Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia.


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Nebrija employs these cycles from the past to establish a structure that he can apply to the situation of Spain. In view of that motive, the history he provides cannot be taken at face value, for it exists only to substantiate the pattern he wishes to defend. Thus, although his rhetoric is historical rather than metaphysical, the model he employs is essentially typological. He cites literary figures to support his argument of linguistic and cultural domination, and while avoiding theories of divine inspiration Moses and Orpheus are merely the first writers in their respective traditions , he echoes the trope of the translatio imperii along with its accompanying translatio studii.

This echo is particularly evident in his exposition of the transition from Greece to Rome, motivated by the dissipation of Alexander's empire, which in turn made possible the Roman conquest of Greece. At the same time, Nebrija extends the decline forward to his own day, so that the ancient traditions have not totally disappeared, though they have been corrupted. On the one hand, as the first nation to decay, they have sunk the farthest, and thus they serve as a warning to the Castilians, appropriate in the year of the expulsion. On the other hand, Nebrija successfully privileges them: the reign of Solomon is the model for the reigns of Alexander and Augustus, and the Hebrew prophets are mentioned not at their pertinent historical moment but during his history of Rome.

Contemporary Jews still awaiting a Messiah may not realize it, but the fulfillment of their history occurred precisely at the apogee of Roman military and cultural power. It has reached its fullness in the reign of the present monarchs, through divine generosity but also because their diligent efforts have insured that the parts and members of Spain have been reunited. The subsequent religious purgation of Spain should guarantee its freedom from dissolution for hundreds of years; thus it is time for the arts of peace to flourish. Yet Nebrija also employs this connection to modulate from the history of the rise of Castile to its threatened decline.

Time is thus spatialized: the language of his Spanish contemporaries could be a foreign tongue to their descendants, and just as the decline of earlier empires had led to linguistic corruption and oblivion, the same thing could happen to Spain if the cycle were. Their majesties' chronicles and histories, written to ensure their immortality, would eventually expire along with the language, or survive weakened in translations.

Yet this decline need not occur, for the language has a champion in Nebrija, who has decided to regulate the Castilian tongue, so that whatever is written from then on may be of one kind, which can extend itself through time. The grammar will also help those wanting to learn Latin and, more importantly, foreigners wanting to learn Castilian. Nebrija recalls how, when he presented a sample to the queen and she inquired about its utility, the bishop of Avila Hernando de Talavera, later first archbishop of Granada answered for him that as she subjected new lands to her yoke, foreigners would need to be able to read the laws she decreed.

The extent of the empire Nebrija envisions is clear: not only Muslims in Africa will have to learn the language but also Basques, Navarrese, Frenchmen, and Italians. The key to Nebrija's concept of history is his notion that Castile is at a pivotal instant, which he links typologically to the rule of Solomon in Israel, Alexander in Greece, and Augustus in Rome. Not all nations achieve this moment, and it has literally moved westward and arrived in Spain. It is the time when great empires come into their own, but also when they begin to decline; and while ordinarily political dominance is accompanied by cultural hegemony, in Spain's case the latter feature is lagging.

Nebrija's grammar will facilitate the extension of the Spanish empire by allowing foreigners to learn the language, and its perpetuation by insuring that future generations will always be able to read it. Yet although the thrust of Nebrija's argument is clear, his method is subtle in its equivocations. The nature and the workings of the cycle are ambiguous, for the argument is mythological rather than scientific, and only in the case of Rome's conquest of Greece does he suggest how dominance is passed on. Language change is invoked only in terms of decline, and Nebrija's philological explanation of how Spanish evolved from Latin, present in other parts of the grammar, is absent from the prologue.

Moreover, in contrast to the quick succession of Greece and Rome, the fourteen-hundred-year lag between the latter and Spain begs a question about the regularity of the cycle, and the sense of belatedness is implicit in that Spain, supposedly at its peak, has nothing to rival classical and biblical literature. Yet while a decline in Spanish fortunes would seem an imminent and inevitable feature of the cycle, Nebrija holds out an uncertain promise for the sovereigns: perhaps his grammar will assure their immortality by allowing future generations to read their history; perhaps it will possess an efficacy allowing the further extension of the Spanish empire, at the cost of the peace that marks the apogee.

Although Nebrija never invokes the argument over arms and letters, he implies an ambiguous role for the aristocracy, on the one hand continuing to extend Spain's rule over neighboring countries, on the other, wasting their precious leisure reading novels and stories for lack of better alternatives. The empire can be extended only if Nebrija is successful in regulating the language of all Spaniards, so his function as grammarian will parallel that of the nobility as warriors.

In rhetoric, style, and ideology the prologue stands apart from the rest of the grammar, for there is something nearly apocalyptic in Nebrija's attitude regarding the translatio , a suggestion that Spain may—perhaps because it is the westernmost European country—be its fulfillment and thus escape the fated decline. Nebrija, instrumental in bringing the press to Salamanca, was surely aware of its capabilities for aiding the exercise of control over the national language. Yet such messianism is absent from the rest of the grammar, even from the special prologue to book 5, devoted to the teaching of Spanish to foreigners.

