Don Quixote Virtual Printing

[Based on DIY Quarto: Printing quartos in Shakespeare’s time]

Virtually Printing Don Quixote


Welcome to the Virtual Printing House

Try arranging pages into your own quarto edition of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha.

We base this example on digital images of the BNE’s copy of the first printed edition of Don Quijote, in Madrid, 1605. One of our goals is to heighten the sense that you are viewing a freshly printed sheet.

Eight pages per sheet of paper

Take a single sheet of paper, print eight pages out of sequence, then with folding, create a readable text in what’s known as a gathering in quarto format. That is what the printers of Don Quijote did. To see how, drag and drop the text of four pages onto one side of a sheet of paper. Note the change in orientation for some of the pages. Then flip the sheet to “print” four additional pages. Fold to create one quarto gathering with the first eight pages of the play.

1r | [p. 1]
1v [p. 2]
2r [p. 3]
2v [p. 4]
3r [p. 5]
3v [p. 6]
4r [p. 7]
4v [p. 8]









For Don Quijote, the printers followed this process for eighty-two more sheets, to create eleven more regular gatherings, with eight pages each. To keep these sheets in order, each gathering was given an identifying letter of the alphabet as a “signature” by the printers. The text of Don Quijote started here with the letter A. Unlike England, where texts often started with the signature B, as printers left the A for materials like title pages, which were often printed last. In comparison, Hamlet has 12 sheets

The sequence of regular gatherings in Don Quijote runs from A through Z, then Aa through Az, Bb etc.

After the printing was finished, the sheets were folded and assembled in alphabetic order to be ready for sale.

The Printing of the Second Part of Don Quijote

John O’Neill

The Printing of the Second Part of Don Quijote and Ocho comedias: Evidence of a Late Change in Cervantes’s Attitude to Print and of Concurrent Production as Practised by both Author and Printers

The Library, Volume 16, Issue 1, March 2015, Pages 3–23,

Published: 26 March 2015

THE TITLE OF CERVANTES’S Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses nuevos, nunca representados (‘Eight New Plays and Interludes, Never Performed’) provides us with an ironic reminder of his failure as a playwright in his later years.1 In the prologue he elaborates on the reasons for his inability to find an audience for his plays, telling us that, although he had enjoyed some success with the works for the stage that he wrote in the 1580s, his later plays, completed in the early part of the seventeenth century—by which time the new style of theatre championed by Lope de Vega and his followers held sway—did not arouse any interest amongst the autores, the all-powerful actor-managers who determined the repertoire of the theatre companies:

I did not find an actor-manager who wanted them, even though they knew I had them; and so I threw them into a chest, consigning and condemning them to perpetual silence. At the time a bookseller informed me that he would have bought them, had an actor-manager of some note not told him that much could be expected of my prose, but of my verse nothing.2

For much of the period of four hundred years that has passed since their publication, Cervantes’s plays have continued to attract much less attention than his prose fiction, although in recent years there have been signs that the originality of his theatre is gradually becoming more widely acknowledged. Jonathan Thacker, for example, states that Cervantes is ‘a far more important dramatic voice than has habitually been recognized’, and Pedro, The Great Pretender, Phillip Osment’s translation of Pedro de Urdemalas, was included in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Golden Age season of 2004.3 Most critics, however, still consider Cervantes to be a much less significant dramatist than the famous triumvirate of Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Calderón de la Barca, and that opinion is reflected in the fact that many of the full-length plays have yet to be either translated or performed.

The first edition of Ocho comedias, like the plays themselves, has generated little interest, yet the preliminares, or front matter, of this volume reveal a connection with the second part of Don Quijote that is of interest both to students of Cervantes and to bibliographers in general.4 The purpose of this study is to investigate the significance of that connection—a process that has involved looking at the difficult conditions under which Cervantes wrote and his changing attitude to print, and analyzing data relating to books produced at two different Madrid print-shops during a period of four years from the beginning of 1612 to the end of 1615. The results of the research provide new insights into the working practices both of Cervantes and of his printers, challenging assumptions that have been made about modes of production in Spanish printing-houses during the early-modern period, and thereby supplying an answer to a question that has been raised about the length of time it took to print the second part of the Quijote.

The items usually included in the preliminares were the privilegio or licencia, the fe de erratas, the tasa, and the aprobación. There might also be a prologue and a dedication to the author’s patron, as was the case with both of Cervantes’s books. A licencia was simply a licence to print the work, whereas the privilegio gave exclusive rights of publication to the author for a limited period—twenty years for the second part of the Quijote and ten years for Ocho comedias. The author could—and usually did—sell the privilegio to a bookseller, who would then make a contract with a printer.5 The fe de erratas was not, as one might perhaps expect, a list of typographical errors, but an official testimony that the printed work was a faithful copy of the original de imprenta, a transcription of the author’s manuscript prepared for the printer by a scribe, which had to be submitted to the censor for approval (the aprobación). The date of the fe de erratas therefore indicates when the printing of the body of the work was finished.6 The process of production was not, however, quite complete, since the fe de erratas was usually followed, in most cases just a few days later, by the tasa— the setting of the selling price of the book—although in some cases the order is reversed and the tasa precedes the fe de erratas. In certain books other material from the front matter may also carry a later date than the tasa. For example, in the second part of Don Quijote the dedication was signed by Cervantes on 31 October, ten days after the tasa and fe de erratas, and the final date in the preliminares is 5 November, when Gutierre de Cetina signed the third aprobación.

Printing normally began only after the privilegio had been granted.7 It would have been in the interests of all parties—author, bookseller, and printer—that this should be as soon as possible, but the precise date on which production began may have depended on other factors, such as the other work that the printer had on hand. Since printing was generally completed—with the possible exception of certain other items in the preliminares—by the date of the fe de erratas, the period between the dates of the privilegio and the fe de erratas can be described as the production window— the period during which production must have occurred. In the case of the second part of Don Quijote almost seven months elapsed from the granting of the privilegio, on 30 March 1615, to the signing of the fe de erratas, on 21 October.8 That was more than twice the length of time it took to produce the first part—a significantly bigger book financed by the same bookseller, Francisco de Robles, and produced at the same print-shop, the one that bore the name of Juan de la Cuesta, but was actually owned by María Rodríguez de Ribalde.9

Returning to the preliminares of Ocho comedias, one finds that the privilegio for that volume was granted on 25 July 1615 and that the fe de erratas is dated 13 September, which means that, while the second part of Don Quijote was in production, the printing of the collection of plays, financed by a different bookseller, Juan de Villarroel, was completed at another print-shop, that of ‘La viuda de Alonso Martín’ (the widow of Alonso Martín), in just two months.10 Ocho comedias consists of sixty-five sheets of quarto, five fewer than the second part of Don Quijote, but it would have been a far more complex project for a printer to set the volume of eight plays and interludes, especially since the full-length plays were written in a number of different verse forms.

If the unnamed bookseller mentioned in the prologue to Ocho comedias as having rejected the plays were Robles, that would provide us with a neat rationale for Cervantes’s placing them with another publisher and printer. However, the full explanation, it will be argued here, is more complex, and the key to understanding it, and also the delay in the production of the second part of Don Quijote, is provided by evidence that Spanish printers of this period had in place a system of concurrent production similar to the one described by McKenzie in his famous study of a Cambridge print-shop, operating over eighty years later.11 There is also strong evidence to suggest that Cervantes, who had a keen understanding of the way the printing business worked, had his own system of concurrent production in place, designed to expedite the publication of his late works. However, in order to appreciate fully the significance of the events surrounding the production of Cervantes’s works in Madrid in 1615 it is necessary first to place them in the context of his publishing history, which is characterized by a strangely uneven chronology and an uneasy relationship with print.

Few of Cervantes’s writings were published in the first sixty-five years of his life. His first novel, La Galatea, appeared in 1585, when he was thirty-seven years old.12 This pastoral romance was well received at the time, running to seven editions by 1618.13 In his aprobación to the second part of Don Quijote Francisco Márquez Torres recounts having met some French noblemen, one of whom ‘had almost managed to memorize it’.14 Even Cervantes’s rival Lope de Vega voiced his approval, through a character in La viuda valenciana (‘The Widow of Valencia’), who declares: ‘This is Galatea, if you want a good book then look no further’.15 Despite this success, twenty years passed before the publication of the first part of Don Quijote in 1605, a period that he refers to in the prologue of that work as ‘the silence of oblivion’ (‘el silencio del olvido’), and another eight years followed before the appearance of the Novelas ejemplares (‘Exemplary Stories’) in 1613.16 However, this trickle was followed by a deluge, with four more works printed in the last eighteen months of his life: Viaje del Parnaso (‘Journey to Parnassus’, November 1614), Ocho comedias (September 1615), the second part of Don Quijote (October 1615), and Persiles y Sigismunda, which he finished writing in April 1616, just before he died, and which was published posthumously early in 1617.17 Moreover, according to what Cervantes tells us in the various prol ogues and dedications of these late works, he was preparing three more works for publication when he died: the second part of La Galatea, Semanas del jardín (‘Weeks in the Garden’), and Bernardo. This late flurry of activity becomes even more remarkable when we consider that Cervantes was not only in his mid to late sixties but suffering from chronic ill-health with oedema.

The story of the printing of Cervantes’s works is, therefore, a curious one: sixty-five years of relative inactivity followed by a frenetic three years in which he seemed determined to publish as much as possible. The long gap between La Galatea and Don Quijote can, at least in part, be explained by the circumstances of his life, for during much of this period, from 1587 until 1597 or later, he was working as a government civil servant in Andalusia, first as a commissary for supplies for the Armada and then as a tax collector. These were demanding and stressful jobs, involving a lot of traveling and a considerable amount of paperwork, which would have left him with less time for writing. The period of eight years between Don Quijote and the Novelas ejemplares is, however, more difficult to account for. Why did Cervantes not seek to build on the extraordinary success of the Quijote, which had made him the most famous writer of prose fiction in Europe? The answer probably lies in the reservations he felt about the medium of print, which he expresses on two different points in the second part of Don Quijote: in the conversation between Don Quixote and Sansón Carrasco in Chapter 3, which I will return to later, and during Don Quixote’s visit to the Barcelona Print-shop in Chapter 62.

