A Companion to Golden Age Theatre (Monografías A)


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The protagonist of El licenciado Vidriera provides an excellent example. In the opening pages his acute intellect and powerful memory are repeatedly underscored: y tena tan felice memoria, que era cosa de espanto; e ilustrbala tanto con su buen entendimiento, que no era menos famoso por l que por ella II, p. Nothing is said initially of his will voluntad , the third of what were considered to be the three constituent powers, or faculties of the soul. On the other hand, it is the goodwill of the two caballeros estudiantes II, p. Here, he is de todo gnero de gentes [. Indeed, when he decides that he would like to return to Salamanca for further study, his masters give him everything he will need to support himself for a further three years, and we are told that: Despidise dellos, mostrando en sus palabras su agradecimiento [.

It is difficult not to detect an implied frigidity, a coldly polite detachment, if not actual ingratitude in these words. It is not that Toms lacks will in the sense of determination he certainly has an obsessive will to study, and considerable ambition. On first meeting his aristocratic patrons he shows no signs of being intimidated by their superior social status, but actually a certain defiant pride, as he informs them that he intends to bring honour to his parents and his home region con mis estudios [. However, he is also impressionable and emotionally vulnerable. On his way back to Salamanca he meets up with a captain who is recruiting soldiers for the Spanish army.

Like most others, Captain Valdivia is much taken by Toms contentsimo de [su] 49 For a similar view, although expressed in different terms, see Anthony J. Tomss response displays that intriguing mixture of engagement and detachment, softness and hardness of will, which characterizes him in the first part of the story. Having heard Valdivias description of the visual and culinary delights of Italy, la discrecin de nuestro Toms Rodaja comenz a titubear y la voluntad a aficionarse a aquella vida, que tan cerca tiene la muerte II, p. For the first time, will, in the sense of the desire for pleasure, seems about to assert itself and supplant the desire for knowledge.

He accepts the Captains offer to travel to Italy, but at the same time insists that he will only go on his own terms ms quiero ir suelto que obligado I, p. As El Saffar p. Only once is this pattern almost broken: Por poco fueran los de Calipso los regalos y pasatiempos que hall nuestro curioso en Venecia, pues casi le hacan olvidar de su primer intento II, p. This clearly means that Toms has only just succeeded in resisting the sexual allurements of Venice, probably the first time his will has been seriously drawn in the direction of a sexual encounter with a woman.

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Yet, he has resisted. Obviously, any orthodox Catholic reader of Cervantess time would be bound to applaud this rejection of temptation, but Cervantes has so configured the incident through his emphasis on Tomss habitual detachment that a tension is provoked between the approval conditioned by faith and a more human doubt about the real moral status of this resistance.

Later, having returned to his studies in Salamanca, Toms is confronted with sexual temptation for a second time. Egged on by his fellow students, he visits a courtesan, a dama de todo rumbo y manejo II, p. She falls in love with him and openly declares her feelings, but is firmly told that he will have nothing more to do with her.

Once again, it would have been difficult for Cervantess original readers not to approve, in the abstract, of the rightness and practical wisdom of Tomss rejection of this womans advances. At the same time, the prim righteousness of his attitude impinges inescapably in the tone of: Pero como l atenda ms a sus libros que a otros pasatiempos, en ninguna manera responda al gusto de la seora II, p. Applied to another character in another context, the metaphor of the rock might denote an admirable firmness of will, an unwavering pursuit of virtue, but here, it suggests equally or primarily it is ultimately up to the reader to decide that somewhat unpleasant unyieldingness of heart, that rigid guardedness which is so much a part of Tomss condicin nature , and which is therefore, arguably, almost as close to being a vice as it is to being a virtue.

There are many such examples of Cervantess moral sensitivity to be found throughout the Novelas ejemplares: in El celoso extremeo, for example, we are invited to see the young layabout, Loaysas penetration of the protagonist, Carrizaless fortress-like home where his young wife lives as a virtual prisoner as, by turns, a heroic enterprise of liberation, like Orpheuss descent into the Underworld to rescue Eurydice, and as an act of malicious destruction, like Satans attempt to ruin the paradisiacal happiness of Adam and Eve.

