CEEH Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica

Góngora heroico. Las Soledades y la tradición épica


Mercedes Blanco


444 pages; 56 color illustrations; flapped paperback; 17 x 24,5 cm


Spanish; with the collaboration of the Fundación El Greco 2014; 2012; with the support of the Fundación El Greco 2014 in collaboration with Université de la Sorbonne and the research groups CLEA and ReCanOro





In Góngora’s Soledades, a shipwrecked young nobleman spends four days roaming a hospitable rural world that lives in a joyful and unalterable peace. At first sight this work appears far removed from the epic genre and yet Mercedes Blanco, in a study that is practically unprecedented and unparalleled in earlier critiques, shows that this poem may be considered the Andalusian poet’s response to what Torquato Tasso had termed “heroic poem”.

This fascinating dialogue shows Góngora’s work to be related to that of Pontano, Poliziano, Sannazaro, Ariosto and Torquato Tasso, considering Renaissance readings of Homer to be the common background of classical epic poetry. Góngora found in the poetic language of Homer techniques that were conducive to a writing that presents the world as a landscape in a sense close to that of painting. Equally reminiscent of epic tradition is the “discourse on navigation”, a fragment of the Soledad primera which includes a paradoxical world map without place names and provides a summary of the meditative exercises stemming from the geographical revolution of the Modern Age.

The creative operation from which the poem springs may be described as a shift of the heroic feat from an action told to the actions of reading and writing, through the invention of a language full of adventures and risks. In an exercise that requires all the devices of his imagination and intelligence, the reader of the Soledades is thus given a glimpse of war, its glory and its calamities as if through transparency, beneath a radiant image of peace.

Mercedes Blanco is Professor of Spanish Literature at the Sorbonne. She has written more than a hundred studies and essays on Golden Age literature, especially Gracián, Quevedo and Góngora, in which she deals with aesthetic and formal questions, combining the task of unravelling details of the text with an examination of wide-ranging theory and historical contexts. Prominent among them are Les rhétoriques de la pointe. Baltasar Gracián et le conceptisme en Europe (Paris, 1992) and Góngora o la invención de una lengua (León, 2012).