Biography of Baltasar Gracián (1601-1658)

Writer, thinker and religious Spanish, born in Belmonte (a village belonging to the region of the zaragozan town of Calatayud, now known as Belmonte de Gracian) at the beginning of January 1601 (perhaps that same day 8 it is dated his baptism certificate), and died in Tarazona (Zaragoza), December 6, 1658. Possessor of a very broad humanistic education, an exceptional ability for analysis and reflection, and an amazing virtuosity in the handling of the literary language and its various rhetorical procedures, left a dazzling artistic and intellectual legacy which, at the formal level, makes it one of the best exponents of this Baroque conceptismo which reached its peak in Hispanic letters during the first half of the 17TH century printed, while, by the coverage of its contents, places him at the head of the Spanish philosophic thought of the modern era.


Born in a family that today would be squarely in the middle class (was son of Angela Morales and the Licentiate in medicine Francisco Gracián, occupying an accommodated position within the State Administration), had access to a careful religious and intellectual formation thanks to his uncle Antonio, resident in Toledo, where the young Baltasar moved in 1617 to enter a College of the society of Jesus. Apparently, had as a child strong friction with her mother, who, according to some scholars of his life and work, would tilt at an early age to this ingrained misogyny that exhibited then in all his writings.

Toledo school, Baltasar Gracián teenager began to discover a universe humanist that left him fascinated, and decided that belong from a restless and insatiable desire to know that ultimately would end up becoming the main distinguishing not only his work, but his own attitude towards life (said with one of their famous maxims","you both live as it is known"). Indeed, studies of philosophy and letters that began at age sixteen in Toledo - and in particular - by that stage of their learning, the reading of the very famous history of Spain from the talaverano Jesuit Juan de Mariana (1535-1624), who would become one of the inexhaustible sources of graciana work marked him deeply, as much as I was impressedin this crucial period in the forging of his personality, the moral example and the dedication to the study of the Jesuits.

So things, already back to her native Aragon requested their first tests of blood cleaning, and may 30, 1619, entered the novitiate which the Jesuits had then in Tarragona, where after two years (specifically, the last day of may 1621) made their first vows. He/She then moved to the College of Calatayud, where, under the fruitful guidance of the Jesuit gerundense Jaime Albert - whom Gracián always as one of their most beloved and respected teachers recalled-, he/she studied with singular use of art and philosophy. Learned, moreover, major rhetorical and oratorical procedures that served the Jesuit fathers - especially, the aforementioned Albert, reputed at the time as one of the most famous Aragonese preachers - in the preparation of their sermons. This learning of the techniques of writing would also be decisive in shaping his literary style.

In 1623, Baltasar Gracián went to Zaragoza to undertake studies in theology, and, four years later, after having brilliantly overcome the test ad gradum in such matters, finally received priestly orders and went from being "brother" to be "Jesuit priest". According to the strict rules laid down by the own San Ignacio de Loyola, there was then making his second novitiate, which led him to the House that had the company of Jesus in Valencia, where, in 1630 he/she made his tertianship. It happened, then, to teach Moral theology in Lleida (1631), and from there to teach philosophy at the Jesuit School of Gandia (1633), already considered at the time as one of the most eminent intellectuals of his congregation. Finally, the July 25, 1635 found himself in position to make profession of the four vows of solemn culminating the lengthy training process imposed by the founder of the order, which had added to the three mandatory for every priest (obedience, poverty and chastity), a fourth special vow of obedience to the Pope in any apostolic mission.

Submitted, in the summer of 1636, as preacher and confessor to the school of Huesca, by its vast humanist culture and accused literary sensibility came soon into contact with the circle of the scholar, antiquary and writer Huesca Vincente Juan de Lastanosa (1606-1685), who brought together to her around to a remarkable group of artists and intellectuals, as the chronicler of the Kingdom of Aragon Juan Ustarroz Francisco Andrés (1606-1653), or - a few years later - the poet, novelist and religious Ana Francisca Abarca de Bolea (1623-1696). Under the aegis of such egregious patrons, Baltasar Gracián gave rein to her literary vocation and engaged in the drafting of its first two works, the hero and the politician, that would see the light soon after under the pseudonym of Lorenzo Gracián, in an attempt to avoid the strict censorship of the society of Jesus applied to original texts of its own members. Indeed, in 1637, there was a first edition of hero - today entirely lost - dedicated to the aforementioned Lastanosa and footballer King Felipe IV, which provoked the indignation of the superior general of the company, who complained to the provincial of Aragon that Gracián had given to printing a work without respecting the strict internal regulations of the order.

