The feat of the Real Academia Española’s first dictionary (part 2)

The dictionary lacked a general method and workflows were divided among the authors by combinations of letters. They took for granted that every academic was equally qualified, worked at the same speed, and was following the same criteria as the rest of the team – criteria which, incidentally, were not precisely established from the start. For instance, not all authors were using the same edition of a given work to find the quotes from authorities, so knowing the folio or page number is not particularly useful. The original intentions were too ambitious and some cuts in the plan were required. There was no room for adding the vocabulary of the arts and sciences. This task was postponed, with plans for an eventual separate dictionary dedicated to that vocabulary; a project never undertaken. Continue reading

The feat of the Real Academia Española’s first dictionary (part 1)

The Diccionario de la lengua castellana (1726-1739), later known as Diccionario de autoridades, was the first modern Spanish lexicographical work. The Real Academia Española (RAE) was founded in 1713 under the royal auspices and the first generation of academics decided to record the Spanish vocabulary following the example of the language academies in Paris and Florence. They considered that the Spanish language had achieved its zenith in the 17th century, so it was time to preserve it for future generations. This was a huge challenge, considering that the only Spanish precedent, the Tesoro de la lengua castellana, o española (1611) by Sebastián de Covarrubias, one of the first monolingual dictionaries in a vernacular language, was around one hundred years old. They did their job altruistically, “for the honour of serving the Nation”. The founder and first director, Juan Manuel Fernández Pacheco, Marquis of Villena and Duke of Escalona was an inspiring figure and played a major role in the institution. The purpose of the academy was reflected in its motto “Limpia, fija y da esplendor” ([It] cleans, [it] fixes, and [it] gives splendour). Continue reading

The Cervantes prize, the most important Spanish literary award

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Portrait of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616) attributed to Juan de Jáuregui (via Wikipedia).

The Premio Miguel de Cervantes is the highest recognition that a Spanish-language writer can achieve. It is an acknowledgement of those whose work has notably enriched Spanish literary heritage. Thus, this prize recognises the career of an outstanding writer. It was created in 1975 in honour of the author of Don Quixote de la Mancha, the most universally known Spanish text and the first modern novel. This literary prize has been awarded annually by the Spanish Ministry of Culture since 1976.

Candidates are proposed by the Real Academia Española (founded in 1713) and all the National Academies of the Spanish language in the different Spanish speaking countries (23 in total). The jury is comprised of literary and academic authorities, in addition to the most recent awardees. Traditionally the prize is given one year to a Spanish author and the following to a Latin American, although this is not a rule. Continue reading

A collection of Spanish broadsides bequeathed by E.M. Wilson

Some 160 Spanish broadsides (known as “aleluyas” in Spanish) have been recently added to the Cambridge Libraries catalogue. They were bequeathed to Cambridge University Library by Edward Meryon Wilson, former professor of Spanish at the University of Cambridge. The collection contains a complete run of one of the longest series of aleluyas ever printed in Spain: the Marés-Minuesa-Hernando series, consisting of 125 numbers. According to Jean-François Botrel [1], the printer Hernando would have acquired this collection from the printers Marés-Minuesa in 1886 and would have started reprinting it shortly afterwards.

These aleluyas can be consulted in the Rare Books Room (classmark F180.bb.8.1). They were printed by Librería Hernando and by Sucesores de Hernando, respectively (the founder and his descendants) between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century (Librería Hernando was founded in 1828; Sucesores de Hernando took over in 1902).

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Ingenuity in the age of Cervantes: pop-up talk, Tuesday 21st February

Following the Fighting windmills virtual exhibition, a short in-focus talk will be given on Tuesday 21st February at 1pm entitled Ingenuity in the age of Cervantes. Come and join us for a compelling presentation by Dr Rodrigo Cacho  from MML and Dr José Ramón Marcaida from CRASHH (Library members only).

See poster below for more details.

pop-up-talk