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The influence of Paul Verlaine and other French poets of the second half off the nineteenth century on Manuel Machado Gayton, Gillian Margaret

Abstract

The extent to which the poetry of Manuel Machado was influenced by that of Verlaine has been noted by many critics since the publication of Alma in 1901, and it is generally agreed that the two years Machado spent in Paris prior to the publication of that collection were responsible for French elements in his work. Nevertheless, no close textual examination of Machado’s poetry for direct Verlainian influence had been made until now, possibly because his contemporary Dario is frequently considered to have been the first to introduce Verlaine’s themes and techniques into Spanish verse. Recent studies of Verlaine's influence on the work of Antonio Machado, however, have shown that it is possible to demonstrate such influence without otiose reference to Dario, since it is clear that both the Machado brothers were closely acquainted with the poetry of Verlaine at first hand. This study consists of a textual analysis of Manuel Machado's best poetry, that published between 1901 and 1919, indicating French influence in themes, images and technique. Where there appears to be an earlier Spanish borrowing from the French this is indicated, but closeness to the original French is accepted as showing direct influence. In the course of the investigation so much evidence was found of influences from other French poets of the latter half of the nineteenth century that the scope of the dissertation was widened to include discussion of these. They indicate the depth of Machado's knowledge of French poetry, and are additional proof that he was able to draw directly from French sources. The examination of Verlaine's influence was facilitated by computer concordances. Machado's translations of Verlaine's poetry together with the Plenitud edition of his own work (Madrid, I967) were used to make computerised alphabetical word-count dictionaries. These were compared for similarities of image and theme, and the words thus selected were printed out in concordances to the work of both poets. A parallel examination of the latter enabled, the study to explore in much greater detail than has been possible to previous critics the affinities between Verlaine and Machado in terms of theme and mood. The first chapter gives an account of Machado's life in Paris at the turn of the century and of the literary scene he encountered there, and the final chapter examines his use of French, and particularly Verlainian, techniques of metre and rhyme. The overwhelming evidence found of direct influence from Verlaine and other French poets, especially Samain and Baudelaire, proves conclusively that Machado did not need the help of intermediaries such as Dario in adapting French themes and techniques to Spanish verse, although it is indeniable that Dario preceded him in the use of some of them. The study also indicates that much of Machado1 s most original work owed its genesis to the literary and artistic ambiance he found in Paris between 1899 and 1909. The two genres of poetry at which he excelled, the Parnassian sonnet and the bitter, prosaic verse of the mal poema cycle, were Spanish versions of styles originating in France which Machado was the first to introduce into Spain. It is hoped that this study will contribute in some measure towards redressing the balance of critical opinion, which has tended to regard Machado as primarily a writer of, popular Andalusian verse. His real achievement, as this dissertation has sought to prove, is to be found, not in the cantares, but in the collections published between 1901 and 1909 when he was in close contact with French poetry and art.

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