Muses and Masks: Some Classical Genres of Spanish Poetry, by Elias L. Rivers, University of California - Irvine.
The arguments concerning versification and genre that are presented in [this book] will be based on evidence that is specific with respect to language, culture, and historical period: the language is Castilian, the culture and period those of the Spanish Empire (with major centers in Madrid, Barcelona, Naples, Seville, Mexico City, Lima) during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the genres chosen are associated with the Renaissance classical tradition: the sonnet, the verse epistle, the silva. None of these genres existed prehistorically, that is, before the invention of writing; they are all literally literary. The sonnet is one of the best examples in modern Western poetry of a genre (but Wellek and Warren might question whether it could even be called a genre) that is defined wholly by the material shape of its signifier. The verse epistle, on the other hand, depends on the pre-existence of letter-writing and letter-reading as a social institution. And the problematic silva, as we shall see, may be seen either as a relatively irregular metric pattern or as a vaguely defined classical, or baroque, kind of poetry. This limited sample of historical genres will perhaps permit a few tentative generalizations about poetry; it will also, I hope, serve as a useful introduction for the reader of English who wants to know something about the kinds of poetic discourse that existed in Spain's Golden Age and about how they functioned and developed. - from the Preface.
Series: University of California, Irvine, Hispanic Studies, #1
ISBN 978-0-936388-53-3 (HB, 120 pp.) $45