Galicia, in the northwest of Spain, is a region with a long history, a singular Atlantic identity, and its own language and culture. After long periods of repression, especially during the Spanish Civil War and the Francoist regime (1936-1975), generations of writers have made efforts to reassert Galician identity, preserve Galician language and literature and stimulate their growth not only in localist and rural terms, but also in cosmopolite and modern ways by connecting Galicia with the major literary traditions and innovations in the rest of Europe and the world through criticism, translation and artistic creation.
20th century Galician authors like Placido Castro (1902-1967) and the poet and engraver Luis Seoane (1910-1969) admired William Blake. There is abundant evidence yet to analyse of their interest in Blake and its influence on their works, as well as that of other authors, like Alvaro Cunqueiro (1911-1981) and his Galician translations of Blake’s poems. Castro’s journalistic articles, essays and translations of Blake’s poetry into Galician, Seoane’s letters, and his illustrations for Neruda’s Spanish translation of Visions of the Daughters of Albion and The Mental Traveller (1947) will be explored in this paper. In them, we will discover these authors’ construct of a Celtic Blake in tune with their defence of the uniqueness of Galicia as an Atlantic region in Spain surrounded by myths of Celtic origins and connections, which originated during the Galician 19th century Romantic poetic revival (the Rexurdimento).
The study of these translations and documents provides important insights on both the reception of Blake in a minoritised culture in a constant “Mental Fight” for survival and growth, and the construction of Galician identity from Romanticism and beyond as a global process that bridges Galicia with many cultures around the world, especially with the British Isles and Ireland.
Cecilia Marchetto holds a PhD from the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and is a visiting scholar at the University of Lincoln. Cecilia worked as a predoctoral researcher for the U of Santiago from 2016 to 2019 with a grant from the government of Galicia.