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Beyond the famous rivalry between the Córdoba poet Luis de Góngora and Quevedo –widely considered the richest and most prolific rivalry between two writers of the Spanish Golden Age–, which we should also celebrate as it has left us so many poetic gems, there is also a widely interesting yet unknown relationship between Quevedo and the city of Córdoba. It was here, in Córdoba, where the first translation into Spanish of the famous work by Tomas Moro Utopia was accomplished and it was so because of Quevedo.

This manuscript, right from the very beginning (the first edition dates from 1516), acquired great popularity and was widely read across the continent in its original Latin. Spain was not an exception and starting the following century the numerous voices were working on a translation to the vernacular tongue. One of the first ones to show an interest was our good poet Quevedo. He had a friend in Córdoba, Jerónimo Antonio de Medinilla, who at the time was Councilman and judge in the city but also a good soldier, great horseman and better Latinist.

Quevedo might have thought that publishing the book would be an absolute success among the humble inhabitants of Sierra Morena, the motives behind this reasoning are at least intriguing. Therefore he commissioned the translation to his good friend Jerónimo. The book was published in Spanish in 1637 at the printing house of Salvador Cea which was located in the old Librarians street. The translation was so good the it remained the most popular one up until 1946.

For those that are afraid to read the old classics but still want to know about them, the book is divided in two parts: the first one narrates Moro’s conversations with his friend Pedro Gilles during a trip to Amberes; these conversations would lead us to Utopia. The character in the book tells us about unknown worlds to where a peninsular (Spanish) sailor, Rafael, sails to. Rafael is depicted as a wise and experienced sailor that even accompanied Americo Vespuccio in three of his four trips to the New World. Rafael is also something of an outsider who speaks freely about his experiences, politics and philosophy: “the Latins (the Romans), with the exceptions of Seneca and Cicero, left us very little in terms of philosophy”.

However this first part was not included in the first edition as it contained a good deal of attacks against the Holy Church and back then that was taken very seriously.

Hence the book was published only with the second part. There Moro describes in detail the island of Abraxa where Utopo creates the Republic of Utopia, a society living in total peace and harmony where gold is no longer a precious metal and there is not a trace of usury. Taking into consideration how the present turned out to be, it may be a naive reading for us XXIst century citizens. But, do not be mislead, Moro is considering ideas that are as of today still completely valid such us the use bartering instead of money, self-sufficiency in terms of food, democracy and many other ideas that constitute the main ideology for most hipster movements in Western Civilization.

 


Plus! There is another connection a bit more updated. These past Comic and Illustration Convention, Te-Beo en la calle (Comic in the street), that took place in the Merced Palace in Madrid also held and exhibition on this great poet Francisco de Quevedo. You can go enjoy the exhibition until this 28th of April. A total of 70 items were donated for the event by the Francisco de Quevedo Foundation.


 

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