Select Page

PhD defence Rena Bood (UvA)

Between Hispanophobia and Hispanophilia: The Spanish Fascination in English and Dutch 17th-century Literature.

Promotor: prof. dr. J.T. Leerssen, copromotor: dr. Y. Rodríguez Pérez

Until recently, the image of Spain in early-modern literature has primarily been discussed in line with the Black Legend narrative. This negative image of Spain and the Spaniard, however, was not the only image available to early-modern audiences. This study shows that a positive and negative image of Spain co-existed and thrived in English and Dutch literature between c. 1621 and 1700. Although Spain was the enemy of both England and the Dutch Republic for most of the seventeenth century, the English and Dutch fascination with Spanish cultural productions continued to grow. Spain proved to be an irresistible source for English and Dutch translators, playwrights, and authors. This fascination greatly aided the development of the theatrical traditions in both countries. The success of Spanish works in the Amsterdam Municipal Theatre and as performed by various London-based theatre companies affected the book production industries of both cities. Similarly stimulating the industry were the popular Spanish picaresque novels which were both translated and imitated in England and the Dutch Republic. Though Spanish characters in novels and plays often exemplify the stereotypical traits of the early-modern Spaniard, there is a remarkably versatile gradation of the Black Legend narrative. This study shows that this gradation needs to be discussed on a spectrum to gain a better understanding of the image of Spain in England and the Netherlands in the seventeenth century.