Jorge de Montemayor

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Jorge de Montemayor (or Montemor) (1520? - February 26, 1561), Spanish novelist and poet, of Portuguese descent, was born at Montemor o Velho (near Coimbra), whence he derived his name, the Spanish form of which is Montemayor.

He seems to have studied music in his youth, and to have gone to Spain in 1543 as chorister in the suite of the Portuguese Infanta Maria, first wife of Philip II. In 1552 he went back to Portugal in the suite of the Infanta Juana, wife of D. João, and on the death of this prince in 1554 returned to Spain. He is said to have served in the army, to have accompanied Philip II to England in 1555, and to have travelled in Italy and the Low Countries; but it is certain that his poetical works were published at Antwerp in 1554, and again in 1558.

His reputation is based on a prose work, the Diana, a pastoral romance published about 1559. Shortly afterwards Montemayor was killed in Piedmont, apparently in a love affair; a late edition of the Diana gives the exact date of his death. The Diana is generally stated to have been printed at Valencia in 1542; but, as the Canto de Orfeo refers to the widowhood of the Infanta Juana in 1554, the book must be of later date.

It is important as the first pastoral novel published in Spain; as the starting-point of a universal literary fashion; and as the indirect source, through the translation included in Googe's Eglogs, epytaphes and sonnets (1563), of an episode in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Though Portuguese was Montemayor's native language, he only used it for two songs and a short prose passage in the sixth book of the Diana. His mastery of Spanish is amazing, and even Cervantes, who judges the verses in the Diana with unaccustomed severity, recognizes the remarkable merit of Montemayor's prose style. That he pleased his own generation is proved by the seventeen editions and two continuations of the Diana published in the 16th century, by parodies, imitations and renderings in French and English.

Bibliography

G Schönherr, Jorge de Montemayor, sein Leben und sein Schafroman (Halle, 1886); Domingo García Péres, Catálogo razonado biográfico y bibliográfico de los autores portugueses que escribieron en castellano (Madrid, 1890); Hugo Albert Rennert, The Spanish Pastoral Novel (Baltimore, 1892); J Fitzmaurice-Kelly, "The Bibliography of the Diana" in the Revue hispanique (1895); R Tobler, "Shakespeare's Sommernachtstraum und Montemayor's Diana" in the Jahrbuch Der deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft (1898); Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo, Origenes de la novela (Madrid, 1905).

Reference

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