Moreover, throughout the grammar, but particularly in the chapter de-. Encina's Cancionero is notable in Spanish literary history as the first major published collection of secular poetry by a living author; his close links with Nebrija's circle in Salamanca suggest that Encina himself may have supervised the edition. The general prologue dedicates the entire book to the Catholic monarchs:.

The ancient mythological poets say that Prometheus son of Iapetus, accustomed to making human bodies out of mud, rose to heaven with Minerva's help and took from the wheel of the sun some fire with which he gave life and soul to those bodies. And so I, in this way, seeing myself in favor with the duke and duchess of Alba, my lords, rose to the heights of contemplating your excellencies by reaching just a spark of your splendor, so as to introduce vital spirits into my dead labor of mud. In this opening image, masterfully analyzed by Andrews 85—91 , Encina exhibits the combination of obsequiousness and arrogance,.

By the repetition of the word "favor," his current patrons are reduced to types of Minerva, boosting him up to heaven, with which the monarchs are identified, while he associates his work of poetic creation with Prometheus's divine creation of life. As Andrews notes, "The exaltation of the King and Queen is not 'free,' but is intermeshed with considerations of personal import.

As one who has contemplated their excellence, who has tapped the moving force of their effective virtue and who has handled a flash of their brightness, Encina enters the realm of the select servants of their divine magnificence" The message is clear: if they patronize him, only greater glory both for him and for them will ensue. Yet the prologue is also permeated with a fear of rejection, expressed in what Andrews called "a humility almost without modesty" 90 , and in warnings about "detratores y maldizientes" detractors and gossips, 1.

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Spanish literature

These psychological themes, in particular a love-hate relationship with the nobility coupled with a fear of slanderers, pervade many of the works in the volume. Nebrija, despite a reliance on aristocratic patronage, was ultimately a technocrat, offering philological skills to the monarchs whom he proposed to serve.

Like Nebrija, Encina proposes to ameliorate the quality of Spanish literature; but while the former had aimed to improve what was available for the nobility's consumption during its moments of leisure, the latter proposes to make poetry an aristocratic activity by regulating that leisure. Thus the aristocratic poet must embrace poetic work instead of military and governmental tasks. Yet Encina does not picture this departure as a radical one, for he describes Prince John, the son of the Catholic monarchs to whom the "Arte" is dedicated, as raised in the lap of sweet philosophy, favoring the ingenuity of his subjects, and inciting them to knowledge with himself as the example 1.

Thus Encina links the abundance of ocio back to the typological role of the kings, earlier exploited by Nebrija. With false modesty, Encina promises the prince that if he desires,. Having established this didactic aim and connected it to the historical moment, Encina describes yet another reason for writing the work. Specifically recalling Nebrija's attempts to reform the language through a printed set of rules, he presents his own efforts as a parallel:.

Believing our poetry and manner of verse never to have been at such a height, it seemed to me a useful thing to codify it and place it under rules and laws, so that no passage of time can cause it to be forgotten. To reinforce the danger of oblivion, Encina declares that while previous Spanish poets may have surpassed his contemporaries, he is ignorant of their work. Instead he offers a history of poetry, beginning with its divine origin as understood by the Greeks and as evidenced in the Bible.

The former attributed its origins to Apollo, Mercury, Bacchus, and the Muses, while much of the Old Testament was written in verse, and in view of the anteriority of the Hebrews to the Greeks, Moses can rightly be called the first poet see Curtius, —46, — Encina also cites generals who exhorted their troops by means of speeches in verse and recalls how Orpheus moved stones with his poetry, how other poets had their lives spared because of their verses, and the high esteem both Greeks and Romans had for their poets. This historical discussion of the origins of ancient poetry ends with an account of meter and rhyme in ancient Christian hymnody, which Encina sees as the genesis of modern vernacular poetry; but he asserts that the Spanish received it only through the mediation of the Italians:.

Moreover, it seems clear that in the Italian language were poets much more ancient than those in our own, such as Dante and Francis Petrarch and other notable men who came before and after, from whom many of ours took a great quantity of singular ideas, which theft, as. Virgil says, should not be criticized but is worthy of much praise, when it is gallantly made from one language into another.

Thus we may conclude that verse drew its strength in Italy, and from there was broadcast and sown in Spain, where I now believe it flourishes more than in any other place. With this transition to the modern Italians, who pass the art of poetizing on to the Spanish, Encina also modulates into the notions of belatedness and of the translatio. Once again there is a gap between ancient Rome and Spain, only this time it is partly filled with Christian hymns and with Dante and Petrarch.

