CeMaB offers an online exhibition of a collection of dedications to Benedetti from his personal Madrid library
Translated by Irene Nieva Moratalla
On the occasion of the centenary of Mario Benedetti's birth, the Mario Benedetti Centre for Ibero-American Literary Studies at the UA, has prepared an exhibition made up of the most significant dedications from the poet's personal library in Madrid, which CeMaB holds under the title: “Querido Mario…”
The exhibition shows a selection of more than a hundred dedications from the more than a thousand manuscripts that are in the library that Benedetti collected during his long years living in exile in Spain. The library is made up of more than 6,000 volumes and the CeMaB has housed it since 2006. Some of the dedications of this prolific library come from the main writers of the second half of the 20th century, as detailed by CeMaB director, Eva Valero. She said that some of these lines, which they have presented this year 2020, were signed, in their own handwriting, by such universal figures as Rafael Alberti, who drew the cover of the compilation of poems "Con Nicaragua" and wrote: "To the great and brave writer Mario Benedetti. All the best" (1985). There are also dedications by Spanish writers as José Luis Sampedro, who wrote in La vieja sirena: "Your friend sends you a big triumphant third-world hug". Also, Luis Goytisolo and Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, who wrote to him in a copy of La Rosa de Alejandría: "To Mario from a common passion for I do not know what", Luis García Montero, Juan Cruz, Rosa Montero, Maruja Torres, Manuel Vicent, among others.
In April 1987, the Guatemalan Augusto Monterroso gave Benedetti Cuentos and dedicated it to him: “For my dear Mario, sending you a big hug from Granada”. The Nicaraguan Sergio Ramírez also wrote a dedication to him, as did all those who, like Benedetti, were part of the Ibero-American lyrical movement of the 1950s known as “Poética Coloquial” (colloquial poetics) and “Conversacional” (conversational poetics). This movement was made up of a group of writers that the Uruguayan called “poetas communicantes” (communicating poets). This group of poets includes the Argentinian Juan Gelman, the Mexican José Emilio Pacheco and the Chilean Nicanor Parra (all three winners of the literary award Cervantes Prize), the Salvadoran Roque Dalton, the Ecuadorian Jorge Enrique Adoum, the Nicaraguan Ernesto Cardenal, the Uruguayan Carlos María Gutiérrez, the Chilean Gonzalo Rojas and the Cuban Eliseo Diego and Roberto Fernández Retamar. Valero explains that Gelman’s presence is one of the most outstanding in the library, where there are twenty books and signatures as close as that of Anunciaciones (1980): "For Luz and Mario, with ever wider affection, ever truer friendship and ever deeper admiration". The Cuban Fernández Rematar is another of the most present. He dedicates to Benedetti the book Idea de la Estilística (1979): “To Mario, old, dear brother, this old book, and the usual hug”. He also addresses the author in Algunos usos de civilización y barbarie: "To Mario, who has already read these papers, now reworked, but not the prologue, where, to his brother’s delight, he appears continually. Roberto. April 94”. Through these dedications, one can notice the deep friendship of this poetic group that is united from the point of view of emotions, ideology, and poetry.
Many other authors are among those who dedicate copies to Benedetti, such as the Chilean Antonio Skármeta in Ardiente paciencia, the Argentinians Néstor García Canclini, David Viñas, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Antonio di Benedetto and Mario Paoletti (his biographer), the Colombian Álvaro Mutis, the Uruguayan Daniel Viglietti, the Nicaraguan Claribel Alegría or the Italian Antonio Tabucchi.
In Spain, Francisca Aguirre, Ángel González, Manuel Alvar, José Manuel Caballero Bonald, Enrique Cerdán Tato, Juan Luis Cebrián, José María Guelbenzu, Manuel Vicent, Rosa Montero, Benjamín Prado, Maruja Torres, or Soledad Puértolas, among others, also leave their mark on this prolific library.
In the library, there are also dedications from public figures, such as Jorge Valdano, who wrote to him in 2002 behind the flap of El miedo escénico y otras hierbas: "Master, another bit of the infinite football, with the usual affection and admiration". There is also a signed copy of Una gloria vitalista, by the actor Paco Rabal, with the affectionate and explicit dedication: "If Paco were a woman, he would be in love with you" (28/05/97). Moreover, personalities as different as the comedian Miguel Gila or the politician Gregorio Peces-Barba also write dedications to him.
Eva Valero adds that a writer's life is a life made of readings. That is why we believe that being able to make the shelves and dedications of Benedetti's personal library accessible on the internet will allow us to take an interesting journey and subtly decipher the self of a poet who would reach the age of 100 in 2020.
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