Far from undaunted before the gazmoño zeal of his superiors, bilbilis writer gave to the hollanders in 1638 a second edition of the hero, now animated by a more informative purpose, as it appeared simultaneously in Huesca and in Madrid, under different labels printers (it is a double Edition that if specimens are preserved). Shortly thereafter, he/she was appointed to the College of the Jesuits in Zaragoza, where returned to establish valuable friendships. In its new circle was the Duke of Nochera, Viceroy of Navarre and Aragon, whose Entourage Gracián joined as a confessor, with the express consent of Viteleschi, the superior general of the order which had become so upset is the independence of one of its priests. Before heading for Navarre, he/she accompanied the Duke of Nochera to Madrid, where the viceroy was to be sworn in as great of Spain. Since the Court, Gracián Lastanosa wrote a 14 April 1640 to confess, not without some bitterness tinged with a self-satisfied parochial pride, that Madrid had just discovered "delusion, lies [and] vain people". This contempt for the natives of other land that wasn't theirs was increasing and widespread in Gracian to know new places, as well clear was in his immediate visit to Pamplona in the company of the Duke of Nochera (summer of 1640), from where it departed with a bad impression of Navarrese Jesuit.

Again in Zaragoza, in November 1640 he/she had in his hands the first edition of the politician, also signed by Lorenzo Gracián and now, dedicated to the Duke of Nochera, who already began to mean for his open opposition to the internal politics of the count-Duke of Olivares (1587-1645), with very marked form, the provisions which it had taken with respect to the revolt of Catalonia. The own Baltasar Gracián publicly showed their disapproval to the measures of olive groves and, always in support of his protector, marched for the second time to the Court to be more close to a Nochera who had been imprisoned by his clashes with the Conde-Duque. Apparently, now found no Gracián in Madrid so much "vain people" had discovered there only a year before, perhaps since it was received and praised by locals as one of the greatest preachers of the Kingdom, and who had the support of intellectuals in court for print, with "Real privilege", the first version of his art of wit (1641)again attributed on cover to that Lorenzo Gracián that escaped as well, by way of the pseudonym, fierce Jesuit censorship.

Consecrated, therefore, as one of the best examples of mid-17TH-century sacred oratory, he/she returned to his home province at the beginning of 1642 and continued from there showing his disagreement with the policy of the count-Duke of Olivares in the war of Catalonia, shortly before being appointed Vice President of the House of probation of the society of Jesus in Tarragona. But only spent a few months in charge of the Centre (from August to November of 1642), since at the end of that year it was once again to be based in Zaragoza, followed where combining their obligations of confessor and preacher with the cultivation of literary creation. After having overcome serious health problems, in 1644 he/she was appointed as a preacher to Valencia, where he/she once again showed his antipathy towards the local Jesuits, which did not preclude it was acclaimed by the faithful levantinos as one of the great architects of the oratory sacra which had passed through those lands, especially after they give (apparently(, 8 December of that year of 1644), his famed "Sermon on Hell". Dam, meanwhile, a febrile creative activity, during this period worked hard in the drafting of the discreet, expanded the art of wit and began to write the first drafts of the notices to the attentive male and the Gallant, works - latter - which were embryos than to the dessert out of the brochure under the final title of the manual Oracle (1647).

His literary reputation began to spread abroad in 1645, as a result of a first translation into French of the hero (L'Heros), carried out by "you Mr. Gervaise", one of the usual doctors of the King of France. Already well advanced that year got permission from his superiors to leave those Mediterranean lands that were not to his liking and return to the College of Huesca, where he/she managed at last give fulfilled auction to the discreet, that saw the light during the summer of 1646, still under the false responsibility of author of Lorenzo Gracián, and dedicated to the ill-fated Prince Baltasar Carlosthat he/she lost his life a few weeks of the appearance of this work.

Always attentive to political and military developments of his time, at the end of that year of 1646 Baltasar Gracián traveled to the city of Lleida between the troops of the Marquis of Leganés, who had required him to his side as a military chaplain. While he/she gained military experience, his literary and intellectual prestige increased and disseminated by all corners of the Kingdom, with successive reprints of his works (a new edition of the politician appeared in those days in Huesca, while hero saw the light in Lisbon). After the military campaign, he/she returned to the capital Huesca and returned to focus on their creative and spiritual travail with singular dedication to the writing of the first paragraphs of which would become his masterpiece.

