Biography of Gaspar Núñez de Arce (1834-1903)

Poet, playwright, journalist and Spanish politician, born in Valladolid in 1834 and died in Madrid on June 9, 1903, who is author of a poetry of bombastic declamatory breath addressing intimate conflicts of the human being and the civic concerns of the 19th century man.

In his style relies on a heavy rhetorical, soon baggage stale and outdated, but which enjoyed a huge literary reputation among his contemporaries, best-known and winners of its time made him one of poets. His deep and sincere social concerns were not reduced to the exploitation of this civic vein in his literary, but it also surfaced on a fruitful path policy within the ranks of liberalism. However, today, he is remembered only for his literary activity, and not without some injustice, because it tends to present him as one of the most compliments paradigms of that lofty, lofty poetry and, not infrequently, all who ruled estrus of most of the Spanish of his time poets, while forget some truly praiseworthy intuitions in his work, as the romantic aesthetic wear have left patent and have introduced the first glimpses of the parnasianismo in the Spanish lyric.


Weighted by a serious chest deformation that a sad, introverted boy made him his childhood and youth, and it modeled that harsh and unsociable character that would make gala during the rest of his life, passed in his native Valladolid, Madrid and Toledo, - latter - cities where the young Gaspar began to prepare for the priesthood. But the early discovery of their lack of true religious vocation, joined her early inclination towards the cultivation of literary creation, you encouraged to leave very soon an ecclesiastical career to settle definitively in the capital of the Kingdom, where immediately demonstrated the qualities of his pen and his keen interest in politics. It was noted, in effect, in Madrid by the incisive brilliance of his first journalistic articles and for his firm opposition to the monarchy of Isabel II, rejection which soon channeled through their allegiance to the ranks of the progressive party, which fought many other precipuas voices of the literary romanticism in Spanish, as Patricio de la Escosura (1807-1878) and José de Espronceda (1808-1842). This ardent political impetus led to his arrest and imprisonment at twenty years of age, the sentence that was a few months thanks to the pronouncement of O'Donnell (1854), which put an end to the bloody repression of the Liberal movements undertaken by Narvaez and gave rise to a new Espartero Government during the so-called progressive biennium.

He returned with renewed vigor into the political arena and the exercise of journalistic activity, and in 1859 he was sent by the Rotary La Iberia, as a war correspondent, to the conflict which claimed the Spanish army in the African territory, from which sent some splendid military Chronicles that, for your interest, collected on his return to Spain in a volume published under the title of memories of the war in Africa (1860). Affiliate, now, the Liberal Union was led by the aforementioned O'Donnell entered definitely in the political conflicts of the Spain of mid-19th century and he was elected Deputy for Logroño and, in a new legislature, to his native Valladolid, to reach shortly after civil Governor of Logroño. After a new period of confinement due to the return to power of Narváez, in 1868, merced to the September Revolution which removed the foundations of the Spanish monarchy, the political career of Núñez de Arce experienced an unexpected boom which led him to the civilian Government of Barcelona. Subsequently, he was Deputy in courts during the period of the restoration, (1871-1874) State Councillor and Secretary general of the Presidency (1872). C crowned his successful political career in 1883 with his appointment as Minister for overseas in the Government presided over by Sagasta, in whose political formation (Liberal Party) militant from several years ago the poet and dramatist from Valladolid.

Spanish public served last to the Administration at the end of the Decade of the 1980s, as Chairman of the meetings of the Council of State (1888). By then, their literary successes were even political merits, and its prestige as creator and intellectual had already been widely recognized, since long time ago, with his appointment to a Chair in the Royal Spanish Academy (1874).


