Catalan Review

BUILDING BRIDGES: JOAN SALVAT-PAPASSEIT’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE AVANT-GARDE IN MADRID

Catalan Review (2003), 17, (2), 9–33.

Abstract

In the summer of 1920 Joan Salvat-Papasseit (1894-1924), arguably the best-known poet of the Catalan avant-garde, published a series of five poems in Castilian in one of Spain’s most influential literary magazines of that time: Grecia (Sevilla-Madrid, 1918-1920). Interestingly, these poems which comprise his only verse in Castilian do not appear in any of the anthologies of Salvat’s completed poetic works. The purpose of this essay, then, is threefold: (1) To present and reproduce the five poems; (2) To contextualize the circumstances under which they appeared in addition to analyzing their content; and (3) To suggest that Salvat-Papasseit’s role as a bridge between Barcelona and Madrid so as to offer at least a glimpse of an alternative, more unified version of the history of the Spanish avant-garde. Since the poets in Madrid never fully developed a Castilian version of Futurism but rather by 1919 fused some of its ideals into the mélange that was Ultraísmo, these five Castilian poems by Salvat may be seen as emblematic of what could have been a Castilian Futurist movement. Catalan Futurism was not Italian Futurism, but it shared many of its principles, and poets like Salvat tried to put those principles into practice. The publication of these poems in Madrid at this particular point in time proves that Salvat-Papasseit’s contribution to Ultraísmo and, more generally, to the spirit of the avant-garde in Madrid, was considerably more important than literary histories have so far led us to believe.

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Author details

Ascunce, Arantxa