Don Quixote’s visit to a Barcelona print-shop in Chapter 62 indicates that Cervantes was very familiar not only with the technical aspect of printing but also with the way the business worked.18 Don Quixote witnesses the key activities that take place—composition of the formes by the typesetters, the operation of the presses, and correction of the proofs—and then strikes up a conversation with a man who is having his translation of an Italian work called Le Bagatele (sic) printed there. The translator, who is determined to have his book printed at his own expense, responds as follows to Don Quixote’s warning that he may end up with a lot of unsold copies on his hands, as a result of the shenanigans of printers: ‘“Well what would you have me do?”, said the author. “Do you want me to sell the rights to a bookseller, who’ll give me three maravedís for them and think he’s doing me a favour?”’19 It is a complaint that is echoed in Chapter 1 of the Fourth Book of Persiles y Sigismunda, by a Spanish pilgrim, whom Periandro and Auristela encounter in an inn near Rome, who is writing a book of aphorisms:

I won’t give up the rights to my book to any bookseller in Madrid even if he pays two thousand ducados for them. There isn’t a single one of them there who doesn’t want the rights for free, or for such a low price that it doesn’t benefit the author of the book.20

The translator’s experience probably reflects that of Cervantes, who had recently financed the printing of Viaje del Parnaso out of his own pocket, and who had ample experience of how little money could be made from writing novels and how the odds were stacked in favour of the bookseller when it came to selling the privilegio. In June 1584 Blas de Robles agreed to pay him 1336 reales for the rights to La Galatea, yet just eighteen months later he was in such dire straits that he needed to borrow more than four times that amount—204,000 maravedís, or 6,000 reales—in order to settle a debt.21 The success of Don Quijote had brought fame, but not riches, for even that bestseller, which ran to two editions in the first year, had earned him very little. He had sold the rights to the bookseller Francisco de Robles for 1500 reales, which, bearing in mind the rampant inflation that the Spanish economy was experiencing at the time, was probably an even worse deal than the one he had struck for Galatea.22 While the fact that he had not published anything for twenty years might explain his failing to profit from selling the privilegio of Don Quijote, it does not account for the similarly unfavourable arrangement regarding the rights to the Novelas ejemplares, which were sold on 9 September 1613 for just 1600 reales, at a time when Cervantes was famous throughout Europe.23 A playwright could make money from having their work performed on stage, but there was little profit in writing novels, even for an author as celebrated as Cervantes. In the aforementioned aprobación of the second part of Don Quijote Francisco Márquez Torres relates how, when asked by the French noblemen who were aficionados of Cervantes’s writing about the author’s ‘age, profession, status and wealth’, he replied, to their surprise, ‘old, a soldier, low-ranking nobility, and poor’ (‘viejo, soldado, hidalgo y pobre’).24 That picture of hardship is confirmed by Cervantes himself in the dedication to his patron, the Count of Lemos, in which he describes himself as ‘extremely hard-up’ (‘muy sin dineros’).25 These words, and those of Márquez Torres, who was a chaplain employed by the Archbishop of Toledo, one of Cervantes’s benefactors, are an ironic reminder that, while patronage may have eased his financial situation somewhat, it certainly did not make him comfortable.

Since the vast majority of the profits from printed books went to the bookseller, and since Cervantes, for most of his life, received little or no benefit from patronage, he had no great financial incentive to have his writings printed. The possibility of achieving celebrity was, of course, another motive, as Cervantes indicates in the prologue to the second part of Don Quijote:

I know only too well the temptations of the devil, and one of the greatest is to put the idea in a man’s mind that he can write and print a book that will earn him as much fame as money and as much money as fame.26

Here, and in the conversation between Don Quixote and the translator in the print-shop, Cervantes seems to be suggesting that the writer needs to choose between fame or profit. The translator makes it clear that his motives are purely mercenary: ‘I do not have my books printed to attain fame in the world, for I am already known for my work. I want profit. Without it, fame is not worth a farthing’.27 Choosing literary celebrity, however, as Cervantes had done, also involved risks, as we are reminded by the fact that the remarks in the prologue to the second part of Don Quijote are directed at an unknown writer going by the pseudonym of Alonso Fernández Avellaneda, who, in the autumn of 1614, had published a hostile sequel to the first part, in the prologue of which he had launched a vitriolic attack on Cervantes.28 The hijacking of his literary creation outraged Cervantes to such an extent that he changed the timetable that he had planned for the publication of his works, suspending work on Persiles to bring forward the completion of the Quijote. He expressed his contempt for Avellaneda at various points throughout the text, for example in the episode in the print-shop, which ends with the knight storming out, piqued by his discovery that one of the works being produced there is Avellaneda’s Quijote.

Don Quixote thinks Avellaneda’s book should have been ‘burned to cinders for its impertinence’ (‘quemado y hecho polvos por impertinente’), and goes on to stress the importance of truth in fiction.29 However, the book-trade does not make a distinction between works of fiction that are true and those which are false, and that lack of discrimination clearly infuriated Cervantes. It also irritated him that it was the publication of Don Quijote that had given rise to Avellaneda’s apocryphal sequel, as is clear from one of the items in Don Quixote’s last will and testament:

Item: I beseech the aforementioned gentlemen my executors that if by chance they should meet the author who is said to have composed a story that goes by the name of The Second Part of the Adventures of Don Quixote of La Mancha, they should, on my behalf, ask him, as insistently as possible, to pardon me for unthinkingly having given him the opportunity to write such a load of claptrap, because I leave this life with pangs of conscience for having given him the motive for writing it.30

That print could have negative consequences, and expose one to criticism or ridicule, was something that Cervantes had realized several years previously, when the first part of Don Quijote was published. It is a theme that emerges in Chapter 3 of the second part, in a conversation between Don Quixote and Sansón Carrasco, who, as the reader learns in the previous chapter, has brought news from Salamanca that Sancho and Don Quixote have become literary celebrities through the publication of the first book:

‘It often happens that those who have cultivated and achieved great fame through their writings either lose it completely or see it somewhat diminished when they hand them over to be printed.’

‘The reason for that’, said Sansón, ‘is that, as printed works are viewed at one’s leisure, it is easy to see their faults, and, the more famous the person who wrote them, the more they are subject to scrutiny.’31

Cervantes, in the Adjunta al Parnaso, the prose postscript to his narrative poem Viaje del Parnaso, is keen to stress an advantage, where plays are concerned, of the medium of print, which allows the reader to appreciate at his or her leisure what passes quickly in performance:

I am considering handing over the plays to be printed, so that one might see at one’s leisure what happens quickly, or is disguised or misunderstood when they are performed. Moreover, plays, like songs, have their seasons and their times.32

However, in the conversation between Don Quixote and Sansón, and again in the following chapter, Cervantes dwells on a major disadvantage of publication. Errors, once fixed in print, can be difficult to erase, both from the book and from the memory of the reader.

The most infamous of the faults in the first part of Don Quijote that Sansón Carrasco mentions is the narrative of the theft of Sancho’s donkey. In the first edition of Juan de la Cuesta reference is made to its having gone missing, but with no explanation as to how, between Chapters 25 and 29. In Chapter 42 the donkey reappears, again with no explanation. In the second Cuesta edition of 1605 an attempt was made to resolve the problem by inserting an episode in Chapter 23 in which Ginés de Pasamonte steals the animal, but the donkey is referred to six times, as if the theft had not occurred, before its recapture is described in Chapter 30.33 These discrepancies were all corrected in the Brussels edition of 1607, printed by Roger Velpius, but, astonishingly, only two of those corrections found their way into the third Cuesta edition of 1608.34 Cervantes decided to make light of the issue by incorporating these botched attempts at repairing the original error into the metafictional fun and games that characterize the second part of Don Quijote. When Sansón remarks that ‘before the ass reappeared the author states that Sancho was riding it’, Sancho retorts that ‘either the chronicler was mistaken, or it was carelessness on the part of the printer’, thus laying the blame on the fictional narrator, Cide Hamete Benengeli, or the actual print-shop of Juan de la Cuesta.35 That Cervantes felt the need to address the issue ten years after the error had first appeared in print demonstrates how much it bothered him. However, if he thought that his authorial sleight of hand would spare him further embarrassment, he was mistaken. Lope de Vega, who had been angered by some disparaging comments that Cervantes made in Chapter 42 of the first part, concerning his commercial attitude to the theatre, was certainly not inclined to let his rival off the hook. In Act III of Amar sin saber a quién (‘Loving, Without Knowing Who’) he refers not just to the original mistake, but to Cervantes’s attempts at exculpating himself, when the gracioso Limón, regarding the loss of an ass, says: ‘Tell us its colour, shape and name, for there is a man who is still waiting to find out what happened to a brownish grey mule. If you don’t, they will say it was “forgetfulness on the writer’s part”.’36 For Chartier the textual inconsistencies in the narration of the theft of Sancho’s donkey ‘point up the similarities that exist between Cervantes’s writing and certain practices of orality’.37 However, while such errors may have been part and parcel of the episodic, oral approach to storytelling in which Cervantes excelled, once fixed in print they laid him open to ridicule.

Cervantes therefore had good reason to develop ambivalent feelings about the medium of print, for although it made him famous, it also exposed him to criticism, some of it vicious, gave Avellaneda the opportunity to kidnap his hero, and made him very little money. However, in the period leading up to the publication of the Novelas ejemplares in 1613 any reservations that he felt about print probably began to be outweighed by a growing awareness, as a result of his age and ill health, of his own mortality, and the knowledge that the printed book was the only means whereby he could ensure that his writings would be preserved for posterity. Everything that he writes in the prologues and dedications of his late works is indicative of an author who is striving to complete, and have printed, as much of his work as possible. In the prologue to the Novelas he refers to Viaje del Parnaso as already having been written, even though the narrative poem was not printed until over a year later, at the end of 1614.38 He also announces that the volume of stories will be followed by Persiles, the continuation of Don Quijote and Semanas del jardín, a work that was never completed, the title of which suggests that it may have been conceived as another book of novelas.39 In the dedication to Ocho comedias he informs the Count of Lemos that ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha has put his spurs on, in his Second Part, in order to go and kiss Your Excellency’s feet’ and that Persiles, Semanas del jardín, and the second part of La Galatea will follow.40 In the prologue to the second part of Don Quijote and the dedication that follows it, dated 31 October 1615, he tells his readers to expect both Persiles, which he is ‘in the process of finishing’ and ‘will complete, God willing, within four months’, and the sequel to La Galatea, while in the dedication to Persiles, written just three days before he died, he indicates his intention to complete, if his health allows, not only Semanas del jardín and the second part of La Galatea but also Bernardo.41 Since that is the first mention of the latter work, whose title suggests a chivalric theme, it may have only existed in embryonic form.42 However, the consistency with which Cervantes refers to Semanas del jardín and the continuation of La Galatea from 1613 onwards makes it likely that these works were, indeed, at an advanced stage.

