Gil-Albert, Juan 1906–1994

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Gil-Albert, Juan 1906–1994

PERSONAL: Born April 1, 1906, in Alcoy, Spain; died July 3, 1994, in Valencia, Spain; son of Ricardo Gil (a hardware merchant). Education: Studied law at University of Valencia.


AWARDS, HONORS: Premio Juan Ramon Jimenez, 1975; Premio Pablo de Olavide, 1976; City of Alcoy, Spain, named a street in Gil-Albert's honor, 1978, and honored him with a gold medal, 1983; Premio Aldebaran, 1979, for El ocioso y las profesiones; Valencian Letters honor, 1982; D.H.L., University of Alcante, 1999; Instituto Juan Gil-Albert was established in his honor.


La fascinación de lo irreal (essays; title means "The Fascination of the Unreal"), Gutenberg (Valencia, Spain), 1927, reprinted, Instituto Juan Gil-Albert (Alicante, Spain), 1984.

Vibración de estío, Gutenberg (Valencia, Spain), 1928, reprinted, Instituto Juan Gil-Albert (Alicante, Spain), 1984.

Gabriel Miró (el escritor y el hombre) (essays; title means "Gabriel Miró: The Writer and the Man"), Cuadernos de Cultura (Valencia, Spain), 1931, enlarged edition published as Gabriel Miró: remembranza, Torre (Madrid, Spain), 1980.

Cómo pudieron ser (title means "How They Might Have Been"), Vich (Valencia, Spain), 1931.

Crónicas para servir al estudio de nuestro tiempo (essays; title means "Chronicles for the Study of Our Time"), Levante de España (Valencia, Spain), 1932.

Antología poética, Consell Valencia de Cultura (Valencia, Spain), 1933.

Elegía a los sombreros de mi madre, Isla (Cadiz, Spain), 1934.

Misteriosa presencia (poetry; title means "Mysterious Presence"), Heroe (Madrid, Spain), 1936.

Candente horror (poetry; title means "Candescent Horror"), Nueva Cultura (Valencia, Spain), 1936.

Siete romances de guerra (poetry; title means "Seven War Ballads"), Nueva Cultura (Valencia, Spain), 1937.

Son nombre ignorados (poetry; title means "Their Names Are Unknown"), [Spain], 1938.

(With others) Laurel, antología de la poesía moderna en lengua española, Séneca (Mexico), 1941.

(Translator) Andre Cresson, Epicuro: su vida, su obar, su filosofía, America (Mexico), 1941.

(Translator) A.J. Festugière, Sócrates: su medio, su persona, su pensamiento, America (Mexico), 1943.

(Translator) Yehuda Halevi, Poemas sagrados y profanos, Mensaje (Mexico), 1943.

Las ilusiones, con Los poemas de el convaleciente (title means "The Illusions, with The Poems of the Convalescent"), Imán (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1944, reprinted, Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 1975, Las ilusiones published separately, Mondadori (Barcelona, Spain), 1998.

Poemas (el existir medita su corriente) (title means "Poems [Existence Meditates Its Flow]"), Librería Clan (Madrid, Spain), 1949.

Concertar es amor (poetry; title means "To Harmonize Is Love"), RIALP (Madrid, Spain), 1951.

Intento de una catalogación valenciana, Mis Cosechas (Valencia, Spain), 1955.

(Translator) Robert Merle, Oscar Wilde, Formento de Cultura (Valencia, Spain), 1956.

Contra el cine, Mis Cosechas (Valencia, Spain), 1955.

Poesía (Carmina manu tremendi ducere) (poetry), 1961.

Concierto en "Mi" menor (title means "Concerto in E Minor"), Caña Gris (Valencia, Spain), 1964.

La trama inextricable: prosa, poesía, crítica, Esteve y Arnau (Valencia, Spain), 1968.

Fuentes de la constancia (poetry; title means "Sources of Constancy"), Libres de Sinera (Barcelona, Spain), 1972.

Los días están contados (title means "The Days Are Rare"), Tusquets (Barcelona, Spain), 1974.

Valentín: homenaje a William Shakespeare, Gaya Ciencia (Barcelona, Spain), 1974.

