Pascual de Gayangos: A Nineteenth-Century Spanish Arabist

By Cristina Álvarez Millán; Claudia Heide | Go to book overview

7
Más ven cuatro ojos que dos:
Gayangos and Anglo-American Hispanism

Claudia Heide

Any researcher interested in the interpretation of Spain in the nineteenth century will automatically come across the name ‘Gayangos’, which is scattered throughout the books and papers of British and American writers. Comments on both his generosity and his knowledge of Spanish culture abound. He was described by some as ‘among the most eminent scholars now living’, and a ‘rare literary Samaritan to all those interested in … Spain’.1 His death, in 1897, was perceived as ‘a very serious loss to Anglo-Spanish literature and bibliography’. A methodical search through the papers of nineteenth-century authors confirms that all those writers who created British-American Hispanism depended on Gayangos’s collaboration. The pioneering essay of 1959 by Gardiner (re-printed in this volume) analysed Gayangos’s working relationship with one of America’s most successful historians of all times: W. H. Prescott. Gardiner concluded that Gayangos was Prescott’s most indispensable aid. The present essay is a continuation of Gardiner’s analysis. It offers a synoptic account of Gayangos’s contributions to three of Prescott’s peers: George Ticknor, Richard Ford and William Stirling. It will be argued that Gayangos played a decisive role in assuring the success of their work by selecting and providing them with material and intellectual guidance. Hence orthodox views of historiography, which attribute the progress of Spanish studies in the English-speaking world to a number of Anglo-American authors, are challenged here.


GAYANGOS AND TICKNOR’S HISTORY OF SPANISH LITERATURE

We shall first consider Gayangos’s relationship with George Ticknor and his contributions to the latter’s History of Spanish Literature, a landmark in the studies of Iberian literature. Published in 1849, it superseded everything that had been done before by European scholars. The first narrative exclusively dedicated to Spanish literature from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century, Ticknor’s History represented the foundation stone of all subsequent work on Spanish literature. It went through four nineteenth-century

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