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Where Don Quixote saw and attacked an advancing army, Sancho saw only a herd of sheep; what Sancho perceived as windmills were menacing giants to the questing knight-errant. She too published Italian-inspired short stories, in the collections Novelas amorosas y ejemplares ; Eng. The Enchantments of Love: The writings of St. John of the Cross achieved preeminence through poems of exalted style expressing the experience of mystic union.

Medieval period

The last was symbolized in the theme that Lope considered best of all: What this great Spanish playwright did possess was a remarkable sense of stagecraft and the ability to make the most intricate plot gripping. Lope, who claimed authorship of more than 1, comedias , towered over his contemporaries. Lope ransacked the literary past for heroic themes, chosen to illustrate aspects of the national character or of social solidarity.

The cloak-and-sword play, which dominated drama after Lope, was pure entertainment, exploiting disguise, falling in and out of love, and false alarms about honour. In it affairs of the lady and her gallant are often parodied through the actions of the servants. The cloak-and-sword play delighted by the dexterity of its intricate plotting, its sparkling dialogue, and the entangled relationships depicted between the sexes. Although their names were suppressed and their works left largely unperformed for centuries, several women dramatists of the Siglo de Oro left extant plays.

She also penned short dramatic panegyrics, romances , and other books.

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In poetry and prose the early 17th century in Spain was marked by the rise and spread of two interrelated stylistic movements, often considered typical of the Baroque. Authors shared an elitist desire to communicate only with the initiated, so that writings in both styles present considerable interpretive difficulties. Poets writing in this style created hermetic vocabulary and used stilted syntax and word order, with expression garbed and disguised in Classical myth , allusion , and complicated metaphor , all of which rendered their work sometimes incomprehensible.


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The other stylistic movement, conceptismo , played on ideas as culteranismo did on language. Aiming at the semblance of profundity, conceptista style was concise, aphoristic, and epigrammatic and thus belonged primarily to prose, especially satire. Concerned with stripping appearances from reality, it had as its best outlet the essay. The Scavenger and The Swindler.


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His best comedies provide subtle critiques of urban mores, combining laughter with tragic foreboding La dama duende [; The Phantom Lady ]. His tragedies probe the human predicament, exploring personal and collective guilt Las tres justicias en una [ c. His best-known plays, appropriately classified as high drama, include El alcalde de Zalamea c.

These liturgical plays range in their artistry from the immediate metaphorical appeal of El gran teatro del mundo c. Culteranismo and conceptismo , although symptoms rather than causes of decline, contributed to stifling imaginative literature, and, by the close of the 17th century, all production characterizing the Siglo de Oro had essentially ceased.

In Charles II, the last monarch of the Habsburg dynasty , died without an heir, thereby provoking the War of the Spanish Succession —14 , a European conflict over control of Spain. Men of letters began again to study abroad, discovering how far Spain had diverged from the intellectual course of western Europe. New inquiries into the national heritage led scholars to unearth forgotten medieval literature. Another major encyclopaedic talent, Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos , produced streams of reports, essays, memoirs, and studies on agriculture, the economy, political organization, law, industry, natural science, and literature, as well as ways to improve them, in addition to writing Neoclassical drama and poetry.

Torres Villarroel experimented with all literary genres, and his collected works, published —99, are fertile sources for studying 18th-century character, aesthetics , and literary style. Several women writers emerged during the Enlightenment and were active from onward in the male-dominated Spanish theatre. They wrote Neoclassic drama: While some women wrote for small private audiences convents and literary salons , others wrote for the public stage: Early 19th-century Spanish literature suffered as a result of the Napoleonic Wars and their economic repercussions.

Spain experienced soaring inflation, and manpower across the peninsula was at low ebb as a result of emigration and military service. These problems were further aggravated by the loss of its American colonies. Some, however, recognize Cadalso and several lesser cultivators of Gothic fiction as 18th-century Spanish antecedents. Debates that prepared the way for Romanticism flourished from onward: Romanticism in Spain was, in many respects, a return to its earlier classics, a continuation of the rediscovery initiated by 18th-century scholars.