La meta-física (title means "The Metaphysics"), Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 1974.

Crónica general (title means "General Chronicles"), Seix Barral (Barcelona, Spain), 1974, reprinted, Pre-Textos (Valencia, Spain), 1995.

Mesa revuelta (title means "Mixed Table"), F. Torres (Valencia, Spain), 1974.

Memorabilia, Tusquets (Barcelona, Spain), 1975.

Heraclés, sobre una manera de ser, J. Betancor (Madrid, Spain), 1975.

Homenajes e in promptus (poetry; title means "Homages and Impromptus"), Institución Fray Bernardino de Sahegún (León, Spain), 1976.

Cantos rodados, Linosa (Barcelona, Spain), 1976.

A los pre-socráticos seguido de Migajas del pan nuestro, Difursora de Cultura (Madrid, Spain), 1976.

Migajas del pan nuestro (poetry), 1976.

Poemas: ex existir medita su corriente, Lindes (Valencia, Spain), 1977.

Drama patrio: testimonio 1964 seguido de tres poemas de circumstancia, Tusquets (Barcelona, Spain), 1977.

El retrato oval (title means "The Oval Portrait"), Cupsa (Madrid, Spain), 1977.

El ocioso y las profesiones (title means "The Idler and the Professions"), Salesianas (Seville, Spain), 1978.

Un mundo: prosa; poesía; crítica, Soler (Valencia, Spain), 1978.

Breviarium vitae: jucios de un indolente (Mexico, 1945–57), cantos rodados (completo), instántanea de un vividor, apunte goyesco, Caja de Ahoros de Alicante y Murcia (Alicante, Spain), 1979, reprinted, Pre-Textos (Valencia, Spain), 1999.

Mi voz comprometida (1936–1939), edited by Manuel Aznar Soler, Laia (Barcelona, Spain), 1980.

Obra poética completa (collected works), three volumes, Institución Alfonso el Magnánimo (Valencia, Spain), 1981.

Variaciones sobre un tema inextinguible, César Viguera (Seville, Spain), 1981, translated by D.S. Abrams and published as Variations on an Unextinguishable Theme (Spanish and English), Instituto de Estudios Norteamericanos (Barcelona, Spain), 1982.

Los arcángeles: parábola, Laia (Barcelona, Spain), 1981.

Obra completa en prosa (collected prose works), twelve volumes, Institución Alfonso el Magnánimo (Valencia, Spain), 1982–89.

Antología poética, 1936–76, Plaza y Janés (Barcelona, Spain), 1982.

El ocio y sus mitos, Begar (Málaga, Spain), 1982.

España, empeño de una ficción, Júcar (Madrid, Spain), 1984.

Azorín o la intravagancia, Anales Azorinianos (Alicante, Spain), 1985.

Monólogo en Alhambra, Aula de la Poesía (Granada, Spain), 1985.

(Translator and author of introduction, with Máximo José Kahn) Yehudá Haleví, Júcar (Madrid, Spain), 1986.

(With Salvador Moreno) Cartas a un amigo (letters), Pre-Textos (Valencia, Spain), 1987.

Tobeyo, o, del amor: homenaje a México (poems; title means "Tobeyo, or Love: Homage to Mexico"), Pre-Textos (Valencia, Spain), 1990.

Juan Gil-Albert: una poética de la anunciación, Anthropos (Barcelona, Spain), 1990.

Poesía completa (collected poems), edited by María Paz Moreno, introduction by Angel Luis Prieto de Paula, Pre-Textos (Valencia, Spain), 2004.

Also author of introduction to Poetas misticos españoles: Fray Luis de León, Santa Teresa, San Juan de la Cruz, Mensaje (Mexico), 1942. Contributor of literary articles to newspapers.

ADAPTATIONS: Author's works have been set to music as Canción: per voce, oboe, tromba, celesta a arpa, Suvini Zerboni (Milan, Italy), 1980.

