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Fernando de Rojas

Fernando de Rojas Fernando de Rojas[2†]

Fernando de Rojas (c. 1465/73 - April 1541) was a significant figure in Spanish literature, known for his sole surviving work, "La Celestina"[1†][2†]. Born in La Puebla de Montalbán, Toledo, Spain, he came from a family of Jewish descent[1†][2†]. He received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Salamanca[1†], marking the beginning of his professional journey.

Rojas’s contribution to Spanish literature is monumental, with “La Celestina” marking an important stage in the development of prose fiction in Spain and Europe[1†]. This extended prose drama in dialogue is considered either the last work of the Spanish Middle Ages or the first work of the Spanish Renaissance[1†][2†]. Despite its success during his lifetime, Rojas did not produce any other known literary works[1†][2†].

In addition to his literary pursuits, Rojas had a successful career in law and served as the mayor of Talavera de la Reina, where he spent the last three decades of his life[1†][2†].

This introduction provides a brief overview of Fernando de Rojas’s life and work. If you would like to know more about his early years, education, career development, achievements, or any other aspect of his life, please let me know.

Early Years and Education

Fernando de Rojas was born in La Puebla de Montalbán, Toledo, Spain, around 1465/73[2†]. He came from a family of Jewish descent[2†], a fact that would later influence his life and work. Despite the challenges faced by converso families under the shadow of the Inquisition[2†], Rojas’s family had been recognized as hidalgos for at least three generations[2†].

Rojas’s educational journey led him to the University of Salamanca, where he studied law[2†][1†][2†]. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in law around 1490[2†][1†][3†]. His time at the university was not only academically enriching but also creatively stimulating. It was during his student years that he began writing "La Celestina"[2†], a work that would later earn him a prominent place in Spanish literature.

After graduating, Rojas returned to his family home, only to find his relations under scrutiny from the Inquisition[2†]. Despite these challenges, Rojas managed to carve out a successful career for himself, practicing law and serving briefly as the lord mayor[2†][1†].

This period of Rojas’s life, marked by academic achievement and the beginnings of his literary career, laid the foundation for his future contributions to Spanish literature. His education and early experiences not only shaped his worldview but also influenced his writing, as evidenced in “La Celestina”.

Career Development and Achievements

Fernando de Rojas’s career was marked by his significant contributions to Spanish literature and his professional practice in law[1†][2†]. His literary career, though brief, had a profound impact on the development of prose fiction in Spain and Europe[1†][2†].

Rojas’s sole surviving work, “La Celestina” (originally titled “Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea”), was first published in 1499[1†][2†]. This extended prose drama in dialogue is considered either the last work of the Spanish Middle Ages or the first work of the Spanish Renaissance[1†][2†]. Despite its success during his lifetime, Rojas did not produce any other known literary works[1†][2†].

“La Celestina” has been variously described as a drama, a dramatic poem, a dialogued novel, a novel-drama, and as ‘ageneric’ – a genre entirely of its own[1†][2†]. It describes a love affair, with much bawdy and comic detail, before a tragic ending[1†][2†]. The scholar Dorothy Severin has written that it may be considered as either the last Spanish work of the Middle Ages or the first of the Renaissance[1†][2†].

In addition to his literary pursuits, Rojas had a successful career in law[1†][2†]. After graduating from the University of Salamanca, he practiced law and later served as the mayor of Talavera de la Reina[1†][2†]. He held this position for the last three decades of his life, despite difficulties with the Inquisition[1†][2†].

Rojas’s career, both as a writer and a lawyer, demonstrates his remarkable ability to excel in different fields. His enduring legacy in Spanish literature, coupled with his contributions to the legal profession, underscores the breadth of his achievements.

First Publication of His Main Works

Fernando de Rojas is known for his only surviving work, “La Celestina” (originally titled “Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea”), which was first published in 1499[1†][2†]. This work is considered a significant milestone in the development of prose fiction in Spain and Europe[1†][2†]. It is variously considered "the last work of the Spanish Middle Ages or the first work of the Spanish Renaissance"[1†][2†].