As in Nebrija, culture is linked to empire, and to effect the translatio Spanish poets literally have to sack or rob their Italian predecessors, carrying the booty back to Spain. This action is justified with an indirect and pseudo- Virgilian quotation, which also reinforces the link between Rome and Spain first established through the allusion to Cicero that opened the "Arte. Italy was the source of Spanish poetry, but by fertilizing Spain, Italy lost potency. Now it is the Spanish who are on the ascent, but they must compete with the prior Italian achievement in order to surpass it and at the same time regulate their own art in order to assure its comprehension by future generations.

Having justified the work in terms of a larger historical vision, Encina now turns to more immediate didactic ends, and here the discussion of poetry changes from the mythical accounts of its origin to more familiar Horatian precepts. He defends, by appealing to the examples of Horace and Quintilian, the need for an arte , a. Indeed, drawing on the contrast between composer and performer, geometer and stonemason, he argues for a distinction between the poeta and the trobador: the former term is reserved only for those who have studied and are conscious of the quantitative rules of poetry on this distinction see Weiss, Ever aware of his royal audience, Encina even here attempts to couch his argument in ways that would appeal to the nobility, extending the analogy to include lord and slave, captain and soldier.

He warns that the distinction is not much observed in Spain, and while he himself sometimes neglects it, the point is an important one, for in contrast to the confidence in the opening chapter about the position of Spanish letters, we now get a sense of confusion, of the need for rules and, even more, for the public recognition of rules. They must be acknowledged by the talented, and are best nurtured by reading:.

He should exercise himself by reading poets and historians not only in our language but also in Latin; and, as Quintilian says, not only read them but discuss their style and ideas and figures, for there is nothing the poet will read that he will not take advantage of for that abundance which is necessary to him. Most of the rest of the treatise is taken up with technical matters, such as meter, line lengths, and the like. The fundamental unit of verse is the line, or pie , composed of either eight or twelve syllables respectively, arte real and arte mayor.

Encina also discusses the division of arte mayor into hemistichs, the use of pies quebrados four-syllable half-lines , and the rules for consonant and assonant rhyme. He admits the possibility of rhyming proverbio with sobervio rhyme is based on sound, not orthography , and advises against internal and repetitious rhymes. Lines of verse may be gathered into units of two, three, or more; only those units with at least four lines may. Thus here, as in Nebrija's grammar, there is a distinction between the visionary rhetoric of the preface and the body of the work itself.

Encina's rules, centered on syllable count, reflect an aural conception of poetry, but also an attempt to apply to poetry those mathematical forms of analysis which make music and geometry part of the quadrivium. The examples from Mena justify Encina's rules see Andrews, —73, nn. As such, study of the "Arte" trains not only poets but also readers who will be properly appreciative of Encina's own work. The chapter on poetic colors is mostly concerned with rules for adapting words to fit the meter, and with complex rhyme schemes.

Encina thus emphasizes melopoeic devices, while figures such as metonymy and metaphor are scarcely mentioned, for as they are not unique to poetry, they belong to the more general fields of rhetoric and grammar. Encina is not ambivalent about the social status of poetry: he regards it as an aristocratic activity, a talent that only the man of leisure can afford to cultivate. Yet the very notion of devoting leisure time exclusively to literary pursuits reflects Encina's professional situation and is antithetical to the Spanish nobleman's concept of himself.

Moreover, he never seems quite convinced of the superiority of Spanish letters. Spaniards may be, via the Italians, the heirs to Greece and Rome, but they are not really as accomplished; and just as the Romans, at the height of their powers, needed handbooks of poetry and rhetoric, so too the Spanish must have them. In the treatise Encina attempts to come to terms with the legacy of the past, both antiquity and, more immediately, the Italians. He thus stands at a crux, on the one hand ignoring save for Juan de Mena the poetical accomplishments of medieval Spain, much of them already in print, on the other hand citing Dante and Petrarch as poets from whom the Spanish have learned a great deal.

Yet Encina does not slight traditional Spanish forms, and whatever the influence of Dante and Petrarch may have been, he makes no mention of sonnets. Indeed, as Rico has shown, the traces of Petrarch in fifteenth-century Spanish poetry are primarily linguistic and decorative, while only Santillana wrote sonnets. Spanish belatedness as a national cultural problem thus arises toward the end of the fifteenth century, and its appearance at that time is related to a number of roughly coinciding developments, including the introduction of printing, national unification and purgation, and greater Spanish intervention in Italy The basic text for Spanish belatedness and alterity is the prologue to Nebrija's Spanish grammar; employing the trope of the translatio , Nebrija demonstrates how the great civilizations of the past attained their apogee at a moment of peace, when culture also flourished.

He finds contemporary Spain at that point in its military history, but culture lags and deterioration threatens to set in: if it does, the achievements of his day will be forgotten. With his grammar he hopes to redress that lag and perhaps even deliver Spain from the previously inevitable decline. As each successive generation continues to perceive a cultural inferiority to Italy, the translatio , which Encina saw occurring in his own day, is successively postponed, and Petrarch's status—for Encina merely proverbial—becomes ever more significant.

