Meléndez Valdés, Juan

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Meléndez Valdés, Juan

(hwän mālān`dāth väldās`), 1754–1817, Spanish neoclassic poet. He studied classics and law and later taught humanities at Salamanca. After much political vacillation during the rise and fall of the Bonapartes, he was forced to flee to France. As poet he was outstanding in an otherwise undistinguished age of Spanish poetry. Although often sentimental and obvious, his work is musical, rich in language and imagery, and distinguished by a fine sensibility. His themes range from the sensual and joyous, celebrating love and nature (e.g., Los Besos de Amor), to the philosophical, deploring Spanish poverty and backwardness and pleading for liberal reforms.

Bibliography

See study by R. M. Cox (1974).

Meléndez Valdés, Juan

 

Born Mar. 11, 1754, in Ribera del Fresno, Spain; died May 24, 1817, in Montpellier, France. Spanish poet.

Meléndez Valdés studied in Madrid and Salamanca and became a professor at the University of Madrid in 1781. When Napoleon’s army invaded Spain in 1808, he entered Joseph Bonaparte’s service and went to France. He was a friend of G. M. Jovellanos y Ramírez. Meléndez Valdés is the author of the narrative poem The Glory of the Arts (1781), which describes ancient classical sculptures, and of the collection Lyric Poetry (1785).

While the early poems of Meléndez Valdés glorify the joy of life, his more mature poems express disenchantment with the bourgeois Enlightenment and criticize bourgeois civilization. Meléndez Valdés called for a return to the natural and peaceful peasant life. By continuing the poetic tradition of L. de León, Meléndez Valdés was a forerunner of Spanish romanticism.

WORKS

Poesíuas. Madrid, 1925 (Clásicos castellanos, no. 64).
Poesías inéditas. Madrid, 1954.

REFERENCES

Colford, W. E. Juan Meléndez Valdés. New York, 1942.
Demerson. G. Don Juan Meléndez Valdés: Une Vie espagnole sous le signe de la France (1754-1817). Paris, 1961.

A. L. SHTEIN

References in periodicals archive ?
En la poesia anacreontica--especificamente la de la escuela salmantina, cuyas figuras principales son Juan Melendez Valdes, Jose Cadalso, Jose Iglesias de la Casa y fray Diego Tadeo Gonzalez--predomina la celebracion, el festejo y la sensualidad articulados en la voz del poeta que esconde su identidad a traves de la asuncion de la de Anacreonte.