Between 1605 and 1621, Quevedo wrote a sequence of five ""Dreams"" or ""Visions"" (Suenos y discursos), in each of which he hilariously envisions Spanish society as populated by people rightfully condemned to Hell. These astonishingly witty and irreverent satires of contemporary Spanish culture, morality, prejudice and religious fanaticism, were composed in a style as allusive, elliptical and equivocal as to successfully entertain both those who barely understood their full range and import, and others who celebrated the poet's rebellious insinuations. Censorship prohibited the publication of such satire in its original form, but hundreds of copies were made by hand and circulated widely. In 1993 a critical edition of all of the surviving manuscripts was published. Crosby's work compares this version with all of the 43 extant manuscripts, and for the first time identifies those groups of manuscripts from which the publishers of the first edition derived their text. This text can now be seen as a version not only censored, but corrupted successively by copyists and editors who did not understand Quevedo's satire. The result is hardly what Spain's most famous satirist originally wrote.
James O. Crosby was born in New York City in 1924, and is currently Emeritus Professor of Spanish at Florida International University in Miami. Since 1952 he has studied the works of Francisco de Quevedo, the top poet of Spain's Golden Age and the creator of modern satire in Spanish (1580-1645). Crosby was awarded national fellowships to work on Quevedo, and his many literary studies and critical editions drawn from original 17th-century manuscripts have been published since 1955 in Spain, England, Mexico and the USA, and have been reviewed by some of the best scholars in the field.