It was at Madrid that Alberti first developed a fondness for painting. His interest grew so much so that he gave up on his formal education and instead visited Casón del Buen Retiro and the Prado, where he copied sculptures and paintings.
Year 1920 was a difficult year in the life of Alberti. Firstly, his painting exhibition met with wrath and mockery from the spectators. Later on, his father passed away. To add to his woes, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1921.
While recuperating from tuberculosis, he developed an interest in poetry. He avidly read the works of reputed writers and poets. It was Damaso Alonso, a Spanish poet and critic, who introduced Alberti to the works of Gil Vicente and other Golden Age writers.
Inspired by the works of famous poets, he started penning his own verses which were published in various avant-garde magazines.
In 1924 he came up with his first poetry book, ‘Marinero en tierra’ which became a major hit. Not only did it escalate his reputation to national fame, but also won him National Prize for Literature.
Post the tremendous success of ‘Marinero en tierra’, he soon got absorbed in the elite circle of Spanish poets, which was popularly known by the name, ‘Generation of 1927’. The group included prominent poets and writers such as ,Vicente Aleixandre, Luis Cernuda, Frederico García Lorca, Jorge Guillén, and Pedro Salina.
Immediately after, he came up with two more works, ‘La Amante’ and ‘El alba del alheli’ both of which were on the same lines as ‘Marinero en tierra’. These works were also well accepted by the public.
Year 1927 witnessed his writing skill upsurge to greater heights. While celebrating the 300th death anniversary of the great Spanish poet Gongora, he came up with his work, ‘Cal y Canto’, which amazed readers completely. Not only Alberti beautifully adopted Gongora’s traditional style of formal writing, but also displayed his exquisite skill of being satirical and dramatic in his verses.
His magnum opus came in 1929 with his work ‘Sobres los angeles’. The book marked a complete changeover in the direction of poetry of Alberti and the group as they gave up on the traditional themes of love and commemoration for more deep bounded subjects that focussed on nation’s future.
Continue Reading Below
Following this, he came up with two more poetry collections, ‘Sermones y moradas’ and ‘Yo era un tonto y lo que he visto me ha hecho dos tontos’ and a play ‘El hombre deshabitado’. Both his poetic works lacked lyrical zest which formed the basis of his earlier poetry and contrastingly showed signs of psychological breakdown.
In 1931, with the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic, Alberti joined politics. He converted to Marxism and became a member of the Communist party of Spain.
His political involvement did not last long. When Gil Robles came to power in 1933, Alberti was pushed for a period of exile, following the attacks that he made on Gil Robles in his revolutionary magazine, ‘Octubre’.
In the 1936 Spanish Civil War, Alberti served as the poetic voice of extreme left. However, with the fall of Madrid, he fled to Paris, where he took up the profile of a translator for a French radio and announcer for Paris-Mondial in Latin American.
Post German occupation of France, he moved to Argentina where he stayed until 1963. During this time, he renewed his interest in painting and tried ways to amalgamate the two different genres of creativity (poetry and painting) into one with his works.
It was while in Argentina that he gained international reputation, as his work began to be recognized amongst the English-speaking society. Furthermore, he was included in Eleanor Turnbull’s anthology. He had in total written nine volumes of poetry at this time.
In 1977, after forty years of exile, he returned to Spain, where he was appointed for Cadiz in the constituent Congress of the Spanish parliament on the Communist Party ticket.
All through his career, other than his poetic works, Alberti also contributed in theatre writing. He came up with several plays, a ballad, couple of adaptations and short pieces and several volumes of memoirs.
Awards & Achievements
In 1924, he was awarded with the Premio Nacional de Literatura (National Prize for Literature) for his maiden work, ‘Marinero en tierra’.
In 1964, he received the coveted Lenin Peace Prize, Soviet Union’s Nobel Peace Prize equivalent, for his poetic works.
He was bestowed with the Laureate Of The International Botev Prize in 1981.
In 1983, the Ministry of Culture of Spain awarded him with the prestigious Premio Cervantes for his outstanding contribution as a poet. The award is Spanish literary world's highest honour. Same year, he was bestowed with the honorific title Hijo Predilecto de Andalucía.
In 1985, the Universidad de Cádiz conferred him with the Doctor Honoris Causa, thus recognizing his exceptional talent as poet.
In 1998, he received the significant America Award for his lifetime contribution to international writing.