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Ekphrasis, Intertextuality and the Role of the Reader in Poems by Francisco Brines and Claudio Rodríguez

Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature. 1990;14(2) DOI 10.4148/2334-4415.1258


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Studies in 20th & 21st Century Literature

ISSN: 1555-7839 (Print); 2334-4415 (Online)

Publisher: New Prairie Press

Society/Institution: Kansas State University

LCC Subject Category: Language and Literature: German literature | Language and Literature: French literature - Italian literature - Spanish literature - Portuguese literature

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: English

Full-text formats available: PDF



W. Michael Mudrovic


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 10 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

Ekphrasis, the verbal representation of visual art, affords a singular perspective on a discrepancy between the general conception of intertextuality and its practical application. Francisco Brines's "Museo de la Academia" ("Museum of the Academy") and Claudio Rodríguez's "Hilando" ("Spinning") both contain the description of a painting. Each poet achieves diverse effects with a different handling of the respective paintings, yet both come to surprisingly similar conclusions with regard to the poetic act. Brines's depiction of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian supplies a limited amount of information that dovetails neatly with the use of metaphor and metonymy. Rodríguez's use of synecdoche in conjunction with the description of the dominant figure in Velázquez's The Spinners introduces an overwhelming abundance of allusions that interconnect with one another, weaving the fabric of the text while at the same time unravelling it. Whereas Brines emphatically reminds the reader of the frame separating the participant from the work of art, Rodríguez dissolves it and conflates the world of the text with that of the participant. These variant approaches to the intertextual space correspond to the concept of supplementarity and allow us to deconstruct the commonly-held contradiction between the general and practical acceptations of intertextuality. These two poems also make the metapoetic dimension of the text, the indeterminacy of language, the interrelationship between art and life, and the view of the poem as epistemological and ontological construct—important characteristics of post-Civil War Spanish poetry—stand out in sharp relief. In these poems by major figures of that era ekphrasis leads to the discovery of essential aspects of the reading process and amends our view of intertextuality.