Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo

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Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo, reproduction of painting by Joaquín Sorolla.

Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo (Spanish pronunciation: [maɾθeˈlino meˈnendeθ i peˈlaʝo]; 3 November 1856 – 19 May 1912[1]) was a Spanish scholar, historian and literary critic. Even though his main interest was the history of ideas, and Hispanic philology in general, he also cultivated poetry, translation and philosophy.

He was born at Santander where he showed that he was an infant prodigy. At only 15, he studied under Manuel Milà i Fontanals at the University of Barcelona (1871–1872), then proceeded to the central University of Madrid. His academic success was unprecedented; a special law was passed by the Cortes to enable him to become a professor at 22. Three years later, he was elected a member of the Real Academia Española; but he was already well-known throughout Spain.

His first volume, Estudios críticos sobre escritores montañeses (1876), had attracted little notice, and his scholarly Horacio en Español (1877) appealed only to students. He became famous, through his Ciencia española (1878), a collection of polemical essays defending the national tradition against the attacks of political and religious reformers. The unbending orthodoxy of this work is even more noticeable in the Historia de los heterodoxos españoles (1880–1886), and the writer was hailed as the champion of the Ultramontane party. As the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908–10) described his work, "Every page of his writings reveals a wealth of strong common sense, clear perception, and a vein of wonderful and ever varying erudition. Thoroughly Catholic in spirit, he found his greatest delight, he declared, in devoting all his work to the glory of God and the exaltation of the name of Jesus."[2]

His lectures (1881) on Calderón established his reputation as a literary critic, and his work as an historian of Spanish literature was continued in his Historia de las ideas estéticas en España (1881–1891), his edition (1890–1903) of Lope de Vega, his Antología de poetas líricos castellanos (1890–1906), and his Orígenes de la novela (1905). Although some of his judgments, mainly those related to the defense of Spanish tradition, are no longer accepted, his studies of Spanish literature (Medieval, Renaissance, and Golden Age) are still valuable.[3]

He was professor of Spanish literature at the University of Madrid (1878–98) and director of the Biblioteca Nacional de España (1898–1912).

He died at Santander. He is buried in Santander Cathedral, where his monument may still be seen.


Among his many disciples can be mentioned: Adolfo Bonilla y San Martín, editor of the Obras completas of Miguel de Cervantes, among other works; Ludwig Pfandl, German Hispanist and biographer of many important Spanish historical figures; Ramón Menéndez Pidal, founder of Hispanic philology as a scientific discipline; and José María Sánchez Muniaín, chair of Aesthetics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, who compiled the Antología general de Menéndez Pelayo.


Statue of Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo in the lobby of the Biblioteca Nacional de España.
  • La novela entre los Latinos (Santander, 1875). (His doctoral thesis)
  • Estudios críticos sobre escritores montañeses. I. Trueba y Cosío (Santander, 1876).
  • Polémicas, indicaciones y proyectos sobre la ciencia española (Madrid, 1876).
  • La ciencia española, 2ª edition (Madrid, 1887–1880).
  • Horacio en España (Madrid, 1877, 2ª ed. 1885).
  • Estudios poéticos (Madrid, 1878).
  • Odas, epístolas y tragedias (Madrid, 1906).
  • Traductores españoles de la Eneida (Madrid, 1879).
  • Traductores de las Églogas y Geórgicas de Virgilio (Madrid, 1879).
  • Historia de los heterodoxos españoles (Madrid, 1880–1882).
  • Calderón y su teatro (Madrid, 1881).
  • Dramas de Guillermo Shakespeare translation (Barcelona, 1881).
  • Obras completas de Marco Tulio Cicerón, translation (Madrid, 1881–1884).
  • Historia de las isdeas estéticas en España (Madrid, 1883–1889).
  • Estudios de crítica literaria (Madrid, 1884).
  • Obras de Lope de Vega, 1890–1902.
  • Antología de poetas líricos castellanos desde la formación del idioma hasta nuestros días, 1890–1908.
  • Ensayos de crítica filosófica (Madrid, 1892).
  • Antología de poetas hispano-americanos, 1893–1895.
  • Historia de la poesía hispano-americana (Madrid, 1911).
  • Bibliografía hispano-latina clásica (Madrid, 1902).
  • Orígenes de la novela (Madrid, 1905–1915).
  • El doctor D. Manuel Milá y Fontanals. Semblanza literaria (Barcelona, 1908).
  • Obras Completas, started in 1911.
  • "Biblioteca de traductores españoles", in Obras Completas, Madrid

Works in translation[edit]

  • A History of the Spanish Heterodox, Book One, Translated by Eladia Gomez-Posthill; Saint Austin Press, London, 2009; ISBN 1-901157-98-9.


  1. ^ Fallecimiento de Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo Hemeroteca de La Vanguardia. Edición del martes, 21 mayo 1912, página 11 (in Spanish)
  2. ^ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Marcelino Menendez y Pelayo at
  3. ^ Opinion?


External links[edit]