In La ilustre fregona the adventures of the two young aristocratic characters who have absconded from their homes are written to be seen as either the pardonable even, necessary and laudable excesses of two high-spirited young men from good backgrounds, or, as the unworthy irresponsibility of two over-indulged delinquents who only escape the punishment due to them because of the wealth and social contacts of their parents, or, as occupying some undetermined point on the moral spectrum between these extremes.

A Companion to Golden Age Theatre (Monografías A)

By creating these kinds of puzzle in the Novelas ejemplares, Cervantes offers his readers the opportunity to refine their moral judgement sin dao de barras I, p. Misterio escondido The foregoing considerations may help us to approach the question of what Cervantes meant by another much-discussed statement in the Prlogo al lector: Slo esto quieres que consideres, que pues yo he tenido osada de dirigir estas novelas al gran Conde de Lemos, algn misterio tienen escondido que las levanta I, p.

We would like to suggest that, among other things, it may signal at least three closely interrelated aspects of life which Cervantes was clearly interested in exploring: the mystery of individual human identity; the mystery of the human will; the mystery of the interaction of the human and metaphysical worlds. Since the first of these has already been examined in pp.

Cervantess work as a whole testifies to his fascination with the operations of the will.

Again and again, his characters and narrators defend the orthodox Catholic belief that the will is always ultimately free however much it may be constrained by circumstance or bad habit. We have already looked at the case of Toms Rodaja El licenciado Vidriera , but another interesting exemplification of this problem occurs in El celoso extremeo.

In this story, the principal female character is Leonora, the barely fourteen-year-old wife of the sixty-eight-year-old protagonist, Felipo de Carrizales, a wealthy, miserly, pathologically jealous indiano wealthy returned emigrant. He has only married her because he hopes that she will give him an heir to whom to pass on his immense fortune and because her extreme youth and lack of worldly experience seem to guarantee that he will never have reason to be jealous.

He sets up a home for her that is as closed off from the outside world as he can make it. There, she leads a life that is totally regulated and policed by him. Loaysa, a young layabout on the make, hears a rumour that this fortress-like house, which he has often seen and wondered about, contains a very beautiful young woman. He decides that he will see if he can get inside the house and come into contact with her.

Eventually, after using a series of clever stratagems that take him past one locked door after another, he makes an agreement with Leonoras duenna, Marialonso, that he will sleep with her if she will persuade her mistress to sleep with him. Leonora has seen and liked the look of the handsome Loaysa, but only agrees to get into bed with him after very forceful persuasion by the duenna: Tom Marialonso por la mano a su seora, y casi por fuerza, preados de lgrimas los ojos, la llev donde Loaysa estaba [.

In the version of this story collected in the Porras manuscript, Leonora enjoys full sexual contact with Loaysa, but in the published version she determinedly resists his advances. There has been much critical debate about this fundamental change in the novelas plot, but it seems likely that Cervantes made this change for good artistic reasons rather than out of moral caution: Leonora has always been manipulated by others her parents, her husband, her servants, Marisalonso, Loaysa and so this refusal may be seen as the first important assertion of her free will, the beginning of a transition from artificially prolonged infancy to adulthood.

We are left to guess what the real springs of Leonoras refusal of Loaysa are, as later we are left to guess why she decides to enter a strictly enclosed convent after Carrizales dies believing that she has betrayed him, but forgiving her and stipulating in his will that she should marry Loaysa. Is it because she has seen enough of the ugliness and deceit of life in the world to make her want to devote herself wholly to what is reliably and eternally true? Is it because she knows since her servants will inevitably talk that, as a dishonoured woman, she has no alternative?

Is it because, traumatized and afraid, she is looking for refuge in another version of the only life with which she is familiar one led behind protective walls and in which all the important decisions are made for her?

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Is she motivated by a combination of all of these things? At the end of the novela, as if to confirm that its exemplary force lies in such questions, and not in any facile illustration of the freedom of the will, Cervantes has his narrator, who is clearly not a man to leave a mystery unsolved, wearily but confidently proffer this resoundingly trite summary of its lesson: Y yo qued con el deseo de llegar al fin deste suceso, ejemplo y espejo de lo poco que hay que fiar de llaves, tornos y paredes cuando queda la volundad libre [. Immediately after this, he finds himself forced to admit that, in this particular case, he does not know why Leonora did not put more effort into making it clear that she was innocent.

