Antonio Machado. Obras Completas. Edited by Leyla Namazie. 978-1-888205-66-4 400 pages. $24.95

POETRY / European / Spanish & Portuguese

Generación del 98, Hispanic poetry, Poesía moderna española, Spanish poetry, literatura española.

Antonio Machado was born in Seville in 1875, the second of five brothers, in the midst of a liberal family. In 1883 the whole family moves to Madrid. Machado studied in the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, which had been founded by a friend of his father. After this, he finished his studies in two schools in Madrid, San Isidro and Cardenal Cisneros.

He travels frequently to Paris, where he meets Rubén Darío and works for a few months in the publishing company Garnier. In Madrid he takes part in the literary and theatre world, and becomes part of the troupe of María Guerrero and Fernando Díaz de Mendoza. In 1907 Machado gets the French Chair in Soria, and afterwards he travels to Paris with a scholarship to study philosophy with Bergson and Bédier. His wife dies (they had only been married for 3 years) and he asks to be moved to Baeza (Jaén) where he continued to teach Spanish from 1912 to 1919.

He moves to Segovia, wanting to be closer to Madrid, and spends some years contributing to the University of Segovia. In 1927 he becomes a member of the Real Academia Española and a year later he meets the poet Pilar de Valderrama (Guiomar in his poems), with whom he has a secret relationship for years. In 1932 he moved back to Madrid.

During the 1920s Machado also became involved with the theatre, and he collaborated with his brother on several works that realized production in Madrid. In addition, he published another verse collection, De un cancionero apocrifo (“From an Apocryphal Songbook”), wherein he proclaims his rejuvenation and passion through various guises, including both a philosopher and the philosopher’s biographer. Writing in Antonio Machado, Cobb explained, “Machado’s reasons for creating this profusion of personae are fairly clear. He showed reluctance when it came to presenting philosophy under his own name, since he lacked systematic training in this discipline.”
 
Machado revived Juan de Mairena, the biographer from De un cancionero apocrifo, in Juan de Mairena: Sentencias, donaires, apuntes y recuerdos de un professor apocrifo (“Juan de Mairena: Maxims, Witticisms, Notes, and Remembrances of an Apocryphal Professor”), a 1936 publication—posthumously reprinted as two volumes in 1943—in which Machado considers various elements of Spanish culture. Mairena is portrayed as an inspiring teacher who conducts freewheeling examinations of subjects ranging from Kantian philosophy to bullfighting, and from poetry to communism. As Kessel Schwartz acknowledged in the Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century, Mairena “examines the problems of existence and death” and explores “literature, truth, liberty, politics, language and philosophic works.”

 

During the 20’s and 30’s Machado writes plays in collaboration with his brother Manuel. During the Spanish Civil War he stays in Madrid and contributes to the Republican publications. In 1939 he’s evacuated to Valencia, where he writes for the publication “La Hora de España” and takes part in the International Congress of Writers for the Defense of Culture. From there he moves to Barcelona, where he crosses the Pyrenees to Collioure. He dies in Collioure in 1939.

 

 

Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.
Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.