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Properties of Modernity

Romantic Spain, Modern Europe, and the Legacies of Empire

Michael Iarocci

Publication Year: 2006

Michael Iarocci traces the ways in which Spain went from being central to European history and identity during the early modern period to being marginalized and displaced by England, France, and Germany during the Romantic period. He points out that it has long been an unspoken assumption tainting much of literary criticism that Spain did not have a strong Romantic movement even though Spain itself had come to be viewed by the "new" Europe as the location of all that was romantic. Through a close study of Cadalso, Saavedra, and Larra, Iarocci argues that Spanish writers were intensely concerned with the same issues taken up by more famous Romantics and that the ways in which they address these issues provides us with a richer notion, not only of Spain, but of all of Europe.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press


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pp. i-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Friends, students, family, and colleagues have been the companions to this project over the last several years, and I am deeply grateful to them all for the frequent encouragement they have given me, often without knowing it. Conversations with several of my colleagues in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Berkeley—in particular, Estelle Tarica, ...

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pp. ix-xviii

Not long ago, it may have seemed odd to begin a book dedicated to the literary production of romantic Spain by evoking the Anglo-international twenty-four-hour news. In the increasingly corporate Information Age that some would simply sum up as the present, however, and as calls for literary and cultural studies to globalize eerily begin to echo neoliberal...

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1. From the Narratives of the Modernity to Spanish Romanticism

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pp. 1-52

In the closing lines of his 1990 Nobel Lecture, “La búsqueda del presente” [The Search for the Present], Octavio Paz openly grapples, like others before him, with the elusive character of the modern. “Perseguimos a la modernidad en sus incesantes metamorfosis”—he writes—“y nunca logramos asirla. Se escapa siempre: cada encuento es una fuga” [We pursue ...

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2. Beginnings without End

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pp. 53-98

In moving from questions of history and metahistory to the first work we shall consider, let us imagine for a moment a gathering, the coming together of a literary tertulia sometime in the summer of 1775. A group of young literati assembles in the university town of Salamanca to hear a new work that Jos

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3. Rethinking the Modern in Saavedra’s Don Alvaro

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pp. 99-138

Madrid, 1835. Days of liberal revolution and reform. Several decades have elapsed since Cadalso’s Noches lúgubres first began circulating. Ferdinand VII, the despot, bastion of absolutism, has been dead for almost two years. Political exiles have returned to Spain under a general amnesty, and debate in the capital—moderados versus progresistas—openly ...

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4. Late Larra, or Death as Critique

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pp. 139-202

On the evening of 13 February 1837—not quite two years after the opening of Don Alvaro—Mariano José de Larra, one the most noted essayists of Madrid’s burgeoning newspaper world, put a revolver to his head, pulled the trigger, and successfully committed what would become the most famous suicide in Spanish literary history. The representation of suicide...

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pp. 203-212

An anguished gentleman dialogues in a cemetery with the gravedigger he has hired to unearth the body of his beloved; a Peruvian noble is driven to suicide at the edge of a cliff on a stormy night; in Madrid, a journalist’s essays chillingly ruminate on images of death shortly before he takes his life. In the works we have considered in the preceding chapters, a pained ...


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pp. 213-242

Works Cited

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pp. 243-266


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pp. 267-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780826592118
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826515216
Print-ISBN-10: 0826515215

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 593336735
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Properties of Modernity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • National characteristics, Spanish, in literature.
  • Romanticism -- Spain.
  • Larra, Mariano José de, 1809-1837 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Rivas, Angel de Saavedra, duque de, 1791-1865. Don Alvaro.
  • Spanish literature -- 19th century -- History and criticism.
  • Cadalso, José, 1741-1782 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Spanish literature -- 18th century -- History and criticism.
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