100 years without Rubén Darío

Covers illustrated by Enrique Ochoa.

Covers illustrated by Enrique Ochoa.

Several Hispanic literary anniversaries will be celebrated in 2016 and these will give us a chance to talk about some very important writers and how they feature in our collections. The first in this series is Rubén Darío, the Nicaraguan writer, who died on February 6th 1916 aged 49 years old, after much pain due to illness related to his alcohol addiction. He was greatly honoured right after his death, his funeral lasting several days and he even had his brain removed to investigate the mystery of his artistic genius and to be kept as some kind of object of veneration.

The University Library has a few first editions of Rubén Darío’s work. La caravana pasa (744:75.d.90.64) is the earliest among them. The book was published in 1902 in Paris by Garnier Hermanos and is one of his least known works. It contains articles about Paris and his travels around Europe which he wrote for the Argentine newspaper La Nación, arranged thematically rather than chronologically with dates and titles removed. It gives valuable and interesting views on the Parisian Belle Epoque. The author also visited London, of which he says: “¡Capital fuerte y misteriosa! Cuantas veces la visitéis, siempre os dominará bajo el influjo de su severa fuerza.” (Strong and mysterious capital! Every time you visit it, it will always dominate you with the influx of its severe strength).

Also worth mentioning are the seven volumes of the first attempt at publishing together the complete works of the poet, started off by Mundo Latino in Madrid in 1917, just one year after his death. The whole set appeared in 22 volumes but only seven can be found on our shelves: Prosas profanas (vol. 2. S743:3.d.9.88), Los raros (vol. 6, 744:75.d.90.42), Cantos de vida y esperanza (vol. 7, 743:36.d.90.49), Canto a la Argentina. Oda a Mitre y otros poemas (vol. 9, 9743.d.26), Poema del otoño y otros poemas (vol. 11, 743:36.d.90.55), Todo al vuelo (vol. 18, 744:75.d.90.205) and Lira póstuma (vol. 21, 9743.d.217). All volumes are beautifully illustrated by the Spanish artist Enrique Estévez Ochoa, with elegant black and white modernist lines. The Library’s incomplete set was built quite randomly, volumes being donated (in 1932 by F.A. Kirkpatrick, reader in Spanish, and by F.J. Norton, Hispanist and bibliographer at the UL) or bought during the 1950s and 1960s. We will now try to complete the set, if copies can be found at a reasonable price.

Numerous other so-called complete works, anthologies and reprints were published throughout the 20th century, but none of these  efforts actually managed to bring together his entire scattered output. It was not until 2007 that a truly comprehensive recompilation of Darío’s works appeared, published by Galaxia Gutenberg. A copy of the 3 volume set can be found at LAM7.DARI.76 at the Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty Library.

Clara Panozzo

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