Bridging Truth and Fiction
The Intellectual Quest of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo
In his Research Project, Daniel Damler explores the life and work of Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo (1478-1557), a significant figure of the Early Modern Period. Oviedo was a chronicler, explorer, courtier, translator, artist, and entrepreneur, whose extensive experiences reflected the profound changes occurring in the 16th century.
Oviedo's diverse pursuits included writing a chivalry novel and translating Boccaccio's works into Spanish. However, his most notable achievement was the monumental "Historia general y natural de las Indias," a highly regarded natural history text that remains untranslated in German.
Throughout his life, Oviedo grappled with the interplay between reality and fiction, and truth and falsehood. This theme resonates with contemporary concerns in the 2020s, marked by shifts in information technology and the rise of alternative truths. Similarly, in the 1520s, Oviedo confronted a loss of authority among the guardians of established knowledge, who struggled to reconcile the existence of the American continent with their existing beliefs. Furthermore, the influx of contradictory news from the New World highlighted the European public's inability to verify information accurately over vast distances, leading to a sense of helplessness.
Damler delves into Oviedo's life, work, and his quest for truth and reality. The objective is to explore innovative ways of communicating historical and theoretical content, emphasizing narrative and visual approaches rather than traditional monographs and research articles. By employing text-image arrangements and diverse literary genres, the project aims to reflect and revive Oviedo's own interests and ambitions.