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The Jesuit Subtext

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Chapter Summary

While El Criticón's political commentary proves relatively accessible to modern readers, the issue of Jesuit influence in the text remains more obscure. Perhaps due to its apparent invisibility, the question of the impact of the Society of Jesus looms fairly large in criticism of Gracián's oeuvre, leading some to posit a uniquely Jesuit style in Gracián's work. Benito Pelegrín, argues for a connection between Jesuit style and the artifice associated with the Baroque by contextualizing Gracián's highly adorned style as a deliberate reaction against the classicism of the Jansenists. He then connects Gracián's rhetorical style with Jesuit theological positions. After Gracián's assiduous cultivation of secularity over moral purposes in his relationship to the didactic tradition, any mention of religious content seems contradictory. Amidst the Jesuit-centered geography of El Criticón, one may well conclude that Critilo and Andrenio are Jesuits; however, the father-son relationship between them seems to belie this possibility.

Keywords: Andrenio; Benito Pelegrín; Critilo; El Criticón; Gracián; Jansenist; Jesuit didactic poetry; Society of Jesus



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