The Persistence of Presence

The Persistence of Presence: Emblem and Ritual in Baroque Spain

BRADLEY J. NELSON
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442660298
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  • Book Info
    The Persistence of Presence
    Book Description:

    The Persistence of Presenceanalyzes the relationship between emblem books, containing combinations of pictures and texts, and Spanish literature in the early modern period.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6029-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-30)

    This is a book aboutpresence, its creation and reception. By presence I mean the way in which certain encounters or events compel us to transcend our mundane existence and to contemplate what appears to be a higher, more universal – morereal– experience of meaning and being. Such experiences and objects are perceived as possessing anaura, an indescribable but almost palpable surplus of meaning, which holds the promise of something that is otherwise lacking. The main hypothesis of the discussions to come is that the emblem, in its many cultural and social contexts and mutations, is best understood as...

  6. PART ONE: THE EMBLEM

    • 1 Emblem Theory, Emblem Practice: A Consideration of Juan de Borja’s Resistance to Theory
      (pp. 33-54)

      Unlike his Italian predecessor, Juan de Borja assembles hisEmpresas morales(1581, Prague) in the midst of the growing theoretical debate concerning the composition and function of the emblem. Both the Prologue, in which Borja lays out a new understanding of theempresa, and the devices themselves bear witness to an author who seeks to control the place and potential function of his enterprise in Counter Reformation Spain and Europe. Credited with the invention of the ‘empresahispánica,’ Borja is the first Spanish author to write an original emblem book, and the changes he initiates are substantial enough to warrant his...

    • 2 Anamorphosis and Theoretical Depth of Meaning: Juan de Horozco’s Emblemas morales
      (pp. 55-74)

      In ‘Influencias e interferencias en los orígenes de la Emblemática española,’ Santiago Sebastián states that ‘Emblematics is a fundamental science for the reading and comprehension of artistic works, and for this reason it is of great interest to historians of Art’ (445). By calling emblematics ‘fundamental’ to the wider and more institutionally secure field of Art History, Sebastián manages to blur the formerly clear line dividing two fields of analysis. His research convincingly proves his point, as his emblematic readings of paintings, especially those of Diego Velázquez, provide startling insights while challenging established readings. In creating a bridge between Iconology,...

  7. PART TWO: APPLIED EMBLEMATICS

    • 3 Lope de Vega’s Emblematic Indios: The Discovery of America, or the End(s) of History
      (pp. 77-99)

      It is almost a truism of emblem studies that theatre is the most emblematic cultural practice of early modernity. This can be read two ways, of course, which is my intent: on the one hand, theatre is at the centre of the emergence of a formidable culture industry, one which becomes increasingly sensitive to the tastes and desires of urban consumers. In this sense, theatre is emblematic of the emergent phenomenon of mass visual culture. In a more properly literary frame, the formal and thematic homologies between the construction and reception of emblems and the way in which theatre involves...

    • 4 From Hieroglyphic Presence to Representational Sign: The Auto Sacramental and the Ritual Colonization of Modernity
      (pp. 100-130)

      If theatre is the most emblematic literary and cultural practice of the Spanish Golden Age, in the case of theauto sacramentalthe spectator confronts nothing less than a public performance of the emblematic modes of representation. In the words of Aurora Egido: ‘[T]he Calderonian auto operated like emblems. The title proposed theinscriptiothat the staging visualized in the painting orpicturaand that thesubscriptioor poetic text extensively glossed, although in this case dramatizing it’ (La fábrica70). Egido’s meta-emblematic characterization is a useful point of entry into what in practice is more akin to a Borgesian...

    • 5 Calderón’s El alcalde de Zalamea: Pedro Crespo as Literary Subject
      (pp. 131-158)

      In bringing philology to bear on the literary corpus of Pedro Calderón de la Barca, the editor-critic is faced with a series of lacunae, the most problematic of which is the effective lack of autograph manuscripts of the poet’s plays. The manuscripts that do exist manifest significant revisions with respect to the published anthologies, even those authorized by the playwright himself. According to observations made by Arellano inCalderón y su escuela dramática, it is virtually impossible to approach, let alone ‘fix,’ the texts of Calderón’s plays according to an archetype wherein the primordial intention of the author may be...

  8. PART THREE: BODIES AND SIGNS

    • 6 A Ritual Practice for Modernity: Baltasar Gracián’s Organized Body of Taste
      (pp. 161-194)

      In his 2002 tour de force essay on the Hispanic baroque,Barroco, Fernando R. de la Flor introduces Juan de Borja’s emblemHominem te esse cogita(think that you are [only] a man) as evidence of a Hispanic counter-proposal to the Cartesian revolution instantiated by Descartes’s emblematic motto for the modern subject:Cogito ergo sum. An emblematic reading in its own right, the Spanish scholar’s lengthy dissertation on the historiographical commonplace of Spain’s idiosyncratic relationship with European modernity deploys Borja’s emblem as both point of departure and prolepsis for his definition of a specifically Hispanic definition of baroque culture. Charting...

    • 7 Bodies and Corpses, Voices and Silence: Grotesque Presence in Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda
      (pp. 195-229)

      Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismundaoccupies a unique place in Cervantes studies in that the distinct critical postures brought to bear on the text and its troublesome ambiguities are so radically contradictory, on the one hand, and so insistently present, on the other. The highly contested terrain of this text has arguably produced more totalizing interpretations than all of his other works combined, as on all ends of the critical spectrum we find readings that can be classified as emblematic in their attempts to sweep the complex worlds and stories contained in the work into totalizing and all-encompassing images...

  9. Conclusion: Authorial Emblems
    (pp. 230-238)

    In the 2000 movieQuills, the Marquis de Sade, brilliantly played by Geoffrey Rush, smuggles his ‘pornographic’ novels out of the insane asylum where he is incarcerated by bundling them up in his soiled linens. This is not mere meta-phor-play on the part of the film’s director, Philip Kaufman, as the trope of ‘dirty laundry’ establishes an intimate connection between the erotic and transgressive nature of the inmate’s textual corpus and the repressive efforts of a self-consciously ‘enlightened’ society to separate itself from the embodied expressions of its most extreme, yet universal, currents of thought and behaviour. By focusing...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 239-256)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 257-272)
  12. Index
    (pp. 273-288)