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This review is taken from PN Review 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.

THE GENERATION OF MEANING Andrew P. Debicki, Poetry of Discovery: The Spanish Generation of 1956-71 (University Press of Kentucky) $19.50.

Aimed at the enormous numbers of students and teachers of Spanish in the USA, this book makes no concessions to the `interested' British reader, whose knowledge of Spanish poetry generally begins and ends with Lorca. It fulfils its task with that mixture of professional analytic criticism of individual poems and potted summary we have come to expect from American university presses.

Its two main strategies are the acceptance and elaboration of the notion that there exists a 'generation' of Spanish poets who published their first books in the 1950s, and the use of reader-response criticism in dealing with them, the poets treated being Francisco Brines, Claudio Rodríguez, Angel Gonz´lez, Gloria Fuertes, José Angel Valente, Jaime Gil de Biedma, Carlos Sahagún, Claudio Cabañero, Angel Crespo and Manuel Mantero.

I have no objection to the classificatory urge; it is generally a form of historical criticism, and its denial leads to a questionable psychologism. Debicki's introduction, in which he explains his approach, is well-reasoned and convincing with a properly attenuated sense of the inability of a generational scheme to represent the whole of a period. Nevertheless, such schema have a tendency to carry their authentification to such a point that writers who do not fit are edged to the margins of their historical periods and treated as individual geniuses or as lacking in material background. 'Generations' abound in Spanish literary criticism, presenting the danger that neat groups of writers may take over a period in the professional imagination. ...


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