The Melancholy Void


The Melancholy Void

Lyric and Masculinity in the Age of Góngora

Felipe Valencia

New Hispanisms Series

352 pages


July 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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July 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

At the turn of the seventeenth century, Spanish lyric underwent a notable development. Several Spanish poets reinvented lyric as a melancholy and masculinist discourse that sang of and perpetrated symbolic violence against the female beloved. This shift emerged in response to the rising prestige and commercial success of the epic and was enabled by the rich discourse on the link between melancholy and creativity in men.

In The Melancholy Void Felipe Valencia examines this reconstruction of the lyric in key texts of Spanish poetry from 1580 to 1620. Through a study of canonical and influential texts, such as the major poems by Luis de Góngora and the epic of Alonso de Ercilla, but also lesser-known texts, such as the lyrics by Miguel de Cervantes, The Melancholy Void addresses four understudied problems in the scholarship of early modern Spanish poetry: the use of gender violence in love poetry as a way to construct the masculinity of the poetic speaker; the exploration in Spanish poetry of the link between melancholy and male creativity; the impact of epic on Spanish lyric; and the Spanish contribution to the fledgling theory of the lyric.

The Melancholy Void brings poetry and lyric theory to the conversation in full force and develops a distinct argument about the integral role of gender violence in a prominent strand of early modern Spanish lyric that ran from Garcilaso to Góngora and beyond.

Author Bio

Felipe Valencia is an assistant professor of Spanish at Utah State University.


"The Melancholy Void offers a valuable contribution to studies of early modern literary theory and our understanding of the evolution of Spanish lyric poetry in relation to extratextual phenomena. . . . The author deftly balances breadth and depth to deliver a fascinating history of Spanish lyric and of the gendered nature of poetic genres in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries."—Katherine L. Brown, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos

"Just for the wealth of lyric literary history discussed, Valencia's monograph is a valuable reference for students of early-modern Spain. The book convincingly demonstrates the links between lyric expression, melancholic subjectivity, and gender violence in early-modern lyric poetry. Its denunciation of gender violence in early-modern poetry helps open the door to necessary but difficult discussions about the harmful legacies of arch-canonical poets and the lyric poetic tradition more generally. The study of early-modern poetry in Spain will no doubt be better off for having the reckoning with gender violence proposed by The Melancholy Void."—Luis Rodríguez-Rincón, Calíope: Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry

"Through a careful and most original reading of the primary texts, informed mainly by gender studies, [The Melancholy Void] investigates the roots of the lyric, in its social and historical setting, as an ideological and cultural phenomenon of singular characteristics and which results from the preoccupations and anxieties of a real subject, the Spanish poet of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, immersed in a complex web of readings and influences. Thus, [it] duly renews for our time, with fresh and current lenses, our perspective on fundamental landmarks of the Golden Age poetic canon."—Creneida: Journal of Hispanic Literatures

"The Melancholy Void presents a trove of interpretive and scholarly riches . . . this book represents an important addition to the study of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century poetry. It will, no doubt, provides much food for thought and debate."—María Cristina Quintero, Hispanic Review

"The Melancholy Void: Lyric and Masculinity in the Age of Góngora provides valuable critical insights into literary theory, the concept of melancholy, and masculine versus feminine violence as focal points of Ealy Modern Spanish literature."—Salvatore Poeta, Hispania

"[The Melancholy Void is] a powerful and excellent study that suggests a viable route to see beyond longstanding critical approaches to the history and theory of la nueva poesía in early modern Spain and, more broadly, the history and theory of lyric poetry."—Andrés Olmedo Orejuela, Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies

“This is a terrific piece of scholarship that delves into the period of one of Spain’s most important authors, Luis de Góngora. Felipe Valencia offers a fascinating genealogy of the lyric tradition, grounding it in a dazzling array of deep readings of primary texts, together with an insightful application of theoretical and critical secondary material.”—Mary B. Quinn, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of New Mexico

“An innovative way of looking at this important corpus of texts, shedding new light on crucial matters such as the ties between poetics, philosophy, affect, and rhetoric. The astute interlacement between poetic theory and melancholy as a way of understanding the masculine rhetoric present in the texts studied is convincing and insightful.”—Rodrigo Cacho, faculty of modern and medieval languages at the University of Cambridge

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Melancholy and Masculinist Poetics in Early Modern Spanish Lyric
1. The Gendering of Lyric and Epic in Alonso de Ercilla’s La Araucana (1569–1590)
2. The Apollonian and Orphic Masculinity of Fernando de Herrera’s Algunas obras (1582) 
3. Feminine Voice and Masculinist Aims in Miguel de Cervantes’s La Galatea (1585)
4. Between Liuvigild and Ingund in Juan de Arguijo’s Versos (1612)
5. “El melancólico vacío”: The Origins and Fate of Lyric according to Luis de Góngora’s Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea and Soledades (1612–1617)

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