November 01, 2012

ASU Libraries acquires rare manuscripts of Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío

Posted: November 01, 2012

Arizona State University Libraries has acquired a privately held collection of manuscripts created by Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío.  Darío (1867-1916) is considered one of Latin America’s most famous poets, and is recognized widely as the founder of Spanish American modernism.

This distinctive collection of archival material contains documents pertaining to Darío’s life and work as a poet, journalist and diplomat. 

“The collection is remarkable in its breadth; it encompasses many facets of the professional and personal life of Nicaragua’s most revered cultural figure,” said Melissa Guy, Latin American Studies specialist at ASU Libraries.

The collection consists of approximately 900 handwritten pages of poetry, essays, short stories, diplomatic notes and personal letters spanning more than three decades, from approximately 1882 to 1915. It chronicles Darío’s activities as he travelled the world from Nicaragua to Europe, South America and the United States.

The comprehensive collection contains hundreds of pages of Darío’s poetry and other creative works. Several of the manuscripts are signed transcripts, written in Darío’s hand, of some of his most important works, including “Coloquio de los Centauros,” two versions of “Los motivos del lobo” and “Canto épico a las glorias de Chile,” a manuscript of 76 pages, which was one of Darío’s first long poems. 

According to professor Alberto Acereda, a world-renowned expert on Darío and former faculty head of Spanish and Portuguese at ASU’s School of International Letters and Cultures in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and research affiliate of the ASU Hispanic Research Center, it was not uncommon for Darío to create transcripts of his own writings.  

“The discovery of these copies confirms that Darío was very aware of his own literary value and these transcripts are an important contribution to literary scholarship,” Acereda said.

Of particular interest to Darío scholars and enthusiasts, the collection contains a previously unknown version of “Sonatina” written in English, as well as a transcript of “Marcha triunfal” that illuminates for the first time the exact date it was written on May 4, 1895.               

The documents have already begun to alter the scholarship on Darío. The peer-reviewed “Bulletin of Spanish Studies,” a prestigious academic journal from the United Kingdom, has published an article by Acereda in its September 2012 issue based on letters found in ASU’s collection. The article, “‘Nuestro más profundo y sublime secreto’: Los amores transgresores entre Rubén Darío y Amado Nervo,” reveals for the first time a secret romantic relationship between Darío and famed Mexican poet Amado Nervo (1870-1919.)

“The exact nature of this relationship is evidenced in a series of intimate letters exchanged between the two poets and they help us to better understand the respective works of these modernist authors, as well as to establish a rereading of certain texts,” Acereda said.

David W. Foster, Regents' Professor of Spanish and women and gender studies at ASU, notes that the acquisition of such a collection, which has the possibility of suggesting a major revision in our understanding of Rubén Darío’s sexuality, is only possible through the efforts of outstanding senior faculty like Acereda, who have the advanced (and often anonymous) contacts necessary for such material to become part of ASU’s superb research collections.”

The Spanish Program in the School of International Letters and Cultures has several faculty members who specialize in 20th century Latin American literature and culture who will be able to incorporate this important collection into their research and teaching. 

“Great authors survive the test of time because their work continues to engage the passing generations. This extraordinary collection re-energizes scholarship on Darío’s production from a cultural studies perspective,” said Cynthia Tompkins, faculty head of the Spanish and Portuguese language area in the School of International Letters and Cultures.

School of International Letters and Cultures professor Emil Volek is especially enthusiastic about the new addition to ASU Libraries’ collections. “Acquiring this priceless trove highlights the maturing of ASU as an important national cultural institution and will further help advance the already excellent national and international standing of ASU's Spanish program. This is a great resource for a multicultural Arizona,” he said.

As a result of this acquisition, ASU Libraries stands to be recognized as one of the primary centers in the world for the study of Darío. Faculty and students at ASU will have access to an unprecedented wealth of research materials. 

“ASU Libraries is pleased to bring these important manuscripts to a wider audience and to contribute to furthering the understanding of one of Latin America’s most important cultural figures,” said university librarian Sherrie Schmidt. “This acquisition is an example of the positive outcome of collaboration among librarians and faculty that takes place on a regular basis at ASU.”

The Rubén Darío Collection is made accessible by Special Collections at the Hayden Library Luhrs Reading Room. Go to http://www.asu.edu/lib/archives/ for additional information. The finding aid to the collection is available online at: http://www.azarchivesonline.org/xtf/view?docId=ead/asu/dario.xml.

Julie Newberg , julie.newberg@asu.edu
Media Relations