Indeed, since the end of 1646 until the beginning of the next decade Baltasar Gracián was used in the drafting of the first part of El Criticón (1651), without neglecting other work of expansion and reissue of previous works by this. The spring of 1647 gave printing finally the final version of the manual Oracle, with dedication to don Luis Méndez de Haro (1598-1661), Marquis of Carpio, and Duke of Montoro, and then successor, in the King Felipe IV privanza, defenestrated count-Duke of Olivares. At the beginning of the summer of that same year a new edition of the discreet; received the mandatory approval and in September of that successful season was approved, at the same time, the first version of acuity and art of wit, which finally left the hollanders in Huesca in January 1648, dedicated to the count of Aranda. Of this work was an immediate success, which led to their early reprint in Madrid (1649).

Still, at that time, as a preacher and confessor in the College of the society of Jesus in Huesca, charges that allowed him to spend many hours in the drafting of their own work - remember that it was engaged in the first part of the Criticón - and reading, proofreading and editing of other writings (such as the fruitful preaching, of father Jerónimo Continentelicensed for publication was requested by the own Gracián, as a Publisher, in 1651). Finally, shortly before the arrival of the summer of 1651, was released the first installment of El Criticón, dedicated to don Pablo stop and now attributed by Gracián to a such "Mr. García de Marlones". After receiving, in Huesca, the congratulations of all Lastanosa circle during that summer, in autumn there was again moved to Zaragoza to assume, in the College there ran the Jesuits, the functions of master of Sacred Scripture, Manager of low intellectual relevance for those who had already located at the head of the Spanish thought of that century. Soon it would warn the own writer who, as a result of the extraordinary reception dispensed to his works in the more educated sectors of the Kingdom, had grown up among their brethren's congregation the number of enemies that, envious of his fame, moving all the threads that had at its disposal to procure the darkening of the great thinker bilbilis.

Indeed, in 1652 Gracián was wrapped in a noisy polemic intellectual sustained against Canon Salinas because of some corrections to the author of El Criticón had amended a translation of a Latin poem by his rival. But this confrontation just became category of anecdote by the violent clash that occurred shortly after between the literary and philosophical concerns of Gracián and the inquina - no doubt fueled by the envy-which showed the new superior of the company, father Nickel, who came to write the provincial of Aragon for blaming his tolerance towards those Jesuits than to the Aragonese authorto devote himself to literary creation, "deny much of our profession". Urged by this reprimand from his superiors, the provincial of Aragon had recommend to Gracián that he/she observed a prudent period of publishing silence, like patent good in words which, via letters was, approached his friend and protector Lastanosa bilbilis Jesuit: "prevent me print and not missing me envious".

Paradoxically, while in Spain it was intended to relegate him to the ostracism by their own brothers in the Congregation, in the leading Nations of Europe remained spread with success, which at that time was his most famous work, the hero, which was the subject of a new translation, now in the English language, in charge of Skeffington (The Heroe) during that year of 1652. But, unable to resign himself to that obedience now and pastuena their superiors under him, Baltasar Gracián moved with ease and effectiveness between the civil authorities and ecclesiastical until, the following year, licences and approvals relevant to stamp the second part of the Criticón, who was born in Huesca, again signed by Lorenzo Gracián, and dedicated to don Juan José of Austria (1629-1679)bastard son of Felipe IV and María Calderón ("La Calderona") comic. Before the recognition granted everywhere to the writings of Gracián (endorsed, in September of that same year in 1653, with the Second Edition, in Madrid from the manual Oracle), the superior Nickel not was obliged to grant the mandatory license for the publication of the only text that the Aragonese author published under his real name, the communion rail, which could come to light without any pseudonym because of its religious theme.

A new approval of this work came in 1654, coinciding roughly with an epistle of the Marqués de San Felices through which scholars graciana work infer the intervention of the Jesuit bilbilis in the famous and widespread anthological exhibition, compiled by José Alfay under the title of several poems of large Spanish sugar (Zaragoza(: Ibar, 1654). At the beginning of 1655 came out, finally, printing the communion rail, whose nature of spiritual work allowed for the first time to Gracian display their pride of author, well manifest at the mention of the author of the cover ("by Fr. Baltasar Gracián, of the society of Jesus, Scripture reader"). Permanent contact, as always, with Lastanosa and artists and intellectuals who surrounded the patrons Huesca, Gracián shortly afterwards submitted to good literary judgment of all of them some fragments of this third part of El Criticón all waiting anxiously, and increasingly seen threatened by the animosity of the father Nickel. But, despite this hostility - and after appearances in Portugal of the first part of El Criticón and the discreet in 1656-, input already the year of 1657 was finally the third and final installment of the work master of Gracián, signed again by that "Lorenzo" that Aragonés author had attributed nearly all his works beyond religious matters.

