Authors: Juan Ramón Jiménez

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Spanish poet

Author Works

Poetry:

Almas de violeta, 1900

Ninfeas, 1900

Rimas, 1902

Arias tristes, 1903

Jardines lejanos, 1904

Pastorales, 1905

Elegías puras, 1908

La soledad sonora, 1908

Elegías intermedias, 1909

Elegías lamentables, 1910

Baladas de primavera, 1911

Pastorales, 1911

Laberinto, 1913

Estío, 1916

Diario de un poeta recién casado, 1917

Poesías escojidas, 1917

Sonetos espirituales, 1917 (Spiritual Sonnets, 1996)

Eternidades, 1918

Piedra y cielo, 1919 (Sky and Rock, 1989)

Segunda antolojía poética, 1922

Belleza, 1923

Poesía, 1923

Canción, 1936

La estación total, 1946

Romances de Coral Gables, 1948

Animal de fondo, 1949

Libros de Poesía, 1957

Tercera antolojía poética, 1957

Three Hundred Poems, 1905-1953, 1962

Dios deseado y deseante, 1964

Ideolojía: 1897-1957, 1990

Nonfiction:

Platero y yo, 1914, enlarged 1917 (Platero and I, 1956)

Españoles de tres mundos, 1944

Monumento de amor, 1959

La corriente infinita, 1961

El trabajo gustoso, 1961

Miscellaneous:

Tiempo y espacio, 1986 (Time and Space: A Poetic Autobiography, 1988)

Biography

Juan Ramón Jiménez (hee-MAY-nuhs), who shares with Antonio Machado Ruiz (1875-1939) the preeminent position among twentieth century Spanish lyric poets, was born in the village of Moguer, Andalusia. He received his early education at the Jesuit school in Santa Maria, near where Christopher Columbus outfitted his expedition for the New World. After completing his formal study at the University of Seville, Jiménez continued to educate himself by reading the old Spanish ballads in the Romanceros and the poems of the seventeenth century Baroque writer Góngora y Argote and those of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, the late-Romantic poet whom Jiménez regarded as the initiator of twentieth century Spanish poetry. The poetry of the Romantic movement in England and Germany also inspired him, as did the French Symbolists. In addition he studied painting and music, both of which left an imprint on his work.{$I[AN]9810000303}{$I[A]Jiménez, Juan Ramón}{$I[geo]SPAIN;Jiménez, Juan Ramón}{$I[tim]1881;Jiménez, Juan Ramón}

Juan Ramón Jiménez, Nobel Laureate in Literature for 1956

(© The Nobel Foundation)

His literary career began during the period of transition that marked the closing years of the nineteenth century, and Jiménez’s first publication at the age of seventeen indicated his choice between continuing his study of law in Seville or devoting himself to literature. The verses, sent to Vida nueva of Madrid, though overdecorated and florid, nevertheless attracted the attention of the magazine’s more famous contributors, resulting in an invitation to come to the capital to have a share in the reform of Spanish poetry. Signed to the invitation were two of the greatest names in Madrid literary circles: the Spanish poet Francisco Villaespesa and the meteoric New World writer Rubén Darío.

In April, 1900, the eighteen-year-old Jiménez went to Madrid, taking with him a portfolio of verses he intended for a volume titled Nubes (clouds), which was never published. His new friends encouraged him to add enough poems to make a second volume, for which Darío suggested the name Almas de violeta, and Villaespesa wrote the preface. Jiménez found the excitements of Madrid overwhelming, however, and he returned to quiet Moguer to await the appearance of his books. About that time a business failure plunged his family into poverty, and his father died. When, shortly after, his two volumes of poems were met with violent attacks from the critics, the sensitive writer fled to a sanatorium. His general reticence and withdrawal from active life date from this period. Later Jiménez felt so embarrassed by those first two collections that he destroyed all the copies he could find.

With his next two volumes, however, Rimas (rhymes), whose title proves his kinship to Bécquer, and Arias tristes (sad airs), critical attack turned into admiration. Jiménez’s friendship with Darío, whose enthusiasm was boundless, was to last until Darío’s death in 1916. Jiménez called the Nicaraguan “My dear Master” and was addressed in turn as “My dear Poet.”