SIDELIGHTS: It has been said of twentieth-century Spanish writer Juan Gil-Albert that he had two careers. The first began in the years leading up to the Spanish Civil War, when the artistic "Generation of 1936" began to revolutionize Spanish-language poetry. That brief period in Gil-Albert's life resulted in a handful of prose and poetry collections, including Antología poética and Candente horror. A native of Alicante, Gil-Albert moved to Mexico as a political exile during the war and became largely forgotten in his homeland. All that changed in the late 1960s, when Gil-Albert was rediscovered by a new generation of Spanish poets attracted to his strong images of beauty. The poet then launched a new career of sorts, publishing a large output of new and important works from the mid-1970s until his death in 1994 at the age of eighty-eight.

"Beauty for Gil-Albert" wrote Salvador Jiménez-Fajardo in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, "is the highest expression of life, and to perceive it is the human means of self-affirmation." At the same time, the contributor noted, "there is also a moral imperative at the root of Gil-Albert's writing. He has remained committed to the principle that gives his work—prose and poetry alike—a peculiar ethical and aesthetic weight; the celebration of life as such and of its incessant renovation."

Initially trained in the law, Gil-Albert did not start a practice, instead embracing the artistic life. As a student he lived in Madrid, and his earliest published works were devoted to the art of Spanish writer Gabriel Miró. With Misteriosa presencia the poet explores the sonnet form, introducing what Jimémez-Fajardo called "some of his most cherished themes: the search for permanence in mutability; the paramount importance of the Mediterranean landscape, particularly Valencia; and the presence of the classical world of myth." Candente horror, which followed, saw Gil-Albert exploring surrealistic themes; this collection, explained Jiménez-Fajardo, marks "Gil-Albert's first politically committed collection of poetry." The collection expresses the poet's attitude toward fascism, and "while [Candente horror] has certain techniques in common with the first collection, its thematic matter and emotional impact make it comparable to the works of Miguel Hernández and other poets of '36," according to Hispanic Journal writer Carole A. Bradford.

Gil-Albert's exile to Mexico ended in 1947, and he returned to Spain eager to reclaim his Mediterranean heritage. Just a few years earlier he had begun to draft Las ilusiones, con Los poemas de el convaleciente, which was described by Jiménez-Fajardo as Gil-Albert's "first fully mature work of poetry." Given its nature as an "exile" book, the essayist continued, "one would expect Las ilusiones to have backward glances to the homeland and considerations of the war or of the break between his present state and his immediate past. Such concerns, however, are quite infrequent." While Gil-Albert was "by nature a poet of exile, his condition is linked to those moments of his childhood when he intuited a rupture between his pristine sense of a continuous, predictable reality and reality's arbitrariness, as seen in the instances of inexplicable death."

The poet's return to Spain marked a new chapter in Gil-Albert's life. The death of his brother left five nephews and nieces in his care, as well as the family hardware business to run. In subsequent years he published what is considered by many critics to be his best work: Homenajes e in promptus. Bradford called this collection the artist's attempt "to balance the personal with the universal vision, and the poems function on these two levels simultaneously." The poems, she explained, give the impression of "a speaker apart from the poetic voice, often the subject for homage, and an implied poet, whose voice we hear behind that of the speaker." Bradford compared the poems in Homenajes e in promptus to dramatic monologues, "with the added complexity of a suggested or implied dialogue between the two voices."

Quoting the preface to Luis Antonio de Villena's El razonamiento inagotable de Juan Gil-Albert, Jiménez-Fajardo translated a reflective passage on the poet: "Morally, sexually, literarily marginalized, Juan Gil-Albert has given us an excellent example of freedom, of the glory and also the sacrifice that being free can occasionally signify."



De Villena, Luis Antonio, El razonamiento inagotable de Juan Gil-Albert, Caballo Griego para la Poesía (Madrid, Spain), 1979.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 134: Twentieth-Century Spanish Poets, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1994, pp. 144-154.


Hispanic Journal, fall, 1984, Carole A. Bradford, "The Personal and the Universal Visions in the Homenajes e in promptus of Juan Gil-Albert," pp. 101-109; spring, 1995, Andrew P. Debicki, review of Antología poética, p. 228.

Hispanic Review, spring, 1995, Andrew Debicki, review of Antología poética, p. 238.



Independent (London, England), July 7, 1994, p. 16.

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Gil-Albert, Juan 1906–1994

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