Z

Zambrano, María Spanish, 1904-1991

María Zambrano wrote little other than essays, whether books or journalistic articles. Despite the rarity of Spanish women essayists and philosophers, Zambrano decided early that her life's role was as a thinker, and she chose as her vehicle the philosophical essay. She left more than 200 articles and 28 books, especially impressive considering the gender and culture barriers she faced in pre-Civil War Spain and postwar exile in Cuba, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Republican affiliations and exile combined with gender and her essentially esoteric work to keep Zambrano relatively unknown during the Franco dictatorship; until the final years, exiles' works and most critical studies on them were prohibited by Spanish censors. Nevertheless, when Zambrano finally returned to Spain in 1984, conditions had changed radically. In 1981 she received the Prince of Asturias national literary prize, and significant official and critical recognition continued throughout her remaining life; she became the first woman and first philosopher to receive the Cervantes Prize, ten million pesetas awarded by the Association of Spanish Language Academies, constituting the most significant recognition available to writers in the Spanish-speaking world. Honoring a lifetime's intellectual accomplishments, the Cervantes Prize distinguishes "conspicuous contributions to enriching the Spanish cultural patrimony."

Zambrano's selection surprised many: she had written no bestsellers and was little known to general readers, having besides her essays only some poems and a rather essayistic text -- memoir or novelized autobiography -- Delirio y destino (wr. mid-1950s, pub. 1989; Delirium and destiny), set during 1929 and 1930, the intellectually stimulating days of Spanish vanguardism when Zambrano was deciding her own future. Despite Bildungsroman traits, reflecting Zambrano's youthful philosophical training and her relationship with her teacher, leading Spanish philosopherJosé Ortega y Gasset, this lyric discourse combines history, memoir, philosophy, and literature. Delirio y destino, like Los intelectuales en el drama de España ( 1937; Intellectuals in Spain's drama [i.e. the Civil War]), depicts the rich cultural ambience of the famed Generation of 1927 -- poets García Lorca, Vicente Aleixandre, Rafael Alberti -- and Zambrano's friendships with others: Luis Cernuda, Miguel Hernández, Rosa Chacel, and various disciples of Ortega.

Zambrano's earliest essay volume, Nuevo liberalismo ( 1930; New liberalism), builds upon work by her father, the idealistic socialist pedagogue Blas Zambrano, an enduring influence, and figures among her most political writing. Simultaneously she worked on her doctoral dissertation treating individual salvation in Spinoza, and began publishing commentaries on Ortega's works. Zambrano's apprenticeship teaching of metaphysics prefigures another constant theme, differentiating her thought from Ortega's. Zambrano's incipient philosophy appears in "Hacia un saber del alma" ( 1937; Toward a knowledge of the soul), expanded and published separately in 1950. Her early connotations of soul approximate spirit or human subjectivity, and are without the mystical-religious aspects that later appeared. Early influences of Scheler give way to Heidegger. Bergson influenced Zambrano's concepts of time, the historical, intuition, and her essentially lyric, personal, philosophical style. Heidegger contributed to her rejection of philosophical rationalism and scientific reason, to her notions of being-in-the-world, "dwelling," letting things speak, and her fusion of style and thinking as she diverged from Ortega. Philosopher-poet Antonio Machado anticipates her vision of poetry as philosophy or vice versa: Zambrano's Filosofía y poesía ( 1939; Philosophy and poetry) and Pensamiento y poesía en la vida española ( 1939; Thought and poetry in Spanish life) explain the poetic initiation of the philosopher via an intuition of "poetic reason." Rhetoric aside, Zambrano's "reason" resembles no prior rationalism but rather revelation connected to desire.

Zambrano's youthful verse appeared in major periodicals and she wrote on contemporary poets, anticipating her theoretical explorations of poetry's relation to epistemological epiphanies. This concept, plus her mystic metaphysics and pervasively lyric discourse, significantly influenced contemporary poets. Zambramo had a long academic career and was affiliated with major universities in South and Central America and Europe. Her philosophical/literary-critical exegeses included La España de Galdós ( 1959; Galdós' Spain), El freudismo, testimonio del hombre actual ( 1940; Freudianism: testimony to contemporary man), and El pensamiento vivo de Séneca ( 1944; Seneca's living thought). Her wartime works attest to her suffering over the war in Europe: Isla de Puerto Rico (Nostalgia y esperanza de un mundo mejor) ( 1940; Puerto Rico, nostalgia and hope of a better world) and La agonía de Europa ( 1945; Europe's agony).

Among Zambrano's longest works, El hombre y lo divino ( 1955; Man and divinity) uses poetic reason to elucidate

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Encyclopedia of the Essay
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Editor's Note vii
  • Advisers ix
  • List of Entries xiii
  • Preface xix
  • A 1
  • C 137
  • D 203
  • E 239
  • F 273
  • G 319
  • H 373
  • I 419
  • J 425
  • K 443
  • L 457
  • M 503
  • N 591
  • O 611
  • P 629
  • Q 683
  • R 685
  • S 725
  • T 829
  • U 865
  • V 871
  • W 883
  • Y 911
  • Z 915
  • Indexes 925
  • General Index 961
  • Notes on Advisers and Contributors 981
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