Vicente Aleixandre Merlo was born on April 26, 1898, in Seville, Spain, the son of Cirilo Aleixandre Ballester, a railway engineer, and Elvira Merlo García de Pruneda, daughter of an upper-middle-class Andalusian family. Married in Madrid, Aleixandre’s parents moved to Seville, the base for his father’s travels with the Andalusian railway network. Four years after Aleixandre’s birth, the family moved to Málaga, remaining there for seven years, spending their summers in a cottage on the beach at Pedregalejo a few miles from the city.
Aleixandre seems to have been very happy as a boy in Málaga, where he attended school, frequented the movie theater across the street from his house (he particularly liked the films of Max Linder), and read the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Happy memories of Málaga and the nearby sea appear frequently in Aleixandre’s poetry: He calls them “ciudad del paraíso” (city of paradise) and “mar del paraíso” (sea of paradise), respectively.
In 1911, the family moved to Madrid, where Aleixandre continued his studies at Teresiano School, but he found the strict requirements for the bachelor’s degree tedious and preferred reading the books in his grandfather’s library: classical and Romantic works and detective novels, especially those by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Aleixandre frequently visited the National Library, where he read novels and drama from Spain’s Golden Age to the generación del 98. During the summer of 1917, his friend Dámaso Alonso lent him a volume by Rubén Darío, a book which, Aleixandre said, revealed to him the passion of...
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