Finally, in the very same breath, and as if suddenly and slightly desperately aware that he is duty-bound to come up with something a moral teacher cannot not know , he quickly improvises two plausible but almost equally banal explanations, throws them at the reader and, duty done, lays down his pen: pero la turbacin le at la lengua, y la priesa que se dio a morir su marido no dio lugar a su disculpa II, p.

The ironies generated by the transparent inadequacy of this attempted summary could not point more eloquently to Cervantess sensitivity to and respect for the final inscrutability of the individual will. The third mystery that seems to surface time and time again in the Novelas ejemplares is that of the coexistence of the visible and invisible worlds, and more specifically the relationship between the individual human will and the will of God.

Many novelas contain coherent but unobtrusive religious allusions that allow them to be read in providentialist terms. In many cases, these allusions are to the Virgin Mary or to the devotion that particular characters have to her. Thus, in La gitanilla, Preciosa is imaginatively associated with the Virgin because one of her first actions is to dance in front of a statue of St Anne in the church of Santa Mara in Madrid while singing an improvised ballad about the Holy Family.

The ballad recounts the story of how Saints Joachim and Anne, the parents of the. Virgin, had to wait for many years before their one child was born. St Anne is addressed as rbol preciossimo I. In Rinconete y Cortadillo we are told that a cheap image of the Virgin una imagen de Nuestra Seora, destas de mala estampa I, p. While the image is the focus of the amusingly hypocritical religious devotions of the criminal community who gather there, it also, arguably, serves as a reminder that even in the midst of great moral darkness the light of what, in Cervantess culture, would have been considered ultimate truth still persists.

In El licenciado Vidriera the religious allusions are woven into a more elaborate pattern. Toms Rodaja, the protagonist, is found sleeping under a tree at the start of the story. Bearing in mind his over-zealous pursuit of knowledge and the strong element of pride and ambition motivating that pursuit, this is clearly an allusion to the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

Since he has resisted the advances of the woman who gave it to him, the incident obviously cannot be read as a direct reworking of the story of Eves temptation of Adam, but rather as a displaced image of the damage done to him by his own unbalanced desire to know. It is significant that the symptoms of his madness the belief that he is made of glass and his bitter criticism of society clearly represent the pathological externalization of tendencies emotional vulnerability and wariness of others, for example that are already present in his character.

He is eventually cured by un religioso de la Orden de San Jernimo, que tena gracia y ciencia particular en hacer que los mudos entendiesen y en cierta manera hablasen, y en curar locos [. But this individual experience of recovery through gracia y ciencia literally: grace and knowledge is anticipated by a remarkable passage earlier on in the story where Tomss visit to the shrine of Loreto is described. The basilica at Loreto contains what was and is believed to be the Sancta Domus Holy House , the house in which the Virgin Mary received the Annunciation.

Toms cannot see the walls of the shrine porque todas estaban cubiertas de muletas, de mortajas, de cadenas, de grillos, de esposas, de cabelleras, de medios bultos de cera y de pinturas y retablos I, p. The description of the shrine, which comes in the middle of a breathless account of Tomss sight-seeing tour of Italy, draws attention to itself because of its detail only the description of Rome, as one might expect, is more extensive , and because the sudden and very marked solemnity of the language slows the hitherto rapid narrative pace to a virtual standstill: Vio el mismo aposento y estancia donde se relat la ms alta embajada y de ms importancia que vieron, y no entendieron, todos los cielos, y todos los ngeles, y todos los moradores de las moradas sempiternas II, p.

He clearly has a devotion to the Virgin and it is difficult not to see all these details in conjunction as suggesting that his own recovery from madness is one more example of the innumerables mercedes que muchos haban recibido de la mano de Dios por intercesin de su divina Madre II, p. Yet, the novela itself is not an obvious and certainly not a spectacular miracle story. If a miracle has occurred, it has been wrought by ciencia knowledge as well as gracia grace and, although Toms is cured of his madness, it is hard to know how much he has fundamentally changed, or whether, after he is forced to abandon his career in the Law, the ambiguous description of his death as a soldier points more in the direction of ultimate, lonely failure rather than final success in committing himself to the world and to others: [.