Encina tries to elevate the status of poetry by tying it to a theory of aristocratic leisure and associating it with the quantitative study of the quadrivium; while his rules for poets are primarily melopoeic, his conception of literary history opens the way for the transformations of the next years. My approach to Spanish Renaissance lyric is based on an understanding of Renaissance cultural belatedness as elaborated by examining Petrarch and Bembo, and then contextualized by reference to. These strictly literary determinations are leavened with a consideration of the social and historical environment in which the poetry was written and read.

The significance of the social context is strongest in the earlier chapters, which cover the time during which the link between Petrarchism and the Spanish empire is being forged; it diminishes later as that link becomes more and more residual. My emphasis is on those poets who were most self-conscious of the conflicts between their roles as imitators of Petrarch and their desire for national and individual priority.

The historical and theoretical importance of less-canonized poets such as Gutierre de Cetina and Francisco de la Torre is an interesting problem in its own right, but not one that concerns us here. John of the Cross, on whom Petrarchism was an important but secondary influence; and Lope de Vega, whose Petrarchist lyric is not at the center of his literary production. My approach does however entail a consideration of poetic theory along with poetic texts. Not until the end of the Renaissance did poetic theory attain in Spain the status of an autonomous discourse see Terracini, Lingua , —25 , and systematic preceptive poetics were antithetical to the courtly aesthetics associated with Petrarchism in Spain see Elias Rivers, "L'humanisme linguistique" and chapter 2, below.

Most often, Petrarchist poetic theory was expressed in the form of paratexts on the poetry itself, particularly prefaces and commentaries, and nearly all of the poets I consider either wrote such paratexts or were the objects of others' paratextual production. By using Curtius and Bloom to elaborate a theory of cultural belatedness, we not only apply twentieth-century theory to early mod-.

Bloom, a close reader of Curtius, whose work he calls "the best study of literary tradition I have ever read" Map , 32 , considers belatedness a "recurrent malaise of Western consciousness" 77 and distinguishes psychopoetic belatedness from the cultural belatedness of the Renaissance 77— To Bloom, "reading, when active and interesting, is not less aggressive than sexual desire, or than social ambition, or professional drive" Breaking , 13 , as the act of reading forces a confrontation over the lack of priority, particularly on poets who are in competition with their predecessors. Yet while the romantic poets on whom Bloom concentrates could attempt to disguise their predecessors, Renaissance poets had canons that determined their models, and as a result compounded their psychopoetic and cultural belatedness.

For me Bloom himself serves a heuristic purpose, which brings several advantages. The first is that his once-exotic critical terms have passed into common use, allowing one to describe Petrarch's belatedness the section on Bembo and Petrarch, above , Garcilaso's metalepsis chapter 3 , Quevedo's clinamen chapter 5 , and the like by analogy, without positing a pathological diagnosis. Second, Bloom's theory of poetic agon resonates in two important directions. One of them is what Pigman calls eristic imitation or emulation, in which "the model, without whose help any progress is impossible.

While Pigman makes a good case for the presence of three kinds of imitation in the theorists he studies, only agonistic emulation held out, for Spaniards, the possibility of surpassing Italian hegemony. Bloom's theory also resonates with Bakhtin's investigation of the relation between imitation and polyphony. Development of a Bakhtinian approach to the lyric has been somewhat stymied by the Russian theorist's conception of lyric poetry as a "straightforward" genre, incapable of being truly polyphonic Dialogic Imagination , 49—50; see also Todorov, 63— But in Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics , Bakhtin, while not specifically addressing the question of lyric poetry, takes up the question of how imitation can lead to polyphony or intertextuality.

To Bakhtin, mere stylization or nonagonistic imitation of the type recognizable by a specialist does not make a discourse polyphonic Problems , — Bakhtin goes on to explain how this is different from ordinary imitation, wherein the other's voice, while taken seriously, is not heard as an other but is merged with the author's own voice.

In parody. The second voice, once having made its home in the other's discourse, clashes hostilely with its primordial host and forces him to serve directly opposing aims. In parody therefore, there cannot be that fusion of voices possible in stylization. Bakhtin limits polyphony to what he calls parody, but as Linda Hutcheon notes, the historical phenomenon that most closely and most consistently approximates theoretical parody is Renaissance imitation, which, like parody, "offered a workable and effective stance toward the past in its paradoxical strategy of repetition as a source of freedom.

Its incorporation of another work as a deliberate and acknowledged construct is structurally similar to parody's formal organization" Admittedly the relationship among Bloom's notion of poetic agon, Renaissance ideas about emulation, and the. Bakhtinian theory of parody is not one of identity but one of affinity. Still, consideration of these related phenomena allows us to qualify and to historicize Bloom's model, better adapting it to our own purpose.

Rather, she argues for a pragmatic approach that considers both the encoder and the interpreter 22—23 , as well as the parodists' double role as both interpreter of the original and encoder of the new sign. Here again there is a family resemblance with Bloom's notion of poetic misprision.

