Baltasar Gracián

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Baltasar Gracián
Gracian Graus.jpg
Baltasar Gracián
Born(1601-01-08)8 January 1601
Died6 December 1658(1658-12-06) (aged 57)
Tarazona, Aragon, Spain
Era 17th-century philosophy
RegionWestern Philosophy
School Christian philosophy
Main interests
Power, politics, strategy, moral philosophy

Baltasar Gracián y Morales, SJ (Spanish pronunciation:  [baltaˈsaɾ ɣɾaˈθjan] ; 8 January 1601 6 December 1658), better known as Baltasar Gracián, was a Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher. He was born in Belmonte, near Calatayud (Aragon). His writings were lauded by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.

Society of Jesus male religious congregation of the Catholic Church

The Society of Jesus is a scholarly religious congregation of the Catholic Church headquartered in Rome and founded by Ignatius of Loyola with the approval of Pope Paul III in 1540. The members are called Jesuits. The society is engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations. Jesuits work in education, intellectual research, and cultural pursuits. Jesuits also give retreats, minister in hospitals and parishes, sponsor direct social ministries, and promote ecumenical dialogue.

Spain Kingdom in Southwest Europe

Spain, officially the Kingdom of Spain, is a country mostly located in Europe. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.

Spanish Baroque literature is the literature written in Spain during the Baroque, which occurred during the 17th century.

Contents

Biography

The son of a doctor, in his childhood Gracián lived with his uncle, who was a priest. He studied at a Jesuit school in 1621 and 1623 and theology in Zaragoza. He was ordained in 1627 and took his final vows in 1635.

Priest person authorized to lead the sacred rituals of a religion (for a minister use Q1423891)

A priest or priestess is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.

Theology Study of the nature of deities and religious belief

Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also especially with epistemology, and asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.

He assumed the vows of the Jesuits in 1633 and dedicated himself to teaching in various Jesuit schools. He spent time in Huesca, where he befriended the local scholar Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa, who helped him achieve an important milestone in his intellectual upbringing. He acquired fame as a preacher, although some of his oratorical displays, such as reading a letter sent from Hell from the pulpit, were frowned upon by his superiors. He was named Rector of the Jesuit College of Tarragona and wrote works proposing models for courtly conduct such as El héroe (The Hero), El político (The Politician), and El discreto (The Discreet One). During the Spanish war with Catalonia and France, he was chaplain of the army that liberated Lleida in 1646.

Huesca Municipality in Aragon, Spain

Huesca is a city in north-eastern Spain, within the autonomous community of Aragon. It is also the capital of the Spanish province of the same name and of the comarca of Hoya de Huesca. In 2009 it had a population of 52,059, almost a quarter of the total population of the province. The city is one of the smallest provincial capitals in Spain.

Tarragona Municipality in Catalonia

Tarragona is a port city located in northeast Spain on the Costa Daurada by the Mediterranean Sea. Founded before the 5th century BC, it is the capital of the Province of Tarragona, and part of Tarragonès and Catalonia. Geographically, it is bordered on the north by the Province of Barcelona and the Province of Lleida. The city has a population of 201,199 (2014).

Catalonia Autonomous area of northeastern Spain

Catalonia is an autonomous community on the northeastern corner of Spain, designated as a nationality by its Statute of Autonomy Catalonia consists of four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. The capital and largest city is Barcelona, the second-most populated municipality in Spain and the core of the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union. It comprises most of the territory of the former Principality of Catalonia. It is bordered by France (Occitanie) and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and the Spanish autonomous communities of Aragon to the west and Valencia to the south. The official languages are Catalan, Spanish, and the Aranese dialect of Occitan.

