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  • Atardece el barroco: ficción experimental en la España de Carlos II (1665-1700) ed. by Jorge García López and Enrique García Santo-Tomás
  • John Slater
Atardece el barroco: ficción experimental en la España de Carlos II (1665-1700). Ed. by Jorge García López and Enrique García Santo-Tomás. (Albores de un Tiempo Nuevo, 2) Madrid: Iberoamericana Vervuert. 2021. 371 pp. €40. ISBN 978–9192–261–2.

No longer Golden Age and not yet Enlightenment, the literary period between the death of Pedro Calderón de la Barca in 1681 and that of Carlos II in 1700 can be either 'bajobarroco' and 'tardobarroco'—looking backward—or 'primera' and 'temprana ilustración'—looking forward. In their Introduction the editors associate the period with the 'novatores', who were men of science, not poets; specifically, 'novatores' were scientists battling decadence, a cultural failing that scholars rarely bother to identify through comparison with that which is demonstrably not decadent. Addressing such problems head on, Atardece el barroco implicitly links experimental philosophy and experimental fiction, by focusing on the uses of periodicity, the relationship of science and literature, and what that relationship can tell us about both fields. Although the collection is subtitled 'ficción experimental en la España de Carlos II', there is little fiction in the traditional sense; instead, the term brings together disparate regimes of representation, allowing the authors to range widely across genres while meditating on time and knowledge.

These meditations are roughly divisible into three camps. The first is composed of contributors—Miguel García-Bermejo Giner, Pedro Ruiz Pérez, Paula Casariego Castiñeira, and Nicolás Fernández Medina—who emphasize continuities between the late baroque and the period that precedes it. García-Bermejo Giner traces successive plagiarisms of advice to married couples in conduct manuals, starting with Antonio de Guevara and extending to Antonio Sánchez Tórtoles. Ruiz Pérez's study of the point at which literary biography becomes fanciful encomium indicates that biography's style becomes an artefact of influence when the biographer imitates the tone of his subject. The dramatic topos of the enchanted garden, Casariego Castiñeira shows, is an allusive crossroads where Ariosto and Spanish dramaturgy intersect. Finally, Fernández Medina, examining the work of Antonio de Fuentelapeña, first demonstrates that a narrative sensibility infiltrated scholastic dialectics and then poses a larger question: at what point does slavish scholasticism become literary parody?

Jorge García López, Chad M. Gasta, and Alain Bègue comprise the second camp, and all three look forward towards the Enlightenment. García López demonstrates persuasively that Francisco Gutiérrez de los Ríos, a figure who in recent years has come to be seen as seminal for the period, eschewed Descartes's conceptual philosophy in favour of Gassendi's practicality. Gasta creates a vivid portrait of the [End Page 266] playwright Bances Candamo's oscillations between earnest acceptance and critical interrogation of astrology. Scrutinizing poets' 'afán de modernidad' leads Bègue to a marvellous exploration of scientific modernity as a question of taste: a world-view that entailed an aesthetic.

More eclectic is the third camp—made up of Folke Gernert, María Elisa Navarro Morales, María Luz López-Terrada, Adriana García-Bryce, and Enrique García Santo-Tomás—in which historiographic sensibilities are varied and surprising. Emblematic of this group is Gernert, who, entirely unburdened by centuries of sclerotic historiography, portrays Carlos II actively patronizing early chemistry; Gernert creates a new context in which to understand the court as a place where dramatic spectacle and scientific practice met. Navarro Morales shows that Juan Caramuel de Lobkowitz, in his architecture manual, contemplated the ways in which the built environment can influence behaviours by positing that the artificer-prince might promote peace through legible architecture. López Terrada, treating the theatre of Juan Bautista Diamante as source text for the social history of medicine, argues compellingly that literature often represents medicine according to literary conventions that do not correspond to social realities; literature does not always tell us...