Furthermore, by emphasizing the historical process of reading and writing, Bloom also enables us to write something approximating a narrative history, albeit an idiosyncratic one. In addition to the ones already described, there are further points of contact between Renaissance and modern theory, and between formalism and historicism; one, as Kennedy argued Rhetorical. Norms , 1—3, 16—18 , is the reader as an implied, fictionalized entity Ong , as a hermeneutic principle Gadamer, Jauss , and as a phenomenological reality Ingarden.

Kennedy argues against a strict adherence to formalist and structuralist notions of literature as a closed system, but agrees that it is only within the context of historically specific horizons of expectations that readers and poets appropriate other texts. Thus I prefer, as a model for synchronic characterization, Even-Zohar's nuanced formulation of a literary and cultural polysystem, creating multiple opportunities and constraints, multiple ways of approaching and rewriting a predecessor text. The first is Ezra Pound, whose distinction between the phanopoeic and melopoeic aspects of a poem is particularly useful for understanding the aesthetic transformation that accompanied the shift from medieval Castilian octosyllabic poetry to genres employing the hendecasyllabic line see chapters 2 and 4, below.

Second, there is Maria Corti's notion of a macrotext, an organized collection that is a sign in its own right and whose meaning thus exceeds the sum of its parts see chapters 3, 4, and 5. Finally, I use Bakhtin's discussion of imitation and parody to analyze the breakdown of Petrarchism through the overabundant intertextuality of seventeenth-century poetry see chapter 5. The lyric potency of the Petrarchist myth cannot be explained by exclusive recourse to formalism or literary history, however. Belatedness played an important part, but so did artistic ambition.

As Kerrigan and Braden expressed it, "Artistic and sexual ambitions are interchangeable; they can be substituted for each other in the course of reaching countless bargains. A solitude stocked with images may be preferable to having an amorous partner. The value of postponement, hedonistic as well as moral, is considerable" Petrarchism is thus best understood as a synecdoche for the broader yearning for fulfillment and autodetermination.

As such, it is always slightly subversive, even when most established and canonical. At a time when legitimate expressions of sexuality were tightly controlled by family, by royal decree, by rules of celibacy, by economics , every time a Petrarchist lover complains, he suggests that sexual relations ought to be freer, without recourse to the burlesque world of prostitution.

Every poem about powerlessness and imprisonment spoke to a real and ever-present danger for the religiously. There is relatively little of Petrarch's moral questioning in this poetry, which depends on the fantasy that the impossible should be possible, without asking whether it is deserved. Such questions could bring down the system and, in Quevedo's case, possibly did , by destroying both the fantasy and its capacity to generate new avatars of the myth.

I will touch on these issues now and then in the course of this study, and return to them in the conclusion. This theory was highly inimical to the kind of poetry represented in the fifteent-hand early sixteenth-century poetic anthologies cancioneros , which was based on strict observance of complex prosodic rules.

Consequently, Spanish poetic theory of this period must be gleaned from a variety of sources. Traditional Spanish historiography emphasizes the importance of the Castilian—Netherlandic connection: the unexpected inheritance of Castile by Joan the Mad and her Flemish husband Philip the Handsome, and his premature death, leaving the Belgian-bred future Charles V as his heir. When the latter duly claimed his inheritance in , his northern upbringing, and the many Flemish and Burgundian ministers and courtiers who accompanied him to Spain, were widely resisted, and his departure in to claim the imperial crown led to a widespread rebellion known as the revolt of the comuneros , in which the leading cities and much of the lower nobility took part.

The repression of this movement discredited narrowly focused Castilian nationalism and its cultural manifestations, leaving the way open for new forms with the potential for expressing an international culture that befitted the transnational empire. Italian culture and manners presented just such an alternative, for Italy was not an entirely foreign country, but another part of Charles's far-flung realm.

Yet the relationship to conquered Italy was psychologically complex; as Croce put it,. Spain and Italy had more than two centuries of almost conjugal life as a result of Spanish territorial domination and hegemony over our country. The cultural center for Italians, or as they then said, the "court," was Madrid; many Spanish families established themselves. From to the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia presided over the church as Pope Alexander VI, while Ferdinand of Aragon, after twice intervening to foil the Neapolitan ambitions of the French monarchy, assumed direct rule over Naples in , residing there for two years.

Together these developments provided enormous opportunities to Spaniards for patronage in Italy, and these opportunities did not diminish in the succeeding years. As Croce showed, the presence of so many Spaniards in Italy and Italians in Spain had a profound effect on many areas of life, particularly in the cultural and linguistic realms. The exchange of people and the transformation of cultures only increased after Charles's ascension to the joint thrones of Castile, Aragon, and Naples. From the beginning of his reign, his major foreign preoccupation was a rivalry with the French king, Francis I; after Charles secured the imperial election in , that rivalry was principally played out in Italy.

