1926 English translation, translated from the Spanish, Introduction by Henry Edward Watts; Alfred A. Knopf publishers, New York; hardbound; very good condition with unmarked pages; no dust jacket.
INTRODUCTION: "An Essay on the Life and Writings of Quevedo" -
NOT more unquestioned is Cervantes’ claim to be the first of Spanish humorists than that of Quevedo to be the second. Among his own countrymen the title, which is generally the more disputable, has been by a singular consensus of opinion assigned to Quevedo. The author of Don Quixote apart, who is with the Immortals, there is no greater name among the writers of Spain than that of the author of The Visions, of Don Pablo, of innumerable poems, pamphlets, satires, pieces of wit, and works serious, moral, sportive, and fanciful. In that Golden Age, prolific of authors, the hundred years between the birth of Cervantes and the prime of Calderon, there was no genius so fruitful in every kind of intellectual product. Poet, politician, humorist, satirist, theologian, moralist, historian, novelist—Quevedo stands out a prodigy of learning, wit, and quick and various invention, even among the crowd of gifted writers who made that period famous in letters. He has been called the Spanish Juvenal—the Spanish Ovid—the Spanish Lucian. He is something of all these, and yet is unlike any of them. He wrote lyrics with the grace, simplicity, and ease of Horace. He is as prodigal of humour as Rabelais, whom he resembles also in his unfastidiousness, his obscurity, and his extravagance. He has been likened to our English Swift, to whom he is akin in the quality of his mordant wit, and almost approaches in his anti-humanity; but he is lacking in the creative force of the author of Gulliver. Not unlike Swift was Quevedo in fortune as in genius, for it was disappointed ambition which wore out his heart and drove him to satire, to visions, and assaults on human folly and vice.
From his earliest years Quevedo was marked for distinction. When scarcely more than twenty-three he corresponded with the great scholars of Germany and the Low Countries, the great Lipsius hailing him as magnum decus Hispanorum, and in complimentary epistles urging him to undertake the vindication of Homer. If we may believe the contemporary records, Quevedo had by this time acquired all profane knowledge and human learning. He was versed in all the languages, even Hebrew, Greek, and Arabic. He began to write early, and continued to write during the whole of his busy and turbulent life, with an industry, energy, and fecundity which made him the wonder of his age. The catalogue of his works embraces every department of authorship, and there appears to be no species of composition, from an exhortation to a holy life to the more than ribald canzonet, which he did not attempt. The gayest themes were as much to his mind as the gravest studies, and from Paul the Apostle he could pass at will to Paul the Sharper, with no apparent effort of wit or strain of conscience. Some of his works have been lost, but enough remains to testify to the astonishing vigour, exuberance, and versatility of his genius. There are religious treatises and biographies of saints, a Defence of the Faith, and a homily on the sacred cradle and sepulchre. There is a metrical translation of Epictetus, and another of (the false) Phocylides. There is a life of Marcus Brutus. There are letters to kings and statesmen, and tracts on the currency. There are satires in verse and lampoons in prose. There are poems, odes, ballads, and sonnets innumerable. Even the drama he did not leave unattempted, though his comedies have perished, together with many other works, including Considerations on the New Testament and a Treatise on the Immortality of the Soul. Finally, there is the picaresque novel here presented to the English reader under the title of Don Pablo de Segovia, or Paul the Sharper.