September 20, 2022

Dear Members of Our Campus Community,

I am very saddened to share with you the news that Professor Emeritus David Bary passed away on June 28.

Professor Bary joined our faculty in 1958, and served as the chair of our Department of Spanish and Portuguese from 1965 to 1970, a pivotal time in the development and expansion of the department. He was a preeminent scholar of Spanish and Latin American poetry, an admired professor and campus leader, and an outstanding teacher and mentor. We are forever grateful for his dedication to our students and his lasting contributions to our department, campus, and society.

Our hearts go out to his family, friends, former students, and colleagues around the world. Our campus flag will be lowered in his honor on September 28.

I am honored to share the following tribute from Professor Harvey Sharrer and our Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

David Alan Bary (1924-2022)

David Bary, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, died June 28, 2022 of natural causes at age 97, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

David was born in San Francisco on October 25, 1924 and spent his early youth in the Bay Area and Idaho. As a high school student in Berkeley he studied both French and Spanish, languages in which he would later become fully fluent. In 1943 he served in the Merchant Marine followed by two years of study in Mexico City at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He then returned to Northern California and in 1948 received the A.B. degree in Latin American Studies from UC Berkeley. That same year he married Elisabeth Lloyd Goldsborough of Berkeley. He continued his studies at UC Berkeley, earning the M.A. degree in Spanish in 1950 and the Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures in 1956. Between 1955 and 1958 he served as an instructor and assistant professor at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

In 1958 David returned to California with Lloyd and their two children, Leslie and Paul, coming to Santa Barbara where he was appointed as assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at Santa Barbara College of the University of California, shortly to become a full-fledged UC campus. After receiving tenure in 1964 and a research trip to Spain, David served between 1965 and 1970 as chair of what was still a young Department of Spanish and Portuguese. It was a period of great expansion of degree programs and the hiring of new faculty, in addition to a time of widespread social turmoil and protest on and off-campus. During David’s years as chair new appointments included a variety of assistant professors and full professors, including two major scholars from Spain, literary critic and poet Arturo Serrano-Plaja and philosopher of ethics José Luis Aranguren, as well as Jorge de Sena, a preeminent Portuguese poet, novelist and critic, all three opposition figures against the then current dictatorships in Spain and Portugal. In addition to his departmental activities, David was a strong supporter of UCSB’s interdisciplinary Hispanic Civilization Program (today Latin American and Iberian Studies).

David Bary was a towering figure in the fields of 20th century Latin American and Spanish poetry, as well as in the Avant Garde movements Surrealism and Creacionismo. He was an intellectual visionary who began traversing continents and areas of expertise before “Transatlantic Studies” was formulated as a fruitful scholarly methodology. His highly innovative approach to research can be best summarized by an anecdote regarding Bary’s decision to write his dissertation, at UC Berkeley, on the Chilean poet Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948), the creator and leading practitioner of the literary movement called Creacionismo.

When David proposed to Professor Arturo Torres Rioseco (1897-1971), like Huidobro a Chilean and one of the many academic luminaries teaching at that time in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Berkeley, about writing his dissertation on Huidobro, Torres Rioseco responded: “Well, this is a minor poet and somewhat silly, you cannot make a career on this, but if you really want it then what the heck, I will direct it” (shared by daughter Professor Leslie Bary of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). It was with a book in Spanish, titled Huidobro o la vocación poética (1963), that David began a prestigious publication record that would be critically received as the most exciting interpretation of Huidobro’s work since the 1950s. In his second book, Larrea: Poesía y transfiguración (1976), David turned his attention to the Spanish surrealist poet Juan Larrea (1895-1980), also demonstrating in it his vast and comprehensive knowledge of the most important international poets and painters of the Avant Garde such as César Vallejo, Vicente Huidobro, Pablo Neruda, Tristan Tzara, Pablo Picasso, and Juan Gris, to name a few. In 1984 David published Nuevos estudios sobre Huidobro y Larrea; and in 1987 he translated Larrea’s poetry in A tooth for a tooth: selected poems of Juan Larrea (1925-1932). He also contributed to the cultural archive of 20th-century Spanish poetry by showcasing his personal correspondence with Larrea in Juan Larrea Epistolario: Cartas a David Bary (2004). He also published many articles on Larrea and Huidobro as well as on Valle-Inclán, César Vallejo, Federico García Lorca, José Hierro, Gabriel Celaya, and 20th-century Mexican prose fiction in the most prestigious venues in the United States, Spain, and Latin America.

Regarding his impactful publication profile, Silvia Bermúdez, current chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, fondly remembers her meticulous graduate training on contemporary Spanish and Latin-American poetry at the University of Southern California with Bary’s Poesía y transfiguración and Nuevos estudios sobre Huidobro y Larrea as required reading. To this date, however, she considers Bary’s masterful article “Sobre el nombrar poético en la poesía española contemporánea” (Papeles de Son Armadans 1967, 44: 161-189) a model of how to explain what poetry is and does.

David Bary’s prominence as a scholar was matched by his commitment as an undergraduate and graduate educator. The Department of Spanish and Portuguese is proud of his legacy to UCSB and our fields of enquiry and study.

Upon David’s retirement in 1988 he and Lloyd returned to Northern California, residing first in Carmel and then San Rafael in Marin County.  Lloyd died of cancer in 2014, after which David moved to nearby Mill Valley. In his advanced years he continued to be an avid reader of contemporary world literature and art gallery and museum devotee. He made many new friends and garnered new admirers.

In 2021, with declining health, he moved to St. Paul, near to his son Paul. Following his death, his ashes were spread July 10, 2022 outside the Golden Gate, at Kirby Cove in Marin County, the area of California he most identified with in his youth and post-retirement years. David is survived by daughter Leslie Bary of Louisiana, son Paul Bary and daughter-in-law Claudia Cohn Bary of Minnesota, and grand-daughter Karina Simone Bary, currently based in Sweden.


Henry T. Yang