Death in Spanish Literature While the Renaissance Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3683 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Literature - Latin-American

Death in Spanish Literature

While the Renaissance in Europe bred abundant literature on every lively intellectual subject, the Baroque period was filled the Spanish nation with disappointment. In Europe in 1567, the Netherlands revolted against the rule of Spain under Philip II, and a costly war began. England gave their support to the Netherlands, and Philip sent the Spanish Armada to conquer England in 1588. The Armada was defeated in a humiliating sea battle and this drained the Spanish treasury.

Tragedy and death permeated the history and literature of Spain. Despite political upheaval, literature entered the Siglo de Oro (Golden Age) in Spain, spawning many creative and prolific writers in the late 16th century. The Spanish writers wrote of how talents were no match for violence, injustice and ignorance, nor from greater forces beyond Spain's borders. The writers expressed these sentiments, along with feelings of disillusionment with human foibles and the great age that had gone on before (Weller 2).

A period of political and cultural change began in Spain during the 18th and 19th Centuries.

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Philip V, the grandnephew of Spain's king, Charles II, of the French royal family of Bourbon, was left the Spanish throne in 1700. Thus began 100 years of Bourbon kings rule in Spain. Philip introduced the ideals of the Age of Enlightenment, while he united Spain and France. Faith in reason and science through education to solve the problems of the human condition and to transform society brought literature back to a belief in the inherent goodness of the human soul and reason.

For nearly a hundred years, very few writers of major importance appeared in Spain. In general, literary works of the 18th century outlined critical and philosophical arguments regarding what literature should be in relation to the ideas of the Enlightenment (Weller 2).

Term Paper on Death in Spanish Literature While the Renaissance Assignment

However, there were soon to arrive writers of great distinction, talent and popularity. Writing about the tragedies of their history and times, these writers expressed their characters' lives in great emotional fiction. Their lives, filled with death and sorrow, as well as many observations of human weaknesses and wit, were to carry Spanish literature into the 20th century. Their lives also were full of personal tragedies, which gave them great authority to write on such subjects. The following authors experienced great sorrows and undeserved death among them.

Gustavo Adolfo Becquer was born in Seville in 1836. Orphaned as youths, he and his brother went to live with an uncle. At 18, Becquer set off to seek fame and fortune as a painter. He lived in Madrid in poverty, married the daughter of his doctor when he contracted tuberculosis, fathered three children and died in 1870 from tuberculosis. He was 34 years old. His written works were influenced by Hoffmann and Heine and displayed great original talent. He is the founder of modern poetry in Spain. His Obras (Madrid, 1871), have been published repeatedly. He was undoubtedly the most important romantic writer in Spain. He was the hero of Romantic novels, as the end of his life was filled with despair. He had separated from his wife, his brother died, and Becquer himself died, never having found the fame and fortune he sought.

Becquer's best-known work is a collection of lyric poems called Rimas (Rhymes, 1860-1861), focusing on idealized passion and melancholy, harboring a dark and impossible love. Becquer wrote prose, as well as poetry. His Leyendas (Legends, 1871) is a collection of fantastic legends linking people and events from the mysterious and idealized Middle Ages with situations in his own day (such as France's occupation of Spain). (Jehl 15).

Below is a short poem, "What is poetry:"

Que es poesia? (Hills 3)

Que es poesia? --dices mientras clavas en mi pupila tu pupila azul.

Que es poesia? ¿Y tu me lo preguntas?

poesia... eres tu (Walsh 2000).

What is poetry? - you say between bites in my pupils your pupils blue

What is poetry? You ask me?

Poetry - is you.).

Gustavo Adolfo Becquer

During the Romantic period, the armies of the French emperor Napoleon I swept across Europe and took control of Spain at the beginning of the 19th century. Faith in reason could no longer hold sway. While the monarchy was restored in 1814 after Napoleon fell, it was weakened. Throughout the 19th century there were clashes between forces of liberalism, who identified with French writers who lauded the rights of man, and conservative forces who supported the Spanish monarchy. Throughout Europe, literature and the arts pictured this atmosphere of crisis and change in a movement called romanticism.

