Spanish Language and Literature
Spanish, a Romance language, that is, one of the modern spoken forms of Latin, is the speech of the larger part of the Iberian or most westerly peninsula of Europe. It belongs to the more central part of the region: Portuguese is spoken in the western part, Basque in the Pyrenees district and adjacent territory, and Catalan in the east. By colonial operations Spanish has been carried to the Western Hemisphere, and over 40,000,000 of persons use it in South America (where Brazil and the Guianas are the most important tracts escaping its sway), in Central America, Mexico, Cuba, Porto Rico, and sporadically in southern parts of the United States , such as Texas, California, New Mexico , and places near by. As the official language it has long prevailed in the Philippines, although it has been far from supplanting the native dialects, for the reason that the Catholic missionaries, to whom the civilization of the islands is due, set themselves the task of learning the native Oriental dialects, rather than the easier one of teaching the inhabitants their own Spanish idiom. In the earliest period of Spanish geographical exploration the language was carried to the Canaries. The expulsion, from 1492 on, of the Spanish-speaking Arabs and Jews has led to the extension of Spanish dialects to various parts of Northern Africa, to Turkey, and to other places. On the whole, no fewer than 60,000,000 of persons use Spanish as their native language in widely separated parts of the world. In the New World the Indian languages have reacted somewhat upon the Spanish vocabulary.
As a medium of literary expression Spanish asserted itself first in the twelfth century: it had been six or seven centuries in the process of evolution out of Latin. Now, while we properly call it a modern spoken form of Latin, we must recognize the fact that it does not represent the highly-refined language of such classic Latin writers as Virgil or Cicero. Quite on the contrary, it is the natural development of the common, every-day Latin of the masses in Italy and, in particular, of the speech used by the Latin soldiers and colonists who, as a result of the Roman conquest, settled in a part of the Iberian Peninsula. This Latin, generally called Vulgar Latin (and sometimes termed, less accurately, Low Latin), is no less respectable in point of antiquity than the noble Latin of our classics. Latin authors like Plautus, who introduce popular characters to our notice, make them exhibit in their diction features that the modern Romance languages have perpetuated. It was, of course, the severance relations with Italy, incident upon the invasion of the barbarian tribes and the fall of imperial Rome, that led to the independent development of the various Romance tongues (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Provençal, etc.) out of Vulgar Latin. The more important elements of differentiation between this latter and classic Latin were these: phonologically, it made principles of vowel quality and syllabic stress superior to the classic distinction of quantitation; morphologically, it tended greatly toward simplification, since it ignored many of the classic flexional variations; syntactically, its analytical methods prevailed over the complicated system of word-order which the elaborateclassic inflexions made possible. These differences are all reflected amply in Spanish. There is little need of concerning oneself with the Iberian and Celtic languages current in Spain before the time of the Roman colonization. So entire was the romanization of the land that they vanished wholly, except for some few and very doubtful survivals in the lexicon. The groundwork of the Spanish vocabulary is Vulgar Latin, with certain historical and literary additions from classic Latin, Germanic, Arabic, French, Italian, and, in a slighter degree, from the East and West Indian and other languages.
Vulgar Latin possessed these accented vowels: a (= Lat. a and a); open e (= Lat. e and ae); close e (= Lat. e, i, and oe); close i (=Lat. i); open o (= Lat. o); close o (= Lat. o and u); the diphthong au; and close u (=Lat. u). In the transition into Spanish, the open vowels (whether in a free or a protected position) became the diphthongs ie and ue respectively (as in piedra, "stone"; fuerte, "strong"). An adjoining palatal sound could, however, prevent the diphthongization. In general a and the close vowels maintained themselves in Spanish (padre, "father"; seda, "silk" from Lat. seta; lid, "contest" from Lat. lis, litem; hora, "hour"; tu, "thou"): the diphthong au became close o (aurum, Span. oro): but a neighbouring palatal could close the V.L. a to e (leche, "milk" from lac, lacte), the V.L. close e to i (cirio, "wax taper", Lat. cereum, whose e in hiatus before the u provided the modifying palatal force), and the V.L. close o to u. For the substantive (noun and adjective) it should be said that a V. L. form corresponding to the Latin accusative case was the basis of the Spanish word.
The history of the V. L. unaccented vowels passing into Spanish varied according to the position of the vowel in the word: in the initial syllable it was more likely to be preserved; in the medial position or at the end (i.e. in the last syllable of the word) it often disappeared or underwent some modification. Distinctions of quality were unimportant for the V. L. unaccented e and o in Spain, so that we are now concerned with but five vowels sounds, a, e, i, o, and u (all of which tended to be close in value) and with the V. L. diphthong au (which became close o in Spanish). At the end of a word thse sounds were reduced in Spanish to three, a, e, o, in the really popular pronunciation: unaccented final i and u are found now only in Spanish words of a more or less learned type (as in crisis or tribu). Here a and o have proved to be quite tenacious; e has disappeared except after certain consonantal sounds which Spanish does not tolerate as final. In the first syllable of a word, unaccented a was treated usually as it was treated under the accent; e remained unless closed to i by a following palatal or labial element of the accented syllable (as in simiente, "seed", Lat. semens, sementum; igual, "equal", Lat. oequalis-em V. L. equalem); i generally was preserved, but through dissimilation from accented Lat. i it sometimes became e (vicinus, -um, Span. vecino); o remained and V. L. au became o, but a preceding or following palatal (Lat. jocari, V. L. iocare, Span. jugar, "to play"; dormiendum, Span. durmiendo, "sleeping") could close the o to u and by dissimilation from a following accented o could become e (formosus-um, Span. hermoso, "beautiful"). In the medial position a as a rule remained (anas, anatem, Span. anada, "duck"); the other vowels were lost in the popular pronunciation, but in certain cases, of doubtful popular origin, they appear to have been kept in order to present the juxtaposition of consonants not easily pronounced together (lacrima, Span. lagrima, "tear"). In a great variety of cases analogy has interfered with the strictly phonological development of the Latin vowels into Spanish. Later borrowings have conformed either not at all, or only in part, to the laws of popular development.
