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Caroline Warman

56. Juan Pablo Forner (1756-1799), In Praise of Spain and its Literary Merit, 17861

Texte intégral

  • 1 Juan Pablo Forner, Oración apologetica por la España y su mérito literario, Madrid: Imprenta Real, (...)

1Juan Pablo Forner, a Spanish writer of the Enlightenment and a learned man, enthusiastically engaged in polemic, producing acid satires of his contemporaries. In this passage, he writes about the importance of his country’s diverse cultural heritage, in particular the legacy of the Moors.

2The Moors in Spain cultivated natural sciences and mathematics and had a particular interest in metaphysics and theology. The indigenous Christians knew nothing about any of these subjects, and it was a real lack. […] This lack of knowledge softened the blow of having to deal with people of a different religion. Peace and harmony reigned at that time in the bosom of the Spanish church, consolidating the truth of religious dogma without devoting any time to the writing of polemical tracts, with the result that the scholars of the period, the prelates and ecclesiastics, confined their literary energies to illustrating civil or ecclesiastical history or to explaining religious dogma and morality, or even to understanding books written in Arabic so as to have access to the knowledge contained in them. Once the language of the scholars became widely known, the door was also opened for the mutual understanding of religious doctrines. And so even if religion and politics did divide the Spanish people into Christians and Muslims, learning could be adapted to the benefit of all and without danger to any, and in fact, while foreign universities were busy disrupting the processes of reason with their great reams of pointless and incomprehensible subtleties, Spain remained uninfected by scholasticism, producing instead, and particularly amongst the Saracens, skilled doctors, astronomers, geometers, algebrists, chemists, poets, and historians. Even amongst the Christians there were some men who rivalled them, adding to the previous list the study of their religion, treating it with ancestral decorum, and turning their nation into the only place where knowledge and study was treated with the dignity they deserve.

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1 Juan Pablo Forner, Oración apologetica por la España y su mérito literario, Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1786, pp. 59-60.


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