Gongorismo as a “Dangerous Sect” in the Poetry of Luis Soler y las Balsas

Andrée Collard suggests that the terms “ . . . gongorizar y gongorino . . . aluden a una sensibilidad poética en que entra, además del cultismo, una nueva concepción de la poesía, a la cual se adhiere como peligrosa secta” (Nueva Poesía 1).  In this presentation, we explore the use of “gongorismo” as a “dangerous sect” as a way to approach the 1757 handwritten manuscript “La Vida de la Venerable Negra, La Madre Sor Theresa Juliana de Santo Domingo, de Feliz Memoria”. This minorly studied epic poem was written by an unpublished dilettante poet Luis Solér y las Balsas in 1757 and is archived in the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Significantly, his poetry parodies the first hagiography of an African religious woman, Sister Chicaba.

This presentation posits that Solér y las Balsas trafficked in gongorismo perhaps to embed a deeper level of critique of Sister Chicaba as an unworthy religious subject. That is, he employed “gongorismo” to disparage the veneration of Sister Chicaba.  Collard informs that “ . . . la futura equiparación culterano-gongorino . . . [en] el [siglo] XVIII resume con el conocido cargo del ‘mal gusto’” (23). Accordingly, we analyze Solér y las Balsas’ poetry as “culterano-gongorino” and, as signalled by Collard, its notoriety as a tasteless example of baroque poetry becomes the foreground for his mocking of Sister Chicaba as a black religious ejemplar during the eighteenth century.

Track: 

  • Spanish American Studies

Additional authors: 

Sarah Spoon