The exit to the street of this third part of El Criticón (dedicated "to don Lorenzo Francés de Urritigoyti, Honourable Dean of the Holy Church of Sigüenza") broke the patience of the superior general of the society of Jesus, who should feel not only disobeyed, but also challenged somewhat by a subordinate of his, further apologize for being occupied in his writings on secular affairsIt seemed to grow to reprimands and returned again to provoke the wrath of his superiors with a volume quite alien to those religious issues of forced treatment in the work of any Jesuit. Thus things already unleashed all the wrath of the father Nickel against Baltasar Gracián, was the own superior general of the company who orchestrated a fierce campaign of harassment and demolition that was not already satisfied with silence the literary voice of the Aragonese writer, but chased the sinking of Gracián in all facets of his life, starting with his brilliant career teaching and vocational. Thus, after angrily protest to the provincial of Aragon by the little fruit that, in his view, had been among the students of the school of Zaragoza the teachings of Scripture taught by the author of El Criticón, father Nickel promoted and got that bilbilis Jesuit was dismissed from their positions and subjected to a severe public rebuke thatamong other physical punishment and moral reproach, was sentenced him to a period of fasting required based on bread and water, and a forced removal to the small town of Huesca of Graus, where grief and melancholy caused by this unfair ostracism had severely affect your never too good health. And, though the following year he/she came to taste the sweetness of their rehabilitation and immediate shipment to the Colegio de Tarazona, he/she never managed to recover successfully from this virulent attack directed against him by his own superiors, upset that helped precipitate its death when it entered the winter of 1658.


In General, can be said without fear to incur any exaggeration that entire literary production of Baltasar Gracián has a didactic purpose morality that, although not too aunque no demasiado bien well assimilated in Spain by his contemporaries (who preferred the inflamed eloquence of the Gracián speaker to the refined significance of their printed concepts), caused great admiration in most of Europewhere he/she was reputed as one of the great thinkers of the 17TH century. It is not surprising, therefore, that still at bilbilis author living out their own editions in French, English, Italian and Swedish; or that, in the course of the century of lights, some of his works were poured to German, Russian, Dutch, Polish, Romanian and Hungarian. In France, where his lucid pessimistic conception of the human being caught with unusual force already in some contemporary yours as Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) and François de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680), his thinking soon spread across other great authors of the second half of the 17TH century - among them, Jean de la Bruyère (1645-1696) - and reached some that are entered into the next century - as François Fénelon (1651-1715)-to finish dazzling one of writers and philosophers of the French Enlightenment, Voltaire (1694-1778), not in vain, "Louis Le Grand" had formed in his teens at the Jesuit school. Following the praise of this and the rest of the thinkers of the 18th-century France--they welcomed confidence Gracián, despite his deep pessimism, in the capacity for improvement and growth that seems to cherish the man-the Aragonese Jesuit became one of the philosophers "of fashion" in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Europe, with special diffusion among the German Romantics. And as well, according to a suggestion of Goethe (1749-1832), the torn and vitalist Schopenhauer (1788-1860) poured into the manual Oracle German, attracted the attention of all the European philosophers to the thought of the Aragonese author, and came to affirm in writing something as blunt as "my favorite writer is the philosopher Gracián", judgment in which we have supported always scholars of the work of the Jesuit who defend the nature of philosophical texts and postpone the merits of his metaphysical rigor not less obvious literary value which, in addition, warned in his writings. Given the influence that had the thought of Schopenhauer on the German philosophers of the 19th century, anyone could miss the great Nietzsche (1844-1900) came to argue, moreover, that "Europe has not produced anything more fine or complicated moral subtlety" than the Oracle graciano, maxim that definitely raised the bilbilis Jesuit "altars" universal philosophy.