Most Romantic writers idealized the Reconquest and the old aristocracy. Women were paragons of goodness and beauty. Love was the most powerful emotion of all and the salvation of humankind. Nature was the background and echoed human nature. Popular costumbristas, were Spanish writers who wrote picturesque descriptions of regional dress, customs and language.

Romantic writers in Spain, however, experimented with various forms, images and ideals. Love did not always triumph in their work, some women were human and imperfect, nature was a force beyond control, and individuals were sometimes blindsided by society and ignorance. Disappointment in reality led some romantics to an excess of emotions, melancholy, pessimism and even suicide (Weller 3).

Spanish life and customs were recorded by Mariano Jose de Larra in his Art'culos de costumbres (Articles on Manners, 1832-1837).His works were filled with fierce and violent attacks on decadence, irony, and satire. Larra illustrated romanticism, its biography and its suicides, influlencing generations of Spanish writers, such as Buero Vallejo, Juan Goytisolo.

Below is an except from Vuelva usted manana (Art'culo del bachiller)

El Pobrecito Hablador, 14 de enero de 1833

Gran persona debi de ser el primero que llam pecado mortal a la pereza; nosotros, que ya en uno de nuestros art'culos anteriores estuvimos mas serios de lo que nunca nos hab'amos propuesto, no entraremos ahora en largas y profundas investigaciones acerca de la historia de este pecado, por mas que conozcamos que hay pecados que pican en historia, y que la historia de los pecados ser'a un tanto cuanto divertida. Convengamos solamente en que esta instituci n ha cerrado y cerrara las puertas del cielo a mas de un cristiano.

Translation: Return Tomorrow

Article of the bachelor)

The Poor Speaker, 14 of January of 1833

The greatest person should be he who called laziness a mortal sin; we, who already in one of our previous articles were more serious than any before, will not enter long and deep investigations now about the history of this sin, no matter how hard we know that there are sins that show up in history, and that the history of these sins would be somewhat entertaining. Only let us agree that this institution has closed and will close the doors of heaven to more than one Christian.

Mariano Jose de Larra, was born in Madrid in 1809. Using several pseudonyms, Larra wrote satirical articles on Spanish politics and customs. Also published in his own periodical, Pobrecito Hablador in 1832-33. Best known for his novel El doncel de Don Enrique el Doliente [the page of Don Enrique the sorrowful] (1834), his drama Mac'as (1834), and No Mas Mostrador [good-bye to the shop counter] (1831), an adaptation of a play by Scribe, he was unhappy in love and melancholic, Larra committed suicide in 1837. His daughter Adela, 6 years of age, found his body when she came to give her father a good night kiss. His death was described as a "terrible catastrophe" in only one newspaper, but the Castilian and the Newspaper of Madrid kept total silence. A conflict arose because the church was pressed by the liberal government to bury a suicide, which was allowed because he was "in asylum;" for the first time..

During the 19th century, positivism and determinism were reactions to the excesses of Romanticism. Positivism dealt with the individual challenging the status quo, believing that progress and knowledge come from observation and experience. Determinism said the individual really did not shape his or her life, rather, outside forces were in control. Determinism came from the theories of Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud.

Darwin's theories of evolution and survival of the fittest and Freud's theory of the unconscious suggested that externally and internally human beings were driven by a set of circumstances outside their control (Columbia 2005).

Spanish writers took up these theories and the results were known as realism. Realist writers were objective in contrast to the subjective romantics, and tried to present all sides to every question, both positive and negative, to show an individual's life as shaped by society and environment. Realists also s depicted psychological forces.

One of the most prolific and important realist novelist of Spanish literature was Benito Perez Galdos. Born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, he moved to Madrid at a young age, where he lived out most of his adult life. He wrote historical novels and 46 volumes of history with the general title Episodios… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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