The Americanist Andres Gonzalez de Barcia Carballido y Zuniga (1673--1743) and the creation of the colonial Spanish American library

Date of Completion

January 2003


Biography|Literature, Latin American|History, European|Library Science




This is an intellectual history of the work of one of early Enlightenment Spain's most important scholars, Andrés González de Barcia (1673–1743). Author of numerous theatrical comedies, one of the founding members of the Real Academia Española, and a member of the elite Councils of Castile and of War during the reign of King Philip V (1700–1746), González de Barcia's dedication to Spanish colonial historiography on the Indies has earned him the right to be called the first ‘Americanist.’ From 1722 until 1738 González de Barcia produced more than two-dozen critical editions of some of Spain's most important historical works on the New World, many of which were already rare in early eighteenth-century Spain. For example, he republished El Inca Garcilaso's Comentarios Reales, Juan de Torquemada's Monarquía Indiana, Gregorio García's Origen de los Indios, Antonio de Herrera's Decadas, and Antonio de León Pinelo's famous Epítome de la Biblioteca , among many other chronicles and treatises. ^ González de Barcia added abundant paratextual components to the editions he produced. These scholia included analytical indices, marginal notes, prefatory essays, and, on some occasions, supplemental commentary inserted into the body of the original text. Throughout the dissertation, I review González de Barcia's work as an editor, bibliographer, and commentator in order to explicate his intellectual project for New World scholarship. I recount how he created what we might call the first comprehensive “colonial Spanish American library.” The thesis title, in fact, plays with the three main senses of the Spanish word for library: biblioteca. As defined by the 1726 Diccionario de Autoridades—a dictionary that González de Barcia himself helped to create—‘biblioteca’ connoted: (1) the physical location where books and manuscripts were maintained; (2) the collection of books themselves used for research; and (3) the bibliographical catalogue used to orient all scholar's intellectual pursuits. What I refer to as González de Barcia's “bibliothecarial creation”—his construction of the “Barcia Library”—comprised these dimensions of scholarship, all of which served in his attempt to redefine Spanish colonialism by producing an authoritative canon for New Word historiography. ^