Aside from the greater or lesser affinity of ideas, might be the literary style of Gracián one of the formal aspects of his work that caused greater fascination to Nietzsche, especially in regard to this trend to the short, dense and pregnant phrase meanings which Gracian uses constantly, and that some of his works becomes a tight succession of brilliant-aphorisms or philosophical maxims (expressive vehicle tremendous performance in the work of the German thinker). This locked concentration of signifiers and meanings, quintessence - as already indicated at the beginning of this article-of the pure conceptual aesthetics of the Spanish Baroque, on the one hand, fulfills the function cause surprise and, therefore, require the attention of the reader; and, on the other hand, in order to record in his mind a series of rulings, made with simple and direct simplicity of the Spanish paremiologic tradition, they enjoyed such fortune which, on some occasions, they were definitely coined as sayings in the popular heritage (v. gr., famed graciano assertion "good, if brief, twice good"). Paradoxically, the Aragonese author censured the abundant and indiscriminate use of proverbs, and always looked for a bright, complex and unique language in which the elisions, the tactless, abrupt juxtapositions, accumulation of bimembres syntactic structures, and, in general, all correspondences and symmetries, dense Baroque fireworks show - as rightly noted philologist José Manuel Blecua - a notorious "need for abstraction", of intellectualism, of essence". In the words of a modern editor of his work, Raquel Asun, "Gracian found in addition style suitable for its purpose equating what Klauss Herger called 'lifestyle' and linguistic style as perhaps no one has accomplished in Spanish literature." The author [...] is installed on the guidelines of a creation with a clear decision of darkness, of difficulty that the meanings and normal uses of the language will host second connotations that transform them and intensify".

The hero (1637)

The hero (Huesca: printing of Juan Nogues, 1637) is a short booklet divided into twenty sections that Gracián - as it would then in other works, following a pattern common in his time - not concerned with the anticipated chapters Word, but with a tag always new and surprising (in this case, "" primores ""). Presented as one of many speculum principium (or education manual for man to large missions) that were circulating extensively since the end of the middle ages and, above all, from the Renaissance era, this first book by Baltasar Gracián is configured as a catalogue of skills, qualities and merits that must adorn a ruler or anyone who aspire to succeed and a preeminent position in its scope. Thus opens Gracián, with this first installment, its proposed special of role models and behaviour patterns necessary to achieve excellence, proposal that ultimately would become the central thematic axis of his work and in the thread that would be strung his remaining literary arguments. And, in line with this constantly searching for that ideal of perfection or excellence, Gracian also shows the hero (it is true that with lower development which will then reach in later works) its tendency to moral satire, as essential instrument to dissect human frailties and highlight obstacles that prevent a man achieve that long-awaited excellence.

The politician (1640)

The politician don Fernando the Catholic (Zaragoza: Dormer, 1640) - original title of the first edition - Announces well clear from its cover the intention of Gracián analyze in more detail the qualities that outline the ideal archetype of a good ruler. For the Aragonese Jesuit, these exemplary virtues of the true political can be extracted from the historical figure of King don Fernando the Catholic (1452-1516), who had already described glowingly in the last "primor" of the hero - with his wife Isabella of Castile (1451-1504) - as "non plus ultra" and one of the "pillars of faith". Indeed Gracián rehearsed with this writing a risky combination of historical genre and essayist commentary, all poured into the right mold for the configuration of a speech designed to be read in a gathering or literary Academy (probably, in any of the frequent cenacles that organized the aforementioned Lastanosa between writers, artists and intellectuals Huesca). Its originality lies, however, in the notorious doctrinal approach Gracián wanted to give, on the basis of a reading and interpretation of the historical past that, ultimately, was presented as a rigorous and up-to-date model of behavior for present and future monarchs.

The discreet (1646)

It is difficult to find, in the history of world literature, a better symbiosis between humility and ambition than that embodied by Baltasar Gracián in the pages of the discrete (Huesca: printing of Juan Nogues, 1646), work published by the own Lastanosa and conceived by the author as a practical manual to whose teachings should refer anyone who would like to sit discreet square (today we would say "smart") in the Spain of the 17TH century. Divided this time into twenty-five enhancements (i.e. virtues which enhance wisdom, elegance, culture, good education and always appropriate behavior of discrete man), this third work of Gracián proposes - among other requirements to achieve full discretion - always exercise "genius and ingenuity", "not be uneven", "not always be mocked", "no surrender to the humor", etc.

Manual Oracle and art of prudence (1647)

As it announces its long title (manual Oracle and art of prudence. Taken from the aphorisms that are run in the works of Lorenço Gracián [Huesca: Juan Nogués, 1647]), this fourth book by Baltasar Gracián based on ideas and concepts already expressed in the three works which, until then, bilbilis author had given to the printing press, now transformed into sentences that, in the line of his previous writings, or Max are postulated as models of behavior for who aspire to perfectionboth in his private life and in its social aspect. They are, in total, three hundred aphorisms that, followed by a dense paraphrase in which the own Gracián glossing the scope of each of them, they posit the need to "tuning the imagination" not displayed "in nothing vulgar", "never exaggerating", "allow some venial slip", "always act without scruple", "does not affect [i.e." not to flaunt of "] Fortune", "know estimate", "be not bad good pure"..., among other behavioural patterns that reveal the wisdom and the prudence of the discreet man.

