chapter  3
47 Pages

A Discourse on Wealth in Golden Age Literature

ByFrancisco J. Sánchez

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Spain there emerged a literary discourse that describes human relations in terms of wealth. This chapter shows representative works the way in which literature reflected of a self constituted by a mercantile structure of values, the means of realizing the transition from traditional morality into a practical activity toward economic gains. The double meaning of irony is the double meaning of hypocrisy, mercantile morality, and self-deception. The elaboration of a self under a mercantile structure of values is, then, the first level of the autonomy of literature, through which a proper literary culture emerges. The poor man makes his appearence in the middle of a culture that states either the poor are a threat or a natural consequence of the social order. Gonzalez de Cellorigo is criticizing the excessive value people place on "honra"—honor—and the low social esteem given to work, specifically agricultural work and commerce.