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This report is taken from PN Review 44, Volume 11 Number 6, July - August 1985.

Vicente Aleixandre 1898-1984: A Humanist Poet Bill Affleck
Vicente Aleixandre was born in Seville in 1898 to middle-class parents: his father was a railway engineer, and his maternal grandfather rose to general in the campaigns in Cuba. He spent nine years from the age of two in Malaga, idyllic years alluded to repeatedly in his poetry. In 1909 the family moved to Madrid. Although secretly a writer of verse from an early age, he apparently first became aware of its power and beauty when he was introduced to a collection of Rubén Darío in 1917.

Having qualified as a lawyer he worked for a railway company, but soon fell ill. While convalescing he began the poems of his first book, Ambito (Scope) (1928). Poor health prevented a normal career and from 1925 he devoted himself to poetry. He travelled to Paris and London, and later became attracted to the work of Freud and Joyce and to the new ideas of Apollinaire, Reverdy, Breton and the Surrealists. In Madrid he met Rafael Alberti, Lorca and Cernuda who with other poets frequented his family house. In 1927 he participated in the tercentenary celebrations of the death of Góngora, an event which led to the term 'Generation of 1927' being applied to the writers, mainly poets, who took part.

So far, Aleixandre's poetry had shown much promise, but not the striking originality of much of his later work. In its elegant evocations Ambito had partially recéalled the rich imagery of Juan Ramón Jiménez, and the brevity and wit ...


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