Ekphrasis Meets Teichoscopy: The Panoramic Landscape in Góngora’s Soledad Primera

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Pictorial poetry underwent a revival in Habsburg Spain. It is therefore not
surprising that one of the landmark Baroque poems of the Spanish Golden Age,
the Soledades, written by Luis de Góngora (1561–1627), should have excelled
in providing visual descriptions of the natural world. This essay will address
the reflection of Horace’s famous pronouncement ut pictura poesis (painting
is like poetry) in Góngora’s work, paying particular attention to the panoramic
landscape admired by the pilgrim from a cliff in the Soledad primera, lines
182–211. The first thesis is that this passage delivers a pictorial representation
of the scenery where the action of the poem will take place through a mise en
abyme. The second thesis is that it also offers an agudeza paradoja — to use
Gracián’s terminology — for there is a paradoxical dissonance between the
objectives of (i) offering a total vision by placing the protagonist on a high
vantage point (teichoscopy), and (ii) poetically describing the landscape he
sees as a dazzling work of art (ekphrasis). This paradox will be resolved by
resorting to art theory, and more particularly, to Erwin Panofsky’s notion of Idea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-488
JournalHispanic Research Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2016


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