- Russian Refractions of Spanish 'National Soul': Konstantin Bal'mont and the Poetics of Vitalism
- Book title
- (Mis)understanding the Balkans: essays in honour of Raymond Detrez
- Number of pages
- Academia Press
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Russian symbolist poet Konstantin Bal’mont devoted himself to translating the dramatic works of Calderón de la Barca. The poet’s translation project was part of his general enthusiasm for Spanish culture. Although this interest was to a large extent informed by existing imagological representations of the Spanish national character, it was also driven by Bal’mont’s original thought on the idea of "wholeness" (цельность), which is prominently represented in his articles related to these translations, and in his other contemporaneous texts on literature and culture. Comparable with the romantic concept of "plenitude", wholeness has a horizontal as well as a vertical dimension: It refers to the coexistence of diverse, mostly mutually contradictory phenomena on the one hand, and to the intensity of life experience on the other. In addition to Calderón’s dramas, Goya’s etchings were also considered by Bal’mont as typical examples of Spanish wholeness. Bal’mont’s new ideas coincide with a shift from impressionist to vitalist poetics, an example of which is his poem "Like a Spaniard".
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