1902 Encyclopedia > José Antonio Condé

José Antonio Condé
Spanish Orientalist

JOSE ANTONIO CONDE, (1765-1820), a distinguished Spanish Orientalist, was born at Paraleja, in the province of Cuenca, and was educated at the university of Alcalá. Intended by his father for the law, he found means to learn not only Greek, but even Hebrew and Arabic. A subordinate post in the royal library enabled him at an early age to abandon his legal studies, and to devote himself entirely to literature ; and in 1796 he published a volume of paraphrases from the Greek idyllists. This was followed, in 1799, by an edition of the Arabic text of Edrisi's Description of Spain, accompanied with notes and a translation. Though by no means free from inaccuracies, this publication greatly advanced the editor's reputation. He was made a member of several learned societies, and was one of the commission of three appointed to continue the bibliographical labours of Sanchez; and he received royal aid in the studies requisite for the composition of his next work, the famous History of Moorish Rule in Spain. On Napoleon's appearance in Madrid (1808), Conde identified himself with the party of France. Joseph Bonaparte made him librarian in chief at the royal library ; and he had to leave his native land with the retreating invaders. After a residence of some years in Paris, spent in arranging materials for his history, Conde was at last permitted to return to Spain in 1818 or 1819. His countrymen, however, would not forgive him for his apostasy ; he sunk into poverty, and died soon after his return. His history (Historia de la Dominación de los Arabes en España) was published by subscription. Only the first volume received the author's final corrections, the other two being compilations from his MSS. This work, although confused and inexact, a chronicle rather than a history, may yet be read with advantage ; an English translation (1854) occupies three volumes of Bohn's Standard Library. Notwithstanding its imperfections, the book opened an era in Spanish literature, and Conde himself must be regarded as the earliest labourer in a field which has since yielded a rich and abundant harvest.

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