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Spanish Baroque literature

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Literature of Spain
• Medieval literature
Miguel de Cervantes
Generation of '98
Generation of '27
• Literature subsequent to the Civil War

Spanish Baroque literature is the literature written in Spain during the Baroque, which occurred during the 17th century.[citation needed]

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  • ✪ Baroque Spain
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  • ✪ Luther and the Protestant Reformation: Crash Course World History #218


This next video covers Baroque art in Spain. And the Baroque in Spain has some similarities to that of Italy, but with some differences, so we'll try to point those out as we go along. First off, we tend to see more macabre, grittier scenes in Spain. We see a lot of representations in the form of wooden sculptures. Some sculptures were used in processions -- religious processions, Holy Week processions. One of the most famous sculptors at the time was Gregorio Fernández. What we see here is a wooden sculpture that polychromed. This one was not used in processions. It was used in an altarpiece, but it reveals some of those ideas of Baroque Realism. It's very vivid. It looks very alive, and by choosing to represent the Reclining Christ as polychromed -- painted wood -- instead of using marble. You create a very different effect. You make the figure look much more alive! Much more vivid! And so, you can really highlight the pain and the suffering -- and remember that at this time, things like the Spiritual Exercises, contemplating the suffering of Christ were very, very important, and so sculptures like this were used as tools in achieving those exercises, those prayers, things like that. So I'm showing you a couple of views of the same sculpture. And the idea here is that he's slightly tilted to the side, so that you can clearly see the fifth wound here. You can his wound in a different version [photo] here. The nail wounds are clearly visible, so the idea here is that those part of your contemplation and part of the visual that's being created. And about 5 feet long, so it's a a little less than life-size. What we'll mainly be focusing on is painting! And so we'll start off looking at José de Ribera -- or Jusepe de Ribera. He went by both names. He worked primarily in southern Italy, which at the time was a Spanish territory, and so he was connected to both traditions: Italian and Spanish. So as we look at this work, "St. Jerome with the Angel," we can see that he's clearly drawing on some of the traditions of Caravaggio. So, if you remember back to the Contarelli chapel in Rome, done by Caravaggio, where you have those three scenes of St. Matthew, this is very similar to the "Inspiration of St. Matthew," where St. Matthew was dressed in red, and then you have the angel above him inspiring him. Well here, this is where St. Jerome has gone off into the desert. He's removed himself from the temptations of the city, and he's gone off, and he is leaving the traditions of paganism behind. He's contemplating his mortality. He's contemplating the ideas of salvation perhaps of Christianity. And the idea that he's going off to write his translation. He's going to create The Vulgate [Latin translation of the Bible]. And so, what we see here is St. Jerome looking older, but also weathered. If we zoom in, if you can just see this passage here, this portion of his stomach. It looks slack and loose, and it looks so very real, so the idea hear is you have a combination of the toned flesh, the pale flesh of the angel, who's appearing to him and inspiring him in a vision, and then you have the weathered look of Jerome, who's been out in the desert suffering. So, very, very important in this period of Counter Reformation Spain. Spain is a very Catholic area at this point. José de Ribera also created the Martyrdom of St. Philip. This is also strikingly similar to The Martyrdom or Crucifixion of St. Peter, which was from that Cerasi Chapel by Caravaggio. And, so you have the same idea where the martyr -- that figure who is about to be killed is spotlit -- right in the center. José de Ribera is definitely is working in a Baroque Realism tradition. And so you see the body being stretched, and then you see one of his executioners. They are usually very faceless. This one is coming out towards us -- we can see a little bit of his face. But really he just looks kind of monstrously large, and he's this foreshortened figure that's coming out towards us. So, it highlights the brutality of it. It's definitely placing it in a classical period or period or in the time around Christ. So he's tried to add these classical columns to orient you there. But it's a very gritty scene overall. You can see the dirtiness of the flesh, the wear on the body. And all this is very common in Ribera's work. Another example of Ribera's work is a "Boy with a Club Foot." And what we sometimes see in Spanish painting is an interest in the unusual -- an interest in the unexpected. Ribera actually created a very famous work of a bearded woman. There's a number of representations of dwarfs [in the work of Velázquez], and in this example José de Ribera is