La fuerza de la sangre seems to exemplify the truth of the Spanish saying cited by the principal female protagonist, Leocadia : cuando Dios da la llaga da la medecina II, p. She has been abducted and raped in a darkened room by an unknown assailant. Before being blindfolded and put back out onto the street, she takes a crucifix from the room no por devocin ni por hurto, sino llevada de un discreto designio suyo II, p.

Eventually, she is able to use the crucifix to prove to the parents of Rodolfo, the man who raped her, that he is the father. The child is accidentally trampled by a horseman in the street and is picked up by Rodolfos father, brought to his house, and laid on the very bed where his mother was raped. Rodolfos mother, who has promised to find him a beautiful wife, then arranges for Leocadia to appear, splendidly dressed, at a meal that she has organized to celebrate his return from Italy. Leocadia enters leading her son by the hand, y delante della venan dos doncellas alumbrndola con dos velas de cera en dos candeleros de plata II, p.

As Ray Calcraft has observed, Leocadia is described in a way that evokes typical devotional images of the Virgin set between votive candles. Rodolfo is so overwhelmed by Leocadias beauty that is he led to say to himself that si la mitad de esta hermosura tuviera la que mi madre me tiene escogida por esposa, tuvirame por el ms dichoso hombre del mundo II, p. When he discovers her identity, he is happy to accept Leocadia as his wife, which is exactly what she and his mother wanted. All ends happily; a great injustice is put right; Leocadias honour has been restored and her son will be brought up by both of his parents.

Has a kind of miracle happened; have grace and Providence intervened to bring justice and happiness out of sin and suffering? Or, bearing in mind that Rodolfo shows no sign of sorrow or repentance for his terrible act, are we to understand that coincidence and discreet human, and specifically feminine, calculation have conspired to produce a socially and personally satisfactory solution to a very awkward situation? Or, have all these forces cooperated in some mysterious way to do so? As usual, Cervantes leaves the answers to these questions to the discretion and beliefs of his readers, but, crucially, he makes sure, because of the way in which the story is written, that they become conscious of the processes of reasoning, and of the perhaps previously unquestioned beliefs, that lead them to those answers.

The other stories which incorporate patterns of religious allusion are similarly ambiguous. Like the Prodigal Son, to whom he is explicitly compared, Felipo de Carrizales, the protagonist of El celoso extremeo, has spent his inheritance recklessly. Unlike the Prodigal Son, he does not literally return to the home of his father, but on board the ship that takes him to the New World he does decide to reform his life: se iba tomando una firme resolucin de mudar manera de vida, y de tener otro estilo en guardar la hacienda que Dios fuese servido de darle, y de proceder con ms recato que hasta all con las mujeres II, p.

It is clear, when he returns as a very rich man to Spain twenty years later, that he has kept at least one part of this resolution. But, if he was prodigal with money in his youth, he has become mean and miserly in old age, so that it seems that his repentance has merely involved exchanging one form of selfishness for its opposite extreme.

On his death-bed, after his marriage to Leonora has gone disastrously wrong, it appears that he does at last come home to himself.

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He has summoned his wifes parents to give them an account of what he believes to be their daughters adultery and to hear the terms of his will. When they arrive, they are surprised to find the house, which had always been so closed off to the outside world, lying wide open: hallaron la puerta de la calle y la del patio abiertas y la casa sepultada en silencio y sola II, p. The language here, which evokes the description in the Gospels particularly, Mark 14 of the finding of the empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday, seems to set the scene for an ending which will show us an inwardly resurrected Carrizales.

The expectation appears to be fulfilled when he acknowledges his own primary guilt for the ruin of his marriage: fui estremado en lo que hice [. It is not only this open admission of wrong-doing that appears to indicate that Carrizales has undergone some kind of transformation or regeneration, but also the language in which it is couched, and especially one image that he applies to himself: Yo fui el que como el gusano de seda, me fabriqu la casa donde muriese [.

Even so, when other aspects of this death-bed confession are taken into account, it is less clear that the Prodigal has returned. He still insists that he had treated his wife generously [t]ambin sabis con cunta liberalidad la dot [. Even his act of forgiveness seems at least partially calculated to allow him to enjoy the thought of how generous it will make him seem in the eyes of others que quede en el mundo por ejemplo, si no de bondad, al menos de simplicidad jams oda ni vista II, p.