Acuity and wit (1648) art

In art of wit and acuity (Huesca: printing of Juan Nogues, 1648), Gracián regained much of his theories on discretion in general and applied them to the specific plot of literary creation, to offer, in sum, the readers, a brilliant compendium of stylistic tricks, illustrated by abundant and clarifiers examples, constitutes one of the most complete and varied catalogs of the conceptual aesthetics. Work written six years before its final publication, and thoroughly revised and expanded shortly before being carried the hollanders, acuity and wit art not only offers the scholar of Baroque literature an assorted repertoire of the essential keys to follow the creative process of some of the most prominent authors of the letras hispánicas, but that also shows the scholar and the curious reader, through the texts that Gracián is served to illustrate different kinds of "acuities" says, the scope, the dissemination and acceptance of the works of other contemporary authors.

The Criticón (1651, 1653 and 1657)

Since the beginning of the 1950s until a year before his death, Gracian was publishing his monumental allegorical novel El Criticón, called to become his masterpiece and, without a doubt, in one of the most noted contributions of Hispanic letters to universal literature in three deliveries. Designed as an extensive, exhaustive and delayed journey through the course of human life and the four ages of man (childhood, youth, maturity and old age) identifying Gracián allegorically with the four seasons of the year (El Criticón. First part. In the spring of childhood and summer of youth. Author Marlones García [Zaragoza: Nogués, 1651]; Second part. Judicious courtesan philosophy, in the fall of the men's age. By Lorenzo Gracián [Huesca: Nogués, 1653]; Third part. In the winter of old age. By Lorenzo Gracián [Madrid: Pablo de Val, 1657]), the first surprise that caused this work among the readers accustomed to the judgemental and didactic style of the Aragonese author was its generic nature, which slipped from the runway of the aphorism and the essayistic Treaty walked up to then by Gracián to enter - well it is true that very timidly - on the complex grounds of narrative fiction. Indeed, El Criticón - divided into crisis, i.e., judgments or criticism - from your first page presents a weak plot starring Critilo, and Andrenio, a mature man and a young woman - respectively - just getting to know after the first shipwreck and its timely rescue by the second. Critilo, as its name suggests, is the judicious and thoughtful, man while Andrenio - who has grown up in solitude since its birth, suckled by a beast and oblivious to any contact human - symbolizes man in his natural state, free of any social influence.

During the first part, Critilo Andrenio lectures on the most diverse aspects and both embark on a long journey that takes them by the main places of the world (such as Madrid and Rome), during which are observing and censoring all the vices and defects and, at the same time, celebrating any manifestation of virtue and wisdom, unique way - in the opinion of Critilo-to achieve happiness and immortality. In the Middle, a lucky encounter with the nymph of the arts and letters allows Gracián, by the mouth of silo, prosecute the major works of contemporary Spanish literature and the foundations of his own poetry, making it clear what their particular literary tastes. Finally, in the third part Gracián addresses the issue of aging, with the purpose of showing how the man who has judiciously lived his youth and maturity can enjoy, on the last stretch of its vital vicissitudes of "seasoned old age without decrepitude" with radical modernity.

The communion rail (1655)

Already shown in previous paragraphs to the communion rail (Zaragoza: Ibar, 1655), because it is a book of exclusively religious content, was the only work that Gracián could sign with your real name, without fear of attacks by members of the society of Jesus who saw the literary travails of his order teammates with bad eyes. Work, therefore, of little value to the current reader - although very interesting to know the spiritual efforts of Gracián and, in a way, the religiosity of his era-, the communion rail is based on a thorough expository scheme that gives rise to Gracian coin fifty meditations, each one of which is structured in four points. The first, dedicated to the preparation of the Act of Holy Communion; the second, to the communion itself; the third, to understand the benefits that are derived from it; and fourth, to thank for this benefit. In a clear show of that so Jesuit scholastic schematism, Gracián divided, in addition, each of these four points in two parts, one destined to the exposure of an example taken from the Bible to illustrate the matter commented, and another consisting of reflections this example in the ascetic writer bilbilis spirit raises.


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