Taking into account what Cervantes himself tells us, and other information garnered from the front matter of the books written in the last few years of his life, it is possible to construct the following timetable for the production of his late works:

Links to notes 43 and 44

The schedule that Cervantes set for himself in the final four years of his life would have been demanding for any writer, but it is particularly remarkable when we consider that he was a man in his late sixties in poor health. In all but two months of the period of approximately fourteen months between mid September 1614 and early November 1615 Cervantes had at least one work at the printers. From 1612 he was not only writing continuously, but also making plans for the completion of as many as four other projects at the same time. This feverish activity reached its peak in the late summer of 1615, for, during August and September of that year, while he was writing Persiles, both the second part of Don Quijote and Ocho comedias were in production, with two different printers. Cervantes, who, as he indicates in Chapter 62 of the second part, was familiar with the ‘ins and outs of the printing business’ (‘las entradas y salidas de los impresores’), knew that printers had a system of concurrent production in place, which could produce lengthy delays.45 He had, accordingly, devised his own method of concurrent production, in order to ensure that as much of his writing as possible would be printed.

Garza Merino has stated that Spanish print-shops were organized around one major project at a time: ‘We know from surviving printing contracts that generally, once an edition had been agreed, it was a requirement that no other work would be accepted until the new one had been finished, which, barring exceptional circumstances, implied that the print-shop would organize itself around one project, apart from any small jobs that might be taken on’.46

Garza Merino is not specific about her sources, but her remarks would, at first blush, appear to be supported by a sixteenth-century document by Juan Vásquez de Mármol, the corrector at the Royal Printing-House (Imprenta de Su Majestad), listing thirteen conditions that an author could require a printer to meet before entering into a contract.47 The first of these stated that the printer was obliged to begin printing within a certain period, and not to abandon the process once begun.48 It is possible, however, to interpret that condition in different ways. An author or bookseller keen to see their book produced quickly might hope that it meant that the print-shop would focus exclusively on their job, whereas the printer could argue that dividing time between two or three jobs did not mean that the process of printing any one of them had been abandoned.49 In any case, Garza Merino’s views are clearly at odds with those of McKenzie, who, in his essay Printers of the Mind, which considered the records of the Cambridge University Press between 1696 and 1712 and of the London printing-house of Bowyer and Son between 1730 and 1739, found that ‘the Cambridge and Bowyer presses, like any other printing-house today or any other printing-house before them, followed the principle of concurrent production’, and that there was no evidence to suggest that any printing-houses of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries did not habitually print several books concurrently.50 McKenzie’s findings are supported by what happens in the episode in the print-shop, for there Don Quixote witnesses three books being produced concurrently. The aforementioned translation of Le Bagateleis being set by a compositor, while two other books are being proofed and corrected: a work entitled Luz del alma (‘Light of the Soul’) and—much to the knight’s displeasure—Avellaneda’s Segunda parte del ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.

Analysis of information contained in the preliminares of sixty-five books produced at the print-shops of Juan de la Cuesta and La viuda de Alonso Martín between 1612 and 1615, obtained from Pérez Pastor’s Bibliografía madrileña, shows that printers in Madrid, like their English counterparts at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, and like those in the Barcelona printing-house described in the Quijote, did indeed operate a system of concurrent production. Table 1 shows part of the data that was collated: the key dates that indicate the production windows of seven other books printed at the Cuesta and Martín shops between 30 March 1615 and 5 November 1615, while Ocho comedias and the second part of Don Quijote were also in production. 

Production windows of seven other books printed at the Cuesta and Martín shops between 30 March 1615 and 5 November 1615

The table helps to explain a question raised by Rico, who, in his study of the printing of the two parts of the Quijote, was puzzled by the fact that the second volume took so much longer to produce than the first one. The privilegio for the first part was granted on 26 September 1604, while the testimonio de las erratas is dated 1 December, which means that printing was completed in a little over two months.51 The corresponding period for the second part ran from 30 March to 21 October 1615—nearly seven months, even though the second volume is significantly shorter, at 280 folios, than the first one (316 fols.).52 Since there are more errors—almost double the number—in the second part, Rico thought it unlikely that the delay in the printing of the second part could be ascribed to a slower rate of production, and was unable to find any other explanation than bad luck, going on to say that the standard of printing in Spain at this time was incredibly low, and that print-shops were poorly equipped, undermanned, and lacking typesetters and correctors who were sufficiently qualified.53 That explanation is, however, thrown into question by Moll’s assertion that the Spanish printing industry of this period, despite facing technical problems, had a number of well equipped shops, with skilled workers who had an in-depth knowledge of their business and were capable of producing books of quality.54

It seems that Rico did not take into account concurrent production and must have assumed, like Garza Merino, that work in the print-shop would have been organized around one project. If one takes into account the other jobs with which the Cuesta shop was occupied, the real reason for the delay becomes clear. The production window of the second part of Don Quijote overlapped with that of four other works: parts V—VIII of Herrera’s Historia general; a new edition of Nebrija’s Dictionarium; Murcia de la Llana’s Compendio;and the second edition of Salas Barbadillo’s El Cavallero puntual (‘The Punctilious Knight’).55 The first two of these books were very large projects—319 and 213 sheets respectively, in folio format. Indeed, it is quite conceivable that, even though the privilegio for the second part of the Quijote was granted on 30 March, production did not get fully up to speed until the beginning of August, when work on the books by Herrera and Nebrija was completed. It would then have shared production time with the Compendio, another work in quarto, whose fe de erratas precedes that of the Quijote by only eight days, and El Cavallero puntual, a work in the comparatively rare duodecimo format, the erratas of which is dated 9 November, just four days after the final date in the front matter of the Segunda parte— the aprobación of Gutierre de Cetina.56

That the second part of the Quijote took longer to produce than the first part was therefore nothing to do with bad luck, poor equipment or insufficient manpower, but rather can be attributed to the fact that the book was printed concurrently with at least two others, and possibly as many as four. This was normal practice in the Cuesta shop during the period in question, and it was also the case in the printing-house of La viuda de Alonso Martín, where Ocho comedias was produced. As Table 1 shows, the volume of plays, comprising sixty-five sheets in quarto, was printed concurrently with three others: a book of sermons of one hundred and twelve sheets, also in quarto, and two works in octavo, the Rhetoricae Compendium ex scriptis patris Ioannis Baptistae and Ledesma’s Romancero, comprising twenty-five and twenty-four sheets respectively.57  The fact that these books were not printed serially is demonstrated by the fact that printing of the body of the four works was completed in quick succession: Ocho comedias on 13 September, the Sermones on 22 September, the Rhetoricae Compendium on 5 October, and the Romancero on 13 October.

Gaskell has summarized the reasons for concurrent production as follows: ‘Books varied so much in size that a balance between composition and presswork could not have been kept if they had been printed serially… for, depending on the relative magnitude of their tasks and on accident, either pressmen or compositors would constantly have been waiting for the others to catch up. Printers therefore had several books in production at once… so that when a man came to the end of a stage in the work, he would be in a position to take up something else’.58

This meant that an individual book took longer to print than it might have done if all the workmen had concentrated on it alone; but also that, by using plant and labour less wastefully, all the books could be printed in less time altogether, and at less cost, than they would have been by serial production.

In most cases production would not, therefore, as Garza Merino suggests, have involved two typesetters working in synchronized fashion on one book in order to supply one or two pressmen, thus ensuring that by the end of the day one sheet of a run of 1,000 or 1,500 copies had been printed.59 The organization of work would instead, as McKenzie argues, have been far more complex and varied, with typesetters and pressmen taking up whatever work was to hand, in order that they should not stand idle. What McKenzie discovered in the records of the Cambridge University Press was that each compositor would work on two or three books simultaneously, and that, even when two compositors worked on one book, the usual practice was that one would take over where the other left off. Like the compositors, a press-crew would usually be working on several books simultaneously, and the most efficient system was not to try to maintain a relationship between a particular compositor and crew.60 If the method of production in Madrid at the beginning of the seventeenth century were similar, as the evidence presented here suggests, then any study of the printing of a Spanish book from this period cannot view the production of that volume as an isolated event, but also needs to take into account other works that were printed concurrently in the same shop.

Since it was based on efficiency, the system of concurrent production worked to the advantage of both printer and author. However, writers keen to see their work published as quickly as possible would not necessarily have seen it that way. Cervantes had already experienced the frustrating delays that this mode of production involved during the printing of the Novelas ejemplares. The privilegio for that work, which was printed concurrently with Aranda’s Lugares comunes (Commonplaces) and the second part of Illescas’s Historia Pontifical y Catholica, was granted on 22 November 1612, yet the fe de erratas was not signed until 7 August 1613, over eight months later.61 By 1615 the ailing author, now sixty-seven years old, had probably realized that, if he were to achieve his ambition of publishing as much of his work as possible before he died, and, in particular, to have his beloved plays printed, he was going to need the services of more than one printer. It may well have been the case, as Cervantes hints in the prologue to Ocho comedias, that Robles, the bookseller who financed both parts of the Quijote and the Novelas ejemplares, was decidedly unenthusiastic about the idea of publishing the plays, but, even if that had not been so, Cervantes, for whom time was running out, would have been keen for him to find another printer, since the Cuesta shop was already occupied with the second part of the Quijote and the other works which were printed concurrently with it.

In the event, Cervantes managed to interest a newcomer to the book trade, the twenty-five year old Juan de Villarroel, in Ocho comedias. His shortlived career in publishing began in 1614, when he financed an edition of Juan Pérez de Moya’s Arithmetica Practica.62 He also acquired the rights to a new edition of Fernando de Mena’s translation of Heliodorus’s Historia etiopica de los amores de Teogenes y Cariclea, which appeared in the summer of 1615, just before Ocho comedias, although the title page of that volume indicates that it was financed by Pedro de Bogia.63 All of these books were printed at the print-shop of La viuda de Alonso Martín, which had been run by Francisca Medina since her husband’s death in 1613.64 Villaroel clearly ran into financial difficulties, for on 6 November 1615 there is a record of his owing 1,500 reales to Medina for the cost of printing both the Arithmetica and Ocho comedias.65 In the prologue to Ocho comedias, Cervantes mentions, with scarcely veiled irony, having been paid ‘a reasonable sum’ for the volume of plays; but he was never actually paid in full, for in 1626, nine years after his death, his widow, Catalina Palacios Salazar y Vozmediano, mentioned in her last will and testament an amount of 400 reales that Villarroel still owed.66

Medina’s print-shop was an obvious choice for the volume of plays. It was situated in Calle de los Preciados, a little further away than the Cuesta shop in Calle de Atocha, but still just a ten-minute walk from where Cervantes was living at the time, on the corner of Calle de León and Calle de Francos (now known as Calle de Cervantes), and even closer to Villarroel, whose address on the title page of Ocho comedias is given as ‘plaçuela del Angel’ (now known as Plaza del Ángel).67 The Medina shop, which printed many classic works of the Spanish Golden Age, had already produced Cervantes’s Viaje del Parnaso, and had just recently, on 3 April, completed printing of the Sexta parte (sixth part) of the plays of Lope de Vega, Spain’s most celebrated dramatist.68 Moreover, while the Cuesta shop specialized in the folio format, the printing-house of Medina was noted for working in octavo—the format in which Viaje del Parnaso appeared—and quarto, which was the usual format for plays. In 1615 it produced eight works in quarto, comprising 568 sheets, as opposed to Cuesta’s three (113 sheets). Ocho comedias, a work of sixty-five sheets, was produced in just eight weeks, with the result that although the privilegio for the plays was granted a month later than that of the Sermones and over two months later than that of Ledesma’s Romancero—the two books with which it was printed concurrently—Ocho comedias was the first of the three works to be completed. The privilegio for the plays was granted four months later than that of the second part of Don Quijote, yet the production of the plays was completed six weeks before the printing of the novel was finished. The efficiency of the Medina print-shop was such that, on 24 September, just two days after completing work on Ocho comedias, it finished the printing of the Sermones, a work of almost double the size in the same quarto format, the privilegio of which had been granted just three months previously; and by 5 October it had managed to produce the twenty-five sheets of octavo of the Rhetoricae Compendium, having only started work after 12 September. These are impressive rates of productivity for three books that were printed concurrently, and are an indication that the Medina shop probably had four presses at its disposal. It may also have been able to distribute work to other shops, for, as Moll points out, this often happened when a book needed to be produced quickly, as, for example, in the case of the second Madrid edition of the first part of Don Quijote.69 Time was certainly of the essence where Ocho comedias was concerned, for Cervantes must have been anxious to see his plays printed before he died, and one imagines he would have conveyed his concerns to both Villarroel and Francisca Medina.

While Ocho comedias and the second part of the Quijote were at the printers, Cervantes was working hard to complete Persiles. He had long been aware that printers in Madrid worked on many jobs at the same time, with the result that authors could experience lengthy delays in the printing of their works, and had therefore developed his own method of concurrent production, which proved to be particularly important in preserving his plays for posterity. For much of his life he had felt ambivalent about print, and with good reason, for it had made him little money and had exposed him both to ridicule and literary piracy. Now, however, with his health failing, he worked feverishly to ensure that as much of his work as possible would be passed on to future generations. The printed book, whatever its shortcomings, was the storage medium that would ensure that his writing survived. The dedication to Don Pedro Fernández de Castro, Count of Lemos, dated 19 April 1616, just three days before his death, is a moving testament to his determination to keep writing as long as he still has the strength to hold his pen:

I still retain in my soul the vestiges and traces of Weeks in the Garden and the famous Bernardo. If, by chance, by good fortune (though it would not be fortune, but a miracle), heaven allows me to live, you will see them, and also the final part of Galatea.70

In presenting his last work, Cervantes, who knows he is dying, also offers his patron and his readers, present and future, the ghosts of unfinished projects, those that neither the print-shop nor the wider world would ever see.


1 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Ocho comedias, y ocho entremeses nuevos, Nunca representados (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). In references to early editions, including titles and quotations, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and accentuation is reproduced as found in the source consulted, with the following exceptions, all of which have been regularized: the long ‘s’; where ‘u’ stands for ‘v’ (e.g. ‘auenturas’) and vice-versa (e.g. ‘Don Qvixote’); and where ‘i’ stands for ‘j’ (e.g. ‘trabaios’).

2 ‘No hallé autor que me las pidiese, puesto que sabían que las tenía; y así las arrinconé en un cofre y las consagré y condené al perpetuo silencio. En esta sazón me dijo un librero que él me las comprara si un autor de título no le hubiera dicho que de mi prosa se podía esperar mucho, pero que del verso nada.’ La entretenida, ed. by John O’Neill (London: King’s College, 2014), published online at All translations are my own.

3 Jonathan Thacker, A Companion to Golden Age Theatre (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2007), p. 59. Miguel Cervantes, Pedro, The Great Pretender, trans. by Philip Osment (London: Oberon Books, 2004).

4 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Segunda parte del ingenioso cavallero Don Quixote de la Mancha (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615 ).

5 Fermín de los Reyes Gómez, ‘La censura del libro: legislación y consecuencias. La impresión del Quijote’, in Imprenta, libros y lectura en la España del Quijote, ed. by José Manuel Lucía Megías (Madrid: Imprenta Artesanal, 2006), pp. 159—80 (p. 163).

6 Gómez, ‘La censura del libro’, p. 165.

7 ibid. pp. 164—65.

8 Cervantes, Segunda parte, fols. [ii]r—[v]v.

9 When Cuesta joined the printing-house of Pedro Madrigal in 1599, it was jointly owned by Madrigal’s widow María Rodríguez de Ribalde (who had married Juan Iñiguez de Lequerica, and been widowed again), and their son, also called Pedro Madrigal. In 1604, after the younger Pedro died, his widow, María Quiñones, married Cuesta, who took over the running of the shop. Books produced there continued to bear his name until Ribalde’s death in 1626, even though Cuesta moved to Sevilla in 1607, abandoning his pregnant wife. Juan Delgado Casado, Diccionario de impresores españoles (siglos XV—XVII), 2 vols (Madrid: Arco/Libros, 1996), I, 175; Jaime Moll, ‘Juan de la Cuesta’, in Gran enciclopedia cervantina, ed. by Carlos Alvar, 10 vols (Madrid: Castalia, 2005— ), III(2006), 3020.[Note from Spanish Classic Books: more correct information at this link]

10 Cervantes, Ocho comedias, fol. [ii]r.

11 D. F. McKenzie, ‘Printers of the Mind: Some Notes on Bibliographical Theories and Printing-House Practices’, in Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays, ed. by Peter D. McDonald and Michael Felix Suarez (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), pp. 13—85.

12 Miguel de Cervantes, Primera parte de La Galatea, dividida en seys libros (Alcalá: Juan Gracián, 1585).

13 The other six editions were produced in Lisbon (1590), Paris (1611), Baeza (1617), Valladolid (1617), Lisbon (1618), and Barcelona (1618). See La Galatea, ed. by Francisco López Estrada and María Teresa López García-Berdoy (Madrid: Cátedra, 1999), pp. 124—25.

14 ‘Que alguno dellos tiene casi de memoria, la primera parte desta’; Don Quijote de La Mancha, ed. by the Instituto Cervantes, dir. by Francisco Rico (Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores; Centro para la Edición de los Clásicos Españoles, 2004), I, 669. References to this edition are by part, chapter (where applicable), and page.

15 ‘Aquesta es La Galatea | que, si buen libro desea | no tiene más que pedir’; cited in La Galatea, ed. Estrada & García-Berdoy, p. 99.

16 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1605). For the quotation see Don Quijote, I, Prólogo; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 11. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Novelas exemplares (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1613).

17 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Viage del Parnaso (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1614); Los trabajos de Persiles, y Sigismunda, historia Setentrional (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1617).

18 Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, pp. 1247—51.

19 ‘—Pues ¿qué? —dijo el autor—. ^Quiere vuesa merced que se lo dé a un librero que me dé por el privilegio tres maravedís, y aun piensa que me hace merced en dármelos?’; Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1250. The basic units of currency when Cervantes was writing were the copper maravedí, the silver real (royal), equivalent to 34 maravedís, and the gold escudo (shield), the value of which fluctuated, from 350 maravedíswhen it was introduced in 1535, to 400 maravedís in 1566, to 440 maravedís in 1609. The gold ducado, worth 375 maravedís or 11 reales, was an older coin, which was replaced by the escudo during the reign of Charles V, but still functioned as a unit of account in Cervantes’s time. See Bernat Hernández, ‘Monedas, pesos y medidas’, in Don Quijote, ed. Instituto Cervantes, pp. 941—47 (pp. 941—42)

20 ‘-No daré el privilegio de este mi libro a ningún librero de Madrid, si me da por él dos mil ducados; que allí no hay ninguno que no quiera los privilegios de balde, o, a lo menos, por tan poco precio que no le luzga al autor del libro’; Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, ed. by Carlos Romero Muñoz (Madrid: Cátedra, 2002), p. 635.

21 Krzysztof Sliwa, ‘Documentación’, in Gran enciclopedia cervantina,IV (2007), 3570—3646 (p22p. 3589—90).

22 Gómez, ‘La censura del libro’, p. 171.

23 Cristobál Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, ó descripción de las obras impresas en Madrid, 3 vols (Madrid: Tipografía de los Huérfanos/Tipografía de la Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos, 1891—1907), II, 250.

24 Don Quijote, II, ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 670.

25 Don Quijote, II, ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 679.

26 ‘Bien sé lo que son tentaciones del demonio, y que una de las mayores es ponerle a un hombre en el entendimiento que puede componer y imprimir un libro con que gane tanta fama como dineros y tantos dineros cuanta fama.’ Don Quijote, II, ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 675.

27 ‘Yo no imprimo mis libros para alcanzar fama en el mundo, que ya en él soy conocido por mis obras: provecho quiero, que sin él no vale un cuatrín la buena fama.’ Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1250.

28 Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda, Segundo tomo del ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, que contiene su tercera salida : y es la quinta parte de sus aventuras (Tarragona: Felipe Roberto, 1614).

29 Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1251.

30 ‘Iten, suplico a los dichos señores mis albaceas que si la buena suerte les trujere a conocer al autor que dicen que compuso una historia que anda por ahí con el título de Segunda parte de las hazañas de don Quijote de la Mancha, de mi parte le pidan, cuan encarecidamente ser pueda, perdone la ocasión que sin yo pensarlo le di de haber escrito tantos y tan grandes disparates como en ella escribe, porque parto desta vida con escrúpulo de haberle dado motivo para escribirlos’; Don Quijote, II. 74; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1334.

31 ‘Muchas veces acontece que los que tenían méritamente granjeada y alcanzada gran fama por sus escritos, en dándolos a la estampa la perdieron del todo o la menoscabaron en algo. —La causa deso es —dijo Sansón— que, como las obras impresas se miran despacio, fácilmente se veen sus faltas, y tanto más se escudriñan cuanto es mayor la fama del que las compuso’; Don Quijote, II. 3; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 713.

32 ‘Pero yo pienso darlas a la estampa, para que se vea despacio lo que pasa apriesa, y se disimula, o no se entiende cuando las representan. Y las comedias tienen sus sazones y tiempos, como los cantares.’ Viaje del Parnaso, ed. by Miguel Herrero García (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto Miguel de Cervantes, 1983), p. 314.

33 El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, 2nd edn (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1605). The six occasions on which reference is made to the donkey can be found on fols. 109r, IIIV, 112r, 120V; 121r and 122r.

34 El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Brussels: Roger Velpius, 1607). The six corrections are located on fols. 210r, 215r, 216r, 232r, 233r and 235r. El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1608). The two corrections can be found on fols. 96r and 98v.

35 ‘—No está en eso el yerro —replicó Sansón—, sino en que antes de haber parecido el jumento dice el autor que iba a caballo Sancho en el mesmo rucio. —A eso —dijo Sancho— no sé qué responder, sino que el historiador se engañó, o ya sería descuido del impresor.’ Don Quijote, II. 4; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 716.

36 ‘Dezidnos della, que ay hombre | que hasta de una mula parda | saber el sucesso aguarda, | la color, el talle, y nombre: | O si no dirán que fue | olvido del escritor’. Lope de Vega Carpio, Ventidos parte perfeta de las comedias(Madrid: La viuda de Juan Gonzalez, 1635), fol. 166r.

37 Roger Chartier, Inscription and Erasure: Literature and Written Culture from the Eleventh to the Eighteenth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), p. 34.

38 Miguel de Cervantes, ed. by Jorge García López, Novelas ejemplares (Barcelona: Circulo de Lectores/Galaxia Gutenberg, 2005), p. 16.

39 Novelas ejemplares, ed. García López, pp. 19—20.

40 ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha queda calzadas las espuelas en su segunda parte, para ir a besar los pies a V. E. […] Luego irá el gran Persiles, y luego Las semanas del jardín, y luego la segunda parte de La Galatea’; La entretenida,ed. O’Neill.

41 See Don Quijote, II; ed. Instituto Cervantes, pp. 677 and 679, and Persiles, ed. Romero Muñoz, pp. 117—18.

42 The title of Bernardo could be a reference to the legendary Spanish hero Bernardo del Carpio, who appears as a character in Cervantes’s play La casa de los celos, and is mentioned in El gallardo español and (several times) in Don Quijote.

43 The preliminares of Avellaneda’s Quijote do not include a privilegio, fe de erratas or tasa. The last date in the front matter is 4 July, which is when the second aprobacián was signed (fol. [ii]r). It is unlikely that a work of this size (sixty-eight sheets of quarto) could have been printed in less than two months, so the earliest date that it could have been published is September, which is the date that Canavaggio gives (Don Quijote, ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. CCCI). However, it is difficult to imagine that Cervantes, had he known about Avellaneda’s Quijote,would not have found a way of inserting some reference to it in the preliminares to Viaje del Parnaso, just as he did in the dedication to Ocho comedias and the prologue to the second part of Don Quijote. Such a reference could even have been added after the fe de erratas (11 November) and tasa (17 November), as was the case with the dedication of the Segunda parte. It therefore seems unlikely that Cervantes found out about Avellaneda’s Quijote until late November or December 1614.

44 Since Cervantes mentions having only six plays and interludes ready for publication in the Adjunta al Parnaso(see Viaje del Parnaso, ed. Herrero García, p. 314), he probably wrote the new material in the period of approximately five months between finishing Don Quijote and handing over the manuscript of Ocho comedias to the printers.

45 Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1250.

46 ‘Sabemos por los contratos de impresión conservados que, por lo general, cuando se acordaba una edición, se exigía que no se aceptara otro trabajo hasta que se acabara el recién admitido, lo cual, descartando las salidas de la norma que hubiera, implicaba la organización de la empresa en torno a un proyecto, al margen de los pequeños encargos que se aceptaran’; Sonia Garza Merino, ‘La cuenta del original’, in Imprenta y crítica textual en el siglo de oro, ed. by Francisco Rico, Pablo Andrés, and Sonia Garza (Valladolid: Universidad de Valladolid, Centro para la Edición de los Clásicos Españoles, 2000), pp. 65—95 (p. 73).

47 Juan Vázquez de Mármol, Condiciones que se pueden poner cuando se da a imprimir un libro (Madrid: El Crotalón, 1983). The Condiciones are part of an autograph miscellany preserved at the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid (sig. Mss/9226, fol. 243r—v).

48 ‘Que el impressor se obligue a començar a imprimirlo dentro de tanto tiempo y despues de comenzado no dexe de proseguir en el so cierta pena.’

49 Neither the Dictionarium nor El cavallero puntual required a privilegio, since they were new editions, so estimates have been provided. If the speed of printing of the Dictionarium matched that of the Historia general,which was 319 sheets of folio and in production for nine months, then this work, which was almost exactly two thirds as long at 213 sheets of folio, would have been in production for six months. If, on the other hand, one assumes that production was at the average rate of 4. 5 sheets a week for folio at the la Cuesta shop between 1612 and 1615, printing of the Dictionarium would not have started until late September 1614. The only other work in duodecimo format, apart from El cavallero puntual, produced by Juan de la Cuesta in the period in question was the 1614 edition of Jorge Manrique’s Coplas (see Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, p. 297). The production window of that book, which comprised 17 sheets, spanned seven months, from 21 June 1613 until 17 January 1614. If the 13 sheets of El cavallero puntual were printed at a similar rate, production would have started sometime around the beginning of June 1615. However, none of these estimates should be regarded as reliable, since, as this study shows, it is very difficult to calculate rates of production for works that are printed concurrently.

50 McKenzie, ‘Printers of the Mind’, pp. 25—26.

51 El ingenioso hidalgo, fols. [ii]rand [iii]v.

52 Segunda parte, fols. [ii]rand [v]v.

53 Francisco Rico, El texto del ‘Quijote’: preliminares a una ecdótica del siglo de oro (Barcelona: Ediciones Destino, 2005), p. 210.

54 Jaime Moll, Problemas bibliográficos del libro del siglo de oro (Madrid: Arco/Libros, 2011), pp. 118—19.

55 Antonio de Herrera, Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas y Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano [General History of the Deeds of the Castilian People in the Islands and Mainlands of the Oceans], pt. V—VIII, 2 vols (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615); Antonio Nebrija, Dictionarium (repr. Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615); Francisco Murcia de la Llana, Compendio de los Metheoros del Principe de los Filosofos Griegos y Latinos Aristoteles[‘Compendium of the Meteorological Observations of the Prince of Greek and Latin Philosophers Aristoteles’] (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615); Alonso Jerónimo de Salas Barbadillo, El Cavallero puntual, pt. 1, 2nd edn (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615).

56 Segunda parte, fol. [ii]v.

57 Sermones predicados en la Beatificacion de La B. M. Teresa de Jesus Virgen (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615); Rhetoricae Compendium ex scriptis Patris Ioannis Baptistae Poza (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615); Alonso de Ledesma, Romancero y Monstro imaginado (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). A romancero is a collection of romances (ballads).

58 Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 164.

59 ‘La práctica más común fue el reparto de la composición de un cuaderno entre cajistas que, trabajando sincronizadamente, fueran suministrando las formas a uno o dos tiradores diferentes, de manera que al cabo del día pudieran tener impreso un pliego, por lo menos, de una tirada corriente de mil o mil quinientos ejemplares’; Garza Merino, ‘La cuenta del original’, p. 73.

60 McKenzie ‘Printers of the Mind’, pp. 28—30.

61 Juan de Aranda, Lugares comunes de Conceptos, Dichos y Sentencias en diversas materias, 2nd edn (Madrid: Juan de La Cuesta, 1613); Gonzalo de Illescas, Segunda parte de la Historia Pontifical y Catholica (repr. Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1613). See Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, pp. 246—47, 26524.

62 Arithmetica Practica y Speculativa (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). Villaroel was granted a licencia on 4 December 1614 (see Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, p. 351).

63 Historia etiopica de los amores de Teogenes y Cariclea (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). The licenciawas granted on 10 February 1615, and the last date in the front matter is 13 June, which is when the dedication was signed (see Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, p. 334).

64 The only other work with which Villarroel was associated was Persiles y Sigismunda, but that was printed by Juan de la Cuesta, although Medina’s shop did produce an edition, in 1619 (see Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, p. 481).

65 K. Sliwa, Documentos de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, S.A., 1999), p. 369.

66 ‘Él me las pagó razonablemente’; La entretenida, ed. O’Neill. Regarding the debt, see Sliwa, Documentos, pp. 371—72.

67 Jaime Moll, ‘Viuda de Alonso Martín’, in Gran Enciclopedia Cervantina, VIII (2011), p. 7639.

68 Lope de Vega, Sexta parte de sus Comedias (Madrid: la viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). Other important works produced at the Medina shop included editions of Cervantes’s Novelas ejemplares (1622), Montemayor’s La Diana(1622), and Rojas’s Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea (1632).

69 Moll, Problemas bibliográficos, p. 120.

70 ‘Todavía me quedan en el alma ciertas reliquias y asomos de Las semanas del jardín, y del famoso Bernardo. Si, a dicha, por buena ventura mía (que ya no sería ventura, sino milagro), me diese el cielo vida, las verá, y, con ellas, fin de La Galatea’; Persiles y Sigismunda, ed. Romero Muñoz, pp. 117—18.

© The Author 2015; all rights reserved

Baroque Culture as a Concept of Epoch

Jose Antonio Maravall was born in Spain in 1911. He was professor at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, and associate professor at the University of Paris. He was a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of History and a visiting professor at many universities in the United States and Europe. He is the author of more than 30 books and articles. 

This article is the Introduction to his book La cultura del Barroco, first published in 1975, that is also available in English.

Among the different approaches valid for arriving at an interpretation of baroque culture —whose results, precisely because of its diversity, will always be incomplete —I have focused my inquiry on the meaning and range of the characteristics making up this culture, so that its nexus, with its social relations, will stand out from those relations on which it depends and to whose slow transformation it, in turn, contributes. Perhaps this point of view will give us a broader and more systematic panorama, but we also must accept an accompanying limitation: the baroque is no longer a concept of style that can be repeated and that is assumed to have been repeated in many phases of human history; it has come to be, in frank contradiction with baroque as a style, a mere concept of epoch. My examination presents the baroque as a delimited epoch in the history of certain European countries whose historical situation maintained, at a specific moment, a close relation, whatever the differences between them. By way of derivation, the culture of a baroque epoch can manifest itself (and has become manifest) in the American countries indirectly affected by the European cultural conditions of that time.