Yet, he does publicly acknowledge responsibility for his own wrong-doing or, at least, folly for the first time in the story, and he does leave money in his will for obras pas II, p. This too, of course, could be interpreted as more manipulation of his posthumous image, or, even worse, of the Judge whom he knows he is about to face.

His final inner state remains, appropriately since this is the real point of the story inscrutable. In La ilustre fregona, Costanza, the eponymous protagonist, is a child conceived as the result of an act of rape and born in a Toledo hostelry where her aristocratic mother paused on her discreetly undertaken pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Because her mother died before she was able to send for her, Costanza is raised as their own daughter by the innkeeper and his wife.

Like her mother, she has great devotion to the Virgin, a virtue that her putative father puts at the head of a list of her good qualities when he is describing her to the Corregidor whose son is infatuated with her : Ella, lo primero y principal, es devotsima de Nuestra Seora; confiesa y comulga cada mes [. Indeed, after the first detailed description of her in the story, we are given a glimpse of what, no doubt, is her daily morning routine: Cuando sali de la sala se persign y santigu, y con mucha devocin y sosiego hizo una profunda reverencia a una imagen de Nuestra Seora que en una de las paredes del patio estaba colgada [.

Eventually, through an extraordinary series of coincidences or providentially ordained events her true identity is revealed and she marries Toms de Avendao, the young nobleman disguised as a stable-boy who had courted her in the inn. This young mans best friend, Diego de Carriazo, who has assumed the identity of a water-carrier, is revealed to be Constanzas half-brother when both boys fathers come to the inn in search, not of their sons, but of Costanza herself. Diego de Carriazo Senior , her real father, has only recently been told of her existence and her whereabouts by an old servant of her mothers who has made a death-bed confession, revealing how his desire to keep the money that should have been sent on to Constanza as a dowry led him to keep the story secret.

Thus, as the pattern of events suggests, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, a lastminute act of repentance helps to put right some of the wrongs created by an act of serious sin. Yet, although the logic of providential intervention is less contested in this novela than in the ones we have just been considering, Cervantes allows some troubling shadows to cloud what otherwise could be an all-too-neat pattern of loss and restoration: Costanzas father never expresses contrition for his original sin; his son never expresses any regret over his deception of his parents both boys have absconded with money given to them to study at Salamanca , and, because of his social status, wealth and family connections, he is never held to account for almost beating a young boy to death in Toledo; Costanza is taken away from the only life and the only parents she has known to lead a completely different life in Burgos.

It will be an incomparably more comfortable one with a husband whom she appears to genuinely love. We must imagine, too, that the innkeeper and his wife, because of the new physical and social distance between them, will rarely, if ever again, see the girl they brought up as their daughter. In the final double novela, El casamiento engaoso y El coloquio de los perros, the Ensign Campuzano, tells his friend, the Licentiate Perlata, that after his abandonment by his wife doa Estefana, he was on the verge of despair when he heard what he believed to be the voice of his guardian angel acudiendo a decirme en el corazn que mirase que era cristiano y que el mayor pecado de los hombres era el de la desesperacin, por ser pecado de demonios II, pp.

In his account of the dogs conversation which he claims to have overheard in the Hosptial of the Resurrection, he includes la Caizaress prophecy about the recovery of their human identity being dependent on seeing with their own eyes a text that parodies the Magnificat Volvern a su forma verdadera cuando vieren con presta diligencia derribar los soberbios levantados y alzar a los humildes abatidos por mano poderosa para hacello.

As we have already seen p. Thus, he appears to emerge from the Hospital of the Resurrection not only partially restored physically 54 As pointed out by Pamela Waley, The Unity of the Casamiento engaoso and the Coloquio de los perros, BHS, 34 , p. His dream, then, invites interpretation as kind of revelation having, perhaps, an ultimately divine source like the voice of the guardian angel he claims he heard in his head earlier , and intended to produce this restorative effect.