For the greater part the syllable entitled to the stress in Latin has retained it in the Spanish; in the verb conjugation, however, no new exceptions are encountered. These are chiefly due to the operation of analogy : hence the dislocation of the accent in the 1st and 2nd persons plural of imperative tenses (amabamus, but Span. amabamos, to accord with amaba, amabas, amaban). For obviously convenient purposes the Spanish Academy has devised a system of written accents. Ordinarily the mere aspect pf the word is a sufficient index to the place of the syllable stress, since, properly, words ending in a vowel or in n or s stress the second last syllable, while those ending in a consonant (except n or s) stress the last syllable: all word violating these two leading princples and all stressing any syllable except the last or second last require the written accent (e.g. amigo, "friend"; salud, "health"; aman, "they love "; llevas, "thou bearest": but baja, "bashaw"; huesped, "guest"; nacion, "nation"; interes, "interest"; huerfano, "orphan").
Excepting such notable cases as g (before e or i) and c (before e or i), the V. L. consonants were practically those of classic Latin. As for the vowels, so for the V. L. consonants, their lot in Spanish being dependent upon their being in the initial, the medial, or the final position. In the initial position they resisted change to a large degree; in the medial position they simplified, if double, and in general they displayed a tendency to adapt themselves to the surrounding vocalic conditions (e.g. single voiceless consonants voiced, certain voiced consonants were absorbed, etc.); in the final position their enunciation sometimes became so weak as to lead to their disappearance. While the modern Spanish vowels have preserved much of the sonority of their Latin originals, the consonants have greatly weakened in the force and precision of their utterance; even refined and careful speakers often fail now to pronounce the intervocalic d of the past participial ending in amado, etc., which for them become amao (or amau), etc. At the beginning of the words these V. L. consonants remain: p, b, d, c (before a, o, u, or r), g (before a, o, u, or r), l, r, m, n, s, v (as in padre, bebe from, bibit tanto from tantum, dar from dare, cadena from catena, etc.). While in the Old Spanish period, i. E. down to the fifteenth century, the initial b remained the stop or explosive (like English b) that it was in Latin, it has become in more recent times a bilabial spirant and as such is now co-equal with the Spanish v, which early gained this value both initially and medially. Still, if pronounced with emphasis in the initial position and everywhere after m and n, the b and v both have the stop sound. The d, too, initially, medially, and at the end of the word, has lost much of its explosive energy and become practically a spirant; in fact in the final position it is seldom heard in popular pronunciation. The initial r has a well-rolled trill of the tongue and is equivalent to the intervolalic rr, while the final r like the medial single r or r after a consonant (except n, s, l) has a feebler sound; even this latter, however, is stronger than the ordinary English r. Latin initial h was valueless in V. L. and usually was not written in Old Spanish (Lat. habere, O. Sp. aver, modern haber); its appearance in the modern speech is due to an unnecessary etymological restoration.
A characteristic change in really popular words is that of Latin initial f (except before l, r, and ue) into a strong aspirate h sound, still incorrectly denoted by f in the Old Spanish period. Later on h was substituted in writing for this aspirate f, and still later, like the original Lat. h, this one lost all sound (Lat. ferrum, O. Sp. fierro, modern hierro). There is no real reason for supposing, as has been done, that this transformation of Lat. f was the result of an Iberian or Celto-Iberian inability to pronounce initial f. Before r and ue (from Lat. o) and also, in quite a number of cases not well understood before any sound, the f remains, as in Latin, a labio-dental spirant (English f). When followed by l the history of f was like that of c and g: the result for all three was a palatalized l which soon began to be represented by ll (approximate to li in English "filial": flamma, Span. llama, clamare, Span. llamar, etc.). There are cases of the retention of the f and p (flor, planta, etc.). Before e or i, g had already in V. L., like Lat. j and like Lay. d before an e or an i in hiatus, the value of y: in all cases this y disappeared before unaccented e and i (germanus-um, O. Sp. ermano, modern hermano with meaningless h, etc.), before an accented e or i or the other unaccented or accented vowels the y might remain (gener, generum, Span. yerno; jacet; Span. yace, etc.) or become in O. Sp. a j (English j sound) which in the modern speech has developed into a velar sound (jam, magis, Span. jamas). Before e (Lat. e, oe, ae) and i the c had already begun to assibilate in Latin itself; in O. Sp. it yielded the voiceless dental sibilant c (pronounced ts): in modern Castilian this sound has become the lisped one th (as in "thin"), and is written c before e or i (centum, Span. ciento; civitas, civitatem, Span. ciudad). In Andalusia and largely in Colonial Spanish the sound is now that of a voiceless s. The Lat. combination qu ceased in Spanish to have its u pronounced before e or i, and the spelling with u is only conventional (quem, Span. quien, etc.), before unaccented a and o the u disappeared absolutely (quattuordecim, Span. catorce; quomo[do], Span. como, treated as unaccented in the sentence ); before accented a the u retains its value as a w, and the combination is now written cu (quando, Span. cuando). To every Latin word beginning with s + a consonant Spanish has prefixed an e (scribo, Span. escribo).
