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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Humor en la obra de Fray Antonio de Guevara Lopez-Saiz, Jose Maria


This study begins with the enumeration of the opinions of various critics which attest the presence of an element of humour in Fray Antonio de Guevara's writings. However, we wish to point out that neither the existence of this aspect nor its importance has been sufficiently taken into account. First of all it is necessary to define humour and establish when it first appeared in literature. We see then that Fray Antonio de Guevara's works have certain definite characteristics by which he may be considered to be a humorist. A detailed examination of the subject matter and language of Guevara's writings reveals the nature of his humour. His wit is best shown in his book: Libro que trata de los inventores del arte de navegar y de los trabajos de la galera - written with the express purpose of being a completely humorous book. However, in all of Guevara's works, without exception, we can find examples of the comic. The writer not only avails himself of topics which lead to the artistic creation of humour, but also heightens it through his skillful use of rhetorical devices. Indeed, his humour depends more on his language than on the ideas themselves. In order to illustrate his ideas and tongue-in-cheek (pseudo) moralizing, the bishop of Mondoñedo displays a fanciful acquaintance with the classics. In doing so he follows the Renaissance vogue for admiring the Ancients. In most cases, this feigned erudition serves only to situate his tales. If we observe his fictitious stories together with his pseudo-erudition and his deliberate humorous effects, we have proof that Guevara's writings are inspired and original. From his pen come literary creations, which, because of their construction, the psychological observation of the characters, and setting (ambientación) are close to those of a modern novelist. Besides Guevara's being the first to introduce humour in artistic prose, we suggest that he may be considered as having inspired the later literary forms known as the essay and the novel.

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