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Aspectos de la temporalidad en la poesía de Quevedo by Francesco Tarelli (review)

From: Hispania
Volume 97, Number 1, March 2014
pp. 166-168 | 10.1353/hpn.2014.0019

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In this thoroughly researched study, Francesco Tarelli sets out, in part, to refute one of the seven accusations made by Antonio Machado’s fictional Juan de Mairena against the Spanish literary Baroque: “la carencia de temporalidad” (52). In his analysis of the poetic works of Francisco de Quevedo, Tarelli demonstrates that not only was concern about time and man’s relationship to time alive and well during the Spanish Baroque, but that, for the Neostoic, conceptista poet, it constituted an anguished obsession. Quevedo’s oeuvre, from his lyric and amorous poetry to his burlesque satires and metaphysical and moral sonnets, is steeped in explicit and implicit references to the nature of chronological and interior time and the relationship between essence and existence.

In chapter 1, “El tiempo en la flosofía y el arte,” Tarelli addresses the evolution of thinking about the enigmatic and elusive concepts of time and temporality from the Presocratic era through Quevedo’s day. He notes how each new theory on time incorporated aspects of previous theories and adapted or corrected them to suit the thinking of the age. Major philosophers and theologians studied in this chapter include Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Francisco Suárez (a contemporary of Quevedo). In this chapter, Tarelli also discusses time as a number (or as a number of changes) and the relationship between time, change and movement; all topics that are revisited by the author in his subsequent analyses of Quevedo’s poems. In the second section of chapter one, Tarelli addresses “El problema del tiempo en la época barroca” and gives an overview of man’s changing relationship with and thinking about time in the Spanish Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Baroque. While this chapter provides a solid and well-documented foundation on which Tarelli bases his later poetic analyses, it is occasionally challenging to read due to words and quotations in multiple languages. The author provides translations for quotations in Greek, German, and Latin in his book but not for French, Italian, or English.

Chapter 2, “Metaforización del tiempo en varios poemas de Quevedo,” is divided into eight sections, the first of which is a sketch of Quevedo as a man of his historical and cultural epoch. Tarelli expounds the poet’s attraction to the teachings of Seneca and his adherence to Neostoicism, a movement that allowed him to merge Stoic and Christian tenets in his writing. This sketch provides the backdrop for the remaining sections of the chapter, which constitute in-depth analyses of Quevedo’s poems that “metaphorize” time and temporality. Tarelli examines Quevedo’s poems about time-keeping devices (the hourglass, the sundial, and mechanical clocks with chimes), lyrical poems about the endurance of love after death, poems that address time as a type of dance in a technique Tarelli cleverly terms cronocoreografía, satirical poems in which the poet chides time and ruminates on the ruins left in its wake, and poems that address time, beauty, and carpe diem. Tarelli uses poetic terminology exhaustively in his analyses. The author supports his interpretations with extensive documentation regarding the origins of words and metaphors and their presence in various works by Quevedo and other authors, theologians, and philosophers. He also identifies poetic devices employed by the poet to elucidate his messages about time. Overall, Tarelli’s studies of these poems are thorough and elucidating. On occasion, the author’s explanation of word origins and their use in other texts in the middle of his discussion of a particular poem detracts from a fluid reading of an otherwise outstanding interpretation. Some of the analyses also end abruptly without summative remarks to explain how the poems relate back to Quevedo’s overarching philosophy about time. While these connections may be selfevident in the interpretations themselves, readers may find themselves hoping for a more patent closure to the interpretive loop.

In the final chapter, “El temps vécu,” Tarelli examines Quevedo’s metaphysical and moral poems that address the concept of interior time, the tension between essence and existence, and earthly or bodily existence as a perpetual form of dying (a process described by Tarelli as necrosomático). Quevedo, aware of the relative insignificance...



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