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Other voices on Andrade

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Julian Palley

Jorge Carrera Andrade, from Hispania 39, March 1956, pp. 80-81.

Jorge Carrera Andrade is considered one of the most important poets of Ibero-American postmodernism. His voice, together with Neruda’s and Vallejo’s, is one of the most original and durable of the present time. Peru, Chile, Ecuador - the countries of South America’s west coat -have given us the best in contemporary poetry. In these three countries indigenous culture possesses a contemporary as well as an historical importance. One can see similar interests and tendencies in all three poets. The influence of the French avant-garde movements - surrealism, cubism, and so forth - is quite marked.

But to this they add a profound sense of the American environment, its green land and its dark men. Interestingly, these three poets have all been prominent figures in the social and political struggles of their countries. (Compare the situation in the United States: our best poets - Eliot, Pound, Cummings - have always remained on the margins of politics, and when do hold political opinions, they are always conservative.)

Imagery is of central importance to all three poets, and their use of images is daring, varied, and frequently recondite. All three have expressed a sense of exhaustion in the face of modern life, a longing for some golden age: “It’s just that I’m tired of being a man” (Neruda). “I was born in the century of the death of the rose/ when the motor had already driven out all the angels” (Carrera Andrade)...

Carrera Andrade is essentially a poet of the provinces, but he is in no way provincial. The poet withdraws to the provinces to think, to rest, to partake of the fountains of the eternal American elixir... And to the provinces, to the country, the American poet must go to seek the material of his art, whether it be the Ecuadorian or Mexican provinces or the Argentine pampa.

J. Enrique Qjeda

from Jorge Carrea Andrade: Intrdoduccion al estudio de suvida y de su obra (New York, Eliseo Torres & Sons, 1971), p. 12

On numerous occasions, Carrera Andrade has defined the culture of the native country as a crossroads at which the most varied spiritual paths come together. Carrera Andrade himself exemplifies the truth of his own assertion: an ample variety of literary modalities has found expression in his poetry. If it is true that he wrote his first poems in the spirit of a waning modernism, he soon came in contact with the poetry of Gongora and the Spanish classics, while simultaneously coming under the influence of contemporary French poetry.

His devotion to French culture, especially to its poetry, which he came to know intimately through his efforts as a translator, did not, however, prevent him from coming to know the poetry of other lands. Thus as a mature man, he was apparently deeply moved by German romantic poetry, especially the work of Holderlin, and years later he became deeply affected by the poetry of Rilke.

But it would be a waste of time to go hunting in Carrera Andrade’s poetry for traces of foreign or artificially imposed elements. Both his poetry from 1926 on and his essays in literary criticism attest to his spiritual independence. This independence led him to reject not only Gongorism and surrealism, which were so much in vogue at the time, but also all aesthetic postulates that were less than compatible with the natural development of his poetry.

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