viernes, 18 de mayo de 2007

Joseph Addison y lo gótico

Joseph Addison fue un escritor inglés que vivió a caballo entre el siglo XVII y el siglo XVIII. Fue un escritor interesado en muy variados temas. En uno de sus libros habló de la vida de algunos poetas ingleses; en otro tradujo las Geórgicas de Virgilio; en otros escribió sobre sus viajes por la campiña inglesa y por Italia; y hasta publicó algunas obras de teatro. Además, Joseph Addison fue un emprendedor: con Richard Steele fundó, en 1711, la revista The Spectator.

Joseph Addison, que además de escritor también fue político, nació en 1672 y murió en 1719.

A continuación copio un texto suyo publicado en el número 26 de su revista. En él cita las meditaciones en las que se sume un personaje llamado Sir Roger de Coverley - epítome del caballero inglés - al pasear por la Abadía de Westminster. Joseph Addison reflexiona, en boca de Sir Roger Coverley, sobre lo gótico, no considerándolo únicamente como un estilo arquitectónico sinó también como el escenario adecuado para la meditación filosófica.

"When I am in a serious humour, I very often walk by myself in Westminster Abbey ; where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building, and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable. I yesterday passed a whole afternoon in the churchyard, the cloisters, and the church, amusing myself with the tombstones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon another: the whole history of his life being comprehended in those two circumstances, that are common to all mankind. I could not but look upon these registers of existence, whether of brass or marble, as a kind of satire upon the departed persons ; who bad left no other memorial of them, but that they were born and that they died. They put me in mind of several persons mentioned in the battles of heroic poems, who have sounding names given them, for no other reason but that they may be killed, and are celebrated for nothing but being knocked on the head.

Upon my going into the church, I entertained myself with the digging of a grave; and saw in every shovelful of it that was thrown up, the fragment of a bone or skull intermixt with a kind of fresh mouldering earth, that some time or other had a place in the composition of a human body. Upon this I began to consider with myself what innumerable multitudes of people lay confused together under the pavement of that ancient cathedral; how men and women, friends and enemies, priests and soldiers, monks and prebendaries, were crumbled amongst one another, and blended together in the same common mass; how beauty, strength, and youth, with old age, weakness, and deformity, lay undistinguished in the same promiscuous heap of matter.

I have left the repository of our English kings for the contemplation of another day, when I shall find my mind disposed for so serious an amusement. I know that entertainments of this nature are apt to raise dark and dismal thoughts in timorous minds and gloomy imaginations ; but for my own part, though I am always serious, I do not know what it is to be melancholy; and can therefore take a view of nature in her deep and solemn scenes, with the same pleasure as in her most gay and delightful ones. By this means I can improve myself with those objects which others consider with terror. When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out ; when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tomb-stone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow ; when I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contests and disputes, I reflect with sorrow and astonishment on the little competitions. factions, and debates of mankind. When I read the several dates of the tombs, of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago, I consider that great day when we shall all of us be contemporaries, and make our appearance together."

Figura 1: A Philosopher in a Moonlit Churchyard (1790), óleo sobre lienzo de Philip James de Loutherbourg.

No hay comentarios: