Ariel by José Enrique Rodó

By José Enrique Rodó

Trans., ed. Margaret Sayers Peden

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In art, where a sense of the exquisite finds its most natural application, resound the profound reverberations of what we might label the estrangement of the spirit from modern life. To hear these notes, we do not have to return to the delicate, enervated Parnassianism in which an aristocratic disdain for the present led to seclusion in the past. Among the constant inspirations of Flaubert—from whom the most democratized of our literary schools directly descends—no inspiration was more intense than hatred for the mediocrity enshrined by the leveling process, and for the irresponsible tyranny of numbers.

In art, where a sense of the exquisite finds its most natural application, resound the profound reverberations of what we might label the estrangement of the spirit from modern life. To hear these notes, we do not have to return to the delicate, enervated Parnassianism in which an aristocratic disdain for the present led to seclusion in the past. Among the constant inspirations of Flaubert—from whom the most democratized of our literary schools directly descends—no inspiration was more intense than hatred for the mediocrity enshrined by the leveling process, and for the irresponsible tyranny of numbers.

Subsequently, their history is characterized by a uniformity that, although it may lack diversity in skills and values, does possess the intellectual beauty of logic. The traces of their presence will never be erased from the annals of human rights. From tentative essays and U t o p i a n visions, they were the first to evoke our modern ideal of liberty, forging imperishable bronze and living reality from concepts. With their example they have demonstrated the possibility of imposing the unyielding authority of a republic upon an enormous national organism.

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