Jiménez lived in Madrid from 1912 until 1916, when he sailed to New York to marry the poet Zenobia Camprubi Aymar, the Spanish translator of Rabrindranath Tagore. (Later Jiménez and his wife collaborated on the translation of John Millington Synge’s Riders to the Sea.) Jiménez’s account of this trip is Diario de un poeta recién casado (diary of a recently married poet), a volume of great importance in the development of modern Spanish poetry. It also marks the beginning of his new phase in writing, as does the publication of his most famous work, Platero and I, a series of vignettes about a donkey of Moguer. A reviewer for the French newspaper Figaro called it, “One of two or three books capable of giving back to the people their childhood soul,” and critics generally have rated it as one of the great classics of Spanish literature.

Following his marriage Jiménez returned to Madrid, where his wife opened a handicraft shop so he could continue writing. There they lived until the outbreak of civil war drove them from Spain. After an initial period spent in Cuba and Puerto Rico, Jiménez settled in Baltimore, where he supported himself by teaching. In 1951 he moved back to Puerto Rico for the sake of the climate. His wife died shortly after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956, and he continued to live there until his death in 1958.

Jiménez’s poetry shows a continual development from his florid early style, against which he rebelled in the ballads of his 1905 Pastorales. His life was spent revising all his previous poetry in an attempt to purify it. In his latest style of free verse that he called “la poesía desnuda” (naked poetry), he cleared away all the decoration of rhyme and meter, creating work that is more subtle but also more difficult to understand. Jiménez’s post-Symbolist poetry had a significant influence on the Spanish avant-garde generation that went through the phase of “pure poetry.” Later, during his exile, his presence in the Caribbean strengthened the stream of “pure poetry” in the whole region through the 1950’s. The posthumous publication of his aphorisms, Ideolojía: 1897-1957 (ideology), reveals a surprisingly radical political mind, which he had managed to hide completely behind his distanced, rarified, and intellectualized “poesía desnuda.”

BibliographyFogelquist, Donald F. Juan Ramón Jiménez. Boston: Twayne, 1976. An introductory biography and critical analysis of Jiménez’s major works. Includes a bibliography of the poet’s works.Jiménez, Juan Ramón. The Complete Perfectionist: A Poetics of Work. Edited and translated by Christopher Maurer. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Maurer, who has written widely on Spanish literature, has collected and categorized the thoughts and aphorisms recorded by Jiménez in his quest for perfection in life and his work. Maurer provides context for the maxims set down by Jiménez, allowing the reader to begin to know Jiménez as a person and a poet as well as a philosopher.Nicolás, Antonio T. de, ed. and trans. Time and Space: A Poetic Autobiography–Juan Ramón Jiménez. New York: Paragon House, 1988. Nicolás provides some excellent translations and a detailed introduction to the prose work Tiempo and the prose and poetry of Espacio. His well-documented presentation is supported by analysis in a historical context.Urbina, Pedro Antonio. Actitud modernista de Juan Ramón Jiménez. Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, 1994. This brilliant analysis resulted from Urbina’s Berley lectures. He demonstrates the extent of influence that Jiménez had on the Generation of ’27 as well as his ideological and literary influences on European and Latin American writers. In Spanish.Wilcox, John C. Self and Image in Juan Ramón Jiménez. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987. Examines the evolution of the poetry from pre-Modern origins through Modernism and its endurance through the post-Modern era. Focuses on the work as process and reader interpretations from various perspectives, including formalist, structuralist, and poststructuralist readings as well as other critical readings of the enigmatic poet’s prolific corpus.Wilcox, John C. “T. S. Eliot and Juan Ramón Jiménez: Some Ideological Affinities.” In T. S. Eliot and Hispanic Modernity, 1924-1993, edited by K. M. Sibbald and Howard Young. Boulder, Colo.: Society of Spanish and Spanish-American Studies, 1994. A discussion of Jiménez’s connections with literary movements in England and the United States.Young, Howard T. The Line in the Margin: Juan Ramón Jiménez and His Readings in Blake, Shelley, and Yeats. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1980. This analysis demonstrates the influences upon the poet’s work by English poets William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Butler Yeats. Jiménez had translated their poetry, and the Spanish poet’s admiration is evident in his own poetry as he departed from his Spanish and French models. This investigation yields interesting biographical data as well as critical readings and literary analyses. The poet’s affinity for British literature was evident in his life and work.
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