Juan del Valle y Caviedes: A Study of the Life, Times, and Poetry of a Spanish Colonial Satirist

Juan del Valle y Caviedes: A Study of the Life, Times, and Poetry of a Spanish Colonial Satirist

Juan del Valle y Caviedes: A Study of the Life, Times, and Poetry of a Spanish Colonial Satirist

Juan del Valle y Caviedes: A Study of the Life, Times, and Poetry of a Spanish Colonial Satirist

Excerpt

In the seventeenth century, satirical verse in the Spanish American colonies was dominated by the two foremost poets of the entire colonial period. One of them was the famous Creole poetess of New Spain, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648?-1695), whose poetic inspiration was not primarily satirical, but who cultivated the genre occasionally in the interest of feminism or when motivated to excoriate some particular individual. The other was Juan del Valle y Caviedes (1651?-1697?) , a thoroughly Americanized Spaniard, who lived in Lima during most of the second half of the century and produced a considerable quantity of excellent poetry, including amorous and religious romances, philosophical sonnets, and several dramatic pieces. His truest inspiration, however, was satirical, and although the most frequent target of his invective was the ignorant medical quacks of the time, at whose hands he had experienced some personal discomfort, other objects of his mordacity were many and varied. Like Quevedo, Caviedes was intellectually in advance of his time, and he inveighed against popular superstitions and beliefs, astrological predictions and occult practices. Like the Spanish satirist also, he took special delight in the unmasking of fakes and pretenders, particularly social climbers, religious hypocrites, and prostitutes. Unlike Sor Juana, whose style reveals the baroque spirit and gongoristic influences of the time, Caviedes developed a vigorous and independent manner of his own, and he is considered an important precursor of literary criollismo.

This writer has received only sporadic and, for the most part, superficial attention from students and critics of colonial literature. Some seventeen critical articles on Juan del Valle y Caviedes have appeared during the past century, most of them within the last twenty-five years. Nearly all have been restricted to some particular aspect of the satirist or his works, whether biographical or critical. A

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