Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Villegas (1580-1645)
A virtuoso of language, Francisco Gómez de Quevedo was a poet and master
satirist of Spain's Golden Age. He revealed his complex personality in the
extreme variety of tone in his works, ranging from the obscene to the devout.
Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Villegas was born into a family of wealth and
distinction on Sept. 17, 1580, in Madrid, Spain. He studied at the universities
of Alcalá and Valladolid from 1596 to 1606 and by the age of 23 had
distinguished himself as a poet and wit. His elder contemporaries, Miguel de
Cervantes and Lope de Vega, both expressed their esteem for his poetry, but
Quevedo was more interested in a political career. In 1613 he became a counselor
to the duke of Osuna, viceroy of Sicily and later of Naples, whom he served with
distinction for seven years. On the ascension of Philip IV of Spain, Osuna fell
from favour and Quevedo was placed under house arrest. He thereafter refused
political appointment and devoted himself to writing, producing a steady stream
of satirical verse and prose aimed at the follies of his contemporaries. In 1639
he was again arrested, supposedly for a satirical poem, and was confined in a
monastery. Released in 1643 in poor health, he died shortly afterward, on Sept.
8, 1645, in Villanueva de los Infantes.
Quevedo is remembered for his picaresque novel "La vida del buscón" (1626; The
Life of a Scoundrel), which describes the adventures of Paul the Sharper in a
grotesquely distorted world of thieves, connivers, and impostors. Quevedo's "Sueños"
(1627; Dreams), fantasies of hell and death, which was written at intervals from
1606 to 1622, shows his development as a master of the then-new baroque style
conceptismo, a complicated form of expression depending on puns and elaborate