Francis repeatedly invaded the peninsula, but after his capture at the Battle of Pavia in , Milan became yet another of Charles's possessions. On a symbolic plane, the Spanish domination over Italy was represented by the sack of Rome in ; though carried out by predominantly German troops under the command of a renegade Frenchman, the army was at least nominally the emperor's, and the attack left Charles, and thus Spain, the undisputed major player in Italian affairs.

To contemporary observers, these events could only mark the eventual ascendancy of Spain in the cultural as well as the military spheres. The pope's nuncio in Spain at the time of the sack was Count Baldesar Castiglione — , whose Libro del Cortegiano , a work steadily elaborated and revised for nearly twenty years see Guidi, "Reformulations" , was first printed in Castiglione had been negotiating with Venetian printers before the sack, and his motiva-. Yet his publication, at this time, of a nostalgic and fictionalized evocation of Italian court life from a generation before may have had an added significance as well.

Just as in the sack of Rome Spanish troops had made off with the cultural artifacts of the premier Italian city, so by translating Castiglione's work the poets appropriated the book's teaching, making it available to Spaniards and thereby transferring the locus of its reception and influence. For if the book proclaims Italian culture of a certain time as a model, the translation asserts that the relevant audience for that model, the place where the imitation is to be realized, is Spain. But consideration of the work's reception in the Spanish cultural context is a different matter.

Surprisingly, Castiglione's book is not overly concerned with poetry, a topic about which the speakers have little to say directly. But from scattered comments, primarily but not exclusively in book 1, a theory of poetry can be construed. As already noted, the author is hostile to Petrarchism as a literary idiom. In the preface dedicated to de Silva, written shortly before the book's publication in , the author rejects the use of a Tuscan norm:.

Tampoco he querido obligarme a la costumbre del hablar toscano de nuestros tiempos. I did not find it desirable to use many of Boccaccio's [words], which in his day were used but now are abandoned even by the Tuscans themselves. Nor have I wanted to force on myself the usage of the Tuscan spoken in our time. Castiglione protests too much, for in fact he submitted his text to revision and Tuscanization by none other than Bembo himself.

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Yet ordinarily one need not describe one's choice of language, for its very use demonstrates the choice that has been made; thus this statement is an example of how Castiglione means his book to be both didactic and exemplary—as Kinney put it, "it is what it is about" These remarks sum up an extended discussion in book 1, written ten years earlier, in which Count Ludovico de Canossa and Federico Fregoso debate the issue of literary idiom. The identity of these speakers is important, for both are central contributors to the dialogue.

Canossa is entrusted by Emilia Pia, in book 1, to form the verbal portrait of the ideal courtier, while Federico was the original proponent of the game of defining the courtier, and in book 2 he takes Canossa's place as the principal speaker. The comments of both speakers should thus be taken seriously, for neither is ordinarily a straw figure making arguments to be defeated.


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Yet here Federico seems to be on the losing end of the discussion. The count recommends to the ideal courtier a literary idiom based on his actual speech, counseling the avoidance of affectation in the form of ancient Tuscan words that have fallen into disuse. But Fed-. We should follow Petrarch and Boccaccio, he declares; Virgil himself did not hesitate to imitate Homer 66— But the count maintains that Petrarch and Boccaccio did not use words that were outdated in their own day, and as only rustics use them now, such words are no longer part of sophisticated speech. There follows a defense of modernity based on the concept of linguistic mutability, the growth and decay of words, and the pleasure of neologisms.

But Federico continues to argue for a vernacular Ciceronianism:. I do not see why in a particular language, which is not the universal property of all. To Federico, language is not idiolectical but diachronically social; its beauty consists in observing the propriety of words and using them in the same way as did those who wrote best, in following their style. But the count retorts that many praise Cicero and Virgil only because they have heard them praised, without knowing why; in reality Caesar, Varro, and others, though using different words, are just as good. Here Emilia Pia ends the discussion; by her interruption Castiglione grants the count the final word, rejecting linguistic Petrarchism.

Thus, while alluding to the questione della lingua , Castiglione also implicitly rejects it; Emilia Pia's repeated attempts at interrupting the debate indicate both that the issue cannot be resolved and, worse, that it is essentially tiresome. The issue thus is not linguistic purity, but stylistic—and thus aesthetic—borrowing. To privilege words as the Petrarchists do is to separate them from their meaning. That aesthetic standard is all-pervasive in Castiglione's book, and it is here that one finds a key to his influence on Spanish poetic theory. By appropriating, even as he rejects them, the terms of the questione , Castiglione prepares the way for a new standard of literary evaluation that is potentially applicable in any national or linguistic context.

Related to the aesthetization of life is Castiglione's transformation of the nature of the ludic, which comes to include former nonludic areas of life. This is underlined at the beginning of the book when the courtiers are choosing the game that is to be the night's activity. After the feasting and music are over, the duchess, herself a substitute for the crippled and absent duke, delegates to Emilia Pia the task of devising a game for the evening's entertainment; she in turn decrees that each person should propose a new game until one emerges that strikes her fancy.