But, just as the dogs have difficulty understanding the text that is the key to their liberation, it is not clear that Campuzano fully understands, or has been fully transformed by the text of his dream. It does seem, however, that he is on the way to such understanding and that as the logic of this dual novelas structure suggests to the extent to which their experience and their willingness to engage with its content allow, similar re-creacin re-creation is being offered to its real and fictional readers. The last of the Novelas, then, points clearly towards what, as one reads them, one sees emerging as the fundamental feature of their exemplarity: their offer not of solutions to the problems and mysteries of life, but of subtle, convincing, and always varied reconstructions of the dynamic, fluid relationship between particular situations in life and the matrix of forces, natural and metaphysical, that frames them, and in terms of which they are to be ultimately understood.

To invoke the metaphor of the mesa de trucos I, p. Conclusion In conclusion, and in the light for the foregoing discussion, one may say that Cervantes has written novelas, entertaining stories, which are artistically and morally exemplary in a variety of ways. This sustained originality makes them not only entertaining, but also artistically exemplary because they provide samples of the great variety of ways in which a story can be told.

The nature of their moral exemplarity is equally original and various. At the very least or most they may be seen as examples of what Cervantess contemporaries called eutrapelia, the kind of pleasure which is automatically morally beneficial. For those readers who want to consider them more deeply, they provide puzzles that problematize the relationship between many of the then available conceptual frameworks that seek to explain life and the often very confused and shifting truths at play in particular experiences of it.

Finally, for those readers who want to look deeper still, they point toward the mysteries of the human heart itself; of individual identity; of volition; and of the interpenetration of the natural and metaphysical worlds. Essentially, of course, their artistic originality and the subtle moral vision they offer are completely interdependent. Thus, as we have seen, although they do also offer moral instruction of a traditional kind, the Novelas are principally characterized by their use of all kinds of strategies aimed at engaging readers in an active process of effort towards understanding, not just of the stories themselves, but of themselves and their own lives.

Their self-conscious fictionality, their drawing attention to the fact that they are not life, but only a representation of it, is perhaps the most effective of these strategies. A clear example of this comes, fittingly, at the very end of the collection. At the end of the Coloquio, having finished reading his friend, Campuzanos account of the conversation of the dogs, Peralta lays the manuscript aside, briefly comments on it, and then suggests that they both take a walk to the square of the Espoln in Valladolid: Vmonos al Espoln a recrear los ojos del cuerpo, pues ya he recreado los del entendimiento Lets repair to the Espoln to entertain our eyes for we have already entertained our minds.

Campuzano agrees: Vamos dijo el Alfrez Lets go, the Ensign said , and both disappear out of the page and into the rest of their fictional lives: Y con esto, se fueron II, p. Thus, at the end of this novela, and of the collection, the worlds of the real writer Cervantes , of the fictional author and reader of the Coloquio Campuzano and Peralta , and of the real reader of the Novelas ejemplares momentarily coincide, and then immediately diverge as all re-enter their separate modes of existence. For a strangely moving and, one could say, most completely exemplary moment, the real reader is offered a direct awareness of the strangeness of consciousness, of the many places the mind can inhabit, and of the various kinds of time it can experience.

What is meant by calling this carefully induced experience most completely exemplary is that it represents the summation of the entire moral thrust of the Novelas, which do not so much entretenimiento honesto, juzgo que la verdadera eutropelia est en estas Novelas I, p. For a full discussion of eutrapelia in the Novelas ejemplares, see Chapter 13 of the present volume.

Above all, though, it is complete because, besides offering an attractive image of life at its best of reading, writing, conversation, friendship, the needs of mind and body being met in due order it acknowledges and exemplifies incompletion: the Ensign saying that he intends to write down the second conversation of the dogs; the two friends setting off to take a walk to the Espoln, a place which in turn offered una vista bella, de alamedas, huertas, fuentes y monasterios [. It implies a conscious opening up to all that lies beyond the text and an implicit, humble acknowledgement of its vastness and unknowability.

One of the most original features of the Novelas ejemplares is their questioning of the possibility of exemplarity itself: to be more precise, they probe the gap between the knowledge of what is morally true and right and the putting into practice of that knowledge. For a writer who is so very conscious of the prevalence of that gap as his creation of a character like the witch, la Caizares, in the Coloquio clearly indicates effective exemplarity must mean something more than the straightforward reiteration or illustration of familiar truths although it is clear that Cervantes respects the value of all formulations of truth proverbs and adages included ; it must take account of the fact, for instance, that in real life people are often forced to choose between competing truths, to decide which is the greater of two goods or the lesser of two evils.

