1 ago. 2011

Goytisolo and Valente

Goytisolo's book on Valente, which is basically all of his short articles on the Spanish poet collected between two covers, reveals that these two were very close. Goytisolo basically agrees with everything Valente stood for (and vice versa) and shares Valente's feeling that Valente is a great poet, the only true heir to San Juan de la Cruz. The only difference in their intellectual posture is that Valente emphasizes Judaism and Goytisolo Arab culture. Of course we are used to seeing Arabs and Jews as enemies, but in the Spanish context intellectuals like Goytisolo, Valente, or Subirats view them as the two peoples expelled in 1492. Goytisolo was more influenced by Américo Castro and Valente by María Zambrano, but Valente also buys into Castro's theories with few if any reservations. Valente strongly identified with Celan and Jabès and at one point investigated his genealogy to see whether he was Jewish. Alas, he turned out to be an Old Christian.

The relation between Valente and Goytisolo is not very interesting, because complete agreement is rather dull. For my purposes, though, this is perfect, because I want to show that there is a single, monolithic and rather absolutist (intransigent) position. If it makes any sense, I agree with this position, more or less, but disagree with its rhetorical forms of assertion. I do agree that the expulsion and forced conversion of the Jews in 1492, and the subsequent persecution of nuevos cristianos or conversos (remember the Inquisition?), was a tragedy for Spanish intellectual life. I disagree that this invalidates almost everything in Spanish culture and intellectual life that is not in direct relation to the lost legacy of the Sephardim. When Goytisolo says that Valente is the first Spanish poet to recapture the extremity of language of Saint John of the Cross, I have to say, What about Lorca?

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