROSA Y VERSO), 1935

  • CANSIÓN, 1936

  • LA ESTACIÓN TOTAL CON CANCIONES DE NUEVA LUZ, 1936

  • POLÍTICA POÉTICA, 1936

  • VERSO Y PROSA PARA NIÑOS, 1937

  • CIEGO ANTE CIEGOS, 1938

  • ESPAÑOLES DE TRES MUNDOS, 1942

  • ANTOLOGÍA POÉTICA, 1944

  • VOCES DE MI COPLA, 1945

  • LA ESTACIÓN TOTAL CON LAS CONCIONES DE LA NUEVA LUX, 1946

  • ANIMAL DE FUNDO, 1947

  • DIARIO DE POETA Y MAR, 1948 (new version of Diario de un poeta reciéncasado)

  • ROMANCES DE CORAL GABLES (1939.1942), 1948

  • DIOS DESENDO Y DISEANTE, 1949 - God Desired and Desiring

  • Fifty Spanish Poems, 1950

  • TERCERA ANTOLOJÍA POÉTICA, 1957

  • EL ZARATÁN, 1957

  • Selected Writings, 1957

  • LA CORRIENTE INFINITA 1903-1954, 1961

  • POR EL CRITISAL AMARILLO 1902-1954, 1961

  • EL TRABAJO GUSTOSO 1948-1954, 1961

  • Three Hudred Poems 1903-1953, 1962

  • EL MODERNISMO: 1962

  • CARTAS 1898-1958, 1962

  • PRIMERAS PROSAS 1890-1954, 1962

  • LA COLINA DE LOS CHOPOS 1913-1928, 1965

  • Forty Poems, 1967

  • Lorca and Jiménez: Selected Poems, 1973

  • ISLA DE LA SIMPATÍA, 1981

  • TIEMPO Y ESPACIO, 1982 - Time and Space

  • LA REALIDAD INVISIBLE (1917-1920, 1924), 1983 - Invisible Reality

  • GUERRA EN ESPAÑA, 1936-1953, 1985

  • Stories of Life and Death, 1986

  • Space and Time: A Poetic Autobiography, 1987

  • Light and Shadows, 1987

  • The Complete Perfectionist, 1997