But my approach certainly does not define the baroque as a European epoch situated between two perfectly defined dates. Historical epochs are not snipped away and isolated from one another by the dividing line of one year or one date; rather, by means of the arbitrary intervention of the human mind contemplating them, they are separated from one another along a broad zone of dates throughout which they mature and afterwards disappear, being transformed into others, passing their inheritance on to others in a way that it cannot be refused. The baroque, then, runs approximately from 1600 (without discarding the possibility that certain advanced phenomena of baroque significance appeared some years previously, in the later times of Michelangelesque Mannerism and, in Spain, with the construction of the Escorial) to 1670-80 (a time of economic change and the first echoes of modern science in Spain; cultural, political, and economic Colbertism in France; the unimpeded emergence of the Industrial Revolution in England). One may discover baroque manifestations counting among the most outlandish and extreme until well into the eighteenth century, but the sense of the epoch is different. In Spain, the years of Philip III’s reign (1598-1621) encompass the period of transformation; those of Philip IV (1621-65) the period of its peak; and those of Charles II, at least in the first two decades, the final phase of decadence and degeneration, until a time of restoration toward a new epoch begins before the end of the century.{1}

The baroque, then, is a historical concept. It encompasses, approximately, the first three quarters of the seventeenth century, having its center of greater intensity and fuller significance between 1605 and 1650. If this zone of dates refers specifically to Spanish history, it is also valid (with slight adjustments) for other European countries. In Italy, however, with such names as Botero and Tasso, its beginning could be set earlier, at least in some aspects of art, politics, and literature.

I do not, therefore, use the term baroque to designate morphological or stylistic concepts, repeatable in culture, that are chronologically and geographically disparate. One may certainly establish certain relations between external, purely formal elements of the baroque in seventeenth-century Europe and elements present in very different historical epochs in unrelated cultural areas. A culture always has borrowings and legacies from previous and distant cultures. Let us recall the considerable and curious harvest of iconographic terms that Southeast Asia contributed to the European Middle Ages, as some of Baltrusaitis’ ingenious studies have revealed.{2} But these antecedents and influences do not define a culture. They tell us, at most, that a culture of a given period is open to exotic currents that are geographically mobile. Examples include the introduction of the cupola in pre-Roman Catalan art{3} or the title basileus that was used for some Asturian or British kings.{4} Perhaps we are required, in characterizing a culture, to point out the dependence on a distant tradition (as with Mozarabic art, which has a Visigothic base with Islamic elements;{5} or the Brahmanic metaphors that until the eighteenth century were used to express the European estatist conception of society).{6} But tnese cases do not represent intracultural kinship so much as isolated contributions that are integrated into different complexes. Neither the mere coincidence in the utilization of separate elements nor the repetition of formal elements whose connection occurs in very different systems can serve as a basis for defining cultures spanning centuries and geographic regions of very diverse characteristics. These morphological correlations, established in abstraction from many other aspects that one needs in order to define a cultural moment, say little or nothing to the historian. The seeking out and formulation of such morphologies are no more than a play of wit that ordinarily becomes limited to a pleasant arbitrariness. Nevertheless, in recognizing these correlations through space and time we are able to ground some generalizations whose application in other fields of knowledge is indisputable.

But we situate ourselves in the realm of social history, which is first and foremost history: its object is not to limit what is conceived in consideration of its observable data, so that their observation —and every possible resulting induction —is maintained only on the superficial level of aspects recurring throughout distinct phases of the human past. Rather, its purpose is to attain the most systematic knowledge possible about each of the periods it submits to study, without discarding the possibility that they will afterward be compared with great precision. Its orientation is to supplement concretely the best knowledge of each epoch, not to establish abstract generalizations, and its method takes into account the greatest quantity and most varied data obtainable from what an epoch might offer and then interprets them in the complex in which they are integrated. These data include some that reveal similarities or congruences with other epochs. All this effort is not directed toward discovering baroque periods all the way from ancient Egypt to present America, but to completing the panorama of connections between facts of a multiple nature that may lead us to a better knowledge of what the baroque was as a unique period of European culture during the seventeenth century.

In the following pages I will refer to phenomena from various fields, but I have no expectation of running across similarities or morphological kinships that from outside bring the facts together, nor across manifestations of a style that from within inspires economic, political, religious, artistic, or literary phenomena. Yet I believe that one can speak of a baroque at a given time, in any field of human endeavor. In 1944, I noted in my book about Spanish political thought in the seventeenth century that I could just as well have substituted the phrase “in the epoch of the baroque.”{7} Because such an expression would have still been unusual at that time, I decided not to use it in the book’s title. Some years later, in 1953, a specialist in the history of painting, who was speaking about the baroque as the epoch concept of the seventeenth century, expressed the need for a study on baroque political thought.{8} By this time, my book had already been written and would soon be published in French, with a preface by Mesnard wherein he stressed the basic formulation that the work was advancing. Some German authors have spoken, in another realm, of baroque theology, an expression —untenable today —that was easy to elaborate because the appearance and development of baroque culture were for a long time closely related to its religious element.{9} Today it has even become common to speak about baroque science, the baroque’s art of war, baroque economy, baroque politics, and soforth. Clearly in this one must proceed carefully. There can be a certain correspondence among external or formal characteristics occurring in one field or another. Undoubtedly certain aspects of the epoch’s architecture or pictorial depiction can be (by way of example) especially apt for containing a reference to the majestic condition of the baroque’s absolute kings. But, contrary to the arbitrary connection between cupola and monarchy proposed by Eugenio d’Ors,{10} Mousnier led me to observe that there is no seventeenth-century royal palace with a cupola crowning it at its center. I don’t know whether it would be possible to establish similarities between navigation technology and Gongora’s Soledades or between Quevedo’s Sueños and the economy of fleece. I am sure that attempts of this type would be entertaining to read, but I fear that they do little to add to our historical knowledge of the epoch.

My thesis is that all these fields of culture coincide as factors of a historical situation and have repercussions in it, some more than others. In their transformation, proper to the situation of each time, they come to be what they are by the combined and reciprocal action of all the other factors. That is to say, it is not that baroque painting, baroque economy, and the baroque art of war have similarities among themselves (or, at least, their similarity is not what counts, without discarding the possibility that some formal comparison might emerge). Instead, given that they develop in the same situation, as a result of the same conditions, responding to the same vital necessities, undergoing an undeniable modifying influence on the part of the other factors, each factor thus ends up being altered, dependent on the epoch as a complex to which all the observed changes must be referred. In these terms, it is possible to attribute determining characteristics of the epoch —in this case, its baroque character —to theology, painting, the warring arts, physics, economy, politics, and so on. It is in this way that the crisis economy, monetary upheavals, credit insecurity, economic wars, and (along with this) the strengthening of seignorial agrarian landholdings and the growing impoverishment of the masses foster a feeling of being threatened and of instability in one’s personal and social life, a feeling that is held in control by the imposing forces of repression that underlie the dramatic gesticulation of the baroque human being and permit us the use of such a name.

So the baroque is a concept of epoch that in principle extends to all the manifestations making up this epoch’s culture.{11} The new concept of epoch came to be identified by means of art in Italian culture; Burckhardt noticed that, after the Renaissance period and continuing for a specific number of years, the works he contemplated in Rome had, in their deformations and corruptions of previous models, characteristics appearing to belong to a time that was somehow different. Around 1887, in the churches he was studying, Gurlitt, a historian of Roman architecture, observed forms of Renaissance classicism that were lacking in order. At first glance these forms differed among themselves, certainly, but they were dislocated by the same whirlwind of a disordered expression, and all of its products could also be framed between specific dates. Thus resulted the first observations about the baroque, and the vacillating estimations regarding it emerged already in reference to a more or less defined epoch: the epoch following the classicist Renaissance. Wolfflin ventured to extend the new category to the more extensive area of literature. When the characteristics pointed out in this series of works were broadened to other fields, the concept of epoch defining this new post-Renaissance culture was already prepared and, with it, its extension to the diverse sectors of a culture and to the group of countries where it had spread.

As interest in the baroque continued to grow and research on it became more productive, the estimation of its works changed in turn and its interpretation became more complicated and better adapted. The investigative work and the positive valorization of the baroque stage in European culture had its starting point in Germany, from there passing rapidly to Italy, then Spain and England, and finally to France. There the weight of tradition, specifically of classicism— considered only a few years ago to be incompatible with the baroque — made comprehension of the baroque more difficult, at least until recent times (always with some exceptions that must stand as precedents, such as M. Raymond). At present, however, some of the most suggestive works proceed from French scholars. The change in the historical formulation of baroque interpretation can be illustrated with one of its most extreme expressions, taken from the sociohistorian Lewis Mumford, for whom the Renaissance comes to be the initial phase of a new epoch that reaches its fullest meaning in the baroque. According to his thesis, we can characterize the Renaissance, with all its purity of precepts, as the first manifestation of the subsequent baroque.{12} It is worthwhile to underscore this definitive recognition of a conditioning link between both periods and the appraisal of a highly positive value that one must attribute to the baroque in European culture. Certainly, I do not refer here to subjective personal appraisals regarding the works of artists, politicians, thinkers, or writers of the baroque epoch, which would be similar to attributing them with qualities of good or bad taste according to the preferences of each historian. In the eighteenth century, when the wordbaroque first emerged to qualify specific products of the creative activity of poets, dramatists, and the plastic arts, it was already tinted with a pejorative meaning. Inversely, in other circumstances —such as in Spain during the second quarter of this century —a heated enthusiasm arose around the gongorine movement for baroque creations. Here we have to dispense with such appraisals. Appealing to personal taste disrupts the perception of a cultural phenomenon; although its study takes into account appraisals of such a nature, we are ultimately liable for not seeing things with clarity. In a book that contains validcontributions but also serious limitations, V. L. Tapie, studying the baroque in comparison with classicism counterposes the permanent admiration produced (according to him) by a work of a classical character, such as Versailles, to the repulsion that contemporary good taste experiences before a baroque production.{13} But during the very years when Tapie was writing, the young reseacher J.G. Simpson considered Versailles to be saturated with baroqueness, despite its classicist details, and simultaneously tells us that its lack of restraint and proportion makes us lose ourselves there: “the grandeur turns into megalomania.”{14}

The participation of scholars from different countries in baroque studies has enriched and helped give a more precise direction to its interpretation. Although the Germans (Wolfflin, Riegl, Weisbach) insisted (more the first than the last) on formal aspects, they already brought out the connection with historical circumstances: the counterreformist renewal of the Church, the strengthening of papal authority, the expansion of the Society of Jesus —all of which led ultimately to the systematic positing of the baroque as the “art of the Counter-Reformation.” This interpretation, which was so influential for several years, gave maximum emphasis to the role of Italy, above all in art, and compensated by reserving for Germany the greater part of the literary baroque. Because of the recognition of Italy’s predominant role, it was possible better to appreciate something that we have pointed out: the nexus between classicism and the baroque, whose affirmation led H. Hatzfeld to say that “wherever the problem of the baroque emerges, the existence of Classicism remains implicit.”{15} Hatzfeld observed that keeping the Greco-Latin ideal and accepting Aristotle’s Poetics go together at the baroque’s origin (let us recall the role that Robortello’s Aristotelian poetics played in Lope). The panorama that Hatzfeld outlined regarding the evolution of the baroque movement is of interest:

