Ruben Dario and the Romantic Search for Unity: The Modernist Recourse to Esoteric Tradition

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Modernism was the major Spanish American literary movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Leader of that influential movement was Ruben Dario, the Nicaraguan now recognized as one of the most important Hispanic poets of all time. Like the Romantics in England and the Symbolists on the Continent, Dario and other Modernists were strongly influenced by occultist thought. But, as the poet Octavio Paz has written, academic criticism has ... preferred to close its eyes to the stream of occultism that runs throughout Dario's work. This silence damages our comprehension of his poetry. Cathy Login Jrade's groundbreaking study corrects this critical oversight. Her work clearly demonstrates that esoteric tradition is central to Modernism and that an understanding of this centrality clarifies both the nature of the movement and its relationship to earlier European literature. After placing Modernism in a broad historical and literary perspective, Jrade examines the impact of esoteric beliefs upon Dario's view of the world and the role of poetry in it. Through detailed and insightful analyses of key poems, she explores the poet's quest for solutions to the nineteenth-century crisis of belief. The movement that Ruben Dario headed brought Hispanic poetry into the mainstream of the modern tradition, with its sense of fragmentation and alienation and its hope for integration and reconciliation with nature. Ruben Dario and the Romantic Search for Unity enriches our understanding of that movement and the work of its leading poet.