Memory and Utopia
The Poetry of José Ángel Valente

Manus O’Dwyer

Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures 44


28 September 2020  •  142pp

ISBN: 978-1-781883-65-5 (hardback)  •  RRP £75, $99, €90

ISBN: 978-1-781883-68-6 (paperback, 22 January 2023)  •  RRP £10.99, $14.99, €13.49

ISBN: 978-1-781883-71-6 (JSTOR ebook)

Access online: Books@JSTOR


In addition to its original library hardback edition, this title is now on sale in the new student-priced Legenda paperback range.

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.

Manus O'Dwyer completed a doctoral dissertation on the work José Ángel Valente at the University of Santiago de Compostela in 2016. He has taught at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Liverpool and is currently a Teaching Fellow at Durham University.


  • ‘El título del trabajo de Manus O’Dwyer si breve y conciso da cierto vértigo por la amplitud de los temas críticos seleccionados y porque, como el autor reconoce en una elegante y brillante introducción, la crítica en torno al poeta español es prolija. La facilidad con que O’Dwyer soluciona dichas complicaciones en las primeras páginas para focalizar su labor en la cuestión social y política de la poesía de José Ángel Valente es tan encomiable como lapropia edición del libro... Una cuidada publicación de tremenda utilidad tanto para hispanistas como para comparatistas, que por añadido es disfrutable.’ — Juan Blázquez Cuena, Bulletin of Spanish Studies 98.10, 2021, 1733-34
  • ‘El profesor de la Universidad de Sheffield logra cumpli-damente su propósito: describe los discursos críticos que han relegado e incluso negado esta dimensión y demuestra su relevancia mediante análisis textuales e intertextuales de una multiplicidad de materiales relacionados con la actividad intelectual del poeta (cartas, conferencias, diarios, ensa-yos, poemas, relatos, traducciones, etc.). Este logro es por sí mismo mo-tivo suficiente para recomendar la lectura de Memory and Utopia... Es preciso agradecer a Manus O’Dwyer que su lectura ponga de relieve la fascinante extrañeza que la singular extraterritorialidad cultural rastreable en la obra de José Ángel Valente puede llegar a producir.’ — Daniel Aguirre Oteiza, Prosemas 6, 2021, 232-38
  • ‘Memory and Utopia gravitates around the idea that Valente was not (or not just) a modern mystic who devoted his word to the ineffable, but a poet who found in mystic motifs the way to access his social context, in an attempt to resist the institutionalized, vain discourse of recent extremist political practices... A brave, innovative proposal that is able to look at Valente’s literary production as a whole, and to find in his verse the aim to construct, through “a paradoxical immanence of the transcendent” (115), a utopian space of memory and self-negation in the community.’ — María Vera Reyes, Theory Now 4.2, 2021, 249-53 (full text online)
  • ‘This new vision of the poet is constructed through concise and precise analysis that does not shy away from issues of great philosophical and aesthetic complexity... a ground-breaking and informative book that will change the way readers and scholars appreciate this towering figure of Spanish and Galician verse.’ — Ricardo Fernández Romero, Modern Language Review 118.1, 2023, 147


Introduction: Romans and Carthaginians
Manus O'Dwyer
Chapter 1 Valente’s Poetics
Manus O'Dwyer
Chapter 2 Memory and Signs
Manus O'Dwyer
Chapter 3 Poetry and Community
Manus O'Dwyer
Chapter 4 Valente and Jabès
Manus O'Dwyer
Chapter 5 Valente and Celan
Manus O'Dwyer
Manus O'Dwyer
Manus O'Dwyer
Manus O'Dwyer

Bibliography entry:

O’Dwyer, Manus, Memory and Utopia: The Poetry of José Ángel Valente, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures, 44 (Legenda, 2020)

First footnote reference: 35 Manus O’Dwyer, Memory and Utopia: The Poetry of José Ángel Valente, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures, 44 (Legenda, 2020), p. 21.

Subsequent footnote reference: 37 O’Dwyer, p. 47.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

Bibliography entry:

O’Dwyer, Manus. 2020. Memory and Utopia: The Poetry of José Ángel Valente, Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Cultures, 44 (Legenda)

Example citation: ‘A quotation occurring on page 21 of this work’ (O’Dwyer 2020: 21).

Example footnote reference: 35 O’Dwyer 2020: 21.

(To see how these citations were worked out, follow this link.)

This title is distributed on behalf of MHRA by Ingram’s. Booksellers and libraries can order direct from Ingram by setting up a free ipage® Account: click here for more.

Permanent link to this title: