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.

5 Francisco de Quevedo: Historia de la vida del Buscón llamado Don Pablos

El volumen 5 de la colección Clásicos Castellanos se dedicó a la obra de Francisco de QuevedoHistoria de la vida del Buscón llamado Don Pablos, ejemplo de vagamundos y espejo de tacaños, edición y notas de Américo Castro.

Su lectura online puede hacerse en este enlace a la primera edición publicada en 1911:

 La vida del Buscón

Dice don Américo: «Esta edición va hecha conforme a la de Zaragoza, 1626; en caso de error o de dificultad en el texto me he servido para corregir o comparar el texto de los de Zaragoza, 1628; Lisboa, 1630, y Barcelona, 1626. La ortografía es la del texto original en todos los casos en que parece relacionarse con la pronunciación; no se me oculta lo arriesgado de este procedimiento, tanto más cuanto que ciertas formas merecerían un estudio especial; pero el vulgarizar, por razones diversas, no tolera la precisión científica.

Las abreviaturas Covarrubias y Dicc. Aut. en las notas, significan, respectivamente, el Tesoro de la Lengua Castellana, 1611, y el Primer Diccionario de la Academia de la Lengua, 1637.

En varias dudas sobre interpretación del texto recurrí al mucho saber del Sr. D. Francisco Rodríguez Marín, y públicamente le muestro mi reconocimiento.»

Dado el interés que tiene la consulta de los diccionarios para la lectura de los Clásicos Castellanos, conviene hacer un comentario sobre las dos últimas referencias del párrafo anterior:

El diccionario de Covarrubias o Tesoro de la Lengua Castellana, 1611, puede consultarse en este enlace:

Tesoro Covarrubias

La referencia al Primer Diccionario de la Academia de la Lengua, 1637, todavía no he podido saber a qué se refiere. Puesto que se trata de la abreviatura Dicc. Aut., es decir, Diccionario de Autoridades, debe tratarse de una errata en la fecha, puesto que su publicación data de 1726. En efecto, el primer diccionario de la Real Academia Española, el llamado Diccionario de autoridades se publicó entre 1726 y 1739. El diccionario de la lengua española o Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (DRAE), comienza su repertorio en 1780, con la aparición —en un solo tomo para facilitar su consulta— de una nueva versión, sin citas de autores, de aquél primer diccionario de la institución. El de 1780 fue, por tanto, el precedente de la serie de diccionarios usuales que llega hasta hoy.

Actualmente, contamos además con otras herramientas online, publicadas por la Real Academia Española, que nos pueden servir de gran ayuda:

Mapa de diccionarios: esta herramienta permite, por el momento, consultar simultáneamente seis ediciones representativas del diccionario académico: 1780, 1817, 1884, 1925, 1992 y 2001. Su finalidad radica en ofrecer una visión evolutiva del léxico moderno, matizada por la idea que se hacían de él los académicos a lo largo de los casi trescientos años en que se suceden las ediciones de estos diccionarios. Se aspira a introducir, en el futuro, las demás ediciones del diccionario académico, incorporando además un enlace con los materiales del Fichero de enmiendas y adiciones de la Real Academia Española y con otros externos surgidos como comentarios, críticas o reseñas al DRAE.

Nuevo tesoro lexicográfico de la lengua española (NTLLE): es un diccionario de diccionarios, un diccionario que contiene todo el léxico de la lengua española desde el siglo xv hasta el xx, tal y como es recogido, sistematizado, definido e inventariado por los más importantes repertorios lexicográficos, sean monolingües o bilingües, dedicados a la lengua española. De este modo, el NTLLE ofrece al interesado la posibilidad de tener juntos y reunidos cerca de 70 diccionarios que ninguna biblioteca en el mundo está en condiciones de custodiar de forma conjunta, al tiempo que permite buscar de una sola vez, a través de una única operación de consulta, una o varias palabras de forma simultánea en la totalidad de los diccionarios que lo integran. El NTLLE reúne una amplia selección de las obras que durante los últimos quinientos años han recogido, definido y consolidado el patrimonio léxico de nuestro idioma. Contiene, dentro de un entorno informático de consulta, los facsímiles digitales de las obras lexicográficas de Antonio de Nebrija, fray Pedro de Alcalá, Sebastián de Covarrubias, Francisco del Rosal, César Oudin, Esteban Terreros, Ramón Joaquín Domínguez, Vicente Salvá, Elías Zerolo, Aniceto de Pagés, etc., además de toda la lexicografía académica, desde el Diccionario de autoridades hasta la 21.ª edición del Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, pasando por las diversas ediciones del Diccionario manual e ilustrado y lo publicado del Diccionario histórico de 1933-1936.

Nuevo diccionario histórico del español (NDHE): proyecto vinculado al Instituto de Investigación Rafael Lapesa, pretende presentar de modo organizado la evolución del léxico español a lo largo del tiempo. Su director es el académico José Antonio Pascual. El objetivo fundamental del NDHE consiste en ofrecer a los filólogos, y al público en general, aquella información relevante sobre la historia de las palabras que les permita interpretar los textos del pasado. Para ello se dará cuenta de la evolución de los significados de las palabras e incluso de los usos lingüísticos accidentales de una época determinada. Para cumplir este fin básico, el NDHE se basará en los métodos de la lingüística, la filología y la informática. El hecho de que esta obra se conciba como un diccionario electrónico permite presentar la evolución de las unidades léxicas teniendo en cuenta las relaciones (genéticas, morfológicas, semánticas, etc.) que estas mantienen entre sí, de forma que se sitúe la evolución de las palabras dentro de la red de conexiones establecidas entre ellas.

En relación con la obra de Quevedo aquí presentada, recomiendo la Introducción a ‘El Buscón’ de Ignacio Arellano.

2 Tirso de Molina: El vergonzoso en palacio y El burlador de Sevilla

El segundo título de la colección Clásicos Castellanos se dedicó a dos piezas de teatro de Tirso de Molina, con prólogo, introducción y notas de Américo Castro:
  • El vergonzoso en palacio
  • El burlador de Sevilla

Su lectura online puede hacerse en este enlace a la segunda edición publicada en 1922:

 Teatro Tirso de Molina

La introducción de la obra, dedicada a Ortega y Gasset por Américo Castro, contiene un brillante análisis de la comedia clásica, incluyendo una escueta pero incisiva comparación entre las comedias inglesa, francesa y española del siglo XVII.

Para completar el estudio de Américo Castro, él mismo recomienda el prólogo al volumen 39 de la colección Clásicos Castellanos, escrito por Gómez Ocerín y Tenreiro.

Sobre Tirso, recomiendo la lectura de El ingenio cómico de Tirso de Molina: actas del II Congreso Internacional sobre Tirso de Molina (Pamplona, 27-29 de Abril de 1998), edición de I. Arellano, B. Oteiza y M. Zugasti.

Colección Clásicos Castellanos

Desde finales del siglo XIX hasta los años treinta del siglo XX, el panorama editorial que presentaba Madrid experimentaba un importante y considerable auge. Ello fue debido, en parte, a la acción modernizadora de la Institución Libre de Enseñanza y la Junta para Ampliación de Estudios, y de ésta el Centro de Estudios Históricos que, presidido por Ramón Menéndez Pidal, emprendía aventuras editoriales basada en el rigor científico.

De entre los muchos proyectos editoriales emanados del Centro de Estudios Históricos, hoy vamos a tratar de la colección Clásicos Castellanos. Se trata de ediciones de obras de la Literatura española, publicadas entre 1910 y 1935, realizadas con la metodología y el rigor filológico del Centro de Estudios Históricos, puesto que los responsables de estas ediciones son eminentes filólogos formados en este organismo institucionista y colaboradores asiduos de éste. No en vano, la escuela pidalina forma filólogos que son al mismo tiempo historiadores y críticos literarios.

El proyecto fue comenzado por dos discípulos de Menéndez Pidal, considerados como la mano izquierda y derecha del maestro: Américo Castro y Tomás Navarro Tomás. Ambos tuvieron como propósito iniciar una importante empresa editorial: la creación de una «biblioteca» de textos clásicos españoles, publicándolos según el criterio y rigor filológico aprendido directamente del magisterio de Menéndez Pidal.

La editorial desde la cual se iba a publicar esta colección estaría respaldada por una empresa ya consolidada, la publicación hemerográfica La Lectura (Revista de Ciencias y de Artes) (1901-1920), tribuna de opinión de un determinado sector de jóvenes liberales y para-institucionalistas desde cuyas páginas expresaban sus ideas sobre cuestiones de reciente actualidad. Fue su director el gijonés Francisco Acebal (1866-1933), hombre formado en la Institución Libre de Enseñanza en la que se distinguió como uno de los más talentosos y entusiastas continuadores; por su constante relación con Giner de los Ríos, y particularmente con José Castillejo, colaboró con asiduidad en la Junta para Ampliación de Estudios, en la que desempeñó el cargo de vicesecretario. Los jefes de redacción de La Lectura fueron el diplomático Julián Juderías, de 1913 a 1917, y el pedagogo Domingo Barnés, de 1918 a 1920, miembro de la denominada «segunda promoción» de institucionistas o también «hijos de Giner». El proyecto de La Lectura quedaba enmarcada por dos ambiciosas empresas culturales, la predecesora La España Moderna (1889-1914) y por la Revista de Occidente (1923); las tres tras crear, primera- mente, una revista, generaron de forma dependiente de ésta una editorial.

En palabras del propio Tomás Navarro Tomás: ‘El plan era que Castro y yo, que aún no habíamos hecho oposiciones ni ganado plaza, nos dedicáramos plenamente a ir dando cada uno dos o tres volúmenes anuales para la colección. La idea respecto a la selección de obras y autores, tipo de comentario en notas y prólogos y hasta tamaño de libro y clase de papel se fue madurando en las reuniones nocturnas que celebrábamos con Acebal, en su casa de la calle de Lista cerca del paseo de la Castellana, Felipe Clemente de Velasco que era el propietario de La Lectura, Américo Castro y yo’.

Impresos en papel pluma, los libros ofrecían una estimable combinación de erudición filológica y divulgación textual. Este empeño editorial se anunciaba en una hoja suelta, un boletín informativo, en el que se detallaban los propósitos de esta «biblioteca» de obras clásicas de la Literatura española: ‘mediante ediciones de moderna traza que sumen estos tres esenciales elementos: perfección técnica, esmero material y extraordinaria baratura’.

Al emprender esta publicación se proponían no sólo difundir nuestra riqueza literaria en volúmenes de formato moderno, como ya era usual y corriente en países como Francia, Inglaterra, Alemania o Italia; sino que estos textos se convirtieran en ediciones claras, correctas, con una precisión y conciencia filológicas. Era la explicación y «praxis» de los objetivos aprendidos por una generación en el Centro de Estudios Históricos alrededor de don Ramón Menéndez Pidal. La novedad que presentaba esta colección de Clásicos Castellanos consistía más en la forma de realizar el trabajo (fijación del texto, anotaciones e introducciones) que en el hecho de publicar determinadas obras. En el citado boletín de información se expresa la declaración de principios editoriales y de propósitos filológicos:

LOS TEXTOS de nuestra Biblioteca será reproducción de ediciones princeps y, siempre que sea posible, de los manuscritos originales, inspirándose, en lo que concierne a la ortografía de los autores más antiguos, en un escrupuloso criterio que armonice el respeto debido a las últimas investigaciones críticas y filológicas con la facilidad y aún la conformidad de la lectura para todos.

LAS NOTAS puestas al pie de cada página tienden a aclarar, con la parquedad y sencillez posible, las dificultades de mayor bulto que ofrezca el texto. Se servirán estas Notas de ejemplos sacados del vocabulario del mismo autor, o de un autor del mismo tiempo, para comentar filológica o literalmente el pasaje difícil o la frase obscura. En otro caso se recurrirá a la explicación meramente histórica.

LAS INTRODUCCIONES que acompañarán a cada obra han de estar asimismo encaminadas a la difusión de nuestras joyas literarias y comprenderán, por consiguiente, con mucha sobriedad, las más esenciales noticias sobre la vida y las obras de cada autor. En los casos en que el interés de los problemas suscitados lo aconsejara o lo impusiera, la Introducción será, no sólo el esbozo bibliográfico, sino, además, estudio de la significación del autor, o de la obra, considerados en relación con su tiempo.

La sucesiva publicación de obras clásicas, iniciada por Tomás Navarro Tomás y Américo Castro, comportó por cuestiones profesionales y personales de éstos la colaboración de otros filólogos formados directamente por Menendez Pidal o dependientes de otras secciones del Centro: el propio don Ramón, Federico de Onís, el escritor director teatral Cipriano de Rivas Cherif, Vicente García de Diego, el dialectólogo Matías Martínez de Burgos, Gómez Ocerín, Samuel Gilí Gaya, valioso colaborador de Navarro Tomás, el tempranamente malogrado por la muerte Antonio García Solalinde, José Moreno Villa poeta y creador y colaborador en la sección de Arqueología, Pedro Salinas poeta-profe- sor, el investigador literario José Fernández Montesinos, Manuel Azaña futuro presidente de la Segunda República Española.

A esta nómina se fueron añadiendo, por la necesidad imperativa que tenía la editorial de seguir con la publicación de los anunciados títulos «en preparación», una serie de figuras del mundo literario español e hispanoamericano, eruditos de diversa formación investigadora, críticos, historiadores y profesores extranjeros que continuaron sui generis la colección de Clásicos Castellanos: Víctor Said Armesto, Narciso Alonso Cortés, Federico Ruíz Morcuende, Ramón M. Tenreiro, José R. Lomba y Pedraja, J. Domínguez Bordona, José M. Salaverría, Francisco Rodríguez Marín, que aportaba la apostilla prestigiosa «de la Real Academia Española», el jesuíta secularizado Julio Cejador y Frauca, Agustín Millares Cario, paleógrafo, el erudito Pedro Sáinz Rodríguez, el historiador Ángel Valbuena Prat, Agustín Cortina, profesor argentino, el escritor mejicano Alfonso Reyes, el presbítero José M. Aguado y el agustino P. Félix García. Ello comportó, además, una nueva idea de «obra clásica», ya que por tal no solamente eran considerados los textos de la época medieval, los de los Siglos de Oro y los del período ilustrado de nuestra literatura, sino que a lo largo de los ciento cinco volúmenes publicados, progresivamente y sin muestra de ruptura, bajo esta concepción nueva fueron apareciendo obras del período final del Romanticismo y de la época última del siglo xx, de autores contemporáneos ya consagrados, ya «clásicos».

El texto anterior está extractado de ‘PROPÓSITOS FILOLÓGICOS DE LA COLECCIÓN CLÁSICOS CASTELLANOS DE LA EDITORIAL LA LECTURA (1910-1935)‘, Antonio Marco García, Universidad de Barcelona, ponencia en el X Congreso de la Asociación Internacional de Hispanistas (Barcelona, agosto de 1989).

Puede verse una ‘Biografía de La Lectura (1901-1920)‘ de Luis S. Granjel, en el número 272, páginas 306-314, de Febrero de 1973 de la revista Cuadernos Hispanoamericanos.

Enlace a la Colección Clásicos Castellanos 50.