In 1651, he published the first part of the Criticón (Faultfinder) without the permission of his superiors, whom he disobeyed repeatedly. This attracted the Society's displeasure. Ignoring the reprimands, he published the second part of Criticón in 1657, as a result was sanctioned and exiled to Graus at the beginning of 1658. Soon Gracian wrote to apply for membership in another religious order. His demand was not met, but his sanction was eased off: in April 1658 he was sent to several minor positions under the College of Tarazona. His physical decline prevented him from attending the provincial congregation of Calatayud and on 6 December 1658 Gracian died in Tarazona, near Zaragoza in the Kingdom of Aragon.

Graus Municipality in Aragon, Spain

Graus is a village in the Spanish province of Huesca, located in the Pyrenees at the confluence of rivers Esera and Isabena. It is the administrative capital of the region. It is one of the areas of Aragon in which is still preserved the Aragonese language.

Tarazona Municipality in Aragon, Spain

Tarazona is a town and municipality in the Tarazona y el Moncayo comarca, province of Zaragoza, in Aragon, Spain. It is the capital of the Tarazona y el Moncayo Aragonese comarca. It is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tarazona.

Aragon Autonomous community of Spain

Aragon is an autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza. The current Statute of Autonomy declares Aragon a historic nationality of Spain.

Gracián is the most representative writer of the Spanish Baroque literary style known as Conceptismo (Conceptism), of which he was the most important theoretician; his Agudeza y arte de ingenio (Wit and the Art of Inventiveness) is at once a poetic, a rhetoric and an anthology of the conceptist style.

Baroque cultural movement, starting around 1600

The Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, music, dance, painting, sculpture and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the mid-18th century. It followed Renaissance art and Mannerism and preceded the Rococo and Neoclassical styles. It was encouraged by the Catholic Church as a means to counter the simplicity and austerity of Protestant architecture, art and music, though Lutheran Baroque art developed in parts of Europe as well.

Conceptismo is a literary movement of the Baroque period of Portuguese and Spanish literature. It began in the late 16th century and lasted through the 17th century.

Poetics is the theory of literary forms and literary discourse. It may refer specifically to the theory of poetry, although some speakers use the term so broadly as to denote the concept of "theory" itself.

The Aragonese village where he was born, Belmonte de Calatayud, changed its name to Belmonte de Gracián in his honour.

Criticón

Criticon, first edition (1651). El Criticon 1651.jpg
Criticón, first edition (1651).

The three parts of the Criticón, published in 1651, 1653, and 1657, achieved fame in Europe, especially in German-speaking countries. It is, without a doubt, the author's masterpiece and one of the great works of the Siglo de Oro. It is a lengthy allegorical novel with philosophical overtones. It recalls the Byzantine style of novel in its many vicissitudes and in the numerous adventures to which the characters are subjected, as well as the picaresque novel in its satirical take on society, as evidenced in the long pilgrimage undertaken by the main characters, Critilo, the "critical man" who personifies disillusionment, and Andrenio, the "natural man" who represents innocence and primitive impulses. The author constantly exhibits a perspectivist technique that unfolds according to the criteria or points of view of both characters, but in an antithetical rather than plural way as in Miguel de Cervantes. The novel reveals a philosophy, pessimism, with which one of its greatest readers and admirers, the 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, identified.

Byzantine romance represents a revival of the ancient Greek romance of Roman times. Works in this category were written by Byzantine Greeks of the Eastern Roman Empire during the 12th century.

The picaresque novel is a genre of prose fiction that depicts the adventures of a roguish, but "appealing hero", of low social class, who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. Picaresque novels typically adopt a realistic style, with elements of comedy and satire. This style of novel originated in Spain in 1554 and flourished throughout Europe for more than 200 years, though the term "picaresque novel" was only coined in 1810. It continues to influence modern literature. The term is also sometimes used to describe works, like Cervantes' Don Quixote and Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers, which only contain some of the genre's elements.

Miguel de Cervantes Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was a Spanish writer who is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the Spanish language and one of the world's pre-eminent novelists. His novel Don Quixote has been translated into over 140 languages and dialects; it is, after the Bible, the most-translated book in the world.