In the medial (intervocalic) position double p, t, and c (before a, o, u,) simplified (cappa, Span. capa, etc.); but single p, t, and c voiced to b, d, and g (lupa, Span. loba, etc.); and this voicing also occurred before r (capra, Span. cabra, etc.) If i or u in hiatus (i.e. a semi-consonant) followed the single p, t, c, the voicing did not occur (sapiat, Span. sepa; sapui, O. Sp. sope, modern supe). Between vowels b and g have usually been kept, the former as a bilabial spirant: in more popular treatment d has disappeared (sedere, O. Span. seer, modern ser), but there are many instances of its retention (sudare, Span. sudar, etc.). After Lat. i the v disappeared (rivus-um, Span. rio), but in most other cases it remained as a bilabial spirant euqal in balue to originally intervocalic b (novus-um, Span. nuevo). As in the initial position, g dissppeared before e and i (regina, Span. reina) and remained before the other vowels (negare, Span. negar, etc.). While single l, n, and r remained unchanged, the double r remained as a very strongly-trilled sound (like initial single r) and double n and l ordinarily palatalized to the written n and ll (with sounds approximate to those of ny in English "canyon" and li in "filial"). In Latin the intervocalic s was voiceless (English s of "case"); in Spanish it voiced early to the sound of English z, but this z unvoiced again to the sharply hissing s in modern Spanish. If double, the Lat. ss continued to be so written in O. Span, and remains a voiceless single s in modern Spanish, which tolerates no double consonantal sounds except in rare cases, those of cc and nn. Spanish (and already V.L.) developed new sibilant sounds out of intervocalic t and c+y (i.e. e or i in "hiatus"). For ty, O. Sp. had a voiced dz sound denoted by z (ratio, rationem, Span. razon) and for cy either that same sound or the corresponding voiceless one of ts denoted by O. Sp. c (V. L. capicia, O. Sp. cabeca) and modern z (cabeza). The Lat. intervocalic c followed by e or i, likewise produced the voiced dz sound, written z in O. Sp. and now written c or z (in the final position) with the lisped sound th (crux, crucem, cruces, Span. cruz, cruces).
There are a great many other medial consonant combinations. Notable are the changes of ct to ch (pronounced as in English "church"; nox, noctem, Span. noche), of l + consonant to u + consonant (alter, alterum, Span. otro though X autro X outro) or to a palatalization of the consonant ( multum , Span. mucho , with ch like that in English "church"), of ly to j ( cilia , Span. ceja ) of ny to palatalized n (written n ; cuneus -um , Span. cuno etc.). The variations in the cases of consonant combinations containing l have not yet been properly studied. Of the final consonants usual in Latin s and n remain, the former especially inflexion; t, d, and c were lost (amat, Span. ama; amant, aman; est, Span. es; ad, Span. a; nec, Span. ni).
It is in its phonological development that Spanish differentiates itself most from the related Romance languages: in its morphological and syntactical development it is more closely akin to them and the problems that arise belong in general to comparative Romance Philology. Therefore much less attention need be devoted to them in an individual account of Spanish. As in general Romance, so in Spanish the Latin declensions are reduced practically to three, corresponding to the Latin first, second, and third; the neuter gender disappears in the noun (the Latin neuters usually figuring in the second declension as Spanish masculines) and remains only in the demonstrative pronoun (esto, eso, aquello) and the article (lo); for nouns and adjectives the only case and number distinctions left are those corresponding to the retentions of the nominative (vocative) and other cases in only learned formations (Dios from Deus, Carlos from Carolus) or in petrefactions [as in jueves, "Thursday" from Jovis (dies); ogano "this year" from hoc anno, etc.]. The pronoun has preserved more of the Latin cases (ego, V. L. X eo, Span. yo; acc. me, Span. me; mihi, Span. mi, etc.).
The passive and deponent voices of Latin have disappeared and are usually replaced by periphrases (e.g. a reflexive formation el libro se lee=liber legitur or by a combination of the verb "to be" or some equivalent auxiliary with the past participle of the main verb). The four regular conjugations of Latin have been reduced to three, which parallel the Lat. first, second, and fourth, and practically to two, since the second and the fourth differ in only four forms. A peculiarity of the language is the appearance of a number of so-called radical-changing verbs, which, regular as to their tense and personal endings, show a variation between ie and ue in the accented root syllable and e (upon occasion i) and o (upon occasion u) in that same syllable unaccented (siento, sentir, sintamos, etc.). There are many irregular (strong) verbs. Of the indicative tenses, the present abides; while the future has been supplanted by a periphrasis consisting of the infinitive of the main verb + the present (or endings of the present) indicative of haber Lat. habere (amar + he, "to love " + "I have", whence amare, "I shall love "). In like manner a conditional (past future) has been formed by adding the endings of the imperfect indicative of haber to the infinitive of the main verb (amar + [hab]ia, whence amaria, "I should love "). The Lat. perfect indicative has become a simple preterite in ordinary use and a new perfect has been produced by combining the present indicative of habeo with the past participle of the verb in question (ame from amavi, "I loved "; he amado from habeo amatum, "I have loved "). The future perfect has coalesced with the present perfect of the subjunctive to form the future (or hypothetical) subjunctive, which tense, however, is now little used in spoken language.
Of the Latin imperative only the second singular and plural present have remained (ama, Lat. ama; amad, Lat. amate), and these are of restricted service: their place is generally taken in polite usage by forms derived from the present subjunctive. To go with these latter there has been devised a new pronoun of ceremonious import, usted, ustedes (from vuestra merced, "Your Grace ", etc.), which is frequently abridged to Vd., Vds. Or V., VV. It may be said once for all that all the perfect tenses of the indicative and subjunctive both are made up of the requisite form of the auxiliary haber and the past participle of the principal verb. Of the Latin subjunctive tenses the present remains; the imperfect has vanished wholly; the pluperfect has become an imperfect in force (amase, "I should love ", from amavissem, amassem); the perfect has been spoken of. A second subjunctive imperfect largely interchangeable in use with the other is one derived from the Latin pluperfect indicative (amara, "I should love ", Lat. amaveram, amaram). This still has occasionally its original pluperfect (or even preterite) indicative force. Of the Latin non-finite forms, the infinitive, the gerund (with uninflected present participial use) and the past participle (originally passive, but in Spanish also active) alone survive. In the perfect tenses which it forms the past participle is invariable: when employed adjectively it agrees with the word to which it refers in both gender and number. The Latin present participle (in ans, antem, etc.) has become a mere adjective in Spanish.
A further peculiarity of Spanish is its possession of two verbs "to have", tener and haber, of which the latter can appear only as the auxiliary of perfect tenses or as the impersonal verb (hay, "there is", "there are", habia, "there was", "there were", etc.) and of two verbs "to be", ser and estar, which are likewise kept apart in their uses (ser indicates permanency and estar only transiency when they predicate a quality ; estar alone can be employed where physical situation is concerned; etc.). A striking syntactical fact in Spanish is the employment of the preposition, a "to", or "at", before the noun (or any pronoun except the conjunctive personal pronoun) denoting a definite personal object (veo al hombre, "I see the man"). The word-order is rather lax as compared with that existing in the sister-languages.
As has been stated above, Spanish literature properly so-called began in the twelfth century. Of course Latin documents written in Spain and running through the Middle Ages from the fifth century on show, here and there, words which are obviously no longer Latin and have assumed a Spanish aspect, but these charters, deeds of gift, and like documents have no literary value. None attaches either to the liguistically interesting Old Spanish glosses of the eleventh century, once preserved in the Monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos at Burgos, and now at the British Museum in London. But in the epic "Poem del Cid" and in the dramatic "Auto de los reyes magos" of the twelfth century we find Spanish appropriated to the purposes of real literature. It is not absolutely certain which of these two compositions antedates the other; each is preserved in a single manuscript And in each case the manuscript is defective. The little auto, or play, of "The Magian Kings" seems to have been based on an earlier liturgical Latin play written in France, and is certainly not the work of an apprentice hand, for in direction and versification it shows no little skill on the part of him who wrote it. In dramatic technic it marks an improvement upon the methods discernible in the group of Franco-Latin plays to which it is related. It deals of course with the visit of the Three Wise Men to the stable of the Child Jesus at Bethlehem, but the manuscript breaks off at the point where they quit Herod. Thus in Spain, as in Ancient Greece and as in the other lands of Modern Europe, the drama, in its inception, has close affiliations with religious worship. Curiously enough, we have no further absolutely certain records of a written Spanish play until the fifteenth century. We are certain, nevertheless, that plays were constantly acted in Spanish during this long interval, for the law-books speak of the presence of actors on the soil and brand some of them, especially those producing juegos de escarnio (a kind of farce), as infamous.
All the evidence tends to place the date of composition of the "Poema del Cid" (also called "Gesta de Myo Cid" or "Cantares de Myo Cid") at about the middle of the twelfth century. The fourteenth-century manuscript Containing it is in a deplorably garbled condition, having folios missing here and there and showing lines of very uneven length as well as assonating rhymes frequently imperfect. The chances are that it was written at first in regularly framed assonance verses of fourteen to sixteen syllables — each breaking normally into half-lines of seven to eight syllables, such as now form the usual romance or ballad line — and that these verses constituted stanzas or laisses of irregular length, such as we find in the Old French "Chanson de Roland" and other chansons de geste . The hero celebrated in the poem was the doughty warrior Rodrigo (Ruy) Díaz de Bivar , who died in 1099 and whom the Arabs styled Cidy — "My Lord". He had been exiled from his native Castile and, after serving now this and now that Moorish kingling in his wars against his neighbours, Rodrigo had been able to take Valencia from the infidels and establish himself there as an independent ruler. In the 3700 and more lines of the "Poem" although the historical element is large, the figure of the Cid is highly idealized; he is no longer fractious with respect to his monarch, Alfonso of Castile, as history shows him to have been, and when he has achieved independence he still avouches himself an adherent of that monarch. A great deal is made in the "Poem" of certain unhistorical marriages of the Cid's daughters to fictitious Infantes of Carrión, who desert their brides but are later degraded after being defeated in the lists by the Cid's champions. The poem breathes throughout the spirit of war ; battle scenes are always described with great zest and the various conquests of the hero in his victorious progress through Moordom are enumerated fully. To the thirteenth century there may be ascribed another epic poem treating of the Cid. This, also preserved in a single late and garbled manuscript, is called by scholars the "Crónica rimada" or the "Rodrigo". It deals with wholly imaginary exploits of the youthful Cid. Here we find the germs of the story of Rodrigo and Ximena which grew into the plot of Guillen de Castro's Golden-Age play, "Las Mocedades del Cid", and passed thence to Pierre Corneille's famous French tragi-comedy, "Le Cid" (1636). The original metrical and rhyming scheme of the Rodrigo was probably that which we have assumed for the "Poem del Cid".
