Alcover, Joan 1854–1926
Alcover, Joan 1854–1926
PERSONAL: Born May 3, 1854, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain; died March 26, 1926, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain; married Rosa Pujol i Guarch, 1881 (died, 1887); married Maria del Haro i Rosselló; children: Pere, Teresa, Gaieta, Maria, Pau.
AWARDS, HONORS: Jocs Florals de Barcelona prize for poetry, 1909; Premi Fastenrath, 1919, for Poemes bíblics; the poem "La Balanguera," set to music by Amadeu Vives, became the anthem of Mallorca.
Art i literature, Llibreria L'Avenç (Barcelona, Spain), 1904.
Humanització de l'art i alters escrits, Editorial Moll (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), 1988.
Nuevas poesias, Amengual y Muntaner (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), 1892.
Meteoros: poemas, apólogos y cuentos, Juan Gili (Barcelona, Spain), 1901.
Poesies, Oliva de Vilanova (Barcelona, Spain), 1921.
Cap al tard, poesies, Editorial Moll (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), 1941.
Poemes bíblics, Impremta "Mossen Alcover" (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), 1942.
Poesies completes, Biblioteca Selecta (Barcelona, Spain), 1948.
Obres completes, Biblioteca Selecta (Barcelona, Spain), 1951.
Ideari de Joan Alcover, Editorial Moll (Palma de Mallorca, Spain), 1954.
Jardí desolat: antologia poètica, Edicions de la Magrana (Barcelona, Spain), 2000.
Author of prologues to Joan M. Guasch, Edicions Lira (Barcelona, Spain), 1924, and Miguel S. Oliver: Estudio biográfico. Contributor to literary reviews, including Revista Balear, Museo Balear, and El Isleño.
Alcover's work has been translated into Spanish, Basque, Italian, and French.
ADAPTATIONS: Alcover's work was put to music by Amadeu Vives and Emili Vendrell and recorded by mezzo soprano Maria del Mar Bonet.
SIDELIGHTS: Joan Alcover was a poet, essayist, and politician. In his poems, written primarily in Catalan, one finds an aesthetic interpretation of the pain he suffered on the death of his wife and children. Like his contemporary Miguel Costa Llobera and other members of the Mallorca school, he found in the Spanish landscape symbolic parallels with his particular states of mind. Nonetheless, he was not attracted by the more extreme elements of modernism but rather identified with the expressive restraint and formal rigor of the incipient movement of Noucentisme and the French movement of Parnassianism.
Alcover's literary theory was based on sincerity of feeling and clarity in poetic form. Some of his poems have been translated into different languages and set to music, including "La Balanguera," which was put to music by Amadeu Vives and which, in 1996, was declared the official anthem of Mallorca. Beginning in 1972 Alcover began publishing poems in both Catalan and in Spanish in the literary reviews Revista Balear, Museo Balear, and El Isleño. As a contributor to Columbia Dictionary of Modern European Literature wrote, "Like other poets of [Mallorca], Alcover had a true gift of form…. Alcover expressed a deeply felt personal bereavement in elegies of consummate beauty."
Mainly concerned with form, meter, rhyme, and strophe, Parnassianism and Noucentisme denied Romanticism's strong emotions and hyperbole. The styles suited the somber group who formed the Catalan Renaissance. Following a period ending around 1900, Alcover abandoned his experiment with bilingualism and devoted himself to expressing himself in Catalan. The death of his daughter Teresa in 1899 also contributed to his evolving an elegiac and sincere form of expression. This sincerity was a hallmark of his entire career as a poet and writer and can be seen in his dedication of an essay on aesthetics, in 1921, to Russian author Leo Tolstoy. In his last collection, Poemes bíblics, Alcover probes deeply into the tragedy of the human condition in a series of imagined "visions" by biblical figures. Through the personas of Abigail, Saul, David, Rebecca, and Agar, the collection becomes an expression of the human condition.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gayà, Miguel, Contribució a l'epistolari de Joan Alcover, Editorial Barcino (Barcelona, Spain), 1964.
Catalan Review, June, 1987, Kristine Doll, "Toward a Revaluation of Joan Alcover's Elegies," p. 69.
Catalan Writers Web site, http://www.catalanwriters.com/ (February 28, 2002), biography of Joan Alcover.
Escriptors.com, http://www.escriptors.com/ (February 28, 2002), biography of Joan Alcover.