representing a boy with club foot. And so we see here is a boy who, even with all the trials and tribulations that life has thrown him, even though he clearly a man of very few means, he looks very happy. He's smiling, and this is the first example where we've seen someone really smiling with their teeth here. We really don't see that very frequently in paintings -- big smiles are usually associated with the lower classes -- so that could be a reason why Ribera is incorporating here. But also the idea that that this young man isn't bothered by his condition -- that he seems very happy, and that he has faith, and we know that he has faith because he's holding a little note that says "give me for the love of God" ["DA MIHI ELEMOSINAM PROPTER AMOREM DEI"] -- basically please get me alms! And he's holding on to his crutch, but in a very grand way almost like a king, or almost like he's going out on a hunt. So even for one who is facing such challenges, he's being presented in a very, very grand way. He's standing up high on the horizon, as if he controls all of this land. And Ribera's not creating a large panel painting that would happen have overwhelmed the figure [of the boy], he's really making this figure dominate the scene. So it's somewhat unusual. Our next focus piece is Francisco de Zurbarán's "Still Life with Lemons, Oranges, and a Rose" from 1633 -- it's actually signed and dated. And so what we see here is a three-part still life -- so remember still lives are new subjects. We really didn't have those before -- so still lives, landscapes, genre scenes (genre scenes are just scenes of everyday life). These are new things during this period, new subjects that are in addition to portraits and then history paintings. So let's focus in on this still live. What we see here is the lemons, the oranges with some blossoms on top of it, and then a rose and a cup of water. So, usually the first thing people think of is the Trinity -- this idea that there must be some kind of symbolism in this very carefully arranged group. You have three parts -- ideas of God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. Other possibility could be associations with the Virgin Mary. So a lot of people say there's this cup of water -- this beautiful ceramic cup -- sitting on a silver pewter plate, and then it has a pure cup of water in it. So the idea of speaking to purity, and then a rose, and a rose is often associated with the Virgin, And this rose actually has no thorns -- it's very, very hard to see here. But there's actually a stem, and it has no thorns. So, in the fact that it's this beautiful thing with nothing bad or dangerous about it -- everything bad has been taken away -- and not to the Virgin was equated to, or associated with. And then also we have these white blossoms -- these orange blossoms -- which always smell so sweet. These can also be associated with purity, so some people believe that as well. Some people have associated the fruit with the passion [of Christ], so there have been a number of readings to it, but it's important to know that there most likely is some kind of larger Christian significance to this arrangement, and that still lives aren't just to be read as literal representations of whatever they are. You are usually supposed to read it a bit more deeply -- symbolically, allegorically. There is usually a number of levels to get through, so that something to think about. Our most famous painter from what we call the Spanish Golden Age is Diego Velázquez. He created this painting when he was relatively young. So this is one of his early paintings. It's called "Old Woman Cooking Eggs," and what we see here is painting that really shows off his skills. This is a period where Velázquez is making his way as a painter, and eventually he will be named "Painter of the King [Pintor del Rey] to the Habsburg court, and clearly he's trying to show off what he can do. And so, what we see here in "'The Old Woman cooking Eggs" is that he's showing us his ability to represent a variety of different materials. It's overwhelming the variety that he has here. So first off, focusing in on the action that's happening here with this old woman cooking eggs, is you can these vessel holding the eggs, and you really can't the eggs cooking before your very eyes. You can see them becoming solidified. And then you can see a vessel that's brass or different metal vessels. You can see a ceramic vessel that's glazed on top and more basic earthenware on the bottom, a knife that lays across with a perfect shadow ,a metal spoon back here, a basket, so just a huge variety of different object that he's representing -- almost like a still life, but then he's making it more of a narrative scene. We're not sure what the story is here -- if there is a story, we're lost the source for it, but there seems to be a play of opposites happening -- that's what some people have said -- where you have an older woman and a young boy, so old and young male and female, and so all this kind of acting as a contrast, again showing what he can do. He can paint old people; he paint young people; he can paint men; he can paint women. So clearly, as young man, Diego Velázquez is showing off what he can do in this painting. And if you have a chance to