Manuel José Quintana
Portrait by José Ribelles (1806)
|Born||April 11, 1772|
|Died||March 11, 1857(aged 84)|
He was born at Madrid. After completing his studies at Salamanca he was called to the bar. In 1801 Quintana produced a tragedy, El Duque de Viseo, founded on M. G. Lewis's Castle Spectre; his Pelayo (1805), written on a patriotic theme, was more successful.
The first volume of his Vidas de Españoles célebres, containing lives of Spanish patriots, stirred the public imagination and secured Quintana the post of secretary to the Cortes during the French invasion. His proclamations and odes fanned the national enthusiasm into flame. But he was ill rewarded for his services, for on the return of Ferdinand VII he was imprisoned at Pamplona from 1814 to 1820. He was finally given a small post in the civil service, became tutor to Queen Isabella II, and was nominated senator. Though publicly crowned as the representative poet of Spain (1855), he seems to have lived in poverty.
Quintana died at the age of 84. His poems, thirty-four in number, are inspired by philanthropy and patriotism; the style is occasionally gallicized, and the thought is not profound, but his nobility of sentiment and resounding rhetoric attract many generations of Spaniards.