Although he cultivated with enthusiasm the poetic creation from a bitter and lonely teenager, Gaspar Núñez de Arce was unveiled as a writer through its incursions in the theatrical literature, which started from the hand of a celebrated dramatist of the era, Antonio Hurtado. In conjunction with this, he released several theatrical pieces which enjoyed applause from the critics and public peer, as the Aragonese jota or hurt in the shadow. Some works that have highlighted his predilection, at that time, for a theatre archaic and moralizing, as debts of honour (1863), who must pay (1867) and providential Justice (1872) was then the tables. In the whole of his sparsely original dramatic production, perhaps his most interesting work is historical drama premiered under the title of cordwood (1872), whose plot, based on the always sexy - from a literary point of view, is clear - vicissitudes of the ill-fated Prince don Carlos, son of Felipe II, made a deep impression on the Madrid scenes of the time.

But the enormous literary popularity that enjoyed in life from Valladolid writer was due, rather than to the theatre, his copious, bombastic and ornamental poetic production, greatly valued by the taste of his contemporaries. A real publishing success was the appearance of his first collection of poems, cries of combat (1875), work in which resorted to a lucky combination of lyrical verse, and poetic prose to reflect, with exaggerated pathos and excess of rhetorical pyrotechnics, major social and political events of the time, with special attention to the collective feelings of the Spanish people after the post-revolutionary period. But there is also, in this protein and varied collection of poems many parts that may represent different thematic and generic approaches that traveled with recurrence the inspiration of Núñez de Arce, as subjective poetry that explores the most intimate and conflict of the poet hondones (thus, v. gr., in the poem entitled "The doubt"), with full justice or that narrative poetry, vigorous epic breath, which Valladolid writer wanted to pay tribute to the great figures of the past historical or legendary (well exemplified trend, within this heterogeneous Songbook, long dedicated to "Raimundo Lulio" composition). Within this last thematic aspect of his work in verse, Gaspar Núñez de Arce showed a singular interest in those real or imagined characters that had characterized by its innovative and combative, rebellious spirit characters whose ideas allowed him to deploy within the poem, assisted by his vigorous and torrential versificadora fertility, a superficial intellectual debate that added to the nature eminently narrative of these poetic portrayals and a didactico-doctrinal touch.

This online generico-tematica have to put other two poetic deliveries of Núñez de Arce, published at the end of the Decade of the seventies: the dark jungle (1879), in which the author poetizó his "encounter" with Dante; and the last lamentation of Lord Byron (1879), whose mere title reveals, to whites, the dense romantic grounds which, at the time, was still struggling with the lyrical voice of the author of Valladolid, focused - in this collection of poems-in the elucidation of a series of filosofico-morales questions that attempt to reproduce the style and the domestic tribulations of the English poet. In the course of that year, encouraged by his increasingly literary prestige, Núñez de Arce gave printed an interesting compilation of his theatre pieces - dramatic works (Madrid, 1879)-. But, meanwhile, remained engaged in poetic writing, now with the sights set at the last medieval legendary, where did the long poem "vértigo" (1879), that, unanimously considered by critics as one of his texts more attached to the wake of the first romanticism, enjoyed such popularity and dissemination at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the next century that had already been the subject of more than fifty reprints in 1921.

Those fertile days it worked also in other poems that would soon be as celebrated as "Hernán el Lobo" (1879) - which never came to be definitely concluded - and "A love affair" - based on the beautiful María romantic narrative, of the Colombian Jorge Isaacs-, without forgetting other rough-and-tumble composition his own, focused on Martín Luther and doubt - one of the recurring themes in the poetry of Núñez de Arce -He was released the following year under the title of the vision of San Martín (1880). Shortly afterwards, following the publication of another famous poem of his entitled "Elegy to the memory of Alejandro Herculano" (1882), was gradually evolving towards certain contents of local customs, like patent good in "Fishing" was (1884) and, above all, "Maruja" (1886).

