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El humanismo espanol, su proyeccion en America y Canarias en la epoca del humanismo.

Antonio Maria Martin Rodriguez and German Santana Henriquez, eds. El humanismo espanol, su proyeccion en America y Canarias en la epoca del humanismo.

Saragossa: Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 2006. 446 pp. index. illus. n.p. ISBN: 978-84-96718-35-7.

The editors, Antonio Maria Martin Rodriguez and German Santana Henriquez, offer a meticulous and thorough presentation of the topic of humanism that encompasses a wide geopolitical territory, ranging from Spain and the Canary Islands to the Americas. Among the contributors of essays to this multifaceted collection are philologists, linguists, historians, and theologians, therefore offering a truly multidisciplinary study of humanism. The book is composed of three parts that reflect three distinctly cultural and sociopolitical spheres of humanism: Spain and Europe, the Canary Islands, and the New World territories.

The first part of the book consists of a series of essays on European and Iberian humanism. The essays by Benjamin Garcia Hernandez and Isabel Lafuente Guantes are particularly illuminating for their study of the Spanish school of philosophy that paved the way for the Cartesian cogito. Among the works by humanistic intellectuals presented in the essays of this second part are those by Pedro de Valencia, Lorenzo de Zamora, and Francisco Nunez de Coria. The cowritten essay by Eduardo Alvarez del Palacio and Beatriz Fernandez Diez offers an enlightening study of Nunez de Coria's nutritional and medical treatise titled Regimiento y aviso de sanidad (1586).

The exploration and conquest of New World territories meant that humanism encountered an intellectual and cultural hybridization unlike that previously seen in Europe, similar only to the exchange and development of ideas cultivated in the Iberian Peninsula, in which the intellectual history of humanism is intricately connected to its Jewish, Islamic, and Christian cultural heritage. While not explicitly stated in the collection of essays, it is certain that humanistic philosophers, philologists, and chroniclers who documented the exploration and conquest of the Americas no doubt forged a distinctly intercultural discourse that embraced both the European classical tradition as well as the newly encountered reality of the New World territories. This humanistic discourse played an integral part in the polemic debates at court over the juridical and religious legitimacy of conquest and the treatment of indigenous peoples.

In this light, the second part of the book consists of essays on the reception and influence of humanism in authors whose philosophical and intellectual framework was deeply informed by the New World. Essays range from topics related to Arias Montano's concept of the American indigenous peoples to Pedro de Valencia's study on the infrastructure of education in the Americas, titled Relaciones de Indias (1613). The essay by Justina Sarabia Viejo is particularly noteworthy for its detailed analysis of the work by the Creole clergyman Juan Antonio de Alzate y Ramirez, who incorporated the tenets and principles of European humanism in his journalistic work titled Gacetas de Literatura de Mexico (1788-95). In this journalistic and hybrid work, the humanistic tenets are readily apparent, since it focuses on such varied topics as the importance of classical languages and literatures, specifically in their Virgilian context, as well as classical philosophy, specifically Aristotle.

The third and last part of the book centers on the critical role that humanism played in the Canary Islands, which served as a pivotal point of contact or maritime crossroads between the Old and New Worlds. The incorporation of the Canary Islands into the Kingdom of Castile not only led to a rapid assimilation of European humanistic trends on the archipelago, but also to a consciousness of a hybrid form of humanism. The essay by Carmen Gonzalez Vazquez is noteworthy for its study of the Italian Bishop Alejandro Geraldini de Amelia, who viewed the Canary Islands as the liminal space between the Old and New Worlds, a critical space from which he visualized his destination in Santo Domingo as a veritable locus amoenus, an exotic and utopian land that readily lends itself to the theoretical imaginary of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century humanists.

This collection of elaborately conceived and superbly researched essays on humanism in the Atlantic world stands as a solid and significant contribution to humanistic disciplines and to early modern cultural studies. The editors have painstakingly compiled essays that have a wide appeal to scholars and students of humanism in multiple disciplines, including philology, history, classical literatures and languages, art history, philosophy, and theology.


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Author:Rivero, Horacio Chiong
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2008
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