Christina Bezari is a postdoctoral fellow in Spanish and Comparative Literature at Ghent University. She is the author of Transnational Modernity in Southern Europe: Women’s Periodicals and Salon Culture (Routledge 2022). She is currently working on a project that examines Spanish women’s poetry in tandem with avant-garde periodicals and literary circles.
“Those Books Could not Have Been Ours: We Were Women”: Ernestina de Champourcín and the Modernist Press in Interwar Spain (1918–1936)
In an article published in the magazine La Gaceta Literaria in 1930, the Spanish poet Ernestina de Champourcín (1905–1999) highlighted the rebellious nature of modernist literature and expressed her wish to part from previous generations of poets who attempted to impose their views and ideas on the literary scene of the time. In a later article, she expressed her intention to collaborate with the journalist and literary critic Miguel Pérez Ferrero on the literary magazine Más and to launch a new section on avant-garde poetry. Despite her enthusiasm, her presence in the literary field caused negative reactions at the salon of José Ortega y Gasset, a well-known philosopher and editor of the prestigious magazine Revista de Occidente. Champourcín’s disappointment is expressed through the following statement found in a letter to her friend Carmen Conde: “Those books could not have been ours: we were women” (Champourcín in Urtasun 2013: 214). This paper examines the emergence of a new literary aesthetic in interwar Spain known as “la joven literatura” and analyzes women’s role in shaping this movement. To this end, it draws on literary magazines of the 1920s and 1930s and sheds light on the critiques that were addressed to the female poets who participated in the new literary movement of the time. By looking at modernist magazines in tandem with personal correspondence and salon conversations, this paper provides a better understanding of the difficulties that women faced in order to earn a position in the literary marketplace. Yet, it also draws attention to the literary networks that allowed Spanish women poets to come into contact with foreign authors and highlight important changes in society and culture.