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Certainly, in comparison with the British, the German and even the French romantics, the Spanish appear rather theatrical and melodramatic. That does not mean, however, as some have suggested, that Spain never really experienced a European Romantic phase. Instead, the implication is that nineteenth century Spanish romanticism was distinguished from that common to Europe because it expressed the very nature of Spain itself; the land, the people, the national temperament, its myths and history. Spanish romanticism was, needless to say, incontrovertibly theatrical and highly melodramatic but only because it was expressive of the Spanish spirit itself. Indeed, Spanish romanticism was a creation of the Spanish spirit and, as such, was highly individualistic although rarely subjective; extrovert, rather than introvert; epic and dramatic, as compared to lyrical; satirical and comical, even as it expresses the tragedy of life; the anti-thesis of classicism even though it never rebels against it; and, rather than signal a rupture with earlier literary trends, acknowledged them. Spanish romanticism was, in other words, unique to the country itself.
The highly emotive and theatrical nature of Spanish romanticism has been attested to be numerous critics, many of whom sought its defence by asserting it to be a politico-cultural genre of Romanticism which should not be evaluated against the criteria established by European Romanticism. Plaja, one of the first to offer a theoretical defence of Spanish romanticism against the accusation that it perverted classical Romantic renditions, claimed that it was a romantic reformulation of the Baroque tradition.
3 Peers, only partially agreeing with the aforementioned through a concession to the discrete threats of Baroque-ism which ran through the Spanish romantic literary tradition, defined it as a revival of Span's inherently romantic national culture and a rejection of both Europe and Europe's rejection of Spain.4 Eschewing both interpretations, Castro maintained that Spanish Romanticism was neither a transhistorical indigenous literary movement nor a revival of Baroque forms but an exploration and recreation of the self in response to metaphysical questionings and crises.5
While largely conceding to the uniqueness of Spanish romanticism, there is a persistent lack of consensus within literary circles regarding the theoretical framework and definitional parameters of Spanish romanticism. Accordingly, questions pertaining to the characteristics, peculiarities, definitional elements and sources of Spanish romanticism were central to a number of highly influential writings on the topic. These works which include King's "What is Spanish Romanticism"6 Shaw's "Towards the Understanding of Spanish Romanticism,"7 and Vincent Llorens' Liberales y romnticos, proceed from the premise that Spanish romanticism was not a literary phenomenon as much as it was a declaration of a shift in worldview. The political turmoil and conflict which Spain experienced at the onset of the nineteenth century and which forced many of its intellectuals, writers and statesmen, among them Duque de Rivas and Francisco Martinez de la Rosa, popularly regarded as the founders of Spanish romanticism, into exile, ultimately lent to the articulation and adoption of a liberal worldview. Within literary circles, that liberal worldview translated into a romanticism which quintessentially Spanish and nostalgically nationalistic. It was, in other words, a "national-romantisme"8 and, as such, highly sentimental, lending to extremely theatrical dramatic productions. The sheer theatricality, however, of plays such as "Don lvaro o la fuerza del sino" and "La conjuracin de Venecia" should not, if understood from within
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