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Francisco de Quevedo

Francisco de Quevedo Francisco de Quevedo[1†]

Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas, Knight of the Order of Santiago[1†][2†], was a Spanish nobleman, politician, and writer of the Baroque era[1†][2†]. Born on 14 September 1580 in Madrid, Spain[1†][3†], Quevedo was one of the most prominent Spanish poets of his age[1†][2†]. His style is characterized by what was called conceptismo[1†], a literary style that existed in stark contrast to culteranismo, another contemporary literary style[1†].

Early Years and Education

Francisco de Quevedo was born on 14 September 1580 in Madrid, Spain, into a family of hidalgos[1†]. His family was descended from the Castilian nobility[1†]. His father, Francisco Gómez de Quevedo, was secretary to Maria of Spain, daughter of emperor Charles V and wife of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor[1†]. His mother, Madrid-born María de Santibáñez, was lady-in-waiting to the queen[1†]. Quevedo matured surrounded by dignitaries and nobility at the royal court[1†].

Despite being physically handicapped with a club foot and myopia[1†], Quevedo was intellectually gifted[1†]. He always wore pince-nez, and his name in the plural, ‘quevedos’, even came to mean “pince-nez” in the Spanish language[1†].

Orphaned by the age of six[1†], he was able to attend the Imperial School run by the Jesuits in Madrid[1†]. He then attended the University of Alcalá de Henares from 1596 to 1600[1†][4†]. By his own account, he made independent studies in philosophy, classical languages, Arabic, Hebrew, French, and Italian[1†].

In 1601, as a member of the Court, Quevedo moved to Valladolid, where the Court had been transferred by the King’s minister, the Duke of Lerma[1†]. There he studied theology, a subject that would become a lifelong interest[1†]. By the time of his graduation, Quevedo was a master of French, Italian, English, and Latin, as well as his native Spanish[1†][5†]. He had also acquired a reputation among his classmates for his scathing wit and gifts for versification[1†][5†].

Career Development and Achievements

Francisco de Quevedo’s career was as multifaceted as it was influential. He was not only a renowned poet but also a prominent figure in the political landscape of his time[1†][5†].

Quevedo attended the Medrano Academy, a Poetic Academy in Madrid, between 1616 and 1626[1†]. His earliest poems, published while he was still a student, had attracted the attention of Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega, elder luminaries of Spanish literature who both wrote Quevedo letters of praise and encouraged him to pursue a career as a poet[1†][5†]. Despite this, Quevedo was not initially interested in a literary life[1†][5†].

For more than ten years, Quevedo fruitlessly pursued a career in politics, dreaming of becoming a member of the Spanish nobility[1†][5†]. Much of Quevedo’s life as a man of political intrigue circled around the Duke de Osuna, an influential nobleman who was the acting viceroy of Sicily and Naples[1†][5†]. By 1613, after seven years of devoted service, Quevedo had effectively become Osuna’s closest confidante[1†][5†].

However, Quevedo’s literary prowess could not be ignored. He was considered a master of the elaborate style of baroque Spanish poetry, known as conceptismo[1†][5†]. His style, which relied on the use of witty conceits and elaborate metaphors, was reflective of his own somewhat cynical attitudes towards literature as a whole[1†][5†]. Quevedo was fiercely distrustful of excessively complicated literature, and he attempted to introduce a style of poetry that was, for his time, remarkably clean and concise[1†][5†].

His primary contribution to philosophy falls into the realm of Neostoicism[1†][6†]. He composed the treatise Providencia de Dios (God’s Providence) against atheism[1†], reflecting his lifelong interest in theology[1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Francisco de Quevedo was a prolific writer, producing a wide range of works in both poetry and prose[1†][4†]. His literary output was characterized by a unique style known as conceptismo[1†], which was marked by wit, wordplay, and elaborate conceits[1†].

One of Quevedo’s most notable works is the picaresque novel “Vida del Buscón” (The Life of the Swindler)[1†][7†]. The first draft of this novel was apparently written as an exercise in courtly wit[1†]. It provides a satirical look at Spanish society and includes many elements of low life and the cant of the underworld[1†][4†].

In addition to his fiction, Quevedo also produced about 15 books on theological and ascetic subjects[1†][8†]. These include “La cuna y la sepultura” (The Cradle and the Grave) published in 1612[1†][8†], and “La providencia de Dios” (The Providence of God) published in 1641[1†][8†]. These works reveal Quevedo’s deep interest in religious and philosophical matters[1†][8†].

