Spanish Modernism and the Poetics of Youth
Leslie J. Harkema, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese
(University of Toronto Press)
In “Spanish Modernism and the Poetics of Youth,” Leslie J. Harkema analyzes the literature of the modernist period in Spain in light of the emergence of youth culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Harkema argues for the prominent role played by Miguel de Unamuno — as a poet, essayist, and public figure — in Spanish writers’ response to this phenomenon. She demonstrates how early 20th-century Spanish literature participated in the glorification of adolescence and questioning of “Bildung” seen elsewhere in European modernism, in ways that were not only aesthetic but also political. Harkema critically re-examines the relationship between Unamuno and several Spanish writers associated with the so-called Generation of 1927 (known as at the time as “la joven literatura” or “the young literature”). By situating this period within the wider framework of European modernism, “Spanish Modernism and the Poetics of Youth” brings to light the central role that the early 20th century’s re-imagining of adolescence and youth played in the development of literary modernism in Spain.