Important formal traits of Spanish Romantic drama—mingling genres, rejecting the unities, diversifying metrics—had characterized Lope de Vega and his contemporaries, whose themes reappeared in Romantic garb.


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Spanish Romanticism, typically understood as having two branches, had no single leader. Prolific , facile , and declamatory, Zorrilla produced huge numbers of plays, lyric and narrative verse collections, and enormously popular rewrites of Siglo de Oro plays and legends; he was treated as a national hero. One major Romantic theme concerned liberty and individual freedom.

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Rimas influenced more 20th-century Spanish poets than any other 19th-century work. A number of notable women writers emerged under Romanticism. Her poems sounded many feminist notes, although she in later life became conservative. She also wrote 16 full-length original plays, 4 of which were major successes. While poetry and theatre claimed the major honours, Spanish Romanticism also produced many novels—but none that rivaled those of Scottish contemporary Sir Walter Scott.

Costumbrismo began before Romanticism, contributing to both Romanticism and the later realism movement through realistic prose. Such writings, realistically observing everyday life and regional elements, bridged the transition to realism. Early revival novels are of interest more for their powers of observation and description a continuation of costumbrismo than for their imaginative or narrative quality. He was a prolific writer, his works ranging from poetry and newspaper articles to critical essays and memoirs. Included among these many novels is his masterpiece, Fortunata y Jacinta —87; Fortunata and Jacinta , a paradigm of Spanish realism.

Fortunata, his mistress and the mother of his son, and Jacinta, his wife. The novel has been seen as an allegory of the sterility of the upper classes, but its complexity transcends facile summary. His later works represent naturalism or reflect turn-of-the-century spiritualism.

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He also wrote more than 20 successful and often controversial plays. Realistic drama in Spain produced few masterpieces but established a bourgeois comedy of manners further developed in the 20th century. In poetry, realistic trends produced little of note.

He used a realistic approach to treat contemporary moral, religious, and political conflicts in his works, although his work also shows Romantic and medieval themes. The novel acquired new seriousness, and critical, psychological, and philosophical essays gained unprecedented importance. A provocative, somewhat unsystematic thinker, Unamuno aimed at sowing spiritual disquiet. An artistic critic and sensitive miniaturist, he excelled in precision and ekphrasis description of a visual work of art. In his later works he experimented with Impressionism and Surrealism.

The three stages of his literary evolution exhibit radical aesthetic change, beginning with exquisite , sometimes decadent , erotic Modernista tales, as in his four Sonatas —05; Eng. The Pleasant Memoirs of the Marquis de Bradomin: Each represents a season of the year and of human life corresponding to the youth, plenitude, maturity, and old age of the narrator, a decadent Don Juan; intertextual allusions, nostalgia for an idealized past, aristocratic posing, melancholy , underlying parody, and humour abound.

Modernismo rejected 19th-century bourgeois materialism and instead sought specifically aesthetic values. Seeking Platonic absolutes in his final years, he produced measured, exact poetry that increasingly exulted in mystical discoveries of transcendence within the immanence of self and physical reality. A prolific playwright noted for his craftsmanship and wit, he profoundly altered Spanish theatrical practice and fare.

Excelling in the comedy of manners with sparkling dialogue and satiric touches, Benavente never alienated his devoted upper-class public. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in His dramas inveighed against hypocrisy and corrupt values with mordant irony. Luces de Bohemia ; Bohemian Lights illustrates his theory and practice of esperpento , an aesthetic formula he also used in his fiction to depict reality through a deliberately exaggerated mimesis of its grotesqueness.

She continued writing his plays even after he abandoned her for another woman. Brothers Manuel and Antonio Machado collaborated on several lyric plays during the s and early s.

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