Another and earlier Castilian hero is the protagonist of a thirteenth-century epic poem, the "Poem de Fernán González", found in a defective fifteenth-century manuscript As we have it, this "Poem" seems to be a redaction, made by a monk of the monastery of Arlanza, of an older popular epic. It is in the verse form called cuaderna via , i.e. monorhymed quatrains of Alexandrines, a form much utilized by the didactic writers of the thirteenth century, when the Alexandrine was imported from France. The adventures of the battlesome tenth-century Count Fernán González in conflict with Moor and Christian and especially with the hated suzerain, the King of León, are described in detail. The latter part of the poem is missing, but we have the whole of its story narrated in an exceedingly important document, the "Crónica general" (or "Crónica de España") of Alfonso X (thirteenth century).
This ostensibly historical compilation became, in the form given to it by Alfonso and his assistants and in the later redactions made of it, a veritable storehouse of Old Spanish epic poetry. Dealing with historical or legendary figures, the "Crónica" will give what is regarded as the true record of fact in connection with them and then proceeds to tell what the minstrels ( juglares ) sing about them, thus providing us with the matter of a number of lost poems. The "Crónica" is in prose, but in the portions concerned with the accounts attributed by it to the minstrels it has been discovered that the seeming prose will, in places, readily break up into assonanced verses of the epic type. So, while the "Poem del Cid", the "Rodrigo" and the "Fernán González" are the only monuments of Old Spanish epic verse preserved in compositions of any length, the "Crónica general" has snatches of other epic poems whose plots it has taken over into its prose. Interesting among these is the account which it contains of the fictitious Bernardo del Carpio, whose epic legend would appear to have been a Spanish re-fashioning of the story of the French epic hero, Roland. On this account some scholars have assumed that the Old Spanish epic was modelled from the inception of the French epopee; but it is probable that there were Spanish epics antedating the period of French influence (e.g. the Fernán González). French influence aided doubtless in the artistic development of the later Spanish epic legends. Elements of fact have been discovered in the Leyenda or "Legend of the Infantes of Lara", whose tragic deaths, as well as the revenge wrought for them by their Moorish half-brother, are described in the "Crónica General". The brilliant Spanish savant , Menéndez Pidal, has succeeded in re-casting in verse form an appreciable part of the "Crónica" narrative. Probably once made the subject of poetic treatment were Roderick the Goth and the foreign hero, Charlemagne, who had had much to do with Spain ; the "Crónica" has no little to say of them. Before leaving this matter it is meet to advert to the theory once exploited that the Spanish epic was the outgrowth of short epico-lyric songs of the type of certain of the extant ballads ( romances ) some of which deal with the heroes celebrated in the epics. But it has been shown that the ballads hardly go back of the fourteenth century and that the oldest among them were derived, in all likelihood, from episodes in the epic poem or were based upon the chronicle accounts.
In the thirteenth century a considerable amount of religious and didactic verse appeared. Now we meet with the first Spanish poet known to us by name, the priest Gonzálo de Bérceo, who was active during the first half of the century. Adopting the cuaderna via as his verse form, he wrote several lives of Saints ("Vida de Sto. Domingo de Silos", "Estoria de S. Millán", etc.), a series of homely but interesting narrations of miracles performed by the Blessed Virgin (Milagros de Nuestra Senora), and other devout documents. In all of these he speaks in plain terms with the express purpose of reaching the common man. Of late there has been ascribed to him, but not with certainty, a lengthy poem in cuadernaa via, the "Libro de Alexandre ", which brings together many of the ancient and medieval stories about the Macedonian warrior. A number of the writings of this period reflect, more or less faithfully, French or Provençal models. They include the "Libro de Apolonio", which may primarily have been of Byzantine origin, the "Vida de Santa María Egipciaqua" (dealing with the notorious sinner and later holy hermitess, St. Mary of Egypt ), the "Book of the Three Kings of the East" (erroneously so called, and better termed the "Legend of the Good Thief ": the manuscript Has no Castilian title), and the "Disputa del Alma y el Cuerpo" (a form of the frequent medieval debates between body and soul ). Doubtless also borrowed from Gallic sources is a "Debate del Agua y el Vino", which is combined with a more lyrical composition, the "Razó feita d'Amor".
Prose composition on any large scale is posterior to that of verse. Apart from the "Fuero Juzgo" (1241: a Castilian version of the old Gothic laws ) and some minor documents, no notable works in prose appeared before the advent of AlfonsoX (1220-84), who began to reign in 1252. An unwise ruler, he was a great scholar and patron of scholarship, so much so as to be called el Sabio (the Learned) and he made his Court a great centre of scientific and literary activity, gathering about him scholars, Christian, Arabic, and Hebrew, of whom he made use in his vast labours. These he engaged in the compilation of his historical, legal, and astronomical works, toiling with them and taking especial pains to refine the literary forms. We have already spoken somewhat of his "Crónica de España" (more commonly known as the "Crónica general"), in which he sought, using all available earlier historical treatises, to make a record of the history of his own land down to his time. He thus inaugurated a series of Spanish chronicles which were continued uninterruptedly for several centuries after him. Another extensive historical document is the "Grande y general historia", which he seems to have intended to be a summary of the world's history; it remains unedited. In the "Siete partidas", so styled because of the seven sections into which it is divided, he codified all laws previously promulgated in the land, adding thereto philosophical disquisitions on the need of those laws and on multifarious matters of human interest. For astronomy he had a particular affection, as the extant Alphonsine Tables and other works demonstrate. Apparently he indited no verse in Castilian ; he has left us some "Cantigas de Sta. Maria", written in Galician-Portuguese, in which at the time other Castilians and Leónese also composed lyric verse.
