Revista de l'Alguer, Vol. 8, Núm. 8 (1997)

L'Espriu transcendent: cap a la perspectiva astral

Peter Cocozzella


Critics have long associated the outstanding Catalan poet, Salvador Espriu (1913-1985), with a pessimistic world view, stemming from his distinctive vision
of the tragic sense of life. Here I intend to show that, as a complement to that vision, Espriu propounds a paradoxical alternative —an experience, that is,
wich, though steeped in the workday limits of time and place, ends up transcending them. Transcendence commonly implies the instantaneous surge from
a mode of negativism (or nihilism) to one of plenitude (affirmation of vitality) and a-temporality (timelessness, eternity). Arguably, Espriu accomplishes this momentous transition (or transformation) through a technique which may be called "alternança sobtada" ('sudden shift'). It is appropriate, then, to analyze Espriu's multifarious mode of transcendence both for its affinities with the aesthetic of other Hispanic writers of the generation previous to his own and for its own distinctive manifestations. These inc1ude the rich symbolism of the garden or flower imagery and the suggestive semiotics of the circ1e and the pentad (the set of five). All the while, by his memorable presentation of the figure of the demiurge in various incarnations (Laia, Ulrika, the Altíssim, among others), Espriu dramatizes the interplay of alterity between two perspectives: one of grotesque distortion, which Ramón del Valle-lnc1án, one of Espriu’s patron saints, calls esperpento, and the other of sublime metamorphosis (or conversion), which the same Valle-Inc1án describes as "astral", that is "stellar paradisiacal"). A review of so me key passages in Espriu's production reveals the extraordinary impact of his poetic of transcendence. Of special significance is the short narrative, entitled "Tereseta-que-baixava-les-escales" (“Tessy-who-was- coming-down-the-steps”), in which Espriu, by virtue of that poetic, conjures up a vision of the "eternal moment", embodied in the haunting portrait of the main character.

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