Christian Rubio, Krausism and the Spanish Avant-Garde: The Impact of Philosophy on National Culture.
The contributions of Krausist philosophy to the development of Spanish liberal thought in the latter's manifold manifestations in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have been examined in such key studies as Maria Dolores Gomez Molleda's Los reformadores de la Espana contemporanea (1966), Elias Diaz's La filosofia social del krausismo espanol (1973), Juan Lopez-Morillas's The Krausist Movement and Ideological Change in Spain, 1854-1875 (1981), and Roberta Johnson's Crossfire and the Novel in Spain, 1900-1934 (1993). Christian Rubio sets out to address the role that Karl Christian Krause's thought had on the fashioning of the Spanish avant-garde, a subject with which he directly engages in chapters 4 and 5 of his five-chapter volume, with an Introduction and Conclusion. An indisputable strength of Rubio's work is rendering accessible Krause's philosophy and synthesizing, through the historical overview provided in the first three chapters, the major features and actors of this indispensable pillar for the emergence of Spanish liberalisms.
The first chapter takes up the embedding of Krausist philosophy in Spain through Julian Sanz del Rio's distillation of Krause's work in his translation Ideal de la humanidad para la vida, which propounded the German's theory of a harmonic rationalism, founded on a metaphysical, analytic phase and a subsequent synthetic phase that derives in panentheism. Here Rubio navigates well the intricacies of Krause's concepts and emphasizes the features of artistic freedom and ethical responsibility that would later inform in varying measures the different modalities of the Spanish avant-garde. At times, however, careless wording leads to disquieting apparent inaccuracies, such as the statement that the Liberal Triennium "brought the First Carlist War" (1), an event that did not in fact unfold until the years 1833-1839, after the death of Fernando VII.
The impact of Krausist thought on the development of secular education in Spain is the subject of chapter 2. In a country where a fledgling liberal identity was inseparable from Catholicism, as defended in the 1812 Cadiz Constitution, Krausism's principle of tolerance, Rubio rightly argues, offered a bridge or meeting ground between opposing ideological standpoints. Secular education was spearheaded in Francisco Giner de los Rios's Institucion Libre de Ensenanza (ILE), founded in 1876, which, as Rubio explains, privileged active, experiential learning or education over passive learning or instruction, the continual development of its teachers, the ethos of mens sana in corpore sano, and an aesthetics rooted in all the senses. Apart from Giner de los Rios, the discussion also engages with other key players in the Institucion such as Manuel Bartolome Cossio and Ricardo Rubio. Inheritors of the Institution's legacy were the Junta para la Ampliacion de Estudios (JAE), founded in 1907, the Centro de Estudios Historicos, the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Fisico-Naturales, and the Residencia de Estudiantes, all three of which were established in 1910, and the Residencia de Senoritas (1915-1936), to which Rubio dedicates greater attention in chapter 5.
One of the stronger chapters is chapter 3, dedicated to major finde-siecle figures influenced by Krausism whose works crystallized the debates around whether Spain should Europeanize or not: Miguel de Unamuno, Angel Ganivet, Ramiro de Maeztu, Joaquin Costa, Jose Ortega y Gasset, and Ramon Gomez de la Serna. A final section considers Madrid's Centro Cultural El Ateneo, in which Krausists such as Giner de los Rios forged its ethos of intellectual openmindedness and outward-looking orientation.
The relationship of Krausist aesthetics to avant-garde writers is taken up in chapter 4, which opens with a review of the emergence of the avant-garde in Spain. Here important studies such as Ramon Buckley and John Crispin's Los vanguardistas espanoles (19251935) (1973) and Anthony Geist and Jose Monleon's edited volume, Modernism and its Margins: Reinscribing Cultural Modernity from Spain and Latin America (1999) would have lent valuable perspectives to Rubio's discussion. Then Rubio turns to outline the prominence that the subject of aesthetics, essential to avant-garde movements, had assumed in Krausist philosophy. Its principle of harmonic rationalism saw the growth of the human spirit as reliant on the appreciation and production of beauty as a means of capturing a finite, historical part of God's infinite creation of natural beauty. The insistence of Krausist aesthetics on sound and metaphor are two of the elements that ultraism foregrounds, as Rubio exemplifies through one of its principal exponents: the poet Xavier Boveda. Similarly, the freedom of the creative spirit central to Krausism comes to the fore, Rubio contends, in creationism, as manifest in Gerardo Diego's poetic compositions.
Synthesis, however, can run the risk of over-generalization and Rubio's discussion often glosses over the multiple strands of both liberalism and the avant-garde in Spain, tending to homogenize the complexities of these movements. A case in question is chapter 5, dedicated to the importance of Krausism for women's progress. Rubio first ably outlines the significance of Krausist thought for educational reform in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Spain, through the ILE, the JAE, and the Residencia de Senoritas, and figures such as Fernando de Castro and Maria de Maeztu y Whitney. Then more specifically, he turns to the import of Krausist thought for women and profiles in greater detail the works of Rosario de Acuna and Carmen de Burgos. Here Rubio's analysis is superficial and does not take into account the contributions of scholars such as Ana Maria Diaz Marcos, Jose Bolado, and Elena Sandoica Hernandez to an understanding of Acuna's thought, nor does the discussion acknowledge Acuna's insertion within a rich inter-classist network of liberal-minded women who, equally emphatically, were making their feminist claims heard. Similarly, the analysis of Burgos's works omits salient scholarship on this writer, such as Concepcion Nunez Rey's indispensable study, Carmen de Burgos: Colombine en la Edad de Plata de la literatura espanola (2005). Given the context of the so-called Spanish Silver Age, one writer who would have warranted inclusion in Rubio's discussion is Rosa Chacel, whose immersion in the intellectual worlds of Jose Ortega y Gasset's Revista de Occidente led to her avant-garde novel Estacion: Ida y vuelta (1930), indebted to the aesthetics elaborated in Ortega's La deshumanizacion del arte (1925). In general, Rubio's study is valuable for exploring how Krausist philosophy and its intellectual legacies and actors shaped liberal education and the desire to Europeanize Spain into the early twentieth century. Such a challenging topic, however, would have benefitted from a more probing consideration of various aspects and a more sophisticated analysis of some of the writers featured.
The University of Auckland
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|Publication:||Anales de la Literatura Espanola Contemporanea|
|Article Type:||Resena de libro|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2018|
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