Early Modern Spain

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The Origins of the Novel

This project, partly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB), attempts to answer the question why prose fiction appears to have grown up in sixteenth-century Spain more vigorously, and at an earlier date, than in other comparable European countries. The work has focused on two principal areas of enquiry: the Spanish conquest of America and the many written accounts which ensued (see also under Discoveries); and the differences in print cultures between Protestant England and Catholic Spain (see also under Anglo-Spanish Literary Relations).

A manifesto for this work may be found in B.W. Ife, 'The literary impact of the New World: Columbus to Carrizales', Journal of the Institute of Romance Studies, 3 (1994-95), 65-85.1

Click here for full rationale.

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1. layout text A short quotation: '…the Spanish literary landscape from the 1480s through to the middle of the seventeenth century is marked by an astonishing quantity, variety and richness of books of prose fiction: courtly, epistolary, chivalresque, picaresque, byzantine, pastoral; novels in the first person, novels in the third person, novels in dialogue, novels in verse; books set in the past, in the present, in Spain, in Europe, in the Near East and the Far North, books set everywhere and nowhere. Even without Cervantes, the range and quality of Spanish fiction of the Golden Age is not equalled by any other European culture of the period, and the question why this should have been so cannot be avoided.'




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