Thomas Greene " Il Cortegiano and the Choice of a Game," in Hanning and Rosand, 1—16 notes how the other games rejected by Emilia Pia also emphasize the importance of play, as do the enclosed space, the circle of participants,. Courtiership is not a state or a mode of being but an attribution, a name given—and taken away—by a public which judges the performance; it is not a signified but a signifier" Like Greene, Regosin notes that the proposed and rejected games are important examples of rules of the larger game that is courtiership 33—36 , and that they demonstrate the unlimited amplitude required if the discussion is to perform its role of a pastime 30— The key to all this ludic activity is sprezzatura , which "signifies that i there is no art; ii there is art but it is so well-hidden that it does not show; iii if there were art the actor could do even better than he has done" Regosin, Yet the fact that all activity is ludic and aesthetic permits a kind of synesthesia; as already noted, Castiglione has relatively little to say about verbal art, but the principles for such art, and specifically for poetry, can be induced on the basis of his comments about other arts.

But after myself considering for a long time where grace comes from, excluding for now that which comes from the influence of the stars, I arrived at a general rule which I believe more than any other will enable one to employ it in all things done or said; and that is to flee as much as possible from the vice the Romans called affectation, and. Sprezzatura is thus applicable to all human actions, of word or deed.

This view is borne out by the succeeding examples the count gives of sprezzatura in action: while the first, of ancient orators who pretended to be unlearned so that their speeches might be more persuasive, is a literary one, it is quickly followed by examples from other arts. First come the two courtiers, one who dances affectedly on tiptoe, one who pretends such negligence that he allows his cape to fall off. This example is followed by a discussion of music, in which too many consonances are unbearable, and excessive harmony should be moderated, so that "lo bueno puesto cabe lo malo parece muy mejor" the good placed next to the bad appears even better, In painting, Apelles reproached Prothogenes for never knowing when to stop; even the application of cosmetics has something to teach about the nature of sprezzatura.

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Just as the other arts provide lessons applicable to literature, so too the inverse, as the traditional literary precept of imitatio is applied to the development of a personal, graceful style of comportment, and just as linguistic Petrarchism is abandoned, so too its methodological underpinnings are also implicitly discarded.

The count rejects specific rules for gracefulness, but recommends choosing as a model one who has already achieved it, and instructs the hopeful first to imitate closely, seeking almost to transform themselves into the object of imitation, and then to move on to the imitation of other models, concluding with the famous image of the bee going from flower to flower, "tomando, ora del uno y ora del otro, diversas cosas" taking, first from one, then from another, diverse things, 58 , but ultimately making its own honey. This figure is in turn followed by an account of a failed attempt at imitation, that of the courtier who picked up only King Ferdinand's mannerisms and not his essential grace, and thus became an object of derision see Kinney, The technique of inductively defining sprezzatura by repeated example rather than by precept is consistent with Castiglione's general rejection of absolute rules.

The adduced examples, from every field of human activity, lead ultimately to a complete. Artistic accomplishment is no longer to be defined by a specific set of rules, but by the good taste that the courtier must take pains to develop:. Good usage in speech is none other than that which springs from men of talent, who with knowledge and experience have attained good judgment.

Don't you know that figures of speech, which give it such grace and luster, are all violations of grammatical rules? But they are permitted and confirmed by their use, with no other justification than that they give pleasure, sound good to the ear, and bring gravity and sweetness. This pleasantness in speech is the governing virtue of linguistic discourse, an attitude concordant with the earlier recollection of ancient orators who strove to make their speech as natural as possible; the full impact of this recommendation is evident when it is juxtaposed to the requirement that writing be like recorded speech, and thus not subject to any particular rules or entitled to any licenses.

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Once again the line between ludic and nonludic activities is blurred. We can now analyze how this breakdown of the distinction between art and life, ludic and nonludic, augurs a new kind of poetry for Spain. In their view, poetry was a distinct activity, separated in terms of social function and time from everyday life.

The poet might aspire to be the equal of the patron, but by that very aspiration he revealed his difference and inferiority; his occupation, or negocio , is what the nobleman practiced only in his moments of leisure, or ocio. Castiglione expressly extends aesthetization to the activities of everyday. Life itself becomes aesthetic, and aesthetics a guide to conduct in the dangerous world of the courtier; see Javitch, "Il Cortegiano," in Hanning and Rosand, 17—28 is life.

The new kind of poetry must be one that conforms to the principle of sprezzatura , that permits itself to hide its own artfulness; the new poet is not the man of letters, but the professional dilettante. Otherwise he uses the more colloquial sosiego , which, while generally synonymous, is not the specific Latinate lexeme preferred by fifteenth-century theorists such as Santillana and Encina. First and most obviously, Castiglione values the practice of art by the nobility, and indeed insists that the ideal courtier do so as well.

