The Value of the Renaissance Past in Contemporary Culture
What is the significance of doing Renaissance Studies now, not only in terms of the field per se, but in terms of what the field has to say to contemporary society? In the past, the field of Renaissance Studies has drawn themes and orientations from particular concerns of the moment, without losing its rigorous focus, and has given back crucial insights to those studying it. Could the same be said today? To facilitate a multifaceted answer, this book attempts to cover some of the principal areas of this interdisciplinary field within the humanities and social sciences. Contributors include specialists in history, languages and literatures, the history of science, cultural studies, art history, philosophy, sociology and politics.
José Montero Reguera 8 Cervantes and Renaissance: A Chapter in the History of Hispanic Studies
To Juan Bautista Avalle Arce, in memoriam There is no doubt that Cervantes’s dates link him to the Renaissance, at least to the late Renaissance. As is well known, he was born in Alcalá de Henares, a small town close to Madrid, in 1547, when the Emperor Charles V was still at the head of the Spanish Empire. Cervantes lived through the end of the Emperor’s reign, and was familiar with the dif ficulties experienced by Philip II (1556–1598) in his attempts to maintain Spanish supremacy in Europe and, of course, he lived into the reign of Philip III (1598–1621), when most of his masterpieces were written: Don Quijote (1605, 1615), the Novelas ejemplares (1613), and Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda (1617), among others.1 In this chapter, my intention is to deal with a very important issue in Hispanic studies: how did Cervantes become a Renaissance writer for critics and readers after a period of two centuries during which he was considered to be an uneducated man and, therefore, unable to read the most important texts of the Renaissance? 1 I would like to thank my colleague Stephen Boyd for inviting me to come back to Cork to participate in the conference Renaissance Now, organised by the Graduate School of the College of Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences. I would also like to thank Professor Brendan Dooley, the first incumbent of the new Chair of Renaissance Studies at Cork. Both of them have been very kind to...
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