1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Esrronceda, Jose Ignacio Javier Oriol Encarnacion de

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 9
Esrronceda, Jose Ignacio Javier Oriol Encarnacion de

ESPRONCEDA, JOSÉ IGNACIO JAVIER ORIOL ENCARNACIÓN DE (1808–1842), Spanish poet, son of an officer in the Bourbon regiment, was born at or near Almendralejo de los Barros on the 25th of March 1808. On the close of the war he was sent to the preparatory school of artillery at Segovia, and later became a pupil of the poet Lista, then professor of literature at St Matthew’s College in Madrid. In his fourteenth year he had attracted his master’s attention by his verses, and had joined a secret society. Sentenced to five years’ seclusion in the Franciscan convent at Guadalajara, he began an epic poem entitled Pelayo, of which fragments survive. He escaped to Portugal and thence to England, where he found the famous Teresa whom he had met at Lisbon; here, too, he became a student of Shakespeare, Milton and Byron. In 1830 he eloped with Teresa to Paris, took part in the July revolution, and soon after joined the raid of Chapalangarra on Navarre. In 1833 he returned to Spain and obtained a commission in the queen’s guards. This, however, he soon forfeited by a political song, and he was banished to Cuéllar, where he wrote a poor novel entitled Sancho Saldaña ó el Castellano de Cuéllar (1834). He took an active part in the revolutionary risings of 1835 and 1836, and, on the accession to power of the Liberal party in 1840, was appointed secretary of legation at the Hague; in 1842 he was elected deputy for Almería, and seemed likely to play a great part in parliamentary life. But his constitution was undermined, and, after a short illness, he died at Madrid on the 23rd of May 1842. His poems, first published in 1840, at once gained for him a reputation which still continues undiminished. The influence of Byron pervades Espronceda’s life and work. It is present in an ambitious variant on the Don Juan legend, El Estudiante de Salamanca, Elvira’s letter being obviously modelled on Julia’s letter in Don Juan; the Canción del Pirata is suggested by The Corsair; and the Byronic inspiration is not wanting even in the noble fragment entitled El Diablo Mundo, based on the story of Faust. But in El Mendigo, in El Reo de Muerte, in El Verdugo, and in the sombre vehement lines, A Jarifa en una orgía, Espronceda approves himself the most potent and original lyrical poet produced by Spain during the 19th century.

Bibliography.Obras poéticas y escritos en prosa (Madrid, 1884), edited by Blanca Espronceda de Escosura, the poet’s daughter (the second volume has not been published); E. Rodriguez Solís, Espronceda; su tiempo, su vida, y sus obras (Madrid, 1883); E. Piñeyro, El Romanticismo en España (Paris, 1904).