Rafael Alberti Biography

Rafael Alberti Merello (Port of Santa Maria, Cadiz, Spain, 16 December 1902 – ibid., 28 October 1999). Spanish writer and poet, belonging to the Generation of 27, which constitutes the Silver Age – or the Second Golden Age – of Spanish Literature.


His prolific work, among which more than fifty titles can be counted, consisting of poems and some plays, earned him numerous recognitions, such as the National Poetry Prize, awarded in 1925 and the Cervantes Prize, with which he was awarded in 1983. Rafael Alberti is considered one of the most important and brilliant writers of his generation.

Early Life

Rafael Alberti was born on December 16, 1902, in El Puerto de Santa María, located in Cádiz, Spain. He was a descendant of Italians, based in Spain and dedicated to the wine business. She began her studies with the Carmelite sisters, and later continued them at the College of Jesuits San Luis Gonzaga, where Alberti could never adapt.

In the fourth year of high school, he was expelled, on charges of misconduct. A year later, in 1917, he moved with his family to Madrid, where he discovers the Prado Museum and his vocation for painting. At this time he made brilliant paintings, where, according to critics, he manages to capture the avant-garde spirit of the time.

His work leads him to exhibit at the Salon de Autumn and at the Athenaeum of Madrid, events where his work is well received.

Birth as poet

However, soon a personal tragedy would open the door to a new vocation: Poetry. In 1920, his father died. During the night of the wake, Alberti writes his first verses. This fact is taken by his biographers as the birth of the poet Alberti. Later, he develops a respiratory disease, which makes him head to the Sierra de Guadarrama, where he continues to write, bringing to light his first poems.

On his return to Madrid, he began to visit the Residence of Students, where he befriended other young poets, among them Pedro Salinas, Jorge Guillén and Federico García Lorca, who like Alberti would become the great poetic voices of the Spanish language of the twentieth century.

In 1925, Alberti published his first poem, Marinero en Tierra, which was received with great enthusiasm by critics, who appreciated his great popularism inscribed in his terrible nostalgia. That same year, Alberti became a prominent figure in the Spanish Letters by being awarded the National Poetry Prize.

Generation 27

In 1927, he was part of the young poets who come to plan a tribute, to the poet of the Golden Age, Luis de Góngora, in the three hundred years of his departure. With great enthusiasm, these young intellectuals, organize an event in the Athenaeum of Seville, in order to recognize the work of the greatest exponent of Spanish Baroque, who had been cast into oblivion by the officiality of the moment.

This cultural act marks a political position, which gives birth to the Generation of 27. After this time of enthusiasm and joy, economic needs and certain health conditions lead this poet to live an animic crisis, which takes shape in his work Ashes of Lime and Canto and On angels, published in 1929, and where critics point to a grate n desolation and depression that saw only a political compromise.

This leads Alberti to participate actively in student uprisings seeking the establishment of the Second Republic. Likewise, at this time he joined the Communist Party. From now on, Alberti will warn in Poetry a political tool. In 1930, he met Maria Teresa León, a communist intellectual and militant with whom he would share the rest of his life.

Spanish Civil War

In 1933, together with his partner, he founded the magazine Octubre. A few months later, they travel to the Soviet Union, in order to participate in the writers’ meeting.

After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, together with important artists and thinkers, Rafael Alberti formed the Alliance of Anti-Fascist Intellectuals, an organization that dedicated himself to giving talks, manifestos and mobilizations, in order to denounce the advent of fascism, embodied in Franco and his army.

During the Civil War, he participated as a collaborator of the anti-fascist publication El Mono Azul, where he directed the section “A paseo”, which denounced the shootings of intellectuals, which occurred within the war. He also helped guard the paintings of the Prado Museum from bombing, while guarding republican intellectuals from around the world and produced political poetry.

Exile and recognition

After Franco’s triumph, Alberti decides to go into exile with his partner Maria Theresa. The couple move to Paris, where, after a while, President Pétain takes away their work permits, under the accusation of communists. In 1940, before the advance of the Nazi forces, Alberti and León then decided to embark on Buenos Aires, where they arrived on March 2 of that year.

In South America, the couple of intellectuals will live in Buenos Aires and Córdoba, during which time they will have their daughter Aitana. They also resided in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and Chile, where they had the opportunity to share with the poet Pablo Neruda.

In 1977, after Franco’s death, Alberti returned to Spain. He is elected as a member of the communist Party’s lists, a position he resigns from to rome, Italy, in order to continue his artistic work. In the following years he received several accolades:

National Theatre Award (1980), Favorite Son of Andalusia (1983), Honorary Doctorate of the University of Cadiz (1985) and Roma Prize for Literature (1991), among others. Finally, on October 28, 1999, Rafael Alberti died at home, in the city that saw him born, El Puerto de Santa María. His body was cremated and scattered in the sea that would inspire his early verses.

Image source: poetasandalucesanacamposortega.blogspot.com

Rafael Alberti Biography
Source: Education  
August 14, 2019


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