The Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Spanish poet Vincente Aleixandre yesterday in a Swedish "expression of faith in the new Spain," Juan Marichal, professor of Spanish Languages and Literatures, said yesterday.
Aleixandre, a 79-year-old invalid, was cited by the Nobel Committee for "illuminating man's condition in the cosmos and in present-day society."
Marichal said that during the oppressive dictatorship of Franco in the 1940s, Aleixandre became a focus of hope for Spanish artists.
His early love poetry had pioneered the use of personal imagery and surrealistic language, but after the Spanish Civil War and the death of his friend Lorca, Aleixandre shifted towards universal concerns, Marichal said.
"He became a symbol of compassion for men, very important in those terrible times." Marichal said.
"For Sweden, the European country which was most opposed to Franco, to give this award to a man who represents the continuity of Spanish poetry and human concern is a show of faith in the new Spain," he added.
Solita Marichal, Marichal's wife, said yesterday she has been a personal friend of Aleixandre since childhood. Aleixandre often visited her father, who was also a poet, she said.
Aleixandre's principal works are "Destruction of Love," a collection of poetry published in 1935 portraying love as tragic and overpowering, and "History of the Heart," written 20 years later, reflecting his discovery that love is not self-centered but shared among people, Marichal said.
Solita Marichal said Aleixandre is a "man of tremendous affection" who absorbs love around him and tries "to find some kind of communion with the world."
Aleixandre is relatively unknown outside of the Spanish-speaking world, although he has been translated by English poets W.S. Merwin and Robert Bly.
He is the first resident Spaniard to win the prize, which carries a $145,000 cash award, since the Franco regime took power.
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