1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Espinel, Vicente Martinez
ESPINEL, VICENTE MARTINEZ (1551–1624), Spanish poet and novelist, was baptized on the 28th of December 1551, and educated at Salamanca. He was expelled from the university in 1572, and served as a soldier in Flanders, returning to Spain in 1584 or thereabouts. He took orders in 1587, and four years later became chaplain at Ronda, absented himself from his living, and was deprived of his cure; but his musical skill obtained for him the post of choirmaster at Plasencia. His Diversas Rimas (1591) are undeniably good examples of technical accomplishment and caustic wit. Espinel, however, survives as the author of a clever picaresque novel entitled Relaciones de la vida del Escudero Marcos de Obregón (1618). It is, in many passages, an autobiography of Espinel with picturesque embellishments. Marcos is not a chivalresque “esquire,” but an adventurer who seeks his fortune by attaching himself to great men; and the object of the author is to warn young men against such a life. Apart from the unedifying confessions of the hero, the book contains curious anecdotes concerning prominent contemporaries, and the episodical stories are told with great spirit; the style is extremely correct, though somewhat diffuse. Le Sage has not scrupled to borrow from Marcos de Obregón many of the incidents and characters in Gil Blas—a circumstance which induced Isla to give to his Spanish translation of Le Sage’s work the jesting title, Gil Blas restored to his Country and his Native Tongue. In the 1775 edition of the Siècle de Louis XIV. Voltaire grossly exaggerates in saying that Gil Blas is taken entirely from Marcos de Obregón. Espinel was a clever musician and added a fifth string to the guitar. He revived the measure known as décimas or espinelas, consisting of a stanza of ten octosyllabic lines. Most of the poems which he left in manuscript remain unpublished owing to their licentious character.
Bibliography.—J. Perez de Guzmán’s edition of Marcos de Obregón (Barcelona, 1881) includes a valuable introduction; Léo Claretie, Le Sage romancier (Paris, 1890), discusses exhaustively the question of Le Sage’s indebtedness to Espinel. For some previously unpublished poems see Pedro Salvá y Mallén, Catálogo de la biblioteca de Salvá (Valencia, 1872).