Development and Underdevelopment in the History of Economic Thought

Translating the periodic press, disseminating the Political Economy: the case of the Spanish Enligtenment

astigarraga goenaga jesus, university of zaragoza

During the European Enlightenment the periodic press, as a phenomenon of intellectual, social and cultural interest, emerged due to the diversity of journalistic formats that came into circulation during the course of the eighteenth century. In his classic study on the French press, Hatin referred to the existence of “reproducing” journals that compiled the new bibliographic material published in French or foreign journals in order to multiply the impact of this new material among the public. These types of journals began to acquire a marked social function as new press publications grew in volume and specialisation. As a result, readers encountered difficulties, not only in economic terms but also in keeping up-to-date. The Spanish Enlightenment was not exempt from the emergence of these compilations or digests. This was particularly evident during the “Golden Age” of the press. This brilliant period in the history of the Spanish press passed between 1780 and 1808. During these three decades, different initiatives of this type arose, but none of them were as significant as the Espíritu de los mejores diarios literarios (EMD). Together with El Censor, the Memorial Literario and the Correo de Madrid, it constituted one of the most emblematic publications of this “Golden Age”. While it was not just a digest, its compiled content was undoubtedly its main distinguishing feature. Through the publication of reviews and commentaries of books, it was an indisputable channel for disseminating updated information. This included publications on the new sciences emerging during the Enlightenment. This was the case of Political Economy. Although the EMD has been the object of different studies, no detailed analysis has been made of its contents with respect to this academic discipline. This is not a minor issue, as it constituted one of its core subject areas. This paper seeks to cover this gap.

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Keywords: Periodic press, Spain, Enlightenment