The Golden Age Spanish Literature

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Last updated: May 7, 2019

The Golden Age
Golden Age (Spanish = Siglo De Oro) is the period of Spanish literature extending from the early 16th century to the late 17th century, generally considered the high point in Spain’s literary history. The concept century or golden age denotes a period of Spanish literature that encompasses two centuries and two very distinct stages: Renaissance (sixteenth century) and Baroque (seventeenth century).

Don Quijote de la Mancha
The first part of the novel was published in 1605; the second in 1615, a year before the author’s death.

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This novel describes the adventures and conversations of the would-be knight-errant, don Quixote de la Mancha, and his faithful squire Sancho Panza.

Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra (1547-1616)
Born in Alcalá de Henares, Spain in 1547, Cervantes is best known as the author of one of the most important novels ever written, El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha. This masterpiece has been translated into other languages more than any other Spanish text.

An article from Humanities Magazine, “One Master, Many Cervantes” explores this celebrated work. Cervantes was also an outstanding poet of the Spanish Golden Age.

Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562-1635)
Born in Madrid, Spain. Was a Spanish playwright and poet. He was one of the key figures in the Spanish Golden Century Baroque literature. His reputation in the world of Spanish literature is second only to that of Cervantes, while the sheer volume of his literary output is unequalled, making him one of the most prolific authors in the history of literature.

Characteristics of the novel, Don Quijote?
Don Quixote resembled both the medieval, chivalric romances of an earlier time and the novels of the early modern world. It parodied classical morality and chivalry, found comedy in knighthood, and criticized social structures and the perceived madness of Spain’s rigid society.

Lazarillo de Tormes
The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and of His Fortunes and Adversities (Spanish: La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes y de sus fortunas y adversidades) is a Spanish novella, published anonymously because of its heretical content. It was published simultaneously in three cities in 1554.

The Picaresque Novel
The picaresque novel (Spanish: “picaresca,” from “pícaro,” for “rogue” or “rascal”) is a popular sub-genre of prose fiction which might sometimes be satirical and depicts, in realistic and often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society.

This style of novel originated in 16th-century Spain and flourished throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It continues to influence modern literature.

Characteristics of the Golden Age Spanish Literature?
The Golden Age began with the partial political unification of Spain about 1500. Its literature is characterized by patriotic and religious fervour, heightened realism, and a new interest in earlier epics and ballads, together with the somewhat less-pronounced influences of humanism and Neoplatonism.

Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561-1627)
Born in the city of Córdoba in southern Spain and one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Golden Age (El siglo de oro español), Góngora was an inspiration to another outstanding poet of this period, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz from New Spain (Mexico). Góngora and his lifelong rival, Francisco de Quevedo, are both considered among the most prominent Spanish poets of this age.

Gongora’s style is called Gongorismo or Culteranismo, which is a most complex of the Baroque Spanish poetic tendencies.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648(?)-1695)
Born 1648(?) in San Miguel de Nepantla, Mexico, is legendary. Lauded as the first great Latin American poet, she was published in both the New and the Old Worlds during her lifetime. Her works include plays, essays, as well as poetry and remain among the most important in the Spanish language. A nun, Sor Juana was forced to give up her library and her writing on March 5, 1694.

Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas (1580-1645)
Born in Madrid. Was a Spanish nobleman, politician and writer of the Baroque era. Along with his lifelong rival, Luis de Góngora, Quevedo was one of the most prominent Spanish poets of the age.

His style is characterized by what was called conceptismo. This style existed in stark contrast to Góngora’s culteranismo.

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