Leandro Fernández de Moratín is known as one of the great Spanish playwrights of the modern era. Born in 1760 in Madrid, he was always destined to become a great writer. His father was the renowned Nicolas Fernandez, a poet, dramatist and major figure in the Spanish literary world. Because of his father’s prominent position in the literary community of the time, there is no doubt Moratín would have grown up among some of the most important writers and poets of 1700’s Madrid.
Moratín published his first major work in 1790 called El viejo y la niña (The Old Man and the Young Girl), which is still considered a classic in Spanish literature to this day. This work was a scathing critique of a common cultural practice in Spain at the time, which was arranged marriages between young girls and significantly older men. His second work, La comedia nueva (The New Comedy) was a satire featuring characters from other popular plays at the time and was just as popular as his first.
Having spent a significant amount of time at institutes of higher learning on scholarship in both France and England, Moratín was fluent in both French and English in addition to his native tongue, Spanish. Because of his exceptional language skills, he dabbled in translating great works such as the great William Shakespeare and Moliere from their original languages into Spanish. In reality, he was one of the first professional Spanish language translators and his translations are still read today in Spanish speaking communities.
For a brief period of time, Moratín was remarkably successful. He had several wildly popular plays under his belt, as well as books of prose and anthologies of poetry. During this time he also served as the official royal librarian under King Charles IV, who was more liberal-minded that many others at that time. His success however, at least in his home country of Spain, was doomed to be short lived.
Unfortunately, when the Spanish inquisition was reinstated with the return of King Ferdinand VII at the turn of the century, Moratín was exiled to France. His later work, El sí de las niñas (The Maiden’s Consent) appeared to be the last straw as it was a dark, satirical attack on Spanish cultural norms of the time – particularly women’s roles in society. The book was denounced by the powers that be, and Moratín was fated to live out the rest of his days in Paris and abandon playwriting. He was initially entered at the famous Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, but his remains were eventually repatriated to his hometown of Madrid.
In addition to Moratín himself being one of the original professional Spanish language translation experts, it is also thanks to professional Spanish language translation and copy editing services such as Spanish with Style that we can enjoy Leandro Fernández de Moratín’s own works in many other languages, including English. As you can imagine, being able to capture the essence and subtleties of his works and ensure the intended meaning of his prose are accurately portrayed, translation is best left up to highly trained professionals.