In the context of continuing Spanish resistance to the commingling of arms and letters, this assertion of superior Italian manners can only be helpful. But for letters to be made fully aristocratic, the nonnoble, educated letrado must be excluded from the ludic world of the court. This is the Spanish poets' second purpose: to assert that poetry is not only an aristocratic activity, but an exclusively aristocratic activity from which those not graced with courtly sprezzatura , those who must labor to learn rules, are excluded. Third, the nature of poetry is transformed so that it may properly screen courtier from noncourtier, the latter a category that includes both letrados and the lower nobility, two groups seriously implicated in the comunero rebellion see Lynch, 1.

The circle of the court is to be a special ground between the literate world of the chancery and the military world of the nobility, with its own criteria for admission. Both Castiglione and his Spanish translators reject the notion of an arte , a systematic set of rules defining acceptable conduct. The old poetry was predicated on the mastery of just such a set of prosodic rules; the new poetry will not only violate those rules, but also privilege completely different facets of lyric poetry.

Aspects of Castiglione's new theory of poetry can be ascertained by examining remarks, scattered throughout the book, about the nature of verbal. If not worthy of praise, the courtier should keep the poems quiet, but he should still write, for it will help him appraise the writing of others. I have already noted how, in contrast to the count's preference for a written style that approximates speech, Federico Fregoso prefers a more piquant manner, which he would achieve through the use of old Tuscan words.

Federico becomes the chief speaker in book 2, much of which is also important for a theory of lyric. Like the count, he values above all the avoidance of affectation, and links this to a theory of decorum:. The first and most important [rule] is that he above all flee as the count very well explained yesterday the vice of affectation.

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After this, let him pay attention to the nature of what he does or says, the place, in whose presence, the time, the reason he does it, his age and profes-. The result is not a uniformity of style but the selection of an appropriate tone, depending on the circumstances and the addressee. Thus Castiglione demonstrates an openness to different stylistic registers, exemplified by the varying levels of the discussion and in particular of the contributors.

The balance of book 2 is devoted to a discussion of joking, important because of the value Castiglione places on wit. Federico, who earlier had argued for acuity in the courtier's written style, here employs related terms to describe the function of humor.

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Verbal humor is subdivided into funny stories and witty remarks; while the gift of telling the former is inborn, the latter are the result of "festividad o urbanidad" festivity or urbanity, ; see Morreale, — He proceeds:. The other kind of pleasantry is brief, and just consists of quick, sharp remarks that sometimes even sting. The phrase "agudos y que alguna vez pican" recalls the vocabulary Federico himself had used in book 1 to describe the desired effect of Tuscanisms on the courtier's written style, and thus serves to connect that linguistic and stylistic discussion to this one.

When Bibbiena takes over the lead in the discussion of humor, he again employs Federico's terms. The rhetoric of provoking laughter is closely related to that of serious praise and blame, and often the same words can produce opposite effects; for this reason, observing the rules of decorum is even more important in witticisms than in everyday speech. Joking thus as-. Thus, ultimately, humor too is subject to the rules of sprezzatura.

Among the other principles that receive extended glossing are metaphor, irony, and incongruity. The discussion of humor takes on additional importance because wit is singled out by Castiglione as one of the special virtues of the Spanish ; this is only one of the many times, particularly in book 2, that Castiglione celebrates Spanish courtiership. I would prefer them not to go to extremes, tending too much to one part or another, as is the French way of dressing which is excessively loose and the German in being very tight, but rather that, taking from.

But as to the rest, I would wish them to show the sobriety and gravity of the Spanish, for externals are often signs of the internal. This passage is significant, not only for appropriating a standard trope of literary criticism already used in book 1 like the bees going from flower to flower, etc. The context for the passage is a discussion of how Italians no longer have a distinctive manner of dress, but instead copy Frenchmen, Germans, and even Turks, and the fear that this imitation augurs their eventual domination by outsiders.

His most ambitious project, in this sense, might have been the Soledades , an unfinished collection of lyrical compositions that revolve around the pangs of solitude in different circumstances without ever embarking on any narrative exercise.

Within the intellectual establishment of Spain at the time, this style found a number of backers and a substantial amount of detractors. The theme of the cyclops' unrequited love for Galatea serves as background for the poet to develop a detailed and thoughtful treatise dealing with the jealousy, the flattery and the general condition of courtly life in the XVII century. While Quevedo was best known as a poet at the time, it is his picaresque novel, The Swindler , which has passed down the ages as his most accomplished work.

Parallel to the development of mature and highly specific poetic styles, the favoured form of expression in theatre was also verse. If anything, Lope de Vega's preferred style corresponded to conceptismo , even though he would use different tones to represent different characters.

Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia. Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia.
Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia. Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia.
Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia. Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia.
Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia. Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia.
Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia. Poetry as Play: Gongorismo and the Comedia.

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