The Poetics of Rosalía De Castro's Negra Sombra

Author: Courteau, Joanna
Rosalía de Castro is today recognized as one of the outstanding writers of Spanish romanticism and as a pivotal figure in the Galician Nationalist Movement of the 19th century. This volume examines her contribution to the preservation and restoration of Galician language and culture by means of her poetry written in Galician and Castilian. It develops a theory of textuality based on the poem Negra Sombra. Strict philological analysis is combined with a deconstructive reading to the contexts in which the image of sombra is embedded throughout de Castro's poetry. This formulation of a poetic metatheory grounded in a poem written in Galician attests to the advanced level of development of the Galician language and its capacity to illuminate metapoetic discourse through the image of negra sombra.


"Joanna Courteau demonstrates not only how Rosalía de Castro preserved the Galician language and culture but also how her work prefigures the central elements of modernism and postmodernism. By connecting Rosalía with canonized writers such as Fernando Pessoa and Antonio Machado, she clearly establishes her as their predecessor and argues for her equivalent importance. Even more impressive, though, is Professor Courteau's graceful management of the paradoxical concept of "sombra", which she equates with the poetic text. Deriving her argument from Rosalía's "Negra sombra", she posits the poem as the "sombra" interposed between reality and the observer to open a new space for discourse. By defying dismissive critics of Rosalía's poetry and establishing Rosalía as an early modernist, this study expands the canon as well as our conception of literary history." -Neal Bowers, Editor of Poet and Critic

"By bringing together a well-informed, yet sensitive deconstructive reading technique and a new philological analysis, the author is able to develop what may be described as a "cartography of Rosalian 'sombra'." The author's well-defined, critical understanding of the different meanings of the figure of "sombra" within the Rosalian poetic field gives way to the convincing proposition that the theory of textuality underlying the poem "Negra sombra" can be relevant for the interpretation of key poetic texts written in the Iberian Peninsula before and after the poet's time. . . . Readers of mystic literature in particular and of poetry in general are likely to find in this study both a new theoretical insight and methodological guide with which to begin tackling the problems of ineffability and of textuality inherent in a genre that consistently defiles all reductive referential interpretations." -Ana Paula Ferreira

"Though Courteau's unifying aim falls within the spirit of many earlier studies of Castro, her approach, especially in the second part of her study, relies on postmodern critical theory instead of on a historical, biographical, or other more traditional means of analysis. In the second section, particularly, Courteau offers interesting new insights. . . . Courteau's application of postmodern critical theory to Rosalía de Castro's poetry is laudable and refereshing and perhaps less problematic than her brief formulation of the Rosalian contribution to the preservation of the Galician ethnic heritage. As to presentation, Courteau's prose is usually graceful and concise. . . . her book will be of definite interest to the community of Rosalian scholars." - Revista de Estudios Hispánicos