José Francisco de Isla


José Francisco de Isla

José Francisco de Isla (April 24 1703 – November 2 1781) was a Spanish Jesuit, [CathEncy|url=http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08189c.htm|title=José Francisco de Isla] celebrated as a preacher and a humorist and satirist of the stamp of Cervantes.

Early career

He was born in Vidanes, León (province)
León
. His work "Triunfo del amor y del la lealtad: dia grande de Navarra" was a subtly satirical depiction of the celebrations held at Pamplona to mark the visit of King Ferdinand VI. Initially, the book got an enthusiastic reception from some high-ranking readers - but a scandal broke out when on closer reading the real intent, biting and far from flattering, was revealed. De Isla was forced to leave his city and took up the life of an itinerant preacher, where he gained considerable popularity.

It was during this time that his principal work, "Friar Gerund", was composed and published, in two parts (1758-1770 - originally under a pen name, but de Isla's authorship of it was soon revealed. "Historia del famoso predicador fray Gerundio de Campazas, alias Zotes", to cite the book's full name, depicted a peasant boy who rises to prominence as a preacher due to his smooth tongue. It constituted a biting satire on the charlatanism and bombast of the popular preaching friars of the day, as Don Quixote was on the false chivalry, and though in some ways overlong was seen as full of fresh humor.

Later life

The friars he satirised proved, however, too strong for de Isla. In 1760 the book was banned by the Inquisition, which forbade not only its publication but also any discussion or debate of its contents, and in 1767 its author was expelled from Spain. Nevertheless, the book continued to be published in numerous clandestine editions, and is now considered a masterpiece of Spanish literature.

De Isla retired to Italy, and died at Bologna in extreme poverty. His last book, "Cartas de Juan de la Encina", published posthumously (1784) constituted a sharp condemnation of the practices of the Spanish physicians of his time.

Bibliography

*B. Gaudeau, Les Prêcheurs burlesques en Espagne au XVIIIe siècle, 1891.

References


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