Skip to Content

Enjuto Rangel publishes book on the poetry of ruins in modernity

CitiesWhy and how do ruins serve as metaphors for the poetic critique of modernity, the past and the present? In her new book Cities in Ruins: The Politics of Modern Poetics (Purdue University Press, 2010), Assistant Professor of Spanish Cecilia Enjuto Rangel explains how poets like Charles Baudelaire, Luis Cernuda, T.S. Eliot, Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda uncover ruins to reread and rewrite their own historical and literary traditions. For Enjuto-Rangel, poetry about ruins is part of the modern critique of progress, of modernization, and of the brutality of war. The topic of the contemplation of the ruins has roots in the Classics, and is seen time again during the Baroque and Romantic periods, both in Europe and Latin America. Cities in Ruins, however, is the first serious study of modern ruins in modern poetry.

In Cities in Ruins, Enjuto Rangel shows how unlike their Romantic predecessors, who tended toward melancholic representations of the past, modern poems historicize ruins, avoiding a narcissistic reading of destruction. This “awakening” to history can also be tainted by urban traumatic experiences and the marginalization of both material and human ruins from the modern city.

Enjuto Rangel

Cities in Ruins contributes to the redefinition of the field of Transatlantic Studies, and focuses on the particular and crucial role of poetry as a genre that allows for the questioning of nationalistic boundaries. Accordingly, Enjuto Rangel’s book looks at poets from Spain, Latin America, France, and England.