“La Celestina” is an extended prose drama in dialogue[1†][2†]. It describes a love affair, with much bawdy and comic detail, before a tragic ending[1†][2†]. The work has been variously described as a drama, a dramatic poem, a dialogued novel, a novel-drama, and as ‘ageneric’ – a genre entirely of its own[1†][2†]. It was never staged during Rojas’s lifetime, but the majority of modern scholars consider it a drama[1†][2†].

Despite difficulties with the Inquisition, Rojas was a successful lawyer and became mayor of Talavera de la Reina, where he lived for the last three decades of his life[1†][2†]. He wrote “La Celestina” while still a student[1†][2†]. After graduating, he practiced law and is not known to have written any further literary works[1†][2†], although “La Celestina” achieved widespread success during his lifetime[1†][2†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Fernando de Rojas’ work, “La Celestina”, marked an important stage in the development of prose fiction in Spain and Europe[1†][2†]. It is variously considered "the last work of the Spanish Middle Ages or the first work of the Spanish Renaissance"[1†][2†]. The work has been variously described as a drama, a dramatic poem, a dialogued novel, a novel-drama, and as ‘ageneric’ – a genre entirely of its own[1†][2†]. It was never staged during Rojas’s lifetime, but the majority of modern scholars consider it a drama[1†][2†].

“La Celestina” describes a love affair, with much bawdy and comic detail, before a tragic ending[1†][2†]. The scholar Dorothy Severin has written that it may be considered as either the last Spanish work of the Middle Ages or the first of the Renaissance[1†][2†]. As far as is known it is Rojas’s only work of literature or drama. The writer Keith Gregor calls “La Celestina” “vastly influential” but "his only literary testament"[1†][2†].

De Rojas portrays his characters as true human beings with a deep internal character; a style that is far apart from the usual character types used in medieval literature[1†][3†]. When the book was published in the 15th century, it was considered to be a written critique of the servants working for the low nobility, warning us of their tricks and lies[1†][3†].

Personal Life

Fernando de Rojas was born in La Puebla de Montalbán, Toledo, Spain, to a family of Jewish descent[1†][2†]. After graduating from the University of Salamanca, he moved to Talavera, where he married and practiced law[1†]. He served as the mayor of Talavera de la Reina in the 1530s[1†][2†].

Despite facing challenges with the Inquisition, Rojas had a successful law career[1†][2†]. He lived in Talavera de la Reina for the last three decades of his life[1†][2†]. Unfortunately, there is limited information available about his personal relationships and family life.

Conclusion and Legacy

Fernando de Rojas, despite having written only one known work, “La Celestina”, has left an indelible mark on Spanish and European literature[1†][2†]. His work, which combines a tragic love story with bawdy and picaresque scenes, marked an important stage in the development of prose fiction in Spain and Europe[1†][2†]. It is variously considered "the last work of the Spanish Middle Ages or the first work of the Spanish Renaissance"[1†][2†].

Rojas’s “La Celestina” was never staged during his lifetime, but it has been vastly influential and is considered his only literary testament[1†][2†]. The scholar Dorothy Severin has written that it may be considered as either the last Spanish work of the Middle Ages or the first of the Renaissance[1†][2†].

Despite difficulties with the Inquisition, Rojas was a successful lawyer and became mayor of Talavera de la Reina, where he lived for the last three decades of his life[1†][2†]. His legacy lives on today in the form of “La Celestina”, which continues to be studied and admired[1†][3†][4†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Fernando de Rojas: Spanish writer [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Fernando de Rojas [website] - link
  3. Enforex - Fernando de Rojas - Spanish Culture [website] - link
  4. Goodreads - Author: Fernando de Rojas (Author of La Celestina) [website] - link
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