Other Literary Forms
Although Pedro Salinas’s reputation is based primarily upon his poetry, which forms the bulk of his work, he also wrote literary criticism, essays, translations, short stories, a novel, and plays. Through his literary criticism and essays, he contributed significantly to an understanding of the process of literary creation and to the appreciation of particular Spanish authors. His critical masterpiece, Reality and the Poet in Spanish Poetry (1940), contains six essays which focus on six different Spanish poets from medieval times to the nineteenth century. Salinas attempts to capture and comprehend the main theme of each author’s work by assessing his attitudes toward reality. The variety and scope of Salinas’s interpretations are also evident in his celebrated studies of the Modernista poet Rubén Darío and the medieval poet Jorge Manrique, and in the two published collections of his articles: Literatura española: Siglo XX (1941, 1949; twentieth century Spanish literature) and Ensayos de literatura hispánica: Del “Cantar de mío Cid” a García Lorca (1958; essays in Hispanic literature: from “Poem of the Cid” to García Lorca).
In contrast to his poetry and literary criticism, which he wrote and published throughout his creative years, Salinas’s narrative prose represents the work of two distinct periods: his early beginnings as a writer and his final years. The early works are extremely lyric and impressionistic, almost like poems in prose, and they contain the same themes ever prominent in his poetry: love, illusion, fate, the poet. The later short stories represent a marked development in Salinas’s narrative art. Each possesses a complex plot in which he combines lyricism, mystery, irony, humor, and criticism of the modern world. Salinas’s only novel, La bomba increíble (1950; the incredible bomb), develops his concern about the ominous contemporary possibility: the destruction of the world by the atomic bomb. This allegorical satire of modern life ends, however, with the triumph of love.
Salinas’s plays (two three-act plays and twelve one-act plays) are the fruit of his mature years. With respect to their content, they, like the narratives, are for the most part an extension of his poetic work. Of particular significance are the themes of communication, love, brotherhood, illusion versus reality, human happiness, the poetic imagination, and the dehumanization of modern humankind.