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The Idea of Europe

Catriona Seth
Rotraud von Kulessa

72. A Critique of Eurocentrism

Texte intégral

1A reader of Voltaire’s Micromégas, Cadalso is writing here to his friend, the poet Iriarte. In his mocking observation he illustrates the circulation of images, texts and ideas throughout Europe, and the awareness Spanish intellectuals had of the advances necessary for Spain to keep up with the rest of Europe where Enlightenment ideals were more prevalent.

2In the most frequented coffeehouse in one of the main cities of the Planet we call Saturn, one often sees the most authentic gazettes being read. The following piece of news appeared in the final paragraph of one of them a short while ago, and it has become the topic of all conversations across the political, military, scholastic, and legal domains in those lands. It has fallen into my hands through the magic of a witch who lives a door down from me, and it reads as follows:

In a tiny globe made of solids and liquids that circles around the great and only luminary, there is a small area called Europe, inhabited by some minute and exceedingly despicable insects called men. One almost uncultured and unpopulated section of said Europe is known as Spain.

3Letter from José Cadalso to Tomás de Iriarte (c.1774).

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