His example was followed by his son and successor Sancho IV, who had put together the didactic "Castigos de D. Sancho", as a primer of general instruction for his own son. To Sancho's reign (1284-95) or later belongs the "Gran Conquista de Ultramar", which adds to matter derived from William of Tyre's narrative of a crusade fabulous and romanesque elements of possible French and Provençal derivation. This work paved the way for narrative prose fiction in Spanish. In fact there came ere long the first original novel in Spanish the "Caballero Cifar". Some prose Castilian versions of Oriental aphoristic and like didactic material were followed by the fruitful labours of Alfonso X's nephew, Juan Manuel (1282-1348). In spite of much time spent upon the battle-field or in administrative pursuits, Juan Manuel found the leisure to write or dictate about a dozen different treatises, whose interest is chiefly didactic, e.g. the "Libro de la caza" (on falconry), the "Libro del caballero y del escudero" (a catechism of chivalrous behaviour), etc. Some of these are not now discoverable. His masterpiece is the framework of tales, the "Conde Lucanor" (or "Libro de Patronio"). The stories told here by him are of various provenience, Oriental, and Occidental, and some reflect his own experience. Two of them contain the essentials of the plot of "The Taming of the Shrew". A collection of songs which, like Alfonso, he probably wrote in Galician, has passed from view.
Returning now to follow down the course of Spanish poetry we encounter in the fourteenth century, and in the first half of it, a real poet, Juan Ruiz, archpriest of Hita. He was a bad cleric and his bishop kept him long in prison for his misdeeds. As a poet he was the first to strike in Spanish the true lyrical and subjective note, revealing unblushingly his own inner man in his scabrous "Libro de buen amor", which is in part an account of his lubricous love adventures. He was a man of some reading, as his use of Ovidian or Pseudo-Ovidian matter and of French fableaux, dits , etc., shows. His rhymes and metres are varied according to his subject-matter and his mood. Rodrigo Yanez's "Poem de Alfonso Onceno", a sort of chronicle of Alfonso XI's deeds, may be only a version from the Galician. The Rabbi Sem Tob's "Proverbios morales", a collection of rhymed maxims, is not devoid of grace. In the second half of the century there stands forth Pedro López de Ayala, statesman, satirical poet, and historian, who died Grand Chancellor of Castile, after serving four successive monarchs whose exploits he chronicled in his prose "Crónicas de los reyes de Castilla". His poetical work is the "Rimado de palacio", which is chiefly a satirical arraignment of the society of his time, and useful as a picture of living manners of the period. Besides his "Crónicas" he wrote other prose works and made versions of Latin compositions.
The fifteenth century is, throughout its first half, pre-eminently an age of court poetry. At the Court of Juan II of Castile (1419-54) hundreds of poetasters dabbled in verse; a few really gifted spirits succeeded occasionally in writing poetry. There was much debating on love and kindred themes, and, following up Provençal processes, the debating took often the form of versified plea, replication, rejoinder, sur-rejoinder, etc. Along with this arid, provencalizing, love speculation, we find two other factors of importance in the literature of the period: (1) an allegorizing tendency, which continued, generally in a pedestrian manner, the allegorical methods of the Italians Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, and, doubtless, also of the "Roman de la Rose" and similar French works, and (2) a humanistic endeavour, which manifests itself especially by the rendering into Castilian of noted classical documents of Latin antiquity. The occasional pieces of the court poetizers will be found represented fully enough in the collection made by the king's physician, Juan Baena, in his "Cancionero". In general it is safe to say that the countless pallid, amorous effusions of the court poets transfer to the Castilian Court the earlier Galician aping of the conventionalized Provençal manner. And not only did the Castilians, gathered about their king, Juan II, trifle thus with the poetic muse: the Aragónese and the Castilian nobles who followed the Aragónese arms to the domination of Naples and Sicily engaged in the same practice, and their futilities are embalmed in the "Cancionero de Stúñiga", prepared at the Aragónese Court in Naples.
At the opening of the century, one man, Enrique de Villena, related to the royal houses of both Castile and Aragón, calls for particular attention. He did much to propagate the Provençal style of poetry, but at the same time he was a forerunner of the Spanish Humanists, for he made a version of the Æneid, and he declared his love of allegory by writing his "Doce trabajos de Hércules" and his love for the Italians by translating Dante. Francisco Imperial, a scion of a Genoese family settled in Spain, did much to spread the Dantesque evangel. A friend of Villena and, like him, a lover of Latin antiquity — though he read no Latin himself, he was a patron of those who did — and a venerator of the great Italian poets whom he imitated, was the Marqués de Santillana, Inigo López de Mendoza (1398-1458). He was the first to write in Spanish sonnets copying the Italian structure: in this respect his example was not followed. Not only did he allegorize in verse less tedious than that of most contemporaries, but he showed an unwonted eclecticism by imitating the popular songs of the mountains and pastoral folk. His interest in the literature of the people is avouched also by a collection of their rhymed proverbs which he made. Not the least admirable of his productions is a little prose letter, "Carta al condestable de Portugal ", in which he provided the first account of the history of Spanish literature ever committed to writing. Another luminary of the age was Juan de Mena (1411-56), the royal historiographer, to whom we are indebted especially for the "Laberinto", in which he not only indulged his allegorizing propensities but also makes obvious his devotion to the ancient Spanish Latin poet Lucan. At times Mena soars to real poetic heights.
