Critical Universal Theatre, by Benino Jerónimo Feijoo (1726-1740)

Feijoo is one of the most important Spanish Enlightenment authors of the eighteenth century. His work will have a deep impact in the Spanish society because it is a pioneer effort in Spain to make an encyclopedia that collects extensive information. This effort that was born in France some decades before and arrived to its summit with the Encyclopedists. His work is a remarkable exercise of study, interpretation and erudition, both philosophical and scientific, and it is not surprising that his influence transcended for several centuries. It is interesting to note that this is the only Spanish author that Cárdenas notices, among the set of Enlightened and Encyclopedists, to which he refers when he quotes his universal academic sources.

About this title is worth the following clarification. Cardenas refers to Feijoo’s set of treatises as “theater of the world”. It is impossible not to have as a first reference to these three words the Calderón de la Barca’s autosacramental,  that was already one century and a half old and was the summit of Spanish theatre.  However the relationship between Calderón’s play and Cárdenas referred issues is spurious.

On the other hand, Cárdenas mentions Feijoo at another place, as an example of a “reverent wise man, well versed in study and erudite in sacred and human history”. In addition, Feijoo’s work is prolific in the treatment of the following subjects: human vices (Volume 1, Discourse 2), animal behavior (Volume 2, Discourse 2) and flight physics (Volume 2, Discourse XIV, Paradox IX, Volume 5, Discourse IX, Volume 6, Discourse VI). Feijoo also mentions in these extracts, the Historical Dictionary of Moreri simply as “Moreri” and the Memorias de Trévoux. It would not be surprising if the references of Cárdenas come from here.


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