Why should the artist always be trying to saturate the world with his own anguish, you asked me once. Why indeed? I will give you another phrase: emotional gongorism! I have always been good at polite phrase-making. -- Ludwig Pursewarden

Gongorism is a tendency of literature toward the baroque and (possibly) deliberately obscure. This phenomenon is named after Luis de Góngora y Argote (1561-1627), a popular and influential poet and priest of the Spanish Golden Age. His writing was considered elegant, though perhaps overly so: he used many latinate constructions and vocabulary, elaborate and extended metaphors and conceits, and classical allusions. He and his imitators were (and are) considered affected by those who do not admire the style. Artificial. Difficult for the sake of being difficult.

It's considered the Spanish equivalent to eupheuism. Eupheuism (not a misspelling of euphemism), was named after the 16th century dramatist John Lyly's work Euphues, or the Anatomy of Wit in honor or mockery of his highly structured and ornamented/ornamental style. This style was influential in England in the 1580s.

Some consider Eliot to be gongoristic, if you want a modern example. I can't read Spanish, but the sources i read on Góngora suggest that his work, like Eliot's, revealed a rich and elaborate sense if studied patiently and carefully. Others of his imitators, however, may have made as much sense as the high school poet who has decided obscurity is the name of the game and writes as if impenetrability were the goal.

Gongorism, that curious disease of euphuism, that broke out simultaneously in Italy, England, and Spain. -- The Critic.*
* This quote was found in another online version of Webby, so i suppose i'm filling in a blank for his Eminence.

Gon"go*rism (?), n.

An affected elegance or euphuism of style, for which the Spanish poet Gongora y Argote (1561-1627), among others of his time, was noted.

Gongorism, that curious disease of euphuism, that broke out simultaneously in Italy, England, and Spain.
The Critic.

The Renaissance riots itself away in Marinism, Gongorism, Euphuism, and the affectations of the Hotel Rambouillet.
J. A. Symonds.


© Webster 1913

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