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Selected Poetry of Francisco de Quevedo: A Bilingual Edition

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Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Golden Age, was the master of the baroque style known as “conceptismo,” a complex form of expression fueled by elaborate conceits and constant wordplay as well as ethical and philosophical concerns. Although scattered translations of his works have appeared in English, there is currently no Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Golden Age, was the master of the baroque style known as “conceptismo,” a complex form of expression fueled by elaborate conceits and constant wordplay as well as ethical and philosophical concerns. Although scattered translations of his works have appeared in English, there is currently no comprehensive collection available that samples each of the genres in which Quevedo excelled—metaphysical and moral poetry, grave elegies and moving epitaphs, amorous sonnets and melancholic psalms, playful romances and profane burlesques.             In this book, Christopher Johnson gathers together a generous selection of forty-six poems—in bilingual Spanish-English format on facing pages—that highlights the range of Quevedo’s technical expertise and themes. Johnson’s ingenious solutions to rendering the difficult seventeenth-century Spanish into poetic English will be invaluable to students and scholars of European history, literature, and translation, as well as poetry lovers wishing to reacquaint themselves with an old master.    


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Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Golden Age, was the master of the baroque style known as “conceptismo,” a complex form of expression fueled by elaborate conceits and constant wordplay as well as ethical and philosophical concerns. Although scattered translations of his works have appeared in English, there is currently no Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), one of the greatest poets of the Spanish Golden Age, was the master of the baroque style known as “conceptismo,” a complex form of expression fueled by elaborate conceits and constant wordplay as well as ethical and philosophical concerns. Although scattered translations of his works have appeared in English, there is currently no comprehensive collection available that samples each of the genres in which Quevedo excelled—metaphysical and moral poetry, grave elegies and moving epitaphs, amorous sonnets and melancholic psalms, playful romances and profane burlesques.             In this book, Christopher Johnson gathers together a generous selection of forty-six poems—in bilingual Spanish-English format on facing pages—that highlights the range of Quevedo’s technical expertise and themes. Johnson’s ingenious solutions to rendering the difficult seventeenth-century Spanish into poetic English will be invaluable to students and scholars of European history, literature, and translation, as well as poetry lovers wishing to reacquaint themselves with an old master.    

43 review for Selected Poetry of Francisco de Quevedo: A Bilingual Edition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    Quevedo's poetry is an experience on its own. Every soul grows after it encounters it. Nobody comes out the same after reading these poems. Quevedo's poetry is an experience on its own. Every soul grows after it encounters it. Nobody comes out the same after reading these poems.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    4.5 stars. After being disappointed with some of Quevedo’s prose, I found these poems to be a revelation. The language is fluid, moving, and alive with unique images and juxtapositions. His meditations on death are sobering and insightful without being too macabre or brooding. They are heavy in theme but light (almost airy) in composition. His love poetry is intensely felt and a stark departure from the sarcastic, almost snide, tone of his prose. There are some great lines on almost every page. 4.5 stars. After being disappointed with some of Quevedo’s prose, I found these poems to be a revelation. The language is fluid, moving, and alive with unique images and juxtapositions. His meditations on death are sobering and insightful without being too macabre or brooding. They are heavy in theme but light (almost airy) in composition. His love poetry is intensely felt and a stark departure from the sarcastic, almost snide, tone of his prose. There are some great lines on almost every page. One of my favorites was his description of reading: “I live conversing with the dead, / listening to them with my eyes.” Unfortunately, this last section of satirical poems brought the return of the Quevedo whom I can’t stand: defensive, sarcastic, and pretty mean-spirited, almost to the point of hateful. It’s a shame that he felt the need to descend to this tone under the guise of “satire,” which is clearly just a platform for his personal airing of dirty laundry. I realize that these satires are some of his most famous verse, and part of the reason why he is so remembered, but I find myself turned off by this side of Quevedo. That being said, I didn’t let those handful of poems ruin my new appreciation for his other verse, which is very well sampled in this collection Johnson’s translations are vibrant and modernized (at one point referencing Hershey’s kisses!). His introduction and notes were essential in helping me not only to contextualize the poems in this collection, but also to get a nice introduction to Quevedo scholarship. I marked down a few books mentioned in the footnotes and bibliography to track down later.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Quevedo gets five stars, but the translation is more like four or three. For some reason the translator has chosen to use a few garish anachronisms when rendering Quevedo's metaphors. For instance, one poem refers to the foil on a "Hershey's kiss." Did he wash that down with a Pepsi back in 1640? This is regrettable, particularly because the translations are otherwise lucid and faithful. As for Quevedo, there is no one else like him. I have been searching for years for someone who writes about t Quevedo gets five stars, but the translation is more like four or three. For some reason the translator has chosen to use a few garish anachronisms when rendering Quevedo's metaphors. For instance, one poem refers to the foil on a "Hershey's kiss." Did he wash that down with a Pepsi back in 1640? This is regrettable, particularly because the translations are otherwise lucid and faithful. As for Quevedo, there is no one else like him. I have been searching for years for someone who writes about the relationship between death and the body like Quevedo does. I can think of no other poet who mixes a kind of physical, visceral suffering with bawdy humor so well until Vallejo in the 20th Century, and even then I still prefer Quevedo.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter Crofts

