JUAN BOSCAN ALMOGAVER. The eternal themes of Renaissance

Spain has produced a lot of “kings of poets”, and one of the most famous is Juan Boscan Almogaver. The first line of one of his most famous poems typifies all his works: “I am still alive, though already I could not stand to live”. His poems were published after his death. This fact is one of the reasons why the tragedy of existence goes through all the poems of the poet. Why do we know so little about “the hero” of Spanish literature?

Nobleman, soldier and reformer

Juan Boscan Almogaver was born at the end of the XV century in Barcelona. Noble origin does not guarantee a happy childhood: as a boy he lost his father before he was five years of age. After receiving a quality education and awards, respected by society, Juan served at the court of the Catholic kings, and later at the court of Emperor Carlos I. A few years later he was assigned to mentor the Duke of Alba. He was working as a tutor until his death. In the court, Juan established friendly relations with Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, conductor of Italian influence in the XVI century. Later their messages to each other later became outstanding poetic monuments.Boscan came from an old noble family and was not spared his military service: he fought the Turks on the island of Rhodes, and after a couple of years was transferred to in Vienna. During this period, Juan established friendly relations with the Spanish ambassador to Italy, Garcilaso de la Vega, whose work ensured the victory of the new “Italian school”. Despite the “affairs of state”, Juan Boscan has made a major contribution to the poetry of Spanish Renaissance – also, he is one of the founders of the “Italian school”.

Spanish lyrics: the reform

Since the beginning of his “literary life”, the inspirational poet for Boscan was a Catalan man, Auziasa Mark. Juan and his friends Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Garcilaso de la Vega saw themselves as disciples of Mark. Auziasa Mark was able to break away from the rhetorical tradition of Provencal troubadours by making intimate lyrical poems about love, faith and death. When Boskan served at the imperial court, he appealed to the Italian lyric tradition and Petrarch. “Italian school” won in Spanish poetry thanks to him and his famous teammates. He enriched the poetry of his country be decasyllabic, hendecasyllabic verse, developed forms of the sonnet, terza rima, etc. The manifesto of “Italian school”, published as the Epistle to the Duchess de Soma, became the symbol of the Spanish Renaissance. Boscan also developed the theme of poetic development of the ancient stories in the poem “Hero and Leander”. Cristobal de Castillejo was an “adversary” of cosmopolitanism of Boscan, who stick to the traditionalist school and popular forms of song lyrics. Juan Boscan also translated a book of dialogues of Baldassare Castiglione “The Book of the Courtier”, prepared volume of the works of Garcilaso.De la Vega’s and Boscan’s poems were published after his death by his widow Ana Girón de Rebolledo around 1543.


INSET: Noble origin does not guarantee a happy childhood: as a boy he lost his father before he was five years of age.