Garcilaso à Naples : un poète italien en langue castillane ?
modifié le: 2011-06-06

“más quisiera satisfacer a Garcilaso de la Vega” : Juan de Valdés, Garcilaso and the Spanish tongue in Naples

Garcilaso de la Vega (1501-1536) is known with his friend Joan Boscán as the first poet to have successfully used italianate metrics in castillian, and his verse became a model to all subsequent poets. Interestingly, Boscán claimed that the initial impulse to their using Italian versification was given by Venetian ambassador Andrea Navagero, and it has later been shown that Garcilaso composed his major poems while in Naples, between 1532 and 1536, at the viceroyal court of Pedro de Toledo : Italy seems to lie at the very roots of this major milestone of Castilian literature. Another interesting point is that all his biographers insist on his Toledan origins, meaning that he hailed from the city where language purity was deemed highest. These facts roughly outline the paradoxical figure of an untainted Castillian adopting an Italian style. In the context of the humanistic debate on the questione della lingua, the affirmation of Habsburg political domination in Italy, and translatio studii, the linguistic and poetic choices of a nobleman in Pedro de Toledo and Charles V’s service deserve careful study and interpretation.
A close reading of Garcilaso’s poems reveals that he did not only absorb Italian poetic forms but also some very Italian words and structures, proving that the Italian influence was not limited to the surface of forms, themes or motifs (taken from Petrarch, Sannazaro, Bernardo Tasso…), but was also deeply ingrained into Garcilaso’s language itself. This assimilation begs to be interpreted in the light of Juan de Valdés’ Diálogo de la lengua, composed roughly during the years Garcilaso was in Naples, in which Castillian is presented as a universal tongue that can be understood by natives and foreigners (lengua tan general, que no solamente es entendida de los naturales, pero aun de los extraños), and a tongue that is adorned rather than tainted by the use of foreign terms.
Considering that Garcilaso’s poems were posthumously printed in Barcelona under the supervision of Boscán, who died shortly before the book was published, a number of methodological problems need to be addressed before an in-depth study of Garcilaso’s (and Boscán’s) linguistic choices can be undertaken, but such a study would doubtless prove enlightening.

Séverine Grélois, Université Paris Est-Créteil

Lille, 30 avril 2010


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