To Live Vicariously Through Literature: Lope de Vega and His Alter Ego in the Sonnets of the Rimas Humanas y Divinas del Licenciado Tomé de Burguillos

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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This study examines a number of sonnets written by Lope de Vega, under the pseudonym of Tomé de Burguillos, in the Rimas humanas y divinas del licenciado Tomé de Burguillos (1634). Comparatively little critical attention has been given to this body of work by Lope scholars throughout the years, though it will become clear through this study that Lope's use of his alter ego performs a variety of functions. First, the author uses Burguillos to engage in simple lyrical experimentation, often in a ludic and self-referential fashion. Second, Burguillos justifies Lope's stance on certain aesthetic and personal issues, including the issue of culteranismo and the need to abandon earlier poetic models. Lope also uses the name of Burguillos as a vehicle for self-defence and even self-praise. Finally, Lope's use of an alter ego allows him to write in a way that is at times judgmental, frustrated and humorous. Burguillos reflects a more world-weary and mature poet who panoramically views the trials and tribulations of a long, and highly public, literary career. In sum, Burguillos allows Lope to play a certain literary and personal identity game and to engage in frequent acts of self-justification and criticism of others. Burguillos is the vicarious identity which Lope assumes in his struggle to achieve and maintain prominence.