zoom in on it, definitely do so. Another famous work by Velázquez is "Los Borrachos" -- and "Los Borrachos" is a painting of the drinkers or the drunkards. And so what we see here is Velázquez's work in a mythological or pagan subject, so of course we're in very Catholic, Counter Reformation Spain, so if Velázquez is going to work in this type of subject matter, he has to do it pretty cautiously. He spends time in Italy. He's exposed to this type of subject matter, but he just have to do it a little differently in Spain, and so what we see here is a representation of Bacchus very similar to how we might see a Bacchus by Caravaggio -- a Bacchus that looks very earthy, and like a boy that, you know, would just be in your studio that you could paint. And then we see him here with men, who clearly have that gritty, aged skin -- kind of like that contrast we saw in the Ribera between the angel and St. Jerome. So, men who have been working, and one of them is being crowned by Bacchus. And the idea here is probably that these men have been working all day. and the idea is at the end of the day they're enjoying their drink, and that's what Bacchus provides -- he provides leisure and respite and relaxation. So, that's what we see actually represented in this painting. Another Velázquez is the surrender at Breda. At this point, he had become painter of the king. The king is Philip IV. And Philip IV at this points is a wonderful collector of art, but, at this point, the Habsburg dynasty is losing power; there starting to lose lands; and they're running out of money. They are bankrupting themselves. They're not getting as much gold in the New World they once did. However, that doesn't stop them from using a lot of propaganda, so we see here are things like "The Surrender at Breda," which was displayed in one of the palaces in Madrid [Palacio del Buen Retiro] in the Hall of the Realms to display how big and how powerful the Spanish Empire was. So what we see here is a general receiving the surrender up the group at Breda, so this is in northern Europe. And so what we see here is kind of a rag-tag army that's presenting the key to the general here. And the Spanish side clearly looks much more organized, much more powerful, and you can see there's think it's burning in the background, but the idea here is that the Spanish weren't brutal in the way they took over this town, and they were very kind about it -- at least that's how they would like you they were -- they would wanted you to think they conducted this conquering -- or re-conquering right to put down any revolts. So, this functions as part of the propaganda -- even though Spain is kind of on the downward spin at this point. And, in fact, the Habsburgs will eventually fall out of power. Velázquez's most famous work is "Las Meninas" -- a very, very famous painting, and key message here is that Velázquez is asserting his social status. It's, of course, celebrating the royal family. The way it's created is extremely unusual. Nothing like this had ever been painted before. So, what we see here is Velázquez, who's putting himself in your room with the royal family. We have the infanta here -- the daughter of the king. And then we have the king and queen just entering into the room, and we don't see their bodies represented -- you just see the reflection [of their faces and upper bodies]. And so, if fact, we are in the place of the king and queen, and, in fact, this would have been in the king's office. So we become the king, as we're viewing this painting. And so we see the infanta, the king and queen behind her, the ladies-in-waiting or the Las Meninas -- the maids of honor for the infanta. We see two dwarfs here, which are common in the court, a dog that's being slightly tormented, chaperone and a bodyguard, a man who's opening the doors as the king and queen move through. And the moment here is as the king and queen enter, everyone's stopping to look up, of course, because they're that main attraction. Veázquez is here as I mentioned, and then there's copies after Rubens up here [decorating the walls of the room]. Velázquez really is trying to say: you know I am a painter of high status; I hang out with the king and queen; I am an individual of great significance. And, in fact, he had this cross of St. James painted onto his chest. What is he painting here? Probably it is supposed to be "Las Meninas." It could be a large portrait of the infanta; it could be a large portrait of the king and fact that could be a quick chat the key queen. There's a lot of debate about this work that will continue to happen over a long period of time. The last Velázquez is the Roekby Venus. Clearly he's grappling with ideas of mythology and images from Italy. We see here rather than a front-facing Venus, one who's turned away from us. But, again, he's playing with ideas of reflection, and clearly he's incorporating that Cupid with the wings. And he's also exploring ideas of vanity. Our final examples come from the Ultra Baroque period [in Mexico], just showing you some churches very quickly, where you can see some of the ornate decoration that's included in Santa Prisca and then Santa Maria Tonantzintla [I finish this rushed discussion of the Ultra Baroque in Mexico in another video.]


