Ondertexts
Lope de Vega
Search

Lope de Vega

Lope de Vega Lope de Vega[1†]

Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio, also known as Lope de Vega, a pivotal figure of the Spanish Golden Age, was born in Madrid on November 25, 1562. He produced an extensive body of work, including 1,800 plays, 3,000 sonnets, and numerous other literary forms. His notable feud with Miguel de Cervantes adds to his legacy. Lope de Vega, dubbed the "Fénix de los Ingenios" (“Phoenix of the Ingenuities”), significantly shaped Spanish Baroque theatre and showcased profound insights into human nature[1†][3†].

Early Years and Education

Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio was born on November 25, 1562, in Madrid, Spain[3†][1†]. He was the second son and third child of Francisca Fernandez Flores and Félix de Vega, an embroiderer[3†][4†]. His father’s death in 1578 led to the embroidery shop passing to the husband of one of the poet’s sisters, Isabel del Carpio[3†]. Vega later adopted the noble name of Carpio to give an aristocratic tone to his own[3†].

Lope de Vega’s education began under the tutelage of the poet Vicente Espinel[3†][5†][6†]. By the age of five, he was already reading Spanish and Latin[3†][1†][6†]. His exceptional talent led him to attend the Jesuit Imperial College, where he learned the rudiments of the humanities[3†][4†][6†].

In 1577, the bishop of Ávila took him to the Alcalá de Henares (Universidad Complutense) to study for the priesthood, but Vega soon left the Alcalá, reportedly following a married woman[3†]. He spent about two years at the University of Salamanca from 1580 to 1582[3†][5†].

These early years were formative for Lope de Vega, shaping the literary genius that he would become. His experiences during this time, including his diverse educational background and the personal events of his life, played a significant role in his future works[3†][1†].

Career Development and Achievements

Lope de Vega’s career was as prolific as it was diverse. He is credited with an enormous output of drama and lyric poetry[5†]. An early biographer claims that Lope wrote a total of 1,800 plays[5†], but titles are known for only 723 dramas and 44 religious works[5†]. He was said to have written 2,200 plays (an average of nearly one per week for his entire adult life), though fewer than 400 survive today[5†][7†]. In addition, he produced volumes of short and epic poems as well as prose works[5†][7†].

In 1583, he took part in the Spanish expedition against the Azores[5†][3†]. By this time Vega had established himself as a playwright in Madrid and was living from his comedias (tragicomic social dramas)[5†][3†]. He also exercised an undefined role as gentleman attendant or secretary to various nobles, adapting his role as servant or panderer according to the situation[5†][3†].

His romantic involvement with Elena Osorio, an actress of exceptional beauty and maturity, was intense, violent, and marred by Vega’s jealousy over Elena’s liaison with the powerful gallant Don Francisco Perrenot de Granvelle[5†][3†]. When Elena abandoned the poet, he wrote such fierce libels against her and her family that he landed in prison[5†][3†].

Lope de Vega was also a close friend of Sebastian Francisco de Medrano, founder and president of the Poetic Academy of Madrid[5†][1†]. He would attend Medrano’s Academy from 1616 to 1626, and his relationship with Medrano is evident in his “El Laurel de Apolo” (1630) in silva VII[5†][1†].

The volume of literary works produced by Lope de Vega earned him the envy of his contemporaries, such as Cervantes and Luis de Góngora, and the admiration of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for such a vast and colourful oeuvre[1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Lope de Vega’s literary output was prodigious, spanning various genres and forms. His works were a significant contribution to the Spanish Golden Age of literature[8†][1†].

Lope de Vega’s works are characterized by their dramatic and poetic qualities, with a keen insight into the human condition[8†][1†]. His influence on Spanish literature is profound, and his works continue to be celebrated for their literary merit[1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Lope de Vega, often referred to as the “Phoenix of Spain”, was a luminary of the Spanish Golden Age of literature[11†][3†]. His work, characterized by its dramatic and poetic qualities, offers keen insights into the human condition[11†][3†].

He established the comedia, a tragicomic social drama that typified the new Golden Age drama[11†]. His plays often revolved around historical events based on national legends or contemporary manners and intrigue[11†]. He also introduced the comic character, or gracioso, as a commentator on the follies of his social superiors[11†].

