Memory and Utopia. The poetry of José Ángel Valente

  • DATE

    28 April 2022

  • TIME

    6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

  • AGES

    All ages welcome



The Instituto Cervantes in Manchester presents the latest study on the Galician poet José Ángel Valente, in a conversation between its author Manus O’Dwyer and the academic Margarita García Candeira.

Synopsis of Manus O’Dwyer’s book Memory and Utopia. The Poetry of José Ángel Valente (MHRA, 2022)

Lauded by many as one of twentieth-century Spain’s greatest poets, José Ángel Valente (1929–2000) remains one of the defining, if at times divisive, figures in Spanish poetry. O’Dwyer’s new study draws attention to the cultural and historical context within which Valente developed his sophisticated poetics, and seeks to counter a widespread view of him as a modern mystic, unconcerned with the political.

Valente read deeply from a twentieth-century tradition of Jewish thought and poetry — absorbing the work of Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Gershom Scholem, Emmanuel Levinas, Edmond Jabes, and Paul Celan: writers who shared Valente’s ethical responsibility to the victims of twentieth-century totalitarian violence, and his commitment to utopian ideals. This study will serve to introduce English speakers to Valente’s work but is also a contribution to contemporary scholarship and debate in literary theory, memory studies, and Spanish poetry.

Dr Manus O’Dwyer completed a doctoral dissertation on the work of José Ángel Valente at the University of Santiago de Compostela in 2016. He has taught at Trinity College Dublin, Durham University, and the University of Sheffield.