García López, Jorge, Eugenia Fosalba, and Gonzalo Pontón. Historia de la literatura española. 2 La conquista del clasicismo, 1500-1598. Madrid: Crítica, 2013. pp 804. ISBN: 9788498926217.

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García   López,   Jorge,   Eugenia   Fosalba,   and   Gonzalo   Pontón.   Historia  de  la  literatura   española.   2   La   conquista   del   clasicismo,   1500-­‐1598.   Madrid:   Crítica,   2013.   pp   804.   ISBN:  9788498926217.     At   least   three   reasons   come   to   mind   when   I   think   about   why   I   enjoyed   reading  this  new  history  of  sixteenth-­‐century  Spanish  literature.  First,  the  structure   of   the   book   proves,   as   we   shall   see,   that   the   authors   were   very   consistent   in   their   emphasis   on   the   relations   between   early   modern   literature,   markets,   politics,   and   ideology.   The   closing   section   of   the   volume   contains   meaningful   excerpts   of   historical   documents   and   works   of   literature   that   prove   many   of   the   points   made   throughout  the  book.   Lastly,  but  certainly  not  least  important,  is  the  inclusion  of  a   great   bibliography,   reflecting   many   scholars’   points   of   view   from   academic   environments  beyond  Spain.       After  the  prologue  to  the  collection,  and  the  introduction  to  the  volume,  there   is   a   strategic   explanation   of   the   interrelation   of   European   and   Peninsular   humanisms,   the   religious   changes   in   the   continent   and   Iberia,   the   presence   and   influence   of   the   scientific   revolution,   and   the   evolution   of   political   theories.   This   overview   takes   place   in   the   first   part   of   the   book   entitled   “Intellectual   Currents   of   the   Sixteenth   Century”   by   Jorge   García   López   (15-­‐102).   Thought,   religion,   science,   and  politics  form  part  of  the  explanatory  framework  throughout  the  book  to  present   the  connections  between  new  literary  genres  and  new  social  realities,  and  the  ways   in  which  culture  was  experienced,  produced,  and  consumed.       Some   positive   consequences   of   this   social   approach   become   explicit   in   the   second   part   of   the   book   “Esthetic   enquiries   and   historical   borderlines”   by   Jorge   García  López  (103-­‐90),  such  as  the  inclusion  of  chapters  on  “Soldiers  and  Pirates,”   “Explorers   and   Conquerors:   the   New   World,”   “The   Woman   in   the   Renaissance   Culture,”   and   “Heretics,   beatas   and   wiches.”   In   a   way   these   chapters,   although   sometimes  insufficient,  represent  part  of  the  vast  criticism  pointing  at  decentering   the   Golden-­‐Age   construct   and   opening   windows   to   the   tremendously   complex   realities  of  one  of  the  global  political  conglomerates  of  the  16th  century—the  others   being   the   Ottoman,   Safavid,   Mughal,   Ming,   and   Portuguese   political   entities.   The   authors  present  16th-­‐century  literature  in  Spain  as  a  dynamic  process  of  assimilation   of   the   Greek   and   Roman   classics,   and   the   humanist   and   Italian   uses   of   these   new   must-­‐read  authors  (155).  Of  remarkable  interest  is  their  reflection  on  the  material   world  of  cultural  products.  There  is  pertinent  thought  on  the  economic  necessities   of  the  writers  (146-­‐52),  on  print,  war  technology,  state  administration  (118-­‐27,  170-­‐ 83),   vernacular   linguistic   politics   (162-­‐65),   educational   curricula   (165-­‐70),   and   women  and  cultural  artifacts  as  characters,  consumers,  and  writers  (183-­‐87).     Without  neglecting  the  social  and  cultural  approach  of  the  first  two  parts,  the   third   section   of   the   book,   “Genres,   Authors,   and   Works,”   brings   the   importance   of   literary   genre   to   the   fore.   The   four   hundred   and   fifty   pages   of   this   section   are   distributed   in   four   subsections:   essay   (191-­‐280),   prose   (281-­‐336),   poetry   by   Eugenia  Fosalba  (337-­‐510),  and  theater  by  Gonzalo  Pontón  (511-­‐640).  The  four  sub-­‐

sections  are  articulated  in  a  perfect  way  to  show  the  connections  between  literature,   society,   history,   and   the   book   market.   Furthermore,   the   inclusion   of   constant   references   to   original   documents   makes   this   volume   a   pedagogical   tool   for   students   and   professors   at   the   university   level.   Specialists   on   early   modern   literature   and   culture   will   find   this   new   history   of   the   Renaissance   literature   in   Spain   quite   refreshing  and  compelling.       Furthermore,   in   the   closing   section   of   the   volume,   comes   perhaps   the   most   solid   proof   of   the   collection’s   commitment   to   make   a   groundbreaking   history   of   Spanish  literature.  In  the  “Supporting  texts”  section,  nearly  one  hundred  and  thirty   pages  of  excerpts  from  historical  documents  and  literary  sources  are  made  available   to  the  reader.  The  curious  student  can  profit  from  the  calls  embedded  in  the  volume   to  go  from  the  text  to  the  documents  at  the  end.     The   achievements   of   this   new   history   of   the   Spanish   literature   in   the   sixteenth  century  are  numerous  and  they  serve  as  a  guide  for  future  works  in  this   genre.   For   instance,   a   more   explicit   discussion   about   the   selection   of   the   different   critical  approaches  to  Spanish  early  modern  literature  in  the  USA,  Europe,  and  Latin   America  would  have  been  enormously  enriching  for  the  reader.  Besides  this  remark,   I   highly   recommend   this   book   since   it   provides   a   sound   and   clear   perspective   of   the   complexities  of  our  literature  during  the  sixteenth  century,  with  an  emphasis  on  the   social  and  dynamic  nature  of  the  arts.                    

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