‘Reasons of State for any Author’ Common Sense, Translation, and the International Republic of Letters
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AuthorPérez Fernández, José María
TraducciónSentido comúnLiteratura comparadaLenguaje y filosofía políticaHistoria del libroProsa inglesa del renacimiento
This chapter will focus on several case studies that illustrate the nature of the material and intellectual networks of authors, editors, publishers and translators who laid the foundations of the international republic of letters as a virtual third space between the inveterate system of aristocratic patronage and the growing mass of urban consumers. It shall first trace the evolution of the new conditions within the book market and the concerns they raised among authors through a comparison of some texts produced in England by Gabriel Harvey (ca. 1552-1631) and his circles with the pragmatic political vocabulary displayed a generation later by Antonio López de Vega (ca. 1586-1655) in Spain. Whereas Harvey and López de Vega shared the influence of international Ciceronianism, one of the most remarkable differences between them lies in the shift from the moral concerns of sixteenth-century humanism to the more pragmatic and disenchanted views expressed in the languages of neostoicism and Tacitism. The second part of this chapter will then examine the consequences deriving from the development of a new international market for the mass consumption of cultural products, chiefly printed matter, but also the public commercial stage. Situated between its status as a new form of mass entertainment in thriving urban milieus and its canonization as printed goods through the publication of the most successful among these plays, the public stage constitutes a uniquely dynamic phenomenon that illustrates these literary, intellectual and material developments. The international republic of letters stood as a heterogeneous and adiaphoric public space that grew out of these manifold tensions. The interdisciplinary discourse that created and regulated it was woven with the languages of moral philosophy, politics and theology, as well as the vocabulary of traditional literary doctrine. Its agents were–to use an expression coined by Antonio López de Vega—men of understanding engaged in a transnational conversation sustained by common language and common sense. This pragmatic and consensual view of language and knowledge resulted from the intersection between the new trends of cultural and literary mercantilism, on the one hand, and more traditional aesthetic theories founded upon the discourse of what David Summers has called Renaissance Naturalism, on the other.