His plays, such as “Fuente Ovejuna (The Sheep Well)”, “The Dog in the Manger”, “El caballero de Olmedo” (The Knight of Olmedo), “La Dama Boba” (The Silly Lady), “Peribáñez and the Comendador of Ocaña” (Peribanez), and “Capulets and Montagues”, are celebrated for their dramatic structure, character development, and exploration of themes such as honor, social status, and love[11†][12†].

In addition to his plays, Lope de Vega’s poetry, novels, novellas, and epic poems demonstrate his versatility as a writer. His works, such as “La Arcadia”, a pastoral romance, and “La Dragontea”, a history in verse of Sir Francis Drake’s expedition and death, showcase his mastery of various literary forms[11†][13†].

Lope de Vega’s influence on Spanish literature is profound. His works continue to be celebrated for their literary merit and have earned him the admiration of literary figures such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe[3†].

Personal Life

Lope de Vega’s personal life was as dramatic and passionate as the plays he wrote. He was born to Francisca Fernandez Flores and Félix de Vega, an embroiderer[3†]. He later adopted the noble name of Carpio from his paternal grandmother, Catalina del Carpio[3†][1†].

His romantic life was marked by intense, often tumultuous relationships. His first known love affair was with a married woman, which led him to leave the Alcalá[3†]. This was followed by a passionate relationship with Elena Osorio, an actress of exceptional beauty[3†]. Their relationship was marred by Vega’s jealousy over Elena’s liaison with the powerful gallant Don Francisco Perrenot de Granvelle[3†]. When Elena ended their relationship, Vega wrote such fierce libels against her and her family that he was imprisoned[3†].

After his father’s death in 1578, Vega divided his life between his two families and several lovers[3†][6†]. He worked hard to keep them all happy, often writing plays and poems to earn money[3†][6†]. In 1588, he was banished from Madrid for libeling his mistress[3†][5†].

Despite the chaos of his personal life, Vega’s work remained a brilliant beacon of beauty[3†][14†]. His life, marked by his impulsive and anarchic temperament, was reflected in the personal and passionate nature of his plays[14†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Lope de Vega, known as the “Phoenix of Spain,” was a beacon of the Spanish Golden Age[3†][1†]. His literary production was phenomenal, with as many as 1,800 plays and several hundred shorter dramatic pieces, of which 431 plays and 50 shorter pieces are extant[3†][1†]. He also wrote 3,000 sonnets, three novels, four novellas, and nine epic poems[3†][1†].

His work had a profound impact on Spanish theatre, transforming it into a form of mass culture[3†][1†]. Alongside Pedro Calderón de la Barca and Tirso de Molina, he defined the characteristics of Spanish Baroque theatre with great insight into the human condition[3†][1†]. His work was admired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for its vastness and color[3†][1†].

Despite the envy of his contemporaries, such as Cervantes and Luis de Góngora, Lope de Vega’s work has stood the test of time[3†][1†]. His plays continue to be performed and studied, and his influence on Spanish literature and theatre is immeasurable[3†][1†].

Lope de Vega passed away on August 27, 1635, in Madrid, due to Scarlet fever[3†][15†]. His death evoked national mourning throughout Spain[3†][15†]. His life, filled with as much romance, adventure, and conflict as that of any of his fictional characters, is reflected in his passionate and personal plays[15†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Lope de Vega [website] - link
  2. Academy of American Poets - About Lope de Vega [website] - link
  3. Britannica - Lope de Vega: Spanish author [website] - link
  4. Global Child Prodigy Awards - None [website] - link
  5. Britannica Kids - Lope de Vega [website] - link
  6. Classic Spanish Books - Life of Lope de Vega [website] - link
  7. Wikipedia (English) - List of Lope de Vega's plays in English translation [website] - link
  8. Britannica - Lope de Vega - Plays, Poetry, Novels [website] - link
  9. Library of Congress - Writings of Lope de Vega: Daza Codex. [website] - link
  10. Spanish Academy Blog - Biography of Spanish Playwright and Poet Lope de Vega [website] - link
  11. Britannica - Lope de Vega summary [website] - link
  12. IPL.org - La Dama Boba Analysis [website] - link
  13. eNotes - The Star of Seville Summary [website] - link
  14. Cambridge University Press - A Companion to Lope de Vega - Chapter: Introduction: Lope's Life and Work [website] - link
  15. SciHi Blog - Lope de Vega and the Spanish Golden Age of Literature [website] - link
Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 4.0; additional terms may apply.
Ondertexts® is a registered trademark of Ondertexts Foundation, a non-profit organization.