*Menéndez y Pelayo, Marcelino

Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo

Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo



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Menéndez y Pelayo, Marcelino

Spanish, 1856–1912.
Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo is the earliest Spanish historian of literature, culture, and ideas whose erudition and theories must still be taken into account by contemporary researchers. From an early age he demonstrated prodigious academic ability, studying with the most significant Spanish university professors of the time in Barcelona, Valladolid, and Madrid. This resulted in a Ph.D. in 1875 from the University of Madrid, governmental fellowships for research in Portugal, Italy, and France, and, following public competitive exams, in being named to the chair of literature at that university in the autumn of 1878.
Unfortunately Menéndez y Pelayo grew up and came to intellectual maturity in the years of civil war and fierce ideological and religious contention before, during, and after the period marked by the 1868 expulsion of the Bourbon monarchy from Spain and its 1875 restoration. Hence, while his first essays of the early 1870s were always notable for their learning, they also revealed a conservative but nationalistic Catholic ideology which represented to Menéndez y Pelayo the great tradition of what made Spain Spain; nonetheless, this course simultaneously estranged him from liberals (centered around the Krausists—followers of the German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause) and ultramontanists.
As was typical among intellectuals and writers in the Spain of the 1870s, Menéndez y Pelayo began publishing scholarly essays in such leading national and regional journals and magazines as La Ilustración Española y Americana (Spanish and American illustration), Revista Histórico-Latina (Latin-historical review), La España Católica (Catholic Spain), Revista Europea (European review), La Tertulia (The gathering), and
Revista CáZntabro-Asturiana (Cantabria-Asturias review).
Of Menéndez y Pelayo’s great multi-volume projects, two especially were received in their time as products of the charged ideological rivalries. La ciencia española (1879, 1887–88; Spanish science), which became a three-volume work, always retained the imprint of its birth as a series of polemical letters published in Revista de España (Spanish review) in 1876. The essay-letters attacked the notion that the Spanish Inquisition and Monarchy destroyed the possibility of European-style science and progress in Spain. Moreover they introduced and analyzed physical scientists, philosophers, and medical researchers who were little remembered in the 19th century, but who flourished in Spain during the previous three centuries and deserved notice.
The second polemical work is the famous and frequently reprinted Historia de los heterodoxos españoles (1880–81, 1911–3 2,; History of Spanish heretics). It began as a series of interpretative biographical sketches during Menéndez y Pelayo’s student days, but reached three volumes during its first publication and eventually extended to seven.
In their final form the individual studies—which range from Roman times on the Iberian Peninsula to the middle of the 19th century—became integrated into a major, albeit partisan study of cults, schools, and individuals whose thought differed from that of orthodox Catholicism as established through Church Councils and papal pronouncements.
The publication in 23 volumes between 1982 and 1991 of letters written by Menéndez y Pelayo and to him from all parts of Europe and the Americas, and the 1982 conference and its proceedings, Menéndez y Pelayo: Hacia una nueva imagen (1983; Menéndez y Pelayo: toward a new image), gave a productive orientation to contemporary use and evaluation of the writer’s work and place in Spanish culture and thought. The collection acknowledges his polemical and ideological dimensions, and hence emphasizes that considerable part of his work not limited by bias and partisanship.


Born 3 November 1856 in Santander. Studied at the Universities of Barcelona, Valladolid, and Madrid, Ph.D., 1875, and at the major libraries in Portugal, France, and Italy. Professor of literary history, University of Madrid, 1878–98. Elected to the Royal Spanish Academy of the Language, 1881. Elected member, 1883, librarian, 1893–95, and director, 1910–12, Royal Spanish Academy of History. Director, National Library, Madrid, from 1898. Deputy to Spanish Parliament for Mallorca, 1884, and Saragossa, 1891, and senator representing the University of Oviedo, 1893–95, and the Royal Spanish Academy of the Language, 1899–1912. Died in Santander, 19 May 1912.

Selected Writings
Essays and Related Prose
Estudios sobre escritores tnontañeses, 1877
La ciencia española, 1879; revised, enlarged edition, 3 vols., 1887–88
Historia de los heterodoxos españoles, 3 vols., 1880–81; revised, enlarged edition, 7 vols., 1911–32
Calderón y su teatro, 1881
Estudios de crítica literaria, 5 vols., 1884–1908
Ensayos de crítica filosófica, 1892
Estudios sobre el teatro de Lope de Vega, 6 vols., 1919–17

Other writings: works on classical and Spanish literature, aesthetics, history, and correspondence (collected in Epistolario, edited by Manuel Revuelta Sañudo, 23 vols., 1982–91). Also edited part of the edition of Lope de Vega’s works (1890–1912).
Collected works edition: Obras completas (Edición Nacional), edited by Enrique Sánchez Reyes, 70 vols., 1940–57.

Simón Díaz, José, Estudios sobre Menéndez y Pelayo, Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Madrileños, 1954
Simón Díaz, José, “Bibliografía de y sobre Menéndez y Pelayo, 1939–1955,” Arbor:
Revista General de Investigación y Cultura 34, nos. 117–18 (July-August 1956): 536– 59

Further Reading
Artigas y Ferrando, Miguel, La vida y la obra de Menéndez y Pelayo, Saragossa: Heraldo de Aragón, 1939
Calzada Rodríguez, Luciano de la, La historia de España en Menéndez y Pelayo, Murcia: University of Murcia, 1957
Donoso, Armando, Menéndez y Pelayo y su obra, Santiago: University of Chile Press, 1913
Gili Gaya, Samuel, Sobre la “Historia de las ideas estéticas en España” de Menéndez y Pelayo, Santander: Sociedad Menéndez y Pelayo, 1956
Lázaro Carreter, Fernando, Menéndez y Pelayo: Su época y su obra literaria, Salamanca: Anaya, 2 vols., 1962
Revuelta Sañudo, Manuel, La biblioteca de Menéndez y Pelayo, Santander: Sociedad Menéndez y Pelayo, 1982
Revueita Sañudo, Manuel, editor, Menéndez y Pelayo: Hacia una nueva imagen, Santander: Sociedad Menéndez y Pelayo, 1983
Sainz Rodríguez, Pedro, Menéndez y Pelayo, ese desconocido, Madrid: Fundación Universitaria Española, 1975
Santovena Setién, Antonio, Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo: Revisión crítico-biográfica de un pensador católico, Santander: University of Cantabria, 1994

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