José de Cadalso y Vázquez (Cádiz, 1741 – Gibraltar, 1782),
Spanish, Colonel of the Royal Spanish Army, author, poet, playwright
and essayist, one of the canonical producers of Spanish Enlightenment
Before completing his twentieth year, Cadalso had traveled through
Italy, Germany, England, France and Portugal, and he had studied the
history and literature of these countries. On his return to
entered the army and rose to the rank of colonel.
Cadalso was the embodiment of the Enlightenment ideal of the "hombre
de bien", a learned and well-rounded citizen whose multitude of
interests could be utilized to improve society. He was a central
figure in the literary landscape of eighteenth-century Spain,
especially in the tertulia held at the Fonda de San Sebastián. He
influenced a number of Spanish authors, not least among them a young
and talented Juan Meléndez Valdés.
His first published work was a verse tragedy, Don Sancho García,
Conde de Castilla (1771). In 1772, he published his Los Eruditos a la
Violeta, a commercially successful prose satire on the obsession with
superficial knowledge and the appearance of erudition. In 1773
appeared a volume of miscellaneous poems, Ocios de mi juventud.
Cadalso is best known for his Cartas marruecas, an epistolary novel
published posthumously by the "Correo de Madrid" in 1789 and as a book
in 1793. The Cartas marruecas have often been compared to
Montesquieu's, (1689–1755), own Lettres Persanes, (Persian Letters,
1721), although in reality both works represented the period's
fascination with epistolary narrative. Cartas Marruecas and Noches
lúgubres are often considered his best works, although they are
stylistically and thematically different.
Whereas Cartas marruecas is a rational, multi-perspectivistic
examination of Spanish society through the eyes of a young Moroccan,
Noches lúgubres (“Lugubrious Nights”), is a short prose work
centered on a mourning protagonist's desire to disinter his dead
lover, and was published from 1789 to 1790 in the journal El correo de
Madrid. The later work was inspired by the death of his close friend,
holding amorously her dying body, actress María Ignacia Ibáñez,
(1745 – April 1771, aged 26).
This work, along with a number of Cadalso's anguished lyrical
compositions, are considered an antecedent of
Romanticism in Spain, if
not fully Romantic in their own right. A good edition of his works
appeared at Madrid, in 3 vols., 1823. This is supplemented by the
Obras inéditas (Paris, 1894) published by R. Foulch-Delbosc.
Cadalso was killed at the Great Siege of Gibraltar, on 27 February
1782, just 15 days after being promoted to Colonel. He has a tomb in
Saint Mary the Crowned Church in San Roque.
^ "Saint Mary the Crowned Parish Church Saint Mary the Crowned Parish
Church". sanroque.es. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cadalso Vazquez,
José". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University
O. N. V. Glendinning. Vida y obra de Cadalso". Madrid. Ed. Gredos,
(1962), 239 pages.
Sebold, R.P. . Colonel Don
José Cadalso . New York, Twayne Publ.
(1971), 187 pages.
Sebold, Russell P. Cadalso: El primer romantico "europeo" de Espana.
Madrid: Ed. Gredos, (1974), 294 pages.
ISNI: 0000 0001 0860 7171
BNF: cb11885865b (data)