Bibliofilia digital: La Dorotea, Lope de vega

Bibliofilia digital: La Dorotea, Lope de vega
Creo no equivocarme al decir que la mayor compilación de textos clásicos españoles se encuentra en Este maravilloso corpus, procedente mayoritariamente de universidades de Estados Unidos y Canadá, nos permite, por fin, acceder desde cualquier ordenador a los textos que, hasta hace muy poco, solamente se podían consultar en bibliotecas y tiendas de bibliófilos.
Así como en Internet existen múltiples estudios y artículos de distinguidos eruditos que analizan los textos de nuestros clásicos, sigue siendo asignatura pendiente poder acceder a las ediciones de los textos en sí.
Para aportar un granito de arena a la labor de facilitar el acceso a los textos, comenzaré una serie de artículos con enlaces a los textos de las obras. Este primer artículo presenta una obra de Lope de Vega: La Dorotea (1620), para algunos la principal producción literaria del Fénix.
La edición disponible para su lectura en es de 1913. Está realizada por Américo Castro (1885-1972) para la Biblioteca Renacimiento, colección Obras Maestras de la Literatura Universal y reproduce exactamente la edición príncipe de 1632.
Esta edición de Américo Castro apenas incluye un breve estudio de cinco páginas de la obra, si bien es fácil encontrar en Internet amplios trabajos y referencias a La Dorotea, a los cuales me remito.
Leer online en
Una de las ediciones críticas más importantes de La Dorotea, se debe al hispanista estadounidense Edwin S. Morby (1909-1985) publicada por Editorial Castalia en 1958, 1968, 1980, 2001, lo cual da muestra de su interés tanto para estudiosos como aficionados en general. Fruto de ocho años de trabajo, Morby recrea la vida y la época que crearon La Dorotea ayudándonos, de manera excepcional, a superar las dificultades y oscuridades de esta obra maestra.
Aunque no la he podido encontrar todavía en versión online en Internet, está disponible en librerías y tiendas en la red. Del mismo autor puede verse también su edición crítica de La Arcadia, de Lope de Vega.
Hasta aquí lo más importante, la obra de Lope. Añadiremos que, como muchos lectores interesados conocerán bien, las alusiones biográficas son continuas a lo largo de toda la obra, especialmente a dos de sus grandes amores, sus amantes Elena Osorio, en su juventud, y Marta de Nevares, su último gran amor.
Los amores con Elena Osorio acaban con el destierro de Lope y, sobretodo, con su desprestigio social ante la hipócrita sociedad española del siglo XVI. 
La historia de los amores entre Marta de Nevares, casada cuando apenas tenía 13 años de edad, y Lope, ordenado sacerdote en 1614, es trágica: en 1617 habían tenido una hija, Marta quedó viuda en 1620, quedó ciega hacia 1622, padeció ataques de locura desde entonces y en 1632, el mismo año que se publicó La Dorotea, falleció en el domicilio que compartían en Madrid. Lope vivió hasta 1635 y su etapa más productiva coincidió precisamente con el periodo de tiempo que vivió con Marta.
Sin embargo, por muy novelesca que sea la propia vida de Lope, y por muy autobiográfica que pueda ser La Dorotea, no debemos perder de vista que estamos ante una obra maestra que transciende todos estos pormenores y que, si bien son esenciales para comprender la construcción de la obra, también es esencial entender que sólo los grandes genios hacen que el arte transcienda la realidad, como es el caso.
La Dorotea tiene algunas de las poesías más populares de Lope. Baste con un par de ejemplos. En el acto I, escena tercera, canta Fernando:
Fernando. A mis soledades voy,
de mis soledades vengo,
porque para andar conmigo,
me bastan mis pensamientos.
El acto III incluye los cuatro romances de las barquillas, que fueron muy populares durante siglos y, aún en los años 20 del siglo pasado, solían ser aprendidos de memoria. El más conocido era el tercer romance que canta Fernando en la escena séptima de dicho acto III y que empieza así:
Fernando. Pobre barquilla mía,
entre peñascos rota,
sin velas desvelada,
y entre las olas sola.
Uno de los detalles que más llaman la atención sobre los romances de las barquillas es el siguiente: Marta de Nevares muere en abril de 1632 y en mayo de ese mismo año La Dorotea ya ha sido aprobada por el censor. Es decir, el acto III incluye cuatro romances, supuestamente referidos a Marta/Amarilis, que, por lo tanto, fueron escritos e incorporados al libro en apenas un mes desde su fallecimiento. Todo un prodigio que, modestamente, no alcanzo a explicar.
Si algún improbable lector de este blog quiere continuar estas pistas y seguir rastreando información de la vida y obra de Lope de Vega, le auguro muchos y muy entretenidos momentos de disfrute.