The following is a summary of the Criticón, reduced almost to the point of a sketch, of a complex work that demands detailed study.

Critilo, man of the world, is shipwrecked on the coast of the island of Santa Elena, where he meets Andrenio, the natural man, who has grown up completely ignorant of civilization. Together they undertake a long voyage to the Isle of Immortality, travelling the long and prickly road of life. In the first part, "En la primavera de la niñez" ("In the Spring of Childhood"), they join the royal court, where they suffer all manner of disappointments; in the second part, "En el otoño de la varonil edad" ("In the Autumn of the Age of Manliness"), they pass through Aragon, where they visit the house of Salastano (an anagram of the name of Gracián's friend Lastanosa), and travel to France, which the author calls the "wasteland of Hipocrinda", populated entirely by hypocrites and dunces, ending with a visit to a house of lunatics. In the third part, "En el invierno de la vejez" ("In the Winter of Old Age"), they arrive in Rome, where they encounter an academy where they meet the most inventive of men, arriving finally at the Isle of Immortality. He is intelligent and contributed greatly to the world. One of his most famous phrases is "Respect yourself if you would have others respect you."

Oraculo manual y arte de prudencia (detalle).jpg

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Gracián's style, generically called conceptism, is characterized by ellipsis and the concentration of a maximum of significance in a minimum of form, an approach referred to in Spanish as agudeza (wit), and which is brought to its extreme in the Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia (literally Manual Oracle and Art of Discretion, commonly translated as The Art of Worldly Wisdom), which is almost entirely composed of three hundred maxims with commentary. He constantly plays with words: each phrase becomes a puzzle, using the most diverse rhetorical devices.

Its appeal has endured: in 1992, Christopher Maurer's translation of this book remained 18 weeks (2 weeks in first place) in the Washington Post's list of Nonfiction General Best Sellers. It has sold nearly 200,000 copies.

Critical reception

The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica wrote of Gracián that "He has been excessively praised by Schopenhauer, whose appreciation of the author induced him to translate the Oráculo manual, and he has been unduly depreciated by Ticknor and others. He is an acute thinker and observer, misled by his systematic misanthropy and by his fantastic literary theories". [2]

Nietzsche wrote of the Oráculo, "Europe has never produced anything finer or more complicated in matters of moral subtlety," and Schopenhauer, who translated it into German, considered the book "Absolutely unique... a book made for constant use...a companion for life" for "those who wish to prosper in the great world." [3] A translation of the Oráculo manual from the Spanish by Joseph Jacobs (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited), first published in 1892, was a huge commercial success, with many reprintings over the years (most recently by Shambala). Jacobs’ translation is alleged to have been read by Winston Churchill, seven years later, on the ship taking him to the Boer Wars.

In Paris, in 1924, a revision and reprint of the translation into French by Abraham-Nicolas Amelot de La Houssaie, with a preface by André Rouveyre, attracted a wide readership there, and was admired by André Gide. A new translation by Christopher Maurer (New York: Doubleday) became a national bestseller in the U.S. in 1992 , and the English edition, which sold almost 200,000 copies, was translated into Finnish, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and many other languages.

Works

The only publication which bears Gracián's name is El Comulgatorio (1655); his more important books were issued under the pseudonym of Lorenzo Gracián (a brother of the writer) or under the anagram of Gracía de Marlones. Gracián was punished for publishing without his superior's permission El Criticón (in which Defoe is alleged to have found the germ of Robinson Crusoe ): but no objection was taken to its substance. [4]

Notes

  1. Blüher, Karl Alfred (15 September 2005). "Les origines antiques d'un « art de la prudence » chez Baltasar Gracián"". Astérion. doi:10.4000/asterion.431. ISSN   1762-6110.
  2. Chisholm 1911, p. 326.
  3. Duff, E. Grant. "Balthasar Gracian". fortnightlyreview.co.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  4. Chisholm 1911 , p. 326

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References

Further reading