The inevitableness of death had engaged the attention of the plastic and pictorial artist and the littérateur to no slight extent during the later Middle Ages : the French "Danse Macabre" shows what a hold this melancholy idea had taken upon thinking minds. One of the most finished examples of the literary treatment of the subject is the Spanish "Danza de la mierte" , which is of the early fifteenth century. It surpasses in poetic vigour the French model which it is said to have followed. A not unworthy historian is Fernán Pérez de Guzmán , author of the "Mar de historias", who evinces no mean power as a portrayer of character in his "Generaciones y semblanzas", in which he describes famous personages of his time. The prose satire in all its virulence is represented by the "Corbacho" of the archpriest of Talavera, Martínez de Toledo (died about 1470), an invective upon womankind. Two noteworthy satires of the second half of the century are the anonymous "Coplas del provincial" and "Coplas de Mingo Revulgo", setting forth administrative vices and the wrongs done to the people at large. The renascence of the Spanish drama is now foreshadowed in some pieces of Gómez Manrique, whose nephew, Jorge Manrique (1440-78), gained enduring fame by his sweet and mournful "Coplas" on the death of his father, which Longfellow has skilfully rendered into English verse. An event of transcendent importance throughout the civilized world was the establishment at this time of the printing-press; it was set up in Spain in 1474.
Of all lands Spain has the richest supply of ballads ( romances ); no fewer than 2000 are printed by Durán in his "Romancero general". We have reason to suppose that they began to be written in the fourteenth century, but the earliest extant seem to date from the fifteenth century. The great majority, however, are of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. While the earlier among them are anonymous, the later ones are often by well-known writers and are clearly artificial in character. Towards the end of the century there appeared in print the first great modern novel, the "Amadis de Gaula", which soon begot many other novels of chivalry like unto itself, recounting the exploits of other Amadises, of Palmerins, etc. The vogue of the progeny of the first "Amadis" — which certainly existed in a more primitive form back in the fourteenth century and has been claimed, against the greater likelihood, for Portuguese literature — became a veritable plague, reaching down into the opening of the seventeenth century, when the success of the "Don Quizote" gave it its death stroke. Over against the idealism of the novels of chivalry there stands already, at the close of the fifteenth century, the crass realism of the "Celestina" (or Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea), a novel of illicit love to which the author, presumably Fernando de Rojas, gave a somewhat dramatic form. The work influenced later dramatic production and has decided graces of style. With the "Eglogas" of Juan del Encina (about 1469-1533), the old sacred drama, already timidly attempted by Gómez de Manrique, reappears without showing any clear advance over the ancient "Auto de los reyes magos". Encina also essayed the farce.
Soon after the dawn of the sixteenth century there commences the most glorious period in Spain's political history, that represented by the expansion of her foreign dominion during the reigns of Isabella and Ferdinand, Charles V, and Philip II. Wealth flowed in from the transatlantic colonies and provided the means for developing the arts on a grandiose scale. The literary art keeps pace with the others, and there now ensues what the Spaniards call the siglo de oro , the Golden Age of their literature, which extends even through the seventeenth century despite the political, social, and economic decay which that century so obviously shows. A dependence upon Italy and its Renaissance literary methods manifests itself in practically every form of literary composition. Italian verse-forms (the hendecasyllable, the octave, the sonnet, the canzone , etc.) are naturalized definitively by Juan Boscan (about 1490-1542) and Garcilaso de la Vega (1503-36), who inaugurate an Italianizing lyric movement, which triumphs over all opposition. After them the great poets use the imported Italian measures no less frequently than the native ones. Contemporary Italianates are the Portuguese Sâ de Miranda, Cetina, Acuña, and the versatile Hurtado de Mendoza; of but little effect was the reactionary movement of Castillejo and Silvestre. What the nascent drama of Spain in the sixteenth century owes to stimulus from the Italian drama has not yet been made out fully. Encina had been in Italy ; Torres Naharro (died about 1530) published his "Propaladia", a collection of dramatic pieces, at Naples (then an Aragónese Court), in 1517. With him the punctilio, or point of honour, is already an important dramatic motif . In Lope de Rueda (about 1510-65) we see a genuinely dramatic spirit; he was an actor, playwright, and theatrical manager and understood fully how to appeal to a popular audience, as he clearly did in his pasos , or comic interludes, dealing with popular types. After him the dramatists became legion in number; it would be tedious and futile to enumerate them all; only the more prominent and successful need engage our attention.
Juan de la Cueva (about 1550-1609) brings historical and legendary subjects upon the boards; Cervantes (1547-1616), contrary to the real bent of his genius, seeks dramatic laurels; Lope de Vega (1562-1635), Tirso de Molina (Gabriel Téllez, 1571-1658), Calderón (1600-81), Guillén de Castro (1569-1631), Ruiz de Alarcón (about 1581-1639), Rojas Zorrilla (about 1590-1660), and Moreto (1618-1669) bring imperishable fame to the Spanish theatre and make it one of the most marvellously original and fascinating in the history of the world. Love of the Catholic religion and glorification of its practices, blind loyalty to the monarch and exaltation of the feeling called the point of honour, are among the leading characteristics animating the thousands of plays composed by these and lesser spirits. For the individual merits and defects of the chief writers reference may be had to the separate articles dealing with them. To us not the least attractive category of the plays is that dealing with living manners of the time ( comedias de capa y espada ), in the production of which Lope de Vega was the most successful. The form of the religious play called the auto sacramental (Eucharistic play) was carried to the height of its perfection by Calderón. It should be said that this enormous dramatic output is almost invariably in verse, and every single play interweaves in its make-up a considerable number of the possible measures. It was in this century, too, that Francisco de Guzmán wrote his "Triunfos morales" and Flor de sentencias de sabios" (1557).