Here are some of Quevedo’s main works along with their first year of publication:

Quevedo’s works had a significant impact on Spanish literature and continue to be studied and appreciated today[1†][4†]. His mastery of language and his ability to convey complex ideas through his writing have ensured his place as one of the most important figures of the Spanish Golden Age[1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Francisco de Quevedo was a consummate humanist and pioneer of the literary movement known as Baroque conceptismo[6†]. His primary contribution to philosophy falls into the realm of Neostoicism[6†]. His legacy is a unique blend of classical pagan philosophy and Christian teaching, a synthesis most appropriately described by the label Christian Humanism[6†].

Quevedo’s work had already appeared in 78 editions before 1634, more than twice the number of any other author[6†]. He was a man of vehement opinions[6†]. As a result of his violent loyalties, there has been much critical discussion of the “two Quevedos”: one lyrical, long-suffering, and devout and the other nasty, cynical, and abusive[6†].

His poetry has been a major influence on modern Spanish and Latin American poets[6†][9†]. This study of the poetry combines a stylistic analysis with a philosophical interpretation in the broad sense[6†][9†]. It is thus an aesthetic and existential study and concentrates on the love sonnets of 'High Style’[6†][9†].

Although much of his work was satirical or humorous, Quevedo was quite a serious writer, and his extensive knowledge showed through his writing[6†][4†]. He also wrote extensive love poems, and though he was quite the misogist, women loved Quevedo[6†][4†].

Personal Life

Francisco de Quevedo was born into a family of wealth and political distinction[5†][1†]. His parents served in the royal court, with his father as secretary to Maria of Spain and his mother as lady-in-waiting to the queen[5†][1†]. He was raised in an upper-class atmosphere, largely free of the troubles and conflicts that were to plague him as an adult[5†].

However, Quevedo faced physical challenges. He was clubfooted and shortsighted[5†][6†]. Despite these challenges, he was intellectually gifted and became a master of multiple languages[5†][1†].

Quevedo was orphaned at a young age[5†][1†]. After the death of his father, he became the pupil of Agustín de Villanueva, a noble government official[5†][6†]. This early exposure to the workings of the court and government likely influenced his later political aspirations[5†].

Despite his many professional achievements, Quevedo’s personal life was marked by conflict. He was known for his scathing wit and was notorious as a master satirist[5†]. This often led to less than respectful relationships with contemporaries[5†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas, a Spanish nobleman, politician, and writer of the Baroque era, was the most popular Spanish author of his century[6†]. His work, which ranged from poetry to moralistic writings, appeared in 78 editions before 1634[6†] - more than twice the number of any other author[6†]. His legacy is a unique blend of classical pagan philosophy and Christian teaching, a synthesis most appropriately described by the label Christian Humanism[6†].

Quevedo’s successful reworking and defamiliarization of commonplaces is also often accomplished by moving them into other contexts and areas of experience[6†][10†]. This resulted in the commonplaces having only a vestigial association with their models[6†][10†]. His primary contribution to philosophy falls into the realm of Neostoicism[6†]. When seeking classical models for his own Neostoical works, he showed a strong preference for Latin Silver Age authors[6†].

Despite his physical challenges, Quevedo’s intellectual gifts and his mastery of multiple languages allowed him to leave a lasting impact on Spanish literature[6†][1†][6†]. His legacy continues to influence Spanish literature and culture, and his works are still widely read and studied today[6†][1†][6†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Francisco de Quevedo [website] - link
  2. Pantheon - Francisco de Quevedo Biography - Spanish nobleman, writer and politician (1580–1645) [website] - link
  3. Britannica - Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Villegas: Spanish writer [website] - link
  4. Classic Spanish Books - The life & works of Francisco de Quevedo [website] - link
  5. New World Encyclopedia - Francisco de Quevedo [website] - link
  6. Springer Link - Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy - Chapter: Quevedo, Francisco de [website] - link
  7. Goodreads - Author: Books by Francisco de Quevedo (Author of Historia de la vida del Buscón) [website] - link
  8. Prabook - Francisco de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas (September 14, 1580 — September 8, 1645), Spanish politician, poet [website] [archive] - link
  9. Cambridge University Press - The Love Poetry of Francisco de Quevedo [website] - link
  10. Cambridge University Press - The Love Poetry of Francisco de Quevedo - Chapter: Conclusion (Chapter 6) [website] - link
  11. Cambridge University Press - Cambridge Translations of Renaissance Philosophical Texts - Chapter: Francisco de Quevedo (Chapter 19) [website] - link
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