Drama •  European Literature and Cultural Studies

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Lugubrious Nights: An Eighteenth-Century Spanish Romance

Jose de Cadalso
Translated by Russell Sebold

Lugubrious Nights follows the protagonist Tediato on his nightly visits to the temple where his beloved is interred. His ultimate intention is to disinter her body and kill himself in her presence. Tediato is a religious skeptic whose grief is cosmic, and he sees no reason not to join his beloved in death, torn as he is between the emptiness of his soul and the emptiness of the world.

Hispanist Russell P. Sebold offers the first English translation of the eighteenth-century Spanish lyrical poem in prose by José de Cadalso (1741-1782). Inspired by his grief over the death of the actress María Ignacia Ibáñez, Cadalso composed Lugubrious Nights in 1771. Sebold considers it to be the first fully Romantic work of continental European literature, written three years before the publication of Goethe's Werther.


Russell P. Sebold is emeritus professor of Romance languages, University of Pennsylvania. In 2001, the University of Salamanca awarded him the Elio Antonio de Nebrija International Prize, given to non-Spanish scholars who have made outstanding contributions to Hispanic studies.

5.5 x 8 in. 94 pages 3 halftones