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Martín de Riquer: the last great Spanish humanist with the ability to improvise a Latin speech

Philologist and Historian Martín de Riquer was the greatest, world specialist on Cervantes, Humanist and expert in Occitan and Romance literature; an erudite with the ability to improvise a Latin speech as few people do today

His last public appearance was on March 2008 at Palau of Music during the presentation of his biography, written by Cristina Gasatell and Gloria Soler who defined him as a member of “a generation marked by Spanish Civil War, with its lights and shadows”.

Besides a large number of interviews made to philologist and Romance linguist at his house of Barcelona in Rosario Street – where he passed away last September 17 at his 99 years olds – biography’s authors investigated into his personal file, correspondence, public files, collected letters, notebooks and into memories of all the people that knew him.

Furthermore, they tracked Riquer’s collaboration with the press during the thirties, which was not much known and let them figure his polyhedral personality out as a reader who started with Robinson Crusoe and a heavy Quixote – which he read on the floor to turn the page when he was a child –; as professor; as tutor of Prince Juan Carlos at that time or when he was requeté during Spanish Civil War.

Moved Martín de Riquer excused himself for the emotion that doesn’t let him “to offer a speech with a minimum of syntactic and rhetorical correctness required by the occasion”. He ended it with one of his famous phrases: “I am surprised that reader can be interested in everything explained on the book”.

Martín de Riquer – who will have become 100 years old next May 3 and who was appointed Senator of Parliament by the King – got biggest recognition for his research and academic work, as Premio Nacional de Ensayo (1991), Social Science Prince of Asturias Award (1997) and Nacional de las Letras (2001).


Member of Spanish Royal Academy and enthusiast investigator of Don Quixote

He was a member of Spanish Language Royal Academy and started as professor in 1942 at Barcelona’s School of Arts. He got a Ph.D in Romance Literature History in 1950. Also, he was Member of Literature Royal Academy of Barcelona since 1944, which he led from 1962 to 1996.

He taught Literature for a semester in 1960 to King Juan Carlos, who was prince at that time, in a committee created to train the future Spanish king. He was named member of the Spanish Language Royal Academy on December 17 in1964 to take letter “H”.

Months later, in 1965, he joined the Academy with his speech “Chivalry life in the Spain of XV century”.

After two decades of researches, he resolved in 1989 that author of “El Quijote de Avellaneda” was Jerónimo de Passamonte from Aragon (Spain), enemy of Miguel de Cervantes, as Riquer revealed on his book “Cervantes, Passamonte y Avellaneda”.

Scholar of “Don Quixote”, heraldry and troubadours, he also investigated Joanot Martorell’s novel “Tirant lo Blanc” – with four Catalonian editions, three Castilian translations from XV century and other book titled “Aproximación al Tirant lo Blanc” (1990) – which gave him the Premio Nacional de Ensayo.

Among all his books are “Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española”, “El Quijote de Avellaneda”, “Historia de la literatura Catalana”, “La lírica de los Trovadores”, “Los cantares de gesta franceses”, “Obras completas del Trovador Carveri de Girona”, “Historia de la Literatura Universal” (with José María Valverde), “Aproximación al Quijote”, “Historia de la Literatura catalana”, “Estudios sobre Amadís de Gaula”, “Los trovadores”, “Chanson de Roland: Cantar de Roldán y el Roncesvalles navarro”, and “La tragedia de Lancelot”.

His most recent novels are “Para leer a Cervantes” (2003), “Cervantes en Barcelona” (2005), “Caballeros andantes españoles” (2008) and “Reportajes de la historia” (2010, with his son Borja de Riquer).

Far from public life, Riquer received his last tribute on May 2011 at Barcelona University where his colleagues, family and former students remembered this great scholar of medieval literature due to reprint of his final anthology “Trovadores, Historia literaria y textos”.


Barcelona, September 18, 2013. EFE/Practica Espanol

Grammatical guide: relative clauses: explicatives and specificatives, prepositions “por” and “para”

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Question 1
Martín de Riquer dedicó buena parte de su vida...
a la investigación en latín
al estudio de diferentes obras de Cervantes
al estudio e investigación del Quijote
Question 2
El humanista Martín de Riquer presidió…
la Facultad de Letras de Barcelona
las Cortes Constituyentes
la Real Academia de las Buenas Letras de Barcelona
Question 3
Su discurso de ingreso en la Real Academia de la Lengua fue…
“Cervantes, Passamonte y Avellaneda”
“La vida caballeresca en la España del siglo XV”
“Trovadores, Historia literaria y textos”
Question 4
Durante los años 30 también se dedicó a…
estudiar la novela Robinson Crusoe
colaborar con la prensa
colaborar con el gobierno
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