Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Few writers have left so decisive a stamp upon the literature of their own and of successive ages as Luis de Góngora y Argote. Góngora is the embodiment of the Spanish baroque. His name also survives as a style, gongorismo, or Gongorism. Born in the city of Córdoba into a prosperous and cultivated family, he indifferently studied canon law at the University of Salamanca, although he is said to have led there the life of a dissolute poet rather than that of a student of theology. Returning to Córdoba, he took deacons’s orders and in 1577 was made a prebendary of the cathedral. However, he seems to have remained incorrigibly devoted to the pursuit of pleasure, since, in 1589, he is recorded as having received a reprimand from his bishop for a disreputable lifestyle, which included too-frequent attendance at bullfights and consorting with actors of both genders.
By then, he had already attracted the notice and approbation of Miguel de Cervantes for his writing, but with the circulation of his Romancero general of 1600, his reputation as a poet was assured. In 1612, he left Córdoba for Madrid, seeking, like other Golden Age writers and artists, the fount of patronage at the royal court. He was appointed chaplain to Philip III, no discriminating judge of literature, and, following the latter’s death, served Philip IV in the same capacity. The real source of patronage became the royal favorite, the count-duke of Olivares, who seems to...
(The entire section is 2339 words.)
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