With inevitable differences from generation to generation and with more or less ability, the theorizing Italy, Spain, which experimented with the Italian forms, and France, which, in slow maturation, came to its creations with a fully theoretical consciousness, harmonized their particular national literary and linguistic traditions in a baroque style. This is the same as saying that certain forms of the Italian Renaissance had become common to all of Europe, thanks to the mediation and modifying activity of Spain, and paradoxically culminated in French classicism.{16}

In granting the Mediterranean and Latin countries such a preponderant role in the appearance and development of baroque culture, we cannot forget the significance of such central-European figures as Comenius, whose work as a pedagogue and moralist is decisive in any attempt to define the baroque, nor, on the other hand, English literature and the art and thought of the Low Countries. From this new perspective, the baroque, while in force in Europe, covered more ground than it did in those already outmoded explanations that presented it as a complex of literary or pseudoartistic aberrations saturated with the bad taste that counterreformist Catholicism had cultivated in countries subject to Rome. At the same time, the period was accompanied by a complexity of resources and results that made it one of those most in need of study in order to understand the history of modern Europe. In any case, it can no longer be seen as a consequence following from a single factor, nor even from the varied consequences it provoked on the cultural plane; instead, it became manifest in connection with an extremely varied repertory of factors that together determined the moment’s historical situation and imbued all its manifestations with those interdependent and related characteristics that permit us to speak, in a general sense, of the culture of the baroque.

The transformations of sensibility that in recent times came to be tied to new social conditions —whose first phase of maximum critical tension was reached in the 1920s —awakened a new interest in certain productions of Spanish culture. Until then, under pressure of a pedagogical classicism, many of these productions had been cast aside; the recently awakening interest has resulted in the incorporation of the rich area of seventeenth-century Spain into the study of the European baroque. The rediscovery of El Greco, the growing admiration for Velazquez, Zurbaran, and Ribera, the appreciation of the theater, of the picaresque novel and even of the more trivial lyric poetry, and, finally, of economic and political thought have prepared the way for a more developed study of the Spanish baroque. Admittedly, the rise of Spanish baroque studies was favored by the tendency, vigorously followed in the diffusion of seventeenth-century studies, to link baroque creations with Tridentine Catholicism, civil monarchy, pontifical absolutism, and Jesuit instruction, factors that were widely developed in Spain. Even in Tapie’s book on the baroque, which dealt with France, Italy, central Europe, and Brazil, there was no mention made of Spain, although the fact would have proven unjustifiable from any point of view even at the time when the work was published. Francastel advanced the harsh objection that for this simple reason the work represented an improper development of the theme:

Tapie takes the Italian origin of the baroque as an absolute given; personally I believe that the baroque is not born in Italy but as a consequence of the forceful penetration of certain religious forms that arrived from Spain and also, undoubtedly, through the penetration of certain modalities of a taste that, without being Spanish, perhaps was linked to the social order imposed by Hispanicization.{17}

Previously, S. Sitwell had maintained that one must study Spanish examples to find the characteristics that define the baroque with greater clarity and a more general validity; hence the advantage of also making use of the Portuguese and Spanish-American examples that are related to them.{18} This author as well as another English author, Watkin,{19} in accentuating the Hispanic factor in the baroque, link it to a dependency upon Catholic and Hispanic religiosity. What is certain is that the Spanish component in the baroque has tended to be more and more amplified. For reasons similar to those of the English writers I have cited, Weisbach also utilized Spanish data to a great extent in making the baroque an art of the Counter-Reformation. But perhaps no one has taken this position to as much of an extreme as H. Hatzfeld: for him, the baroque is linked to far-removed and constant ingredients of the Spanish genius —certain aspects could already be discovered in Hispano-Latin writers (Lucan, Seneca, Prudentius); the forms of religiosity that make the Spanish spirit unique (in St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius) had a strong influence on its development; and, finally, one must take into account the presence of certain elements occurring in the Hispanic tradition (i.e., Islamic and North African elements). According to Hatzfeld, since the second half of the sixteenth century, Spain —penetrated with Italian culture in the sixteenth century, saturated with Italianism, present in Italy and influential there to a great degree —provoked an alteration in the circumstances in which the Italian Renaissance was developing and compelled writers and artists to seek new forms that led to the baroque. In the formation of the baroque it would be impossible to deny the circumstances of Hispanicization in Rome, Naples, and indirectly at other points on the Italian peninsula. Spain, which contributed so effectively to the breakdown and removal of the Renaissance order, rapidly assimilated the incipient baroque forms of Italy, carried them to maturity, and diffused them into France, Flanders, Italy itself, and also into the Protestant milieu of England and Germany.{20} Counterreform, absolutism, and baroque went together, betokened by their Spanish base, and even the baroque art produced in Protestant countries was found to have a relation to the Hispanic influence —a thesis that others had already stated without playing down (contrary to what Hatzfeld does) the creative value of the Protestant baroque.{21}

Baroque culture thus extended to the most varied manifestations of social life and human works, although different manifestations predominated in different places; the geographic zone to which this culture extended —without making distinction between original and derived production —encompassed all western European countries, from where it is exported to the American colonies or had repercussions in eastern Europe. Finally, given the multiplicity of human resources participating in it, no less than the extremely varied attributes of the groups where it developed, the baroque depended upon similar or connected circumstances of a historical situation and not on other factors —for example, on its popular characteristics or on the particular causes of an ethnic group.

On the other hand, after the valid criticism of A. Castro and others, it is today impossible to take seriously the reference to similarities of style in Latin writers of peninsular origin, the attempt to find Hispanic characteristics “from their most remote origins” (as it was postulated by M. Pelayo), or the belief of finding echoes of Lucan or Seneca in Spanish writers when they are deemed of high quality. The thesis is no more tenable that aims to recognize Islamic components, in an attempt to show a Hispanic predisposition toward the baroque; the same arguments militate against this as against the former, although not all of the many who have spoken about the subject — arbitrarily to a certain degree —are disposed to recognize it. Besides, in what North African or Islamic country has the baroque taken place, if this concept is endowed with a meaning somewhat more consistent than a certain tendency to decorative outlandishness that is so common to so many peoples in so many epochs and civilizations, and which plays a secondary role in the historical structure of the baroque?{22}

There remains the question of appealing to the Spanish character itself, which in this case refers to religious attitudes and more particularly to mystical ones. Frequently —and this is what Hatzfeld does —the baroque is combined with mysticism and both are linked to the Spanish character and spirituality. In Spain, however, mysticism was an imported form of religiousness that arrived from Flanders and Germany before passing, in turn, to Germany and France —leaving aside at each moment the case of Italy. Spanish mysticism was a shortlived and delimited phenomenon, and nothing remained of it in the seventeenth century when, inversely, French and above all German mysticism were thriving magnificently. There did exist forms of magical thought that cannot be merely equated with mysticism; on the other hand, they could be found in all of Europe in this same epoch. Finally, the aspects characterizing mysticism, at least as it occurred in Spain (with St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross) were straightforwardly different from those of the baroque; they were rather anti-Baroque, without being divorced from the common ground of scholastic philosophy that was present in both.{23} Of course, I am not including St. Ignatius here as a mystic. The Ignatian mentality was disseminated and came to fruition in almost all European countries. To discuss the correspondences of Ignatian mentality with baroque propositions — which occurred more in his followers than in St. Ignatius —we have to appreciate the results of the coinciding dependency with respect to the same historical situation.

The reader of the voluminous collection of Cartas dejesuitas — which spanned the lengthy Baroque — encounters abundant materials that reveal the mentality of the time. I shall make use of some of them in the following chapters. But although there were baroque writers who proved susceptible to Jesuit culture (Tirso de Molina, Salas Barbadillo, Diaz Rengifo, etc.), another body of opinion disagreed with what they were proposing as a new mode of acting and feeling. Barrionuevo tells us that for many it was an error to admit such writers in any republic at all.{24} In several of the first group of the Cartas (those dated from January to July, 1634), there is talk of numerous writings from diverse sources against the Society: one of them (February 23) says that “it was raining papers against the Society.” But we know that the king, in a harsh decision, gave the order to gather up the papers and condemn their authors, and he charged the Spanish Inquisition with carrying out the order.{25} These references continue to be valuable as an index: not everything remained in line with the Jesuits in the mentality of their contemporaries.

The baroque epoch was, certainly, a time of the faithful (which is not very significantly Jesuit, either, though it may not be entirely estranged), but of a faith that not only retained but reinforced its kinship with magical forms, which were frequently inclined toward superstitious manifestations—Volpe, Buisson, Granjel, and Caro Baroja have studied them in Italy, France, Spain, and elsewhere. The baroque mind was familiar with exalted and irrational forms of religious, political and even physical beliefs, and to a certain extent baroque culture displayed itself in support of these feelings. This doesn’t have anything to do with Spanish mysticism directly: not Spanish, because it was a phenomenon taking place extensively and vigorously everywhere; and not mysticism, because its ground of belief was saturated with the current of rationalization that sustained scholasticism. The Church, the monarchy, and other privileged groups that had to draw to themselves sectors of opinion exerted all possible pressure to strengthen these extrarational aspects so they could make use of them. This process had also taken place in other epochs, but in the seventeenth century both within and outside of Spain the question had become much more difficult. And that greater difficulty is explained by the quantitative increase in the population affected, by the individualist energies that had become more intense, by a comparatively richer information disseminated in the media of the city, and by the very complexity of the media available. It no longer sufficed to sculpt an exemplary “history” in the capital of a column, to paint it on stained glass, or to recount it with the innocuous simplicity of a hagiographic legend.{26} For the new time in which the European societies were living, one had to find the most adequate — we might even say the most rational —mode for utilizing every extrarational resource, and one had to possess the technology for its most efficient application.

But the preceding leaves much unsaid. Although religious life and the Church played a decisive role in the formation and development of the baroque —religion occupied a central position for Catholics and Protestants in the seventeenth century and was incorporated by political interests —the manifestations of that culture did not always or everywhere correspond with those of religious life, nor did the problems it poses for our knowledge of it derive from a religious spirit. In the entire Spanish baroque, the greatest weight must perhaps be attributed to the monarchy and the composite of monarchical-seignorial interests that it enveloped. When E. Male tried to link the art of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries to counterreformist influences (already pointed out by Dejob),{27} he scarcely mentioned Velazquez, and even this was in reference to the apocryphal portrait of St. Teresa.

