Don Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas
the antiques legends served as cement for posterior literary works.
the invention of the paper by the Chinese, there were several forms to transmit
the culture. The Egyptian used papyrus; but before that, signs were engraved on
stone, bronze, wood, or directly on trees’ bark.
could say that in the foregoing century the book written on paper reached their
maximal glory to begin a vertiginous decadence due to computer science; but
books will never fall to exist. There will be always books, like it will be
always troubadours, minstrels, rhapsodists, or histories-tellers; who would
sing, recite or tell stories to us, directly from their memory to our hears.
fly with the wind and what is written remains; or like my mother used to say:
“let the letters speak and shut up grey hairs”
about mothers: the mother of the majority of Spanish love stories has been the
one of Laureola and Leriano. I
am referring to “Carcel de Amor”
written by Diego de San Pedro in 1465, published in 1492 and translated in many
European countries. This work was called
the “Werther” of the fifteen century.
the literary figures that most have intrigued me since I was a little girl,
because all that I heard from him was always witty and burlesque, is Quevedo. Due to the references that the hoi polloi
gave from him in my childhood, I was considering him a clown (in the good sense
of the word). And when in the years eighty I could look into books, I
discovered that the funny Quevedo, whose ventures or supposed tricks reeled off
among the monotonous knocking down of the olive, or the creaking of the plough,
or meanwhile the workers, employed by my parents to support the little farm
where we lived during so many years and whose enclave will never disappear,
prepared their meat for lunch, under the branches of a tufted olive tree. Those
people, innocently, limited themselves to retell the wits they had learned in
other farms, without never knowing from where they come and who had invented
them. They ignored that who makes them laugh was not less than: Don Francisco
de Quevedo y Villegas, born in Madrid
remained orphan at an early age, studied in Alcala de
Henares and in Valladolid;
he was a politic and diplomatic man during the reign of Felipe III; then fell
in disgrace, surely because of his sincere works in verse, in concordance with
what his heart was feeling and what his mind was thinking. Through his sonnets
his joy or his disapproval reached the whole court.
He had to
supported prison and exile several times and was locked up during four years by
one of his protectors, the Earl-Duke of Olivares. He worked also for the Duke
de Quevedo was a great writer, sometimes pursued for his satiric language full
of bitter humour. He excelled
as a philosopher
and created vigorous human characters
as we can see in The life and Adventures of Buscon.
He cultivated all kind of literature. At sixty five years old, he started
his ultimate voyage in Villanueva de los Infantes, leaving to the world a long list of works in
prose and some in verse; not always to the liking of everybody, but showing a
great culture and a humoristic style that is at the same time profound,
difficult to do better.
these lines, I beg him forgiveness, anywhere he is, for having thought, into my
childhood ignorance, that he was a clown.
for Don Francisco de Quevedo, are these verses that I am inventing today:
the maturity fortunately I see
that viperous and yokel tongues made
from a great genius of the letters
a clown of their olive tricks.
The original, in Spanish, was written in Malaga, on March 10th, 2005
Author: Josefa Gabriela Moreno Gómez
into English by Mariette Cirerol
(There is an illustration of Quevedo in the Spanish version)