Of the prose compositions of the age, the novel and tale are the most brilliant. The novels of chivalry continue to be written down to the end of the sixteenth century, but already at the end of the first quarter of that period they encounter a formidable rival in the extremely realistic novel of roguery ( novela picaresca ) or picaroon romance, the first and greatest example of which is the "Lazarillo de Tormes" which some scholars would deny to Hurtado de Mendoza, already mentioned as an Italianate. This record of the knavish deeds and peregrinations of a social outcast is paralleled at about 1602 by the "Gusman de Alfarache" of Mateo Alemán (about 1548-1609), after which come the account of the female rogue contained in the "Pícara Justina" (1605) of the Toledan physician López de Ubeda, the "Buscón" (also called Pablo, el Gran Tacaño, about 1608) of Quevedo — the second best of its kind — and the "Marcos de Obregon" (1618) of Vicente Espinel. As the novel of roguery continued to be written, the element of adventurous travel became more prominent in it. There were many tale-tellers dealing with a matter-of-fact world never so good as it ought to be: notable among them were Timoneda, whose anecdotes come from Italian models, Salas Barbadillo, Castillo Solórzano, and María de Zayas, all of whom are greatly surpassed by Cervantes in his "Novelas ejemplares", to say naught of the "Don Quixote" (1605-15: see CERVANTES SAAVEDRA). Even more idealistic than the novel of chivalry is the pastoral romance, which, in the wake of the Italian Sannazzaro's "Arcadia" and the Portuguese Ribeiro's imitation of it, makes its first and best appearance in Spanish in the "Diana" (about 1558) of Jorge de Montemayor (or Montemor, since he was a Portuguese by birth). Two sequels were written, that of Gil Polo being of much merit : in general, however, the pastoral romance was a fashionable pastime and had no popular appeal. Cervantes with his "Galatea" and Lope de Vega with his "Arcadia" are two of the many attempting this ultra-conventionalized literary form. There is one worthy representative of the historical novel, the "Guerras civiles de Granada" of Pérez de Hita .
In philosophical speculation the Spaniards, though active enough, at least in the sixteenth century, have not shown great initiative in dealing with modern problems. Mysticism, nevertheless, has informed some of their best thinking spirits, several of whom used both prose and verse. Noteworthy among them are the illustrious St. Theresa (1515-82), St. John of the Cross (1542-91), Luis de Granada (c. 1504-88), and the noble poet and prose-writer, Luis de León (1527-91). Luis de León was of Salamanca, at whose university he taught: at Seville an excellent poet was Fernando de Herrera (about 1534-97) whose martial odes and sonnets, celebrating Lepanto and Don John of Austria, are illustrative of his muse. The best lyricists of this age, besides León and Herrera, are Francisco de Rioja (1583-1659), Rodrigo Caro (1573-1647), and Francisco de Aldana, called by his comtemporaries el divino . Several efforts are made now to revive the epic: while Lope de Vega and Barahona de Soto vie with the Italians Ariosto and Tasso to but little purpose, Alonso de Ercilla (1533-94) alone, out of those celebrating recent or current heroic happenings, achieves real success. His "Araucana" turns upon the Spanish campaigns against the Araucanian Indians in South America. Besides the epic poem of Ercilla, there are three more worthy of mention: the "Bernardo" of B. de Balbuena (1568-1627), the "Monserrat" of Cristóbal de Virués (1548-1616), and the "Cristiada" of Diego de Hojeda (d. 1611), who won by his work the title of "The Spanish Klopstock". Pedro de la Cerda y Granada and Francisco de Enciso Monzón are also authors of two epic poems on the life of Christ. The series of chronicles inaugurated back in the thirteenth century continues into the Golden Age, and in the work of the Jesuit Juan de Mariana (1537-1623) the dignity of real history-writing is achieved. He wrote his "Historia de España" in Latin and then translated it into excellent Spanish. We find also excellent historians of this period in Alonzo de Ovalle (1610-88), Martin de Roa (1561-1637), Luis de Guzmán (1543-1605), José de Acosta (1539-1600), whose "Historia natural y moral de las Indias" has been highly praised by A. Humbolt; Antonio de Solis (1610-88), author of the famous "Historia de Nueva España", Gonzálo de Illescas (d. 1569), who wrote a "Historia Pontifical", and Pedro de Rivadeneira (1526-1611), whose "Historia del Cisma de Inglaterra" was composed from most authentic documents. Care must be taken not to regard as real history the "Marco Aurelio con el reloj de príncipes" (1529) and the "Década de los Césares" (1539) of the Bishop Antonio de Guevara (died 1545). His "Epistolas familiaares" (1539) and the "Marco Aurelio" (dial of Princes) passed through a French version into English: without good reason the rise of euphuism in England has been attributed to imitation of the style of these works of Guevara.
Vices of style were, however, to become all too prominent and general in Spanish literature of the seventeenth century and to pervade verse and prose alike. The poet Góngora (1561-1627) gave currency to the literary excesses of style (bombast, obscurity, exuberance of tropes and metaphors, etc.) which is called Culteranism, or, after him, Gongorism, and they spread to all forms of composition. To Gongorism above all other things may be ascribed the wretched decay in letters which ensued upon the end of the seventeenth centu
More Volume: S 981
Click/Touch the sub-volume below to view encyclopedia articles within the sub-volume.
by Catholic Online
- Daily Reading for Monday, September 24th, 2018 HD Video
- Catholic education group applauds Australian school funding plan
- Daily Reading for Tuesday, September 25th, 2018 HD Video
- Blessed Stanley Rother shrine fundraising campaign surpasses initial goal
- Daily Readings for Sunday, September 23, 2018
- St. Padre Pio: Saint of the Day for Sunday, September 23, 2018
- El Papa Francisco se solidariza con victimas del accidente de barco ...
- Prayer Requests Live for Friday, September 21st, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, September 23rd, 2018 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Thursday, September 20th, 2018 HD
- Daily Reading for Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education