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6 Pages

Quevedo Against “Culteranismo”: A Note on Politics and Morality

ByElias L. Rivers

The attacks and defenses associated with Góngora’s “new poetry” began in 1613, as soon as the manuscripts of the Polifemo and the Primera Soledad had reached Madrid. In his catalogue of polemical texts, however, Jammes lists 38 different items before reaching Quevedo’s first documented intervention (676): his witty Aguja de navegar cultos, con la receta para hacer “Soledades” en un día, written in 1625 and published in 1631. Jammes adds this comment: “Merece quizás reflexión el carácter tardío de la aparición de Quevedo en esta palestra.” It seems that Quevedo was disturbed not so much by Góngora’s own major poems as by the fact that ten years later, about the time of Góngora’s death, the high new style was being explicated by scholars and widely imitated by many other poets; he saw this dominant literary vogue as yet another component in the moral, social, and cultural corruption of his country. Shortly after 1625 we find similar parodic and burlesque treatments of “culteranismo” in his Discurso de todos los diablos, o infierno enmendado, written in 1627 and published in 1628, and in his La culta latiniparla, catecismo, de vocablos para instruir a las mujeres cultas y hembrilatinas (1629). But in these satirical pieces, full of wit and sarcastic humor, Quevedo, as Jammes remarks (684), hardly mentions Góngora by name or uses such words as “gongorizar” or “gongorismo”; Jammes (676–77) furthermore questions the authenticity of several poems attacking Góngora more personally.