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The romances of Federico García Lorca are among the finest literary creations in Spanish

Don Quixote, is perhaps the best known Spanish book with Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), who wrote it, perhaps the best known Spanish writer abroad.

Published during the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of Spanish Literature (sixteenth and seventeenth century), it is one of the most translated books in history.

The Golden Age, beginning with the publication of Antonio de Nebrija’s Spanish Grammar’ (1492) and ending with the death of Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1681), also witnessed the release of The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes, and of his Fortunes and Adversities (anonymous, 1554), founding the genre of the picaresque novel and mirroring the Castilian Spanish vernacular of the Renaissance.

A little earlier, in 1499, Fernando de Rojas published La Celestina, or Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea. A blend of novel and play, this work marks the end of Medieval literature and the beginning of the Renaissance in Spanish.

It has been extremely popular since it was first published, having been read and staged by generations in Spain Latin America. In fact, we owe to Fernando de Rojas the archetype of the procuress, precisely called ‘celestina’ in Spanish after the unforgettable character in his work.

Playwrights Lope de Vega and Calderón de la Barca revolutionised the Spanish theatrical scene in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Prolific and skilled, they wrote lots of plays, some – like Fuenteovejuna or La vida es sueño (Life Is a Dream) – still much staged in the Spanish-speaking world and beyond.

Francisco de Quevedo also wrote a picaresque novel, Historia de la vida del Buscón llamado don Pablos (The Life of Paul the Scavenger), as well as some of the finest metaphysical poetry and political satire. His arch-rival in literature, Luis de Góngora, author of the Fable of Polyphemus and Galatea, is the other major representative of the Spanish Baroque, whose influence can be felt in modern poets like the members of the so-called ‘Generation of 1927′.

Nineteenth-century Romanticism is best illustrated by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, whose Rhymes and Legends influenced late nineteenth-century writers like Juan Ramón Jiménez. A member of the ‘Generation of 1989′, the author of Platero and I (the popular novel about a little donkey), was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1956.

The writers in the Generation of 1927 included Federico García Lorca, whose romances – Romancero Gitano (Gypsy Ballads) – and plays – Blood Wedding, Yerma, Bernarda Alba – are among the finest literary creations in Spanish.


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