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Manuscript Diversity, Meaning, and Variance in Juan Manuel's El Conde Lucanor

Manuscript Diversity, Meaning, and Variance in Juan Manuel's El Conde Lucanor

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 340
  • Book Info
    Manuscript Diversity, Meaning, and Variance in Juan Manuel's El Conde Lucanor
    Book Description:

    Juan Manuel'sEl Conde Lucanorwas arguably one of the great masterworks of early modern Spain. Although the work appears in five very different manuscript versions from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, most modern editions of El Conde Lucanor have neglected to account for the fact that it was part of a manuscript tradition, and that its meaning is substantially affected when its original forms are not taken in to account.

    WithManuscript Diversity, Meaning, and Variance in Juan Manuel's El Conde Lucanor, Laurence de Looze demonstrates how the meaning of Juan Manuel's work changes depending on how the work is 'performed' in particular manuscripts. This study proceeds from the assumption that, in a pre-printing press world, each new copy or 'performance' of a work creates new meaning. By adopting this approach and by focusing on Parts II-V of the texts, de Looze argues thatEl Conde Lucanorraises questions about the interretation, intelligibility, and the production of knowledge. De Looze's complex and nuanced reading sheds new light on an important work and makes a significant contribution to medieval studies, Spanish studies, and the history of the book.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7698-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)

    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 3-25)

      TheConde Lucanor(hereafter CL) is one of the two greatest literary works of fourteenth-century Spain, the other being the anonymousLibra de buen amor(hereafter LBA). The CL is a work known to every welleducated Spaniard – at least in its shorter, ‘single-book’ form¹ – and there are not only numerous scholarly editions from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries but also modern Spanish translations, versions for children, student editions, and translations into foreign languages. The fact of having two towering fourteenth-century Spanish works has often pushed the critical literature into a series of comparisons and contrasts between theLBAand the...

    • 2 Characterizing the Early Texts
      (pp. 26-63)

      So far in my brief overview of the five medieval manuscript versions of theCLas well as the 1575 Argote de Molina printed edition, I have implied that these versions are quite different in their approaches to theCL. It is now time to attempt to characterize these various approaches. Without getting unnecessarily mired in minutiae, we can surely make some preliminary observations regarding how each extant version seems to have received – and therefore viewed – theCL.

      Most editions of theCLas well as Alberto Blecua’s book on the manuscript transmission (1980) contain descriptions of the manuscripts. My...

    • 3 Dividing the Text: The Manuscripts and Modern Editions
      (pp. 64-90)

      In examining the presentation of theCLboth in the manuscripts and in modern editions, I should begin by noting that, while there are many modern editions of theCL, the similarities among them are, in general, much greater than those between the medieval manuscripts. Modern editions tend to have the same sorts of extraneous materials (introduction, textual notes, indexes, glossaries, and the like), they use similar typefaces, they all agree in their absence of coloured inks, and so on. Even when they differ in terms of editorial approach – Lachmannian versus Bedieriste, say, or expansion of abbreviations, normalization of spelling...


    • 4 El Conde Lucanorand Analogy
      (pp. 93-116)

      Book I of theCLproceeds by means of analogy. Each of the approximately fifty encounters between Count Lucanor and Patronio is characterized by a ‘vertical’ overlay in which Patronio’s anecdotes are substituted for Lucanor’s predicament (the syntagma would include many potential narratives of which only one is chosen). If we follow with extreme literalness the process that theCLclaims to have adhered to, Juan Manuel’s written accounts are substituted for Patronio’s oral narrative, and finally Juan Manuel’s verses are substituted for the tale told. This pattern characterizes almost every encounter-exemplo,regardless of the manuscript or edition.¹

      The exemplum...

    • 5 The Problematics of Signification
      (pp. 117-132)

      Analogies, as we have seen, are a sort of double-edged sword: absolutely critical to human comprehension and yet susceptible to slippage because of the introduction of difference. Book I of theCLis didactic above all for pushing the reader to do the work of relating Lucanor’s predicaments to Patronio’s tales. But underlying this procedure is the latent awareness that, as Montaigne and Searle were to articulate in subsequent centuries, everything is like everything else in some fashion, while at the same time nothing isreallylike anything else because there are always many more differences than similarities. Analogy runs...

    • 6 Exemplum XXXIX
      (pp. 133-147)

      The first chapters of this book provided some measure of overview of theCL, with considerable attention paid to Part I and the Part-I-only versions (H, M, P, and the Argote de Molina edition). I shall now shift focus, and for the next three sections I will consider the text of a single exemplum as it occursin situacross the range of manuscripts. One of the problems of a framed narrative that intercalates many tales, whether it be theSendebar, The Arabian Nights, The Decameron,or theHeptameron,is that in any single book of criticism one can deal...

    • 7 Exemplum XXI
      (pp. 148-158)

      At the beginning of Exemplum XXI, Lucanor tells Patronio that he has raised a dead relative’s son. Now that the boy is an adolescent, Lucanor says, he is concerned lest the boy take up bad ways. He therefore asks Patronio how best to guide the lad. Patronio’s response is to illustrate not what actions Lucanor should take but what sort of discourse he should adopt. Patronio tells a tale of how a philosopher corrected a rebellious young king by pretending to understand birds’ speech and claiming that even the birds were talking about how the country had come to ruin...

    • 8 Exemplum XXIV
      (pp. 159-182)

      The midpoint – even the middle section – of a medieval work is often significant, especially if this midpoint is understood as structural and not a matter of precise localization. The midpoint of Part I is significant for our understanding of the first book of theCLand the single-book versions found in H, M, P, and A. I have suggested (de Looze 1995) that Exemplum XXVI – the tale of a tree of lies – problematizes, at a central point in the S Manuscript, the questions of how to interpret signs, know the truth, and avoid deception. In manuscript S’s fifty-one-exempla version, Exemplum...


    • 9 Book II
      (pp. 185-212)

      Chapters 1-3 considered general issues of theCLin terms of its texts, strategies and meanings, while chapters 4-8 dealt largely with Book I of theCL.Throughout, I maintained a distinction between manuscripts H, M, and P, which perform the narrative exempla as the entirety of theCL,and manuscripts G and S, which go beyond Book I. I now wish to turn my attention to the five-partCLas G and S perform it. Both of these manuscripts present four subsequent books: the first three (Books II, III, and IV) provide groups of proverbs (100, 50, and 30