Meléndez Valdés, Juan

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.


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

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


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


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.


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