Leandro Fernández de Moratín was born in Madrid on March 10, 1760, into a prominent literary family. Though Nicolás, his father, never achieved the distinction of his son, he enjoyed considerable stature in the literary circles of his time. The lives of the Moratíns, father and son, span the period of neoclassicism in Spain. Nicolás was born in 1737, the year that marked the beginning of the neoclassical period in Spain with the publication of Ignacio de Luzán y Claramunt’s Poética. By 1760, when the father was beginning his career in Madrid, the neoclassical movement was receiving official support, and when Nicolás died in 1780, the son, Leandro, was ready to continue the family tradition, which he did until his death in 1828.
Living during the height of neoclassicism in Spain, Moratín gave this movement some of its greatest successes. His theater represents a continuation and improvement of the efforts of his father. Like his father, Moratín had an extremely facile wit His distrust of this gift, however, explains why he wrote only five original comedies. He had deep reservations concerning prolific authors, for he believed that “to write a lot is to write badly.” Moratín was probably influenced by Luzán’s belief that good dramatists limit their production to a few carefully written plays. The classical dictum to polish a work through much study and effort was not lost on Moratín.
Moratín’s father was a...
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