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ALONSO DE ERCILLA Y ZUNIGA (1533-1595)

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Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 734 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ALONSO DE ERCILLA Y ZUNIGA (1533-1595), Spanish soldier and poet, was born in Madrid on the 7th of August 1533. In 1548 he was appointed page to the heir-apparent, afterwards Philip II. In this capacity Ercilla visited Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, and was present in 1554 at the marriage of his master to Mary of England. Hearing that an expedition was preparing to subdue the Araucanians of Chile, he joined the adventurers. He distinguished himself in the ensuing campaign; but, having quarrelled with a comrade, he was condemned to death in 1558 by his general, Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment, but Ercilla was speedily released and fought at the battle of Quipeo (14th of December 1558). He returned to Spain in 1562, visited Italy, France, Germany, Bohemia, and in 1570 married Maria de Bazan, a lady distantly connected with the Santa Cruz family; in 1571 he was made knight of the order of Santiago, and in 1578 he was employed by Philip II. on a mission to Saragossa. He complained of living in poverty but left a modest fortune, and was obviously disappointed at not being offered the post of secretary of state. His principal work is La Araucana, a poem based on the events of the wars in which he had been engaged. It consists of three parts, of which the first, composed in Chile and published in 1569, is a versified narrative adhering strictly to historic fact; the second, published in 1578, is en-cumbered with visions and other romantic machinery; and the third, which appeared in 1589-1590, contains, in addition to the subject proper, a variety of episodes mostly irrelevant. This so-called epic lacks symmetry, and has been over-praised by Cervantes and Voltaire; but it is written in excellent Spanish, and is full of vivid rhetorical passages. An analysis of the poem was given by Hayley in his Essay on Epic Poetry (1782). A good biography precedes the Morceaux choisis (Paris, 1900) by Jean Ducamin. ERCKMANN-CHATRIAN, the joint names of two French writers whose collaboration made their work that of, so to speak, one personality. SMILE ERCKMANN (1822—1899) was born on the 20th of May 182 2 at Phalsbourg, and Louis GRATIEN CHARLES ALEXANDRE CHATRIAN (1826—189o) on the 18th of December 1826 at Soldatenthal, Lorraine. In 1847 they began to write together, and continued doing so till 1889. Chatrian died in 1890 at Villemomble near Paris, and Erckmann at Luneville in 1899. The list of their publications is a long one, ranging from the Histoires et contes fantastiques (1849; reprinted from the temocrate du Rhin), L'Illustre Docteur Mat/thus (1859), Madame Therese (1863), L'Ami Fritz (1864), Histoire d'un conscrit de 1813 (1864), Waterloo (1865), Le Blocus (1867), Histoire d'un paysan.. (4 vols., 1868-1870), L'Histoire du plebiscite (1872), to Le Grandpere Lebigue (188o) ; besides dramas like Le Juif polonais (1869) and Les Rantzau (1882). Without any special literary claim, their stories are distinguished by simplicity and genuine descriptive power, particularly in the battle scenes and in connexion with Alsatian peasant life. They are marked by a genuine democratic spirit, and by real patriotism, which developed after 187o into hatred of the Germans. The authors attacked militarism by depicting the horrors of war in the plainest terms. See also J. Claretie, Erckmann-Chatrian (1883), in the series of " Celebrites contemporaines."
End of Article: ALONSO DE ERCILLA Y ZUNIGA (1533-1595)
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