Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

On March 26, 1517, Bartolomé de Torres Naharro’s collection of previously unedited plays and poetry appeared in published form in his Propalladia (the first fruits of Pallas). Several other poetic works, published separately after this date, were incorporated in subsequent editions of this collection. The total number of extant poems is fifty. (One of the difficulties in fixing the date of Torres Naharro’s death arises from the circulation of certain of his poems in contents until 1530.)

Most of his poetry seems to date from the period 1513-1516 and is quite closely related to his drama. Comparable themes and modes of expression appear in both literary forms. Themes common throughout his Cancionero (songbook), which makes up the first part of Propalladia, are love, disenchantment with life, respect for great men and sincere patriotism for Spain, and devotion to Christ, the Virgin, and God.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Bartolomé de Torres Naharro was a quintessential Renaissance man: soldier, writer, thinker, and social critic. His was the age of Spanish maritime and overland expansion, the age of Castilian political unification, and the age of the influence of the Italian Humanists. The critic Joseph E. Gillet, who prepared a scholarly edition of the playwright’s works, credits Torres Naharro with bringing “form to the inchoate half-medieval drama of his predecessors.” Before this time, Spanish drama consisted largely of ritualistic religious and devotional plays, more static than dramatic, more intent on educating the ignorant masses in liturgical dogma than on entertaining with novel artistic experiments. Torres Naharro, with Juan del Encina (the “father” of Spanish secular drama), Lucas Fernández(author of several quasi-religious plays that incorporate farcical scenes), Gil Vicente (the “father” of the Portuguese theater), and Diego Sánchez de Badajoz, attended the University of Salamanca at the end of the fifteenth century. At this university, humanistic ideas fresh from Italy were debated, imitated, and commented; it was here that the new Spanish drama was to emerge. Encina, several years older than the others, staged plays for the household of the dukes of Alba and enlisted young actor-students from the university population to perform his pastoral eclogues for palace audiences. Undoubtedly, Torres Naharro and his friends were initiated into the theater spirit under Encina’s tutelage.

If Encina began the development of Spanish drama from religious to a predominantly secular stage, Torres Naharro was to advance it much further, creating a finely wrought body of drama surpassed only by Lope de Vega Carpio.

Torres Naharro is the first Spanish playwright and critic...

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(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Gillet, Joseph E., ed. “Propalladia” and Other Works of Bartolomé de Torres Naharro. 4 vols. Bryn Mawr, Pa.: George Banta, 1943-1951. This collection of Torres Naharro’s works details his life and provides critical analysis of his works.

Lihani, John. Bartolomé de Torres Naharro. Boston: Twayne, 1979. A basic biography of Torres Naharro that addresses both his life and works.

Stern, Charolotte. “The Early Spanish Drama: From Medieval Ritual to Renaissance Art.” Renaissance Drama no. 6 (1974): 177-201. This essay examines how Spanish drama changed from Medieval times to the Renaissance. Contains some discussion of Torres Naharro.