The Poet and His Readers: The Social and Poetic Matrix of Garcilaso de la Vega

Eriksen, Casey, Spanish - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Gerli, Edmondo, Department for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the social and literary matrix of Garcilaso’s poetry, and, by extension, the forces of canonization that shape and efface poets and poetic works over time. The study explores the circulation and diffusion of Garcilaso’s corpus in humanist circles. The material manipulation of Garcilaso’s poetry has affected reception in significant ways. The presence of numerous editorial hands in the initial compilation and organization of Garcilaso’s work speaks to the ways in which scholars received and commented on the poet in subsequent editions. An attention to material circumstances, including manuscript circulation and published editions, likewise provides insight into early literary histories of Garcilaso from a material perspective.

Chapter three formulates an Ovidian analysis of the “Ode ad florem Gnidi,” the Second Elegy, and several Sonnets to outline a new reading on Garcilaso’s engagement with Latin models and humanistic culture at large. The rediscovery of these influences—particularly in the case of the “Ode ad florem Gnidi”—situates the poet within a broader Renaissance world of Ovidian rewriting. Through the interplay of classical models and cancionero tropes, Garcilaso invokes the ambiguous possibilities of euphemism and double-entendre as he draws upon a shared heritage of lexical play and ambiguity. Chapter Four presents a reexamination of Garcilaso’s humanist profile as a contemporary Virgil. Garcilaso brings the past into dialogue with the present vis-à-vis mythological subtexts. His poetry conveys an engagement with literary traditions, a study in artful rewriting, and a sense of solidarity that emerges between the poet and his contemporary readers. The transformation of classical and cancionero influences occurs through the hand of a talented and well-read poet, yielding a lyrical experiment that represents far more than the sum of its source motifs and allusions. The interplay of Garcilaso’s cancionero, Italianate, and Classical sources situates the poet within a transnational context and emphasizes Garcilaso’s profile as a Renaissance humanist.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Garcilaso de la Vega, Material Culture, Literary Histories, Masculinities, Humanist Literary Networks, Cancionero Studies, Mythological Subtexts, Ovid, Virgil, Canonicity
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