Characteristics of the Baroque

The Baroque[where?] is characterized by the following features:[citation needed]

  • Pessimism: The Renaissance had been not successful in its purpose of imposing the harmony and the perfection over the world, as the humanists tried, and neither had made man happier; war and social inequalities continued; misery and calamity were common throughout Europe. An intellectual pessimism became more and more marked, together with a carefree character (of which the period's comedies and rogue narrations - on which the picaresque novels are based) give testimony.
The Dance of Death. Monument to Calderón, Madrid.
The Dance of Death. Monument to Calderón, Madrid.
  • Disappointment: As Renaissance ideals failed and, in the case of Spain, political power continued to ebb, disappointment grew and was manifest in literature which in many cases recalled that of two centuries before, as in the Dance of Death or the Poems on the Death of my Father by Manrique. According to Quevedo, life is formed by "successions of deceased": the new born ones become them, from the diaper to the shroud. In conclusion, nothing temporal has importance, it is necessary only to obtain eternal salvation.
  • Preoccupation about the passage of time.
  • Loss of confidence in the ideals of the Renaissance.

In view of the crisis of the Baroque, Spanish writers reacted in several ways:

  • Escapism: The avoidance of reality, through singing past feats and glories, or through presenting an ideal world in which problems are resolved and order prevails; this is the case of the theater of Lope de Vega and his followers. Others, meanwhile, took refuge in the world of art and mythology, as in the case of Luis de Góngora.
  • Satire: Another group of writers chose to make fun of the reality, like Quevedo, Góngora on some occasions, and in the picaresque novel.
  • Stoicism: Complaints on the vanity of the world, the fleetingness of beauty, life, and fame. The greatest exponent of this was Calderón de la Barca in the autos sacramentales.
  • Moralizing: Criticizing the defects and vices, and proposing models of conduct in line with the political and religious ideology of their time, typified by the narrative and doctrinal prose of Gracián and of Saavedra Fajardo.


Miguel de Cervantes

The narrative of the 17th century opens with the figure of Miguel de Cervantes, who returned to Spain in 1580 after ten years absence.

His first printed work was The Galatea (1585). It is a pastoral novel (see Spanish Renaissance literature) in six books of verse and prose, according to the model of the Diana of Montemayor; although it breaks with the tradition when introducing realistic elements, like the murder of a shepherd, or the agility of certain dialogues.

In 1605 he published The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, with immediate success.

In 1613 the Exemplary novels appeared. They are a collection of twelve short novels that look for an ideal, although this is not always clear.

In 1615, Cervantes published the second part of Don Quixote.

In 1617, a year after Cervantes died, The works of Persiles and Sigismunda appeared. It draws on the Byzantine and Greek novelists such as Heliodorus (3rd century CE) and his The Ethiopian Story of Theagenes and Chariclea. It relates, in four books, how Periandro and Auristela travel from northern territories of Norway or Finland to Rome to receive Christian marriage. As is typical of this subgenre, throughout the trip they experience a variety of trials, mishaps, and delays: captivity by Barbarians, the jealousy and machinations of rivals. The work takes advantage of resources of the Exemplary Novels - especially the italianizing ones - puzzles, confusions, disguises, etc.

Francisco de Quevedo

Francisco de Quevedo wrote towards 1604 his first work of prose fiction : the picaresque novel titled The Life Story of the Sharper called Don Pablos, example of wanderers and mirror of scrooges.

Quevedo also wrote satirical, political and moral prose works where a stoic morality predominates, where subjects like the criticism of archetypes of the society of the Baroque, the constant presence of death in the life of man, and Christian fervor whereupon the politics has to conduct itself.

The first of his Dreams dates from 1605: The Dream of the Judgment narrates the resurrection of the dead, who must answer for the manner of their life. It is a social satire against professions or trades: jurists, doctors, butchers...

