*Revista de Occidente
Revista de Occidente
Spanish journal, 1923–
Revista de Ocddente (Western review), an international journal of humanistic inquiry, was founded in 1923 by the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset. Its publication history is divided into four distinct periods, the first of which runs from the year of its founding to 1963, the second from 1963 to 1975, the third from 1975 to 1977, and the fourth from 1980 to the present. In addition to continuity of name, the magazine’s four stages are linked by their shared commitment to providing the cultured, though not necessarily erudite, reader of Spanish with a cosmopolitan variety of rigorously conceived writings on contemporary issues in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences. They are unified by the pursuit of the ideals displayed in Revista de Ocddente’s first epoch prior to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, when the charismatic Ortega himself controlled the journal’s editorial agenda.
Ortega’s audacious aim in founding Revista de Occidente was, as Evelyne López Campillo (1972) has said, to create “a journal that would bring the Spanish reader up to date on all the new ideas in every domain of culture.” For Ortega, becoming intellectually “up to date” meant becoming highly conversant not only with the ideas and attitudes of the outstanding contemporary thinkers of Spain, but more importantly, with those of the finest intellectuals of Europe. Almost from the time he began publishing articles in his family’s newspaper, El Imparcial (The impartial), in 1904, Ortega had repeatedly advocated the need to “regenerate” a decadent Spain through the adoption of foreign, mainly European, ideas. As he said in his 1910 speech, “La pedagogía social como programa político” (Social pedagogy as political program), “Regeneration is the desire;
Europeanization is the means of satisfying it.”
In the period previous to the founding of Revista de Ocddente, during which Ortega wrote hundreds of newspaper articles, participated in the founding of four journals and one newspaper—Faro (1908–09; Beacon), Europa (1910; Europe), España (1915–24; Spain), El Espectador (1916–34; The spectator), and El Sol (1917–37; The sun)—and published his celebrated Meditaciones del Quijote (1914; Meditations on Quixote) and España invertebrada (1921; Invertebrate Spain), he conceived of the process of Europeanization largely in terms of the goal of radically transforming Spain’s political culture. By 1923, however, his doubts about the possibility of effecting such profound political change in his country (which had come to light as early as 1916 when he founded El Espectador as a self-styled refuge from political speculation) led Ortega to adopt an intellectual approach that was markedly less “Spanish” and “political” in its focus. The most immediate fruits of this new, more “universalist” orientation, which would only be reinforced by the fear of falling foul of the censorship of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship (September 1923–January 1930), are the appearance, in the summer of that year, of the essay “El tema de nuestro tiempo” (The modern theme), in which he outlines what would later become his concept of ratiovitalism, and the first issue of Revista de Ocddente.
Within months of its debut, Ernst Robert Curtius compared the Revista de Occidente favorably with the Nouvelle Revue Française (New French review), the Criterion, and the Neue Rundschau (The new review), widely considered to be the most prestigious cultural journals in Europe at that time. A look at its impressive list of collaborators would appear to confirm this judgment. From the German-speaking countries, which supplied the largest number of foreign contributors, came articles from, among many others, Carl Jung, Thomas Mann, Max Scheler, Georg Simmel, Albert Einstein, and Werner Heisenberg. From the English-speaking world there were contributions from Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell, George Santayana, Joseph Conrad, William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson, D.H. Lawrence, and Eugene O’Neill. Notable collaborators from other European countries included Jean Cocteau, Luigi Pirandello, Benedetto Croce, and Johan Huizinga.
Because Revista de Occidente did so much to promote the work of trans-Pyrenean luminaries within Spain, it is possible to overlook its important role in stimulating homegrown cultural production. In the magazine’s foundational period, Ortega’s famous tertulia, or discussion group, held regularly in the editorial offices of the Revista de Occidente, was, in the eyes of many, the epicenter of Spanish intellectual life. This gathering, together with the Revista’s allied publishing company (the purpose of which was to make the latest developments of intellectual thought in other countries available in Spanish translation) and, of course, the magazine itself, did much to promote the development of what became arguably the most cosmopolitan and widely read generation of Spanish intellectuals since the country’s vaunted Golden Age in the 16th and 17th centuries. Included in this impressive group of young writers were Rafael Alberti, Vicente Aleixandre, Dámaso Alonso, Max Aub, Francisco Ayala, Américo Castro, Luis Cernuda, Rosa Chacel, Federico García Lorca, Ramón de la Serna, Jorge Guillén, Benjamin Jarnés, Gregorio Marañón, José Antonio Maravall, Ramón Pérez de Ayala, and María Zambrano. Ortega had also originally hoped to encourage the broad participation of Latin American intellectuals in Revista de Occidente. Though important Latin American figures such as Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Eduardo Mallea, Victoria Ocampo, Alonso Reyes, and Torres Bodet did contribute articles to the journal, the vision of creating a truly pan-Hispanic intellectual forum was never fully realized.
What Ortega did undoubtedly accomplish with Revista de Occidente, however, was to create an institution which greatly furthered the process of more fully integrating what he liked to call the “select minorities” of Spanish society into the larger, and perhaps more intellectually demanding, context of modern European culture.
La recepción de lo nuevo: Antología de la Revista de Ocddente (1923–1936), edited by Magdalena Mora, Revista de Ocddente special issue, 146–47 (July–August 1993)
Selección y recuerdo de la Revista de Ocddente, Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1950
Calvet, Rosa, “Literatura francesa en la Revista de Ocddente I,” Epos 3 (1987):303–28
Calvet, Rosa, “Literatura francesa en la Revista de Occidente II,” Epos 4 (1988):437–67
Desde Occidente:70 años de Revista de Occidente, Madrid: Grupo Endesa, 1993
Escudero, Javier, “La ségunda epoca de Revista de Occidente (1963–1975): Historia y valoración,” Hispania 77, no. 2. (May 1994):185–96
López Campillo, Evelyne, La Revista de Occidente y la formación de minorías, 1923– 1936, Madrid: Taurus, 1972,
McClintock, Robert, Man and His Circumstances: Ortega as Educator, New York: Columbia Teachers College Press, 1971
Niedermayer, Franz, José Ortega y Gasset, New York: Ungar, 1973 (original German edition, 1959)
Sabugo Abril, A., “Pasión politica e intelectualidad creadora: De la revista España a Revista de Occidente” Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos 403–05 (January–March 1984):583–601
Segura Covarsi, Enrique, Indice de la Revista de Occidente, Madrid: Instituto “Miguel de Cervantes” del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1992,
Vicente, Arie, “Nación, raza y razones, en el ensayo español de los años 30 al 45,” Cuadernos de Aldeeu 7, no. 1 (April 1991): 67–85
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