Item #2595 El Bernardo o victoria de Roncesvalles poema heroyco […]. Bernardo de Balbuena.
El Bernardo o victoria de Roncesvalles poema heroyco […].
El Bernardo o victoria de Roncesvalles poema heroyco […].
A Great Epic Poem by the First American Poet

El Bernardo o victoria de Roncesvalles poema heroyco […].

Madrid: por Diego Flamenco, 1624. First edition. In early 19th-century marbled calf, panels ruled by gilt frames, edges and spine gilt, red title vignette on spine. Marbled endpapers. Engraved, illustrated title page (by Juan de Diesa). Few woodcut initials and a large woodcut tailpiece at the end of the work. Printed in two columns. ff [8], 290 [i.e. 270] [2] (leaves 25–44 omitted in numbering, many leaves misnumbered). Signatures: ¶⁸ A–Z⁸ 2A–2L⁸ (leaves D2 and D3 incorrectly signed C2 an. Contemporary ownership inscription of Geronimo de Ulloa on recto of second leaf. Ownership stamp of Aureliano Fernández-Guerra on verso of front free endpaper. Binding slightly rubbed at the extremities, a dent on the front panel. Some stanza numbers shaved. Pages toned due to aging. Margins of the title page artistically restored. Old shelfmarks on verso of front free endpaper and recto of second leaf in pencil and pen. Old notes and calculations on verso of title page (washed) and recto of second leaf in ink. Old marginal notes and underlines in ink throughout the first four quires. Misnumbered leaves corrected by an old hand in ink until f. 172. Occasional inkblots, not affect legibility. F. 174 with loss of a few letters at the upper outer edge due to the quality of the paper; f. 178 with closed tear at upper outer edge; f. 230 torn at the upper edge with loss to the heading due to the quality of the paper; f. [291] torn at lower corner with some loss of a few letters. Overall in very good condition.

First edition of this monumental epic work by Bernardo de Balbuena, “the first American poet”.

Bernardo de Balbuena (c. 1562–1627) was born in Valdepeñas, Spain, and at a very early age, he traveled to America where his father had business in Nueva Galicia. He studied arts and theology in Guadalajara and Mexico, where he participated in and won literary contests. Before he went back to Spain in 1606 to obtain a doctorate in theology from the University of Sigüenza, he held the position of Chaplain of the Real Audiencia de Nueva Galicia in Guadalajara and served as a priest in San Pedro Lagunillas. He returned to the Americas in 1610 as the Abbot of Jamaica, and after spending part of the years 1622 and 1623 in Santo Domingo, he became appointed Bishop of Puerto Rico and held this position until he died in 1627. Balbuena For most critics, Bernardo de Balbuena is considered the “first truly American” poet. His 3000-line poem, praising Mexico City, Grandeza Mexicana, was published in Mexico in 1604. His other main work, a pastoral novel, Siglo del oro en las selvas de Erifile was printed first in Madrid in 1608. The present epic poem, El Bernardo o Victoria de Roncesvalles, is Balbuena’s most ambitious work, written between 1585 and 1600, and after some earlier attempts of publication, eventually, it appeared in 1624. El Bernardo is an extensive baroque epic poem, consisting of some forty thousand verses, divided into twenty-four books, one of the longest poems ever written. Inspired by the classic authors and the Italian Renaissance poems Orlando Enamorado of Matteo María Boiardo and Orlando Furioso of Ludovico Ariosto, the story is based on the legend of the Spanish knight Bernardo del Carpio, who defeated the army of Charlemagne in the battle of Roncesvalles (Battle of Roncevaux Pass), where he killed the pair of France, Roland. Balbuena reconstructs the narrative party in colonial Mexico, thus, besides such details like the eruption of Jala volcano (Ceboruco), the promise of the discovery of the New World for the Spaniards also appears in the poem, and an entire book (Book XIX) is dedicated to the story of Hernán Cortés and the Conquista.

Extremely scarce on the market, besides the present copy only one other is listed by RBH within the last hundred years (Harmsworth, 1949). Provenance: Ownership inscription of Geronimo [Jerónimo] de Ulloa (b. 1589?); ownership stamp of Aureliano Fernández-Guerra (1816–1894), Spanish writer, playwright, historian, epigrapher and antiquarian, senator of Real Academia de la Historia.

Palau 22340; Simón Díaz. vol. 6, no. 2288, IB 21955, Sabin, 2864.

Price: €30,000.00

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