In 1619 he wrote the Politics of God, government of Christ and tyranny of Satan, a political treatise which expounds a doctrine of good government, or 'mirror of princes', for a righteous king, who should have Jesus Christ for model of conduct. It is a treatise in conformity with Spanish anti-Machiavellism, proposing a politics free of intrigue and unconnected with bad influences.

Towards 1636 Quevedo concluded his last great satirical prose: The hour of everybody and the Fortune with prudence, unpublished until 1650. In it, Jupiter requests Fortune to give for one hour what each individual truly deserves. This makes plain the falsity of appearances, and the hidden truth under the veils of the hypocrisy. Operating by antithesis Quevedo shows doctors who are in fact executioners, the rich as poor but thieving, and a whole gallery of social types, offices and states is presented, all implacably satirized.

Marcus Brutus (1644) arises from glosses or commentaries to the biography that Plutarch wrote on this Latin statesman in his Parallel lives.

Baltasar Gracián

The most important work of the second half of the century is The Critical one (1651–1657) of the Aragonese Jesuit Baltasar Gracián (1601–1658). With it, the Spanish novel is solved in concepts or abstractions. The idea prevails over the concrete figure. It is a philosophical novel written in form of allegory of the human life.

Gracián cultivated didactic prose in treatises of moral intention and practical purpose, like The Hero (1637), The Politician don Fernando the Catholic (1640) or The Discreet one (1646). In them he creates a full series that exemplifies the exemplary, prudent and sagacious man, and the qualities and virtues that must adorn him.

The Manual oracle and art of prudence is a set of three hundred aphorisms composed to help the reader prevail in the complex world-in-crisis of the 17th century. (An English version of this dense treatise has been sold as a manual of self-help for executives and has obtained a recent publishing success.)

He also wrote a rhetoric of Baroque literature, that starts from the texts to redefine the figures of speech of the time, because they did not relate to the classical models. It is a treaty on the concept, which he defines as "an act of the understanding which expresses the correspondence that is found between the objects". That is to say, a concept is every association between ideas or objects. To their classification and dissection Gracián dedicated his Art of talent, treatise on the witticism (1642), extended and reviewed in the later Witticism and art of talent (1648).

The style of Gracián is dense and polysemous. It is constructed of brief sentences, abundant plays on words, and the ingenious association of concepts.

Gracián's attitude to life is one of disillusionment, based on the decay of Spanish society. The world is seen as a hostile space full of deceit and illusion triumphing over virtue and truth, where Man is a self-interested and malicious being. Many of his books are manuals of behavior that allow the reader to succeed gracefully in spite of the maliciousness of his fellow men. For this, he must be prudent and wise, have knowledge of life and the motivations of others, until the point to behave "to the occasion" and "to play of the" dissimulation.

Gracián is recognized as precursor of existentialism, he also influenced French moralists like La Rochefoucauld, and, in the 19th century, the philosophy of Schopenhauer.

