Álvaro Cunqueiro could hardly imagine what would happen just ten days later. “Let us all agree that Galicia must be Galicianized and if the Statute is not going to be an instrument of Galicianization”, he wrote in Galician on July 8, 1936, “on the 28th we will all have voted in vain”. It was the last of half a hundred articles that the then young writer published in The Galician People during the Second Republic and now collects O world and other vespers (The world and other eves, Galaxy, 2022). “Let us meditate on the days to come and because they are better, because they are ours, because they are rest and leisure for the soul,” the text continued. Franco’s fascist coup would abort all desire and the Cunqueiro that emerged after the Civil War was already a very different one from the one in this book, close to the new regime and even for a while with a Falange card.
The secret box of Natalio Abad, the forerunner of ‘hippismo’ from Vigo who founded a naturist group in the Second Republic
“The Cunqueiro that we see in these articles is perfectly integrated into the wake of the Xeración Nós and, at the same time, is a companion of the so-called Novísimos [artistas y escritores gallegos de la quinta republicana]”, explains the professor and critic Armando Requeixo, responsible for the edition, “this fraternity helps to understand how, after the hiatus of the war, their reconnection with Galicianism was possible, above all through Del Riego”. He would be a different author but at the same time already latent –Requeixo considers– in his writing in the press between 1932 and 1936. That is, the one billed between the ages of 21 and 25. For the 216 pages of O world and other vespers After all, the poet Cunqueiro, the translator Cunqueiro, the art critic Cunqueiro or the literary commentator Cunqueiro parade. And his consolidation begins, temporarily delayed by 1936, as a published figure linked to literature.
“Prints and colors. Souto in Santiago. Fall. Get […] The beautiful without a miracle: wonders in flight for the rest of the steles”, says the page in honor of the painter Arturo Souto –exiled in Mexico after the war– with which he inaugurates his contributions to The Galician People on October 2, 1932. The newspaper, owned by Manuel Portela Valladares, also its director, was one of the main ones in Galicia at the time, with circulations of up to 30,000 copies. The coup soldiers seized it before the end of July 1936. “It was the great newspaper of the time,” says Requeixo, “and in its pages Cunqueiro went from being unknown to being a reference in just a few years.” So relevant that, in the last stage of the collaborations, his articles appeared announced on the front page the day before. “That gives an idea of the caliber that he had acquired,” says the editor.
In any case, he was an Álvaro Cunqueiro, a militant of the Galeguista Party, who was related to the old nationalists –Castelao, Vicente Risco, Otero Pedrayo– and his contemporaries: Luís Seoane, Ánxel Fole, Manuel Antonio, perhaps the inevitable poet of that generation, died at the age of 30. “He was a clear and broken poet, as much glass as glass itself. Many of us are with him”, he writes on the fifth anniversary of the death of the author of from catro to catro. And he is aware of the great literature of his time, which he reports on in the newspaper: García Lorca, Panait Istrati, Paul Verlaine, Valle-Inclán, Knut Hamsun. Parallel to the journalistic work of those years, the poet sprouted from a certain avant-garde breath, which gave the printing press his first books. Of North Sea (1932) leaves record in The Galician People on December 16, 1934, when publishing the poem that begins “SOL: / Cinco fiestras colgadas / da same i–alba rosal”.
The Cunqueiro of the newspapers
Cunqueiro practiced, throughout his extensive career, practically all genres. “He always claimed, however, to be a poet, despite being extremely free on the generic issue”, says Armando Requeixo, “but the poetic, lyrical pulse is always present. There are articles that begin with an essay thread and end up tinged with poetry”. It wasn’t always like this. The popularity of the writer during his lifetime, especially from the 1960s, was due more to his connection with the media – he managed to direct the Lighthouse of Vigo– than literary books, Requeixo understands. But the articles of that stage will evolve with respect to those compiled in O world and other vespers: “Without leaving that poetic residue, he introduced other paths, such as that of encyclopedic knowledge between the real and the imaginary.” He is the Cunqueiro who traces paths that are sometimes Borgesian, in which useless knowledge is the most useful of all knowledge, totally removed from politics and, thus, acquiescent with the state of affairs in the dictatorship. But in The Galician Peoplethis Cunqueiro “has not yet sprouted” and what is perceived is the man integrated into republican Galicianism, “a boy with all the renewing force”.
It is calculated, explains Requeixo, that the writer produced some 20,000 journalistic texts. “The columnist is the last of the great Cunqueirian continents that we are rebuilding,” he says, “and that of The Galician People it was a collection yet to be mapped.” Scholars such as Xosé Enrique Costas, Iago Castro Buerger, Xesús González Gómez or Xosé Enrique Acuña had stopped at Cunqueiro’s incursions into the Portela Valladares newspaper, but O world and other vespers It is the first systematic collection. “It is the initial Cunqueiro, when it began to be”, summarizes the editor of the volume. In his opinion, forgotten articles will continue to appear, but “it will not be frequent that there are large collections to be exhumed.”