The Novelas not only show characters struggling with such decisions for example , but they also force their readers to face them and to be aware that they may make what might be considered objectively accurate judgements for the wrong reasons. One of the techniques that Cervantes uses to induce this awareness is to place a judgement in the mouth of a character or narrator that is designed to reflect back opinions associated with a certain mentality to a reader of or in a similar frame of mind.

One of the clearest examples of this comes at the end of Rinconete y Cortadillo when Rinconete condemns the criminal community which he has just joined and perhaps never leaves in language that mimics the rhetoric of an offended law and. It seems singularly appropriate that Cervantess linking of Horas [. Does this very intelligent openness to the complexity of life and of the processes of representing and judging it indicate that Cervantes was a moral relativist, a thoroughgoing sceptic?

The evidence of his work in general especially the Persiles and of what is known about his religious commitment in life, along with the statement made by Cipin at the end of the Coloquio one that impresses with its benignly authoritative tone would seem to indicate that this is not the case: La virtud y el buen entendimiento siempre es una y siempre es uno: desnudo o vestido, solo o acompaado.

Bien es verdad que puede padecer acerca de la estimacin de la gentes, mas no en la realidad verdadera de lo que merece y vale II, p. It may well be that they might suffer a loss of esteem by the people but not of their true worth and merit [IV, p. This seems to mean at least two things: first, and most obviously, that goodness and right understanding always retain their positive value whether they exist in their pure form, or whether they are accompanied or mixed with what is less than good or even bad and with ignorance; second, that they have an objective identity and value independent of changing opinions about what they are, or about how pleasant or unpleasant they may seem to be.

If we do accept this as a statement of Cervantess own view, it would indicate that, if he is sceptical, it is not about the existence of truth as his culture defined it that he is not a nominalist , but about the ability and willingness of human beings to apprehend and act upon it. Another and perhaps primary reason for the apparent indeterminacy of these stories and of much of Cervantess writing has got to do not so much with even this kind of scepticism but with what appears to be his profound respect for the mystery and unfathomability of reality itself.

Mystery, by definition, involves the coexistence of things which on the level of discursive reason are contradictory and incompatible: the great Christian mysteries of death and resurrection, of wholeness emerging from error and suffering, of the Felix Culpa, as we have seen, subtend many of the Novelas. As is stated with emphatic solemnity in the passage in El licenciado Vidriera about Tomss visit to Loreto, these are things that even beings endowed with purely spiritual intelligence cannot understand: Vio el mismo aposento y estancia donde se relat la ms alta embajada y de ms importancia que vieron, y no entendieron, todos los cielos, y todos los ngeles, y todos los moradores de las moradores sempiternas II, p.

It is most important to point out, though, that there are other Novelas in which there are relatively few allusions to the spiritual world or its mysteries. El amante liberal, Las dos doncellas, and La seora Cornelia, for example, trace patterns of cause and effect in which the emphasis is primarily although, even here, not quite exclusively on natural forces. Their inclusion may point to a desire on Cervantess part to encompass, and exemplify, all the worlds of life and of fiction from the Romance heaven-on-earth of La gitanilla to the picaresque underworld of the Coloquio and all that lies between , by not reducing them, like the deranged mathematician of the Coloquio, to facile patterns and false symmetries, but by leaving what is irregular and immeasurable in place.

It is precisely this acceptance of not knowing permeating the Novelas ejemplares, and their corresponding openness to the reader, that make them such attractive and, paradoxically, such genuinely instructive, stories. Ameza y Mayo, Agustn G. Atkinson, William C. Aylward, E. Calcraft, R. Cascardi, Anthony J. Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de, Don Quijote, ed. John Jay Allen, 2 vols Madrid: Ctedra, Cervantes Saavedra, Exemplary Novels by Cervantes, tr. Richer, Avalle-Arce, 2 vols Madrid: Castalia, Harry Sieber, 2 vols Madrid: Ctedra, You may be benefit and be formed.

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A Companion to Golden Age Theatre (Monografías A) A Companion to Golden Age Theatre (Monografías A)
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