Apart from lyricism, which was an anxiety of interiority, and where Spain had poets of universal value, art proves to be awkward and unable to sustain itself according to an intrinsic norm that harmonizes with a solid intellectual constructive framework. Italianism, which in narrative poetry was the abandonment of the octave of “arte mayor”, produced nothing but pale flowers. Las lágrimas de Angélica de Luis Barahona de Soto are dispersed in episodic motifs of a lyrical and decorative character. In the epic poem the interest in present-day history was so keen that it seldom succeeded in resolving itself in matters of poetry and organically composing itself in a lucid order. Luis Zapata in the famous Carlo it does nothing but rhyming chronicle, where fantastic elements intrude on smuggling, in contrast with the intentional seriousness of the poem. Juan Rufo in Austriada founds the exaltation of John of Austria, the winner of Lepanto, on fictional motivations, with the intervention of the marvelous diabolical. Alonso de Ercilla in La Araucana chronistically exposes the rebellion of the Chileni and the victory of the Spaniards. The artistic motif that should have given unity of tone and inspiration to the poem is the sentiment of the Spanish power, whose destiny is to bring civilization to the New World. The poet, however, gets lost in retrospective episodic visions, which are violently inserted into the theme. To legendary religious reasons El Monserrate ; but he draws them from autobiographical notations of a practical and prosaic nature. Everywhere, in this Spanish art that attempts complex constructions, the defect that constituted Cervantes’ fundamental aesthetic problem is felt: the need for an orderly composition and a harmonious proportion of parts within the light of a beauty that is in itself delightful., such as to be the sensible splendor of an idea. It is not the classicism of abstract regulation that worries Spanish poets; but the spontaneous outpouring of sentiment, a historically conditioned expression of a specific poet’s individuality. It is the theory that, individually for the theater (Ejemplar poético, 1606), Juan de la Cueva exposes. Don’t be fooled by the terminology that looks like that of the Poetics of Aristotle or of the Epistle to the Pisons by Horace. The likelihood to which art is aimed is not the abstract universal, that of geometrically defined concepts, but the splendor of a form in its metaphysical meaning: the transparency of an intelligible principle in a harmonically proportioned matter. It is unity in the individual. However, Juan de la Cueva’s theatrical production fluctuates between the adventurous intertwining of novellas, with schematic notes, and the fragmentary succession of themes, either classical or national epic, without ever finding an ideal unity. In turn, Cristóbal de Virués and Lupercio Leonardo de Argensola aim exclusively at sentiment and seek effects by multiplying the deaths on the scene. In the narrative prose, outside the modules of the pastoral novel, there is the story with a historical color (El Abencerraje y la hermosa Jarifa) and the novel with episodic succession, Ginés Pérez de Hita’s Guerras civiles de Granada, which are a mixture of fantasy and popular poetry. The story of an Italian type, more surprisingly of cases and jokes than a precise determination of characters, appears widely in Juan de Timoneda’s short story collections.
The opposition of nature and art, as the aesthetics of the time understood it (between poetry, which is a feeling closed in its subjectivity, and art, which is spiritual ideation and practical, fantastic realization), will sharpen in the golden age. On the one hand, in the theater, the rights of feeling and passion will be affirmed; on the other hand, in lyric and oratory, we will go towards the artifice of the cult form and the acuteness of the intellect. This opposition is inserted as a motif of art in the work of Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra (1547-1616). For his life, for his literary education and for his ideal of art, Cervantes closes the Renaissance. His production that multiplies and adds up in the last years of his life, it is already lagging behind the critical developments of contemporary art. Its aesthetics, when the comments to theAristotle’s poetics, it is based on the traditional, Platonic-Augustinian and scholastic one, of which there are very evident traces in the Filosofía antigua poética(1596) by Alonso López Pinciano. But he relived it, meditated and disciplined it, personally, giving us a synthetic exposition in figurative form in the Viage del Parnaso (1614). Against the abstract universal of the Aristotelians, Cervantes opposed the universal immanent in every heart. Poetry is nature, a feeling that aspires to the beauty that it essentially delights; beauty that the artist creates fantastically, subordinating the fullness of a love that feels infinite to the particular purpose of the work to be done. In the immanent rationality of love the artist creates, drawing on the treasure of the sensitive images of the universe, which is all impregnated with the intelligible and therefore a vestige of supreme beauty. The Galatea (1585), which is Cervantes’ first novel, is in the line of Gil Polo’s pastoral. But alongside the poetic representation of love, an impulse of nature, Cervantes places, in antithesis between them, in discussions that take place between shepherds, Platonic love, which is an aspiration to ideal beauty, and concrete Christian love, which it seeks beauty as its own good and, realizing itself, it recognizes itself in its infinite essence. The work is written to enhance the national language. Inserting himself into the actuality of contemporary real life was Cervantes’ constant effort. Theater author, he dealt with themes that exalted the feeling of homeland (Numancia) and the ardor of faith (El trato de Argel, Los baños de Argel) with an example of the torments suffered by the Christian prisoners in Algiers, such as to arouse the desire for a holy crusade against Muslims. His theater (Ocho comedias) had to be the representation of a rational human world, out of instinctive passions, harmonized in itself and dominated by an idea that was the sensible splendor of truth. His Entremeses are the comic of the irrational, which is fragmentary, instinctive, tied to the small empirical personality. But faced with the triumphs of Lope de Vega, Cervantes withdrew from the theater and meditated on the novel. The Quijote it is a poetics of art and a poetics of life. In the first part it is “the poem of the universe”, where the irrational love of honest good (Don Quixote), irrational love of useful good (Sancho) and love of delightful good operate without knowing each other (couples in love). Every love pursues the beauty that delights it, and closes itself in its own dream, that is, in its own intimate poetry, which is sweet and dear illusion. Don Quixote is a soul that is historicized in the sentimental forms of the chivalrous novel. Sancho is another soul that is historicized in the instinctive forms of the naturalistic or picaresque novel. The second part presents the glory that Don Quixote achieved by operating in the real universality of history, that is, the ridicule that surrounds his chivalrous exploits. Nobody can understand which is the animating soul of his dreams.