Other writers of prose

  • Lope de Vega stands out, whose well-known Novels to Marcia Leonarda can be singled out. They are a collection of miscellaneous novels, brief works, of amorous thematic and intricate technique, in which verse and prose are mixed. Charged with erudition, and subject to frequent and tedious digressions, they are set in exotic atmospheres and peopled with colorful characters. But Lope de Vega is primarily known as one of the greatest of Spanish playwrights, and his plays are written in verse.
  • Mateo Alemán y de Enero (Seville, 1547 - Mexico, 1615) was the author of the picaresque novel Life of the rascal Guzmán de Alfarache, published in 1599. This work established the canon of the genre. It achieved a formidable success in Spain and Europe, and was well known as "the rascal of Alemán". In 1604 the second part of the Guzmán de Alfarache was published in Lisbon. The European success of this work was formidable: it was translated almost immediately into Italian in the Venetian presses of Barezzi in 1606; published in German in Munich in 1615; J. Chapelain translated the two parts of the novel to the French and published them in Paris in 1620; two years later the English version was printed in London by James Mabbe who, in an extraordinary prologue, says of the rascal Guzmán that he was "similar to a ship, that sails on the brink of the shore, and never finishes taking port".
  • Alonso de Castillo Solórzano (1584–1648), native of Tordesillas (Valladolid), was a very popular novelist, author of The girl of the lies Teresa de Manzanares (1632), Adventures of the Trapaza Bachelor (1637) and The marten of Seville and hook of the bags (1642). They are picaresque works in which novels, poems and some entremés are mixed, as we have already seen in Lope de Vega.
  • Not without reason the Madrilenian María de Zayas y Sotomayor (1590–1661) is considered an important novelist of the century. In 1637 her Loving and exemplary novels appear, a collection of ten stories in which the erotic thematic creates conflicting and surprising situations.
  • Luis Vélez de Guevara (1579–1644), Sevillian, a follower of Francisco de Quevedo and author of "The devil cojuelo" (1641), a social satire accompanied by allegorical figures.
  • Antonio de Solís y Ribadeneyra (1610–1686), born in Alcala de Henares, was a dramatist and student of law at the University of Salamanca. His plays brought him fame which led to his post as secretary to the Count of Oropesa and later service at the royal courts of Philip IV and Charles II. Eventually appointed official chronicler of the Indies, his work Historia de la Conquista de Mexico (1684) is considered one of the last great works of Golden Age prose and it remained a standard European source on the Americas up through the Enlightenment.

This half of the century closes with the Life and facts of Estebanillo González, man of good humor (Antwerp, 1646). It narrates his life (1608–1646) as servant of many masters, and soldier in several causes. It displays many characteristic themes of the picaresque genre: swindles, fights, deceits, drunkenness, robberies and prostitution.

Religious prose shines with Miguel de Molinos (1628–1696), originally from Teruel but settled in Rome. His quietist doctrine can be read in Spiritual guide (1675), a manual of contemplative mysticism which despises action.


Luis de Góngora and Francisco de Quevedo were the two most important poets. They were enemies and composed many bitter (and funny) satirical pieces attacking each other.

Luis de Góngora

Luis de Góngora by Diego Velázquez.
Luis de Góngora by Diego Velázquez.

Góngora's lyric collection consists of numerous sonnets, odes, ballads, songs for guitar, and of certain larger poems, such as the Soledades and the Polifemo, the two landmarks of culteranismo.

Góngora alternates popular poetry with a more cultured one. That way he tries to emulate the style of Ancient Romans and Greeks poets using moreover their mythology. The usage of words that come directly from Latin and its complex syntax make him a difficult author to understand. [1]

Francisco de Quevedo

Quevedo's poetry first appeared in an anthology by Pedro de Espinosa, Flowers of Illustrious Poets (1605). Quevedo was a master of conceptismo, a movement in opposition to culteranismo.

The theater

Theatrical performances of this time took place in open sites, squares or fixed corrals: the corrals of comedies. They began around two in the afternoon and lasted until dusk. In general they did not have seats, and spectators remained standing throughout the performance. The nobility occupied balconies and windows of houses that surrounded the square or led to the corral, and ladies attended the spectacle with their faces covered with masks or obscured behind lattice windows. The function began with a performance on guitar of a popular piece; immediately, songs accompanied with diverse instruments were sung. The praise came soon, species of explanation of the merits of the work and synthesis of its argument. The main comedy or work then started, and in the intervals dances were executed or entremeses represented.

The stage was a simple platform and the decoration a curtain. The changes of scene were announced by one of the actors.

The poet wrote the comedy, paid by the director, to whom he yielded all the rights on the work, represented or printed, to modify the text. The works lasted three or four days in the billboard, or (with exceptions) fifteen days for a successful comedy.

Juan de la Cueva, in the second half of the 16th century, introduced two elements of great importance for the boom of this artistic production: popular ethics, that gave origin to the comedies of national historical character, and the freedom to compose plays considering popular taste. Lope de Vega and Tirso de Molina took these characteristics to their furthest extent.

