The Orphic voice in Garcilaso de la Vega, Quevedo and Bocangel

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Vital to a complete understanding of the love lyric of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish poets is an awareness of the double context within which these poets worked: that of an emerging vernacular humanism and a developing struggle for national self-definition. Although poetic activity in Renaissance Spain took place against the backdrop of an established indigenous tradition, Spaniards felt dwarfed by the literary achievements of the first Italian humanists and found in Italy both a principal contemporary rival and model. Taking the lead from the Italians, individual Spanish poets staked their collective nationalistic claim to the intellectual inheritance of the past. This growing national consciousness led to the creation of a vernacular canon which in turn set the parameters of poetic aspiration. For the erudite Spanish poet of the Renaissance, "successful" poetic creation meant inscription into a tradition of canonic texts which reached back beyond the work of their vernacular predecessors to include implicitly writers of classical antiquity. The "new poets" of the Renaissance found in ancient Rome exemplary models essential to the formulation of their modem poetics. However, the Spanish poets’ rediscovery and re-casting of the ancients was firmly rooted in an awareness not only of the contingency of their own period, but in a strong belief in a poetic continuum which would have implications for the future.

It will be the aim of this study to demonstrate that the achievement of canonical status was synonymous with a desire for poetic immortality, and to reveal, through close textual analysis, how this preoccupation with immortalising art often manifests itself in terms of the assumption or denial of Orphic authority. The three lyric poets whom I have chosen as representative of their era are Garcilaso de la Vega (1501-1536), Francisco de Quevedo (1580-1645) and Gabriel Bocangel (1603-1658).
Date of AwardDec 1994
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorMichael McGann (Supervisor), Estelle Haan (Supervisor) & Anna Wilson (Supervisor)

Cite this