The rebellion of Espronceda – Diari de Girona

All fans of The Paper House series should read Espronceda with passion, if possible after each season. They will be recognized in the Song of the Pirate, they will find examples of romantic love in Canto a Teresa (“Why do you return to my memory, / sad memories of lost pleasure …”); also the cruel revenge on El verdugo (“In me lives the history of the world / that fate with blood wrote …”), or the tragic journey to the death of El estudiante de Salamanca.

José de Espronceda (Almendralejo, 1808-Madrid, 1842) was a disbelieving poet with a life that surpasses current audiovisual fictions, and which are now included in the essential book The Student of Salamanca and Other Great Successes (Alba-Poetry), in a select anthology by Rebeca Martín.

From that short and intense life came the verses that revolutionized Spanish literature. A writer at the height of Byron, Goethe or Victor Hugo, and who both influenced great writers such as Jaime Gil de Biedma and José Manuel Caballero Bonald. Esproncedian legends made the poet “the most misogynistic, transgressive and ruthless libertine in the Don Juan tradition,” in Martin’s description.

Because, through the selected anthology, the life of a liberal adventurer is glimpsed who, with only four verses, passed into the mental bibliography of several generations. Beyond the well-known beginning of Canción del pirata (“With ten cannons per side / stern wind at full sail / does not cut the sea but flies / a brig sailboat”), the long narrative poem The student of Salamanca holds a creative attention of unbeatable quality. Many scholars compare Espronceda’s poetry with Byron’s, despite having nothing to envy the English literary authority. Nor is the great representative of French Romanticism, Victor Hugo.

Espronceda is on the podium of the best universal literature and any new claim, such as this book, is appropriate and pedagogically comforting; so much so that careful literature teachers should teach the classes that the poet Espronceda surpasses the attraction of this cunning professor of The Paper House.

Literary gem

The protagonist of The Student of Salamanca is Felix de Montemar, “a fierce and insolent soul, / irreligious and brave, / arrogant and quarrelsome”; but also cynical and irreverent (“A worn-out heart, mocking / of the woman who is courting, / and today, despising her, leaves / the one who surrendered to her yesterday”). A character who combines evil with magnanimity – “a mixture of supersignor and titan”, Gil de Biedma called him, recalls Rebeca Martín – but as the anthologist also points out, his verses are a praise of rebellion and disbelief ”.

The dazzling poetic tale of The Student of Salamanca is the central axis of the anthology, preceded by some of his essential poems and with El Diablo Mundo in the last part. An allegorical poem about human existence. After an introduction clearly inspired by Lord Byron’s poetry, it is recounted how Adam, the incarnation of mankind, must choose between dying or living eternally. “He never completed what would have been a colossal work,” says Martín, who was left unfinished after Espronceda’s death in May 1842 from diphtheria.

“Oh, how tiring is order! There is no madness / equal to that of the severe logician; / and here I want to deny / literature / and those who seek proportions / in the human figure / and measure their perfections to the beat». Son els seus darrers verses of him.

Rebeca Martín’s appropriate quotations from each of the three parts of El estudiante de Salamanca contextualize unique poems. You have to reread Espronceda to enjoy the carousel of literary resources of an exclusive writer.

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