Francisco de Quevedo  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas (Madrid, September 17, 1580Villanueva de los Infantes, September 8, 1645) was a nobleman, politician and writer, best-known for his picaresque novel El Buscón (c. 1604 ) which is a study of the delinquent psychology.




Quevedo produced a vast quantity of poetry. His poetry was not published in book form during his lifetime."

His poetry gives evidence not only of his literary gifts but also of his erudition (Quevedo had studied Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, French and Italian). His poetic works range from satirical and mythological subjects to love poetry and philosophical pieces.

Quevedo constantly attacked avarice and avaricious people. His “Cartas del Caballero de la Tenaza” attack a notorious tightwad.

His love poetry includes such works as "Afectos varios de su corazón, fluctuando en las ondas de los cabellos de Lisi" ("Several reactions of his heart, bobbing on the waves of Lisi's hair").

The first four lines run as follows:

Within a curly storm of wavy gold
must swim great gulfs of pure and blazing light
my heart, for beauty eagerly athirst,
when your abundant tresses you unbind.<ref>Quoted and translated at</ref>

His work also employed mythological themes, typical of the age, though it also employs satirical elements, for example in his "To Apollo chasing Daphne":

Ruddy silversmith from up on high,
in whose bright beams the rabble pick their fleas:
Daphne, that nymph, who takes off and won't speak,
if you'd possess her, pay, and douse your light.<ref>Quoted and translated in</ref>

Quevedo’s poetry also includes pieces such as an imagined dedication to Columbus by a piece of the ship in which the navigator had discovered the New World:

Once I had an empire, wanderer,
upon the billows of the salty sea;
I was moved by the wind and well-respected,
to southern lands I forged an opening.<ref>Quoted and translated in</ref>


The only novel written by Quevedo is the picaresque Vida del Buscón or El Buscón (Full title: Historia de la vida del Buscón, llamado Don Pablos, ejemplo de vagamundos y espejo de tacaños (1626; Paul the Sharper or The Scavenger; The Swindler). It is a work divided into three books.

Theological works

Quevedo produced about 15 books on theological and ascetic subjects. These include La cuna y la sepultura (1612; The Cradle and the Grave) and La providencia de Dios (1641; The Providence of God).

Literary criticism

His works on literary criticism include La culta latiniparla (The Craze for Speaking Latin) and Aguja de navegar cultos (Compass for Navigating among Euphuistic Reefs). Both works were written with the purpose of attacking culteranismo.


Quevedo’s satire includes Sueños y discursos, also known as Los Sueños (1627; Dreams and Discourses). Quevedo employed lots of word-play in this work, which consists of five "dream-visions." The first is "The Dream of the Last Judgment", in which Quevedo finds himself witnessing the Day of Judgment, and closes with a glimpse of Hell itself. The second dream is "The Bedeviled Constable" in which constable is possessed by an evil spirit, which results in the evil spirit begging to be exorcised, since the constable is more evil of the two. The third dream is the long "The Vision of Hell". The fourth dream-vision is called "The World from the Inside". The last dream is "The Dream of Death", in which Quevedo offers examples of man's dishonest ways.

He wrote too, in a satirical tone, La hora de todos y la Fortuna con seso (there is an edition in Antwerp, 1699), with many political, social and religious allusions. He shows his ability in the use of language, with word-play and fantastic and real characters.

Political works

His political works include La política de Dios, y gobierno de Cristo (1617-1626; The Politics of the Lord) and La vida de Marco Bruto (1632-1644; The Life of Marcus Brutus).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Francisco de Quevedo" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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