GONGORA Y ARGOTE, Luis de

(1561-1627)
Luis de Goíngora y Argote was known as the poet of light and dark because of his contradictory, bizarre, and richly metaphorical style of poetry called cul­teranismo. This style was highly admired by a group of Spanish surrealist poets in the 1920s that included Federico García Lorca; they named themselves the "Generation of 1927," a year chosen to mark Gongora's death three hundred years earlier.
Born to a prominent family in Coírdoba, Spain, Goíngora grew up with a voluminous library at his disposal. However, he never finished his formal studies at the University of Salamanca, where he had entered and had begun to write poetry at the age of fifteen. A gentleman poet, he shunned the printing press and never took his work to be published. Nevertheless, by the time he was nineteen, some of his work had found its way into print, and his fame was on the rise. Several years later his friend Pedro Espinosa published a series of his poems in a 1605 miscellany entitled Flowers ofIllustrious Poets, presumably without Gongora's permission. But it was not until 1610 that Gongora began to write his more ambitious poems, notably the Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea and Solitudes. In the literary salons he frequented, parts of these poems were circulated and read.
Although Gongora usually circulated his poetry in manuscript, he was pre­paring it for print when he died. Only thirty-seven works were published in scattered collections in the course of his lifetime. Immediately after his death, his poems were published by Lopez de Vicuna and subsequently by a long series of publishers who were not very scrupulous in separating Gongora's poetry from others' poems that had gotten mixed in with the manuscripts he had circulated. But it was not until the twentieth century that a more accurate edition appeared, called Chacon.Gongora is best known for his earlier stage of writing, which was one of extravagance, obscurity, and unintelligibility. At this stage his style became known as culteranismo: full of arcane diction and twisted syntax. It is a heightening of the Renaissance style that hearkens back to antiquity and in­cludes the excessive use of Latin-based words and archaic syntax and metaphors. Gongorismo is an extreme and personal development of culteranismo. It is pro­foundly difficult to read in Spanish and immeasurably troublesome to translate into other languages. It is musical and intense, colorful and sumptuous, almost surreal. Hence Gongora's poetry influenced poets such as Lorca three hundred years later. Two of the seventeenth-century writers who were most influenced by Goíngora were Baltasar Graciaín and Sor Juana Ineís de la Cruz.
Bibliography
J. Beverly, Aspects of Gongora's Soledades, 1980.
M. Woods, Gracian Meets Gongora: The Theory and Practice of Wit, 1995.
Ana Kothe

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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