Vicente Huidobro and the 'Two Souls' of Romanticism
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis seeks to analyse the often contradictory viewpoints concerning the role of the poet and the nature of poetic creation expressed in the writings of the Chilean vanguardista Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948). In particular, it looks to focus on the tension between Huidobro’s doctrine of creacionismo (with its emphasis on the idea of poetry as the product of conscious willpower bringing forth new worlds ex-nihilo from the mind of the poet) and the Neo-Platonist concept, implicit in many of Huidobro’s more lyrical compositions, that the images and metaphors deployed by the poet are no mere arbitrary inventions but instead analogical representations of an inexpressible Infinite (existing a priori to language) which cannot be apprehended through rational modes of thought and expression. This tension is studied in the context of the hybrid discipline known as the “History of Ideas” with attention being paid as much to the philosophical as to the purely literary sources of these clashing aesthetic principles (ranging from Schelling and the German Romantics to Nietzsche and the French Decadents), which the present author contends spring ultimately from a common motivation: namely the desire to rediscover in art that which the discoveries of the Enlightenment had rendered impossible through either religion or systematic philosophy – a road to the Absolute.