Gracián, Baltasar bältäsär´ gräthyän´ [key], 1601–58, Spanish Jesuit philosopher and writer. A scholar, satirist, and epigrammatist, Gracián frequently ran afoul of Jesuit authority. El héroe (1637) and El político (1640) are treatises on the ideal qualities for political leaders. Agudeza y arte de ingenio [the wit and art of genius] (1643) is an analysis of poetry. Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia (1647) contains maxims and instructions for acquiring worldly wisdom. Gracián's masterpiece is the allegorical and pessimistic novel El criticón (3 parts, 1651–57), which contrasts an idyllic primitive life with the evils of civilization. It brought him exile and disgrace.
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