Almost ten years later, was none other than don Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo who dealt with elaborate and edit, with a superb introductory study, a selection of verses of Gaspar Núñez de Arce, published under the general title of poems (Madrid, 1894). It was, thus, elevated to the category of "classical live" Valladolid writer, who after a year returned to the shelves of the libraries with short poems (Madrid, 1895), where - as its own title suggests – met those compositions theirs which, by its brevity, had not been published in book format or included in other editions of his poetry. And, after five years, the hollanders gave a new collection of poems, published under the title of Sursum corda (1903), provided no really no substantial novelty to a poetic activity that, already at the time - and in the triumph of the modernist current-, seemed outdated and outmoded before the new aesthetic and ideological directions that had taken the poetic writing andin general, the literary and artistic creation.

However, already well ya bien entrado into 20th century appeared a successful selected works by Núñez de Arce (Madrid: Montaner & Simon, 1911), and for many years was followed reediting the verses of a poet who had not only left a remarkable imprint on other literary voices of later as Manuel Reina and Ricardo Leóngenerations, they had also a long time Hispanic letters filledplaying better than any other, with its successes and excesses, the virtues and the bungling of his time. And although the critical perspective and the current aesthetic values do not fit another option which point as undeniable flaws the bombast, the bombast, the emphatic declamatory rhythm and the pathetic sentimentality that they abound between the verses coined by Gaspar Núñez de Arce, is fair and obliged to also recognize their tireless creative breath a singular insight into some current innovative that perhaps surprised him already too ripe and seated in their own style and to change radically of thematic and formal records. See, indeed, how the silent, quiet, solemn, majestic and somewhat cavalier secular presence of sculptural element that gives title to the sonnet that is copied then brings unmistakable echoes of an impending assimilation of parnasiana aesthetics: "caravan, uncertain path, / with anxious indecision advances, / fearing the lying in wait at every step / of the nomadic tribes of the desert." By all over the open space / lost in the tiring distance / and wherever the view reaches / everything is sad, desolate, dead. Or green jungle, or Blue Mountain / sea limit of barren sand / in the docile camel sinks its plant. "And only at the end of the open horizon / shining in the Sun, still and serene, / the mysterious Sphinx rises".

It is, finally, remember other writings of undoubted interest in the whole of the literary work of Gaspar Núñez de Arce, as his splendid speech income in the Real Academia Española, entitled decay and ruin of the literature Spanish under the last reigns of the House of Austria (Madrid, 1876), and literary miscellany. Stories, articles, relationships and verses (Barcelona: Arts and letters, 1886).


ALONSO CORTÉS, N. "A curious romance of Núñez de Arce", in Bulletin of the library Menéndez Pelayo (Santander), 21st (1945), pp. 113-132.

Castle and SORIANO, J. Núñez de Arce. His biography notes (Madrid: Góngora, 1904).

DARÍO, Rubén. "A walk with Núñez de Arce", in contemporary Spain (Paris, 1901), pp. 258-263.

DIEGO, Gerardo. "The first verses of Núñez de Arce", in Bulletin of the library Menéndez Pelayo (Santander), I (1919), pp. 189-198.

Gonzalez OLLE, f. "prose and verse in two nineteenth century polemics: «C.» against Núñez de Arce and Campoamor against Valera", in Bulletin of the library Menéndez Pelayo (Santander), XXXIX (1963), pp. 205-227.

Members painted by his deeds. Collection of biographical studies on those elected by universal suffrage by the constituents of 1869 compiled by distinguished men of letters... (Madrid, 1869-1870), 2 vols.

MACANDREW, R. M. "Science in Spanish Poetry from Cabanyes (1808-1833) to Núñez de Arce (1833-1909) [sic]", in Philological Quarterly (Iowa [USA]), IX (1930), pp. 57-60.

ROMO ARREGUI, J. life, poetry and style of don Gaspar Núñez de Arce (Madrid: CSIC, 1946).

VALERA, Juan. Speech in praise of the excmo. Mr. Don Gaspar Núñez de Arce, read at the public meeting held on November 15, 1903 to honor his memory (Madrid: Real Academia Española, 1903).