    Quevedo's range is extraordinary. He needs to be better known. The price of this volume is outrageous. Few will read it, what a shame. Quevedo's range is extraordinary. He needs to be better known. The price of this volume is outrageous. Few will read it, what a shame.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Garden Utensil

    REALLY GOOD seems like the satirical poems have been taken most liberty with as regards translation? translations still read ok, but it does feel like Quevedo's humor is being refracted through Johnson. his 'satire' can get really fucking mean JESUS RECURRING WORDS: dust (gold dust/dust of dead bodies/etc), gaze, sphere, exaggerated/exaggeration (to do with the expression of love) QUOTES: "Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow’s late, today wastes not an instant leaving: I am a was, a will be, a weary is." "The hou REALLY GOOD seems like the satirical poems have been taken most liberty with as regards translation? translations still read ok, but it does feel like Quevedo's humor is being refracted through Johnson. his 'satire' can get really fucking mean JESUS RECURRING WORDS: dust (gold dust/dust of dead bodies/etc), gaze, sphere, exaggerated/exaggeration (to do with the expression of love) QUOTES: "Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow’s late, today wastes not an instant leaving: I am a was, a will be, a weary is." "The hours and seconds are spades, by pain and grief well paid, digging my grave in the midst of my days." "I was born dying and have lived blindly, and I shall never reach my death’s end." "A new heart, Lord, a new man my soul requires: undress me of myself, that I might be what I owe your piety." "But already—see my sorrow— I have consoled myself for losing my felicity; and, in part, I delight in having lost it, for the sake of knowing sorrow." "How you slip between my fingers! O life, how you slide swiftly by! Cold death, what muted steps you take; you level all things with silent feet." "Withdrawn to this solitary place, With a few but learned books, I live conversing with the dead, listening to them with my eyes." "What, mortal, have the mountain’s rugged, hidden entrails done to you? Why traverse the earth?" "The most furious comet, king, to show its hairy head to your slavish highness, is the chaotic life that starts the ill the doctor hastens." "you [stars] take fixed paths, or wander on slippery roads with disheveled hair." "black stars smouldering in snow, which guards them courteously." "If my eyelids, Lisi, were lips, kisses like visual beams would come from my eyes, which like eagles gazing sunward, would kiss more than they see." *** DON FRANCISCO de QUEVEDO Damn that first human who found fierce death on the broad sea, who taught its mighty, wavy back to suffer a bark’s fatal weight. Damn him who, strapped for cash, tilled the unplowed sea until the fierce, azure, liquid empire became our native sepulchre. Damn him who, to see the golden crib where Phoebus rises, becomes fodder for Proteus and his herds; and the merchant, who touches a thousand fortunes, who trusts gold and diamonds to the sea, who trusts mutable winds. *** THE BUTTERFLY'S TOMB Here lies a painted lover, who died of love, love of light, elegant butterfly who adorned roses, flew with flowers; jealous of its revels, fire ignited twice April’s ardor in its wings. (...) who with cautious, coy flight, tried to woo torches in the sky. (...) Its tomb was its beloved; lovely, yes, but fleetingly so; blind and enamored, much to love it owes, little to time; and because it was by loving undone, engrave: it lies in bliss where it died. *** TO A CROSS-EYED, BEAUTIFUL LADY Were your eyes to gaze on just one place, it would be cinders. (...) Your lame, stuttering glance convicts your criminal eyes of sinister deeds; with deceitful sight, they shoot us with sweet, fascinating, burning light. *** HE DRINKS FINE WINE WITH MOSQUITOES IN IT Teutonic flies of savory sips (...) You, lice of the vines, welcome to my windpipe where the grape's child, blessed juice, will be your noose. Row with a gulp toward my throat; for, drinking you down, I get back the wine you drank, and you drown. *** DISILLUSIONMENT WITH WOMEN A man is a queer slut who trusts sluts; he is a slut who savors his tastes; sluttish is the sum he offers to pay for his sluttish company. Slutty is the desire, slutty the joy, with which the beslutted rat tempts us; and I would even say he’s a slut who thinks, my dear lady, you are not. But let them call me a slut in love if I finally don’t leave your slutty ways, and like a macho slut may I die by fire if I take pleasure in other such sluts. since the haughty sluts are pricey, and common sluts, a dirty shame.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Khosro Raul Soleimani

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  8. 4 out of 5

    Benjy

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liquidlasagna

  10. 4 out of 5

    Dhruv Bhatia

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  12. 5 out of 5

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  13. 5 out of 5

    Titas K.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ellie !

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael Lloyd-Billington

  16. 4 out of 5

    Henry

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andre Santillana

  18. 4 out of 5

    Burl Horniachek

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bela_Shakty

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Dibble Harris

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jake

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

  23. 5 out of 5

    University of Chicago Press

  24. 5 out of 5

    Margit Praks

  25. 4 out of 5

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  26. 5 out of 5

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  27. 5 out of 5

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  28. 5 out of 5

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  30. 5 out of 5

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  31. 5 out of 5

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  32. 5 out of 5

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  33. 5 out of 5

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  34. 4 out of 5

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  35. 5 out of 5

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  37. 4 out of 5

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  40. 4 out of 5

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  41. 5 out of 5

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  42. 4 out of 5

    John Varner

  43. 5 out of 5

    Moonlight.aileen

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