Kobieta hiszpańska w relacjach podróżników zagranicznych u schyl ku oświecenia i w epoce romantyzmu.

  • Barbara Obtułowicz Instytut Historii Uniwersytetu Pedagogicznego im. KEN w Krakowie


The article aims at establishing how travellers perceived, depicted and evaluated Spanish women in the context of their rich travelling experience. What were the aspects those travellers focused on, did their reports reflect reality or did they create a stereotype? The analysis used the corpus data collected from the reports by foreign visitors to the Iberian Peninsula such as diaries, notes, and letters sińce the eighties of the 18th century until mid-19th century. They also include novels written on the basis of travelling experience.  The conducted research shows that the portrait of the Spanish woman in travellers’ reports is incomplete and rather superficial. Foreigners saw Spain while passing through it, which allowed only an uncritical view of some phenomena without their deeper understanding. It was also due to the fact that travellers would arrive with ready assumptions about what they could see and subconsciously directed their attention to what they had expected and not what was real. Thus they confirmed established images of the female inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula. A chain reaction resulted: travellers prepared for the joumey from biased guide books, and in conseąuence what they were looking for in Spain was in agreement with their reading. Then reports were madę, which were eąually biased, and the persons reading them adopted a stereotypical image of Spain in generał and of a Spanish woman in particular. De facto, the image of Spain at the end of the Enlightenment and in the Romanticism was a derivative of a simplified image of the country as a fantastic and exotic land of long transformation history that was conducted slowly and was devoid of peculiar features. In other words, the country appeared not worth studying diligently, just interesting enough to look at and contemplate. It had further conseąuence, namely the descriptions of travels in Spain, thanks to a wide readership formed the generał social opinion. Moreover, such descriptions constituted a fertile ground for the dispute about women that was conducted in Europę at that time. EIowever, one cannot agree with the statement that all foreigners perceived Spain through Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote as if the time had stopped and King Phillip II still ruled. Some travellers noticed a few symptoms of transformation considering that in its narrow scope it encompassed women as well and it brought about changes in the generał understanding of at least some of the problems related to women. The view that foreign visitors presented Spanish women merely as seducers who killed their lovers out of affection or as dancers singing and entertaining with the guitar cannot be accepted. The conclusion to be drawn from the article is that although important issues such as economic activity, charitable deeds and social actions of women were omitted and little attention was given to everyday chores, yet their presence was observed in various contexts. The most commonly discussed topie was beauty, naturę, dress and love for luxury. Such passages are most stereotypical. Other topics, for example related to social, cultural life, education, religious activities, and free choice of marital status were treated realistically but most superficially to give the fuli picture of reality. In some issues (beauty, conduct, dress, and freedom in patemal society) controversial opinions appear. Particular matters were discussed with reference to upper class women but not only. Credibility of the reports varies depending on the author and problem. Most critical reports come from Botkin and French female travellers. It is conspicuous that it was the French women who first noticed that the Spanish women differ from description and in their reports they  madę an attempt to portray the country and its inhabitants in a realistic way. 
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ObtułowiczB. (2015). Kobieta hiszpańska w relacjach podróżników zagranicznych u schyl ku oświecenia i w epoce romantyzmu. Res Gestae, 2, 127-143. https://doi.org/10.24917/2507