Góngora y Argote, Luis de

Góngora y Argote, Luis de

(lo͞oēs` dā gōn`gōrä ē ärgō`tā), 1561–1627, poet of the Spanish Golden Age, b. Cordova. Of a cultured family, he studied in Salamanca and became a prebendary (1585?) and later a priest (1617). In his youth he was carefree and pleasure loving. His early religious duties were largely diplomatic and took him through much of Spain. Later he spent two years at court and became involved in a controversy with young QuevedoQuevedo y Villegas, Francisco de
, 1580–1645, Spanish satirist, novelist, and wit, b. Madrid. In 1611 he fled to Italy after a duel and became involved in revolutionary plottings. When Philip IV ascended the Spanish throne, Quevedo narrowly avoided a long prison term.
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, who lampooned him. Góngora, who has been called Spain's greatest poet, successfully wove Renaissance and popular poetry into an original and elegant form, rich with metaphor and classical allusion. A poet of great sophistication, wit, and culture, he expressed an extraordinary visual imagination. The countervailing qualities of irony and melancholy enhance his work as well. His earlier poetry includes sonnets, at which he excelled, and ballads. His fame, however, rests primarily upon the great, complex, stylized works of his maturity; these include Panegyrico al duque de Lerma (1609), Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea (1613?), and the unfinished pastoral idyll, Las Soledades (1613, tr. The Solitudes), now considered his masterpiece. Góngora's style gave rise to the term Gongorism, signifying a baroque tendency in Spanish literature that is the equivalent of euphuismeuphuism
, in English literature, a highly elaborate and artificial style that derived from the Euphues (1578) of John Lyly and that flourished in England in the 1580s.
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 in England. Characteristic elements of his style include an innovative use of metaphor, latinization of vocabulary, and classical and mythological allusion, and the critical controversy over the complexity and difficulty that these elements gave to Las Soledades continued for three centuries. Although his collected works were not published until 1921, Góngora greatly influenced modern Spanish poetry.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Góngora y Argote, Luis de


Born July 11, 1561, in Córdoba; died there May 23, 1627. Spanish poet.

Góngora’s first poems were published around 1580, but the collection Verse Writings of the Spanish Homer did not appear until the year of his death. His poems were widely known in manuscript form. The usual division of his work into two periods (until 1610, the “bright” style; after 1610, the “dark” style) by Spanish literary scholarship is entirely relative; throughout his life he turned to both styles. He created many romances in the popular spirit and satirical verses with a clear message. The “dark” style is most clearly represented by the poems Polifemo (1612–13) and Solitudes (1613, unfinished), in which Góngora intentionally complicates the syntax and overloads the verses with mythological images, neologisms, complex metaphors, and periphrasis. These poems laid the foundations of Gongorism.


Obras completas. Madrid, 1956.
In Russian translation:
“Ispanets iz Orana: Sonety.” In Khrestomatiia po zapadnoevropeiskoi literature: Literatura 17 v., 2nd ed. Compiled by B. I. Purishev. Moscow, 1949.


Orozco Díaz, E. Góngora. Barcelona [1953].
Alonso, D. Estudios y ensayos gongorinos. Madrid [1955].
Alonso, D., and E. Galvarriato de Alonso. Para la biografia de Góngora; documentos desconocidos. Madrid [1962].
Oliver Belmas. A. Don Luis de Góngora y Argole: Su vida, sus mejores páginas, su época. Madrid, 1963.
Garcia Lorca, F. “’La imagen poética de don Luis de Góngora.” In his book Obras completas. Madrid, 1966. Pages 62–85.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.