Lope de Vega

At the end of the 16th century Lope de Vega created the new comedy: to a theme of romantic character is added another theme, historical or legendary, of moriscos, of captives, or religious. It concludes with a happy ending. Constructed on three days, the redondilla or the décima is used in the dialogues, the romance in the narrations, the sonnet in the monologues and the tercet in serious situations.

The new art to make comedies, written in 1609, is a humorous defense of his theater. He shows scorn about the rigid interpretation that the theorists of the Renaissance—mostly Italian—had done of the Aristotelian ideas on the theatre, and he proposes as values, naturalness as opposed to artifice, variety as opposed to unity, and considering popular taste.

Among his prolific dramatic production, some works can be singled out:

Peribáñez and the Commander of Ocaña (1604–12) is a tragicomedy set in 1406 in Toledo: Peribáñez understands that the Commander of Ocaña has overwhelmed him with honors to harass his woman. After killing him he wins the royal pardon.

Around 1614 Lope composed one of his better tragicomedies: Fuenteovejuna. Following the Chronicle of the three orders (Toledo, 1572) of Francisco de Rades [es], it shows the abuses by the Commander Fernán Gómez de Guzmán of the neighbors of Fuenteovejuna and of Laurencia, newly married with Frondoso. The murder of the Commander by the town and pardon by the Catholic Monarchs in the light of the evidence finishes off the action. A popular revolt triggered by abuse of power is presented, but only concerning a particular injustice, and submission to the king is emphasized.

The Knight of Olmedo (about 1620-25), tragedy rooted in the Celestina, is based on a popular cantar: Don Alonso dies at the hands of Don Rodrigo, jealous at losing Doña Ines.

The Best Mayor, The King is about the dignity of the farmer: Don Tello, haughty nobleman, abuses Elvira, engaged to the farmer Sancho. Alfonso VII allows her to recover her reputation, making her marry Don Tello, and then executes Don Tello, to make the—now noble—widow marry Sancho.

Calderón de la Barca

The other great dramatist of the 17th century was Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–1681). His most famous work is Life is a dream (1635), a philosophical drama in which Segismundo, son of the king of Poland, is chained in a tower because of the fateful predictions of the royal astrologers that he will kill his father. Meanwhile, Rosaura proclaims in the Court that her honor has been violated by Duke Astolfo. Duke Astolfo courts Estrella in order to become king. The aggressiveness of Segismundo explodes when he is released from his tower, where he returns, chained, believing he has dreamed his experience of freedom. When a riot rescues him again, his will overcomes the predictions: he overcomes his violent nature, marries Rosaura to Astolfo, and accepts the hand of Estrella.

El alcalde de Zalamea may have been first staged in 1636 or 37. It was printed in 1651. First translated into English as The Garrotte Better Given, from 1683 on the title was more accurately rendered as The Mayor of Zalamea. It presents the story of the rape of Isabel, daughter of Pedro Crespo, by the captain Alvaro de Ataide. Pedro Crespo being named mayor, he kills de Ataide. The king listens to his defense and Crespo presents his reasons. He is then pardoned by the King. This customary drama of honor deals with Lope's similar theme of the honor of a peasant.


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  • "El Barroco español" (1943-44), Estilo y estructura en la literatura española, L. Spitzer, Crítica, Barcelona, 1980.
  • El Pinciano y las teorías literarias del Siglo de Oro, S. Shepard, Gredos, Madrid, 1970.
  • Hacia el concepto de la sátira en el siglo XVII, A. Pérez Lasheras, Universidad de Zaragoza, 1995.
  • El prólogo en el Manierismo y Barroco españoles, A. Porqueras Mayo, CSIC, Madrid, 1968.
  • La teoría poética en el Manierismo y Barroco españoles, A. Porqueras Mayo, Puvill, Barcelona, 1989.
  • La prosa didáctica en el siglo XVII, Asunción Rallo, Taurus, Madrid, 1988.

See also


  1. ^ [1] Cultura Andaluza, Francisco Alejo Fernández, Juan Diego Caballero Oliver, José Luis González Rapela,Esteban Moreno Hernández, Jose Luis Moreno Navarro/ Página 258
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