Illuminating Paradise: The Motif of the Moon in Vicente Aleixandre’s Sombra del paraíso

As Spain fell into the shadows of paradise lost after the Spanish Civil War, surviving members of the Generation of 1927 conveyed their suffering in verse. Vicente Aleixandre (1898-1984) was a Spanish poet and member of the Generation of 1927 who lived in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and subsequent dictatorship. Aleixandre draws inspiration from his childhood in Málaga, the “City of Paradise”, and his experiences during the war to depict paradise and paradise lost in his book of long poems written at the midpoint of his career called Sombra del paraíso (Shadow of Paradise) (1944). Critics have overlooked mentioning that Aleixandre does not explicitly state whether each poem belongs to the world of paradise or paradise lost. In this paper, I explore how the book’s six sections alternate between depictions of paradise and paradise lost to create a sense of nostalgia for paradise. Arising from archival research conducted in Madrid and Málaga, Spain during summer 2016 and the close reading of specific poems in the book, I argue that the motif of the moon exemplifies Aleixandre’s opposition between paradise as a bright place and the moonless lost paradise. This stark opposition and the inability to reconcile these two worlds illustrates the difference between Aleixandre’s life during the Generation of 1927’s prime and the hardships that Spain faced during Francisco Franco’s dictatorship. This paper thus draws from Spanish history and Aleixandre’s biography to demonstrate how they shape his conceptions of paradise and paradise lost in Sombra del paraíso.


  • Spanish Peninsular Studies