The baroque, as an epoch of interesting contrasts and perhaps many times one of bad taste (individualism and traditionalism, inquisitive authority and unsteadying freedom, mysticism and sensualism, theology and superstition, war and commerce, geometry and capriciousness), was not the result of multisecular influences on a country whose character they shaped, nor did it result frominfluences that irradiated from one country that was supposedly endowed with such characteristics upon others related to it. Baroque culture emerged not from influences or character but from the historical situation. Consequently, whoever was connected with the historical situation participated in that culture, although in each case it varied according to the social position of the individuals in question. The baroque depended, then, on a certain state of society by virtue of which, and because of its breadth, all the societies of western Europe exhibited connected aspects. Within this framework personal and singular influences can be studied, such as those of Tintoretto or Veronese in Spain, of Bernini in France, of Botero or Suarez in the western monarchies. But what explains the characteristics of baroque culture is the condition of the societies in the general and particular circumstances as present in seventeenth-century European countries; within those circumstances, we must take into account the relation of religious and political power with the mass of subjects. Therefore, rather than a question of religion, the baroque was a question of the Church, and especially the Catholic Church because of its status as an absolute monarchical power. It is not any less connected with the other monarchies and inevitably with nearby republics that were related to countries of monarchical absolutism, such as Venice or the Low Countries.

When I speak of the baroque, I do so always in general terms; the national connotation that is present in this work serves only to introduce the nuances that vary the panoramic view when the vantage point shifts, although without losing sight of the whole. Saying Spanish baroque is equivalent to saying European baroque seen from Spain. Nowadays, it is possible and perhaps even appropriate to speak of the baroque in one country, while securing the theme within a general context. This geographic and historical consideration is parallel to another of a cultural type. The baroque cannot be abstracted as a period of art, nor even as a period of the history of ideas. It affected and belonged to the total ambit of social history, and every study of the subject matter, although legitimately becoming specialized, must unfold by projecting itself into the entire sphere of culture.

I intend this interpretation of the baroque, which will surely be debated, to be recognized nonetheless as applicable to those European countries in which that culture developed. The materials largely come from Spanish sources, and here I try to relate them to one another, placing them in the perspective of the history of Spain. But I take into account, when possible, diverse data from other countries, especially those most closely related with Spanish history. P. Vilar has written that “the drama of 1600 moves beyond the Spanish ambit and announces that seventeenth century, a severe one for Europe, which is today recognized as the time of a general crisis of society.”{28} Later I shall return to this concept of “general crisis.” The formation and development of baroque culture must be referred to that crisis, which offers a basis for explaining how it affects the whole of Europe. If only because of its peculiar situation and, consequently, the gravity of the characteristics of this crisis, Spain’s part in the history of the baroque and its weight in relation to other countries is manifestly considerable. Therefore I believe that it is important to situate ourselves along the perspective of Spanish history. In few occasions has Spain’s participation in European life played a role as decisive as in the seventeenth century. Its role was negative —using this word conventionally and, in this case, in a nonpejorative sense —because of the particular seriousness that this century’s economic and social crisis reached in Spain, and its role was positive —using this word not in its affirmative sense —because of the efficacy with which baroque expedients [resortes] were manipulated, with the early techniques of mass social operation in the ambit of the Spanish monarchy, in achieving the social and political effects of a conservative character.

I recognize, however, that mass society cannot be spoken of in rigorously socioeconomic terms except within the framework of industrial society. Even at the end of the seventeenth century, nowhere —not even in France after Colbert — is there scarcely a statistical change from the previous phase (except for the initial takeoff of England). In Spain there is not even this, despite the pathetic recommendations of Sancho de Moncada, Martinez de Mata, and Alvarez de Ossorio; economically, this previous stage, corresponding to the conditions that prepare for the takeoff (in Rostow’s terms, which are easily comprehensible today) can barely begin to be recognized during the century. The frequent use of the words manufacture and factory in an industrial sense and not merely traditionally would be a weak indication of what we are saying.{29} Soon we will have to emphasize this point from another perspective. Nevertheless, I have no doubts about applying the expression mass society. Why? The historian has to be aware that between traditional society and mass society, with its increase in population, there is an intermediate position in which society no longer exhibits the signs of its traditional period and offers others that will make possible the later concentration of manual labor and the modern world’s division of labor. Perhaps few things have changed economically, above all in the order of the modes of production; socially, however, changes of greater import can be discerned, changes that may have their origin in the early economic transformations but that far exceed them. It is a society of spreading anonymity. The bonds of neighborhood, kinship, and friendship don’t disappear, but they grow pale and are frequently lacking between those living nearby in the same locality (this is one of the most distinctly reflected phenomena in the picaresque novel). To a great extent, relations exhibit the character of a contract: in terms of houses (rent), workday (salary), clothes (buying and selling), and so forth; and to a considerable degree displacements of population occur (it suffices to think about the growth of cities and the rural exodus, which means that a considerable part of the population does not live and die in their place of birth).{30}

In such a way there appear social connections that are not interindividual, that are not between people known to one another. This alters the modes of behavior: a mass of people who know themselves to be unknown to one another behaves in a different way than a group of individuals who know they can be easily identified. Hence socially this is already a mass society, and at its core it produces that depersonalization that turns humankind into a totality of manual laborers within a mechanical and anonymous svstem of production.


{1} See Lopez Piñero, Introducción de la ciencia moderna en España (Barcelona, 1969); he distinguished periods for the crisis of Spanish historical thought that are close to those established here.
{2} J. Baltrusaitis, Le Moyen Age fantastique (Paris, 1955).
{3} See J. Puig y Cadalfach, Le premier art roman (Paris, 1928).
{4} See my Concepto de España en la Edad Media (Madrid, 1954); examples cited are on pp. 403ff.
{5} See Gomez Moreno, Las iglesias mozárabes, vol. I (Madrid, 1919).
{6} Ossowski, Estructura de clases y consciencia social (Madrid, 1944).
{7} See my Teoria española del Estado en el siglo XVII (Madrid, 1944).
{8} R. Huyghe, “Classicisme et baroque dans la peinture française du XVIIe siècle,” XVIIe Siècle, no. 20 (Paris, 1953).
{9} From Weisbach, Gothein, and many others, to the French translator of my work cited in note 7, who attempted to introduce the thought studied there “dans ses rapports avec l’esprit de la Contre-Reforme.” On the theme of baroque metaphysics and theology, see L. Legaz, Horizontes del pensamiento jurídico (Barcelona, 1947), pp. 93ff.
{10}  Las ideas y las formas (Madrid, n.d.).
{11} Sánchez Cantón, who did not think it inappropriate to broaden the concept to the liberal arts, instead asked for the closest chronological delimitation possible in “El barroco español: Antecedentes y empleo hispánicos de barroco,” in Manierismo, Barocco, Rococo [Convegno Internazionale, Rome, 1960], (Rome, 1962).
{12}  The City in History (New York, 1961), p. 351. Referring to the new epoch, L. Mumford makes this characterization: “The new pattern of existence sprang out of a new economy, that of mercantilist capitalism; a new political framework, mainly that of a centralized despotism or oligarchy, usually embodied in a national state; and a new ideological form, that derived from mechanistic physics, whose underlying postulates had been laid down, long before, in the army and the monastery” (p. 345). This is without a doubt an essential aspect of the question: the utilization of rational and mechanical elements that scientific thought and modern technology allocate for accomplishing magical, extrarational objectives, which in the Baroque was formulated with calculation. This is the epoch’s double perspective that I have been insisting on for many years.
{13}  Baroque et classicisme (Paris, 1957), p. 26.
{14} Joyce G. Simpson, Le Tasse et la littérature et I’art baroques en France (Paris, 1962),p. 112.
{15}  Estudios sobre el barroco (Madrid, 1964), p. 62. The passage comes from the study on “Los estilos generacionales de la epoca: manierismo, barroco, barroquismo.”
{16} Ibid., 106.
{17} P. Francastel, “Baroque et classicisme: histoire ou typologie des civilisations,” Annales: Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations 14, no. 1 (January-May 1951), p. 146. Tapie’s response in the same journal recognizes the large part played by Spain, whose shadow, according to his own words, was cast over the entire book. His subsequent monograph, Le baroque (Paris, 1961), corrected to a certain extent the previous absence, but it didn’t prove satisfactory in terms of his general posing of the question. One can see that Tapie is insufficiently acquainted with Spanish sources.
{18}  Southern Baroque Art (London, 1924) and Spanish Baroque Art (London, 1931).
{19} E. I. Watkin, Catholic Art and Culture (London, 1942).
{20} Hatzfeld, Estudios sobre el barroco. See in particular the article “La misión europea de la España barroca.”
{21} See Gerhardt, “Rembrandt y Spinoza,” Revista de Occidents 23, 1929.
{22} Hatzfeld, Estudios sobre el barroco, pp. 467-68.
{23} On Scholasticism in Spanish mysticism, see A. A. Ortega, Razón teológica y experiencia mística (Madrid, 1944); and Garrigou-Lagrange, “Saint Jean de la Croix,” La Vie Spirituelle, supplement, 1930. For a formulation in terms of the baroque, A. A. Parker, “Calderón, el dramaturgo de la escolástica,” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, nos. 3-4 (1935), 273-85, 393-420.
{24}  Avisos de don Jerónimo de Barrionuevo (see the correspondence on 2 October 1655), BAE, 221, vol. I, p. 199.
{25} Cartas de jesuitas, in MHE, vols. 13-19, published by Gayangos. The quote comes from vol. 13, p. 24.
{26} In chapter 3, we note a curious statement contained in La Pícara Justina that shows that the taste for hagiographies was not as common as has been supposed. The very fact that many of the stories and comedies of saints contain such a great percentage of grotesque realism —think about Santo y sastre, the title of one of Tirso’s comedies, in which hagiography made its appearance at the theater with St. Homobono ascending to the sky with his cross —reveals an undebatable realist erosion of supernatural elements.
{27}  De l’influence du Concile du Trente sur la litterature et les beaux-arts chez les peuples catholiques (Paris, 1884).
{28}  Crescimiento y desarrollo (Barcelona, 1964), p. 438.
{29} González de Celleorigo’s declaration that “every kind of manufacture necessary to the realm” was lacking because the increase in population already represented an incipient consciousness of it (Manual de la política necesaria y útil Restauracion a la República de España [Madrid, 1600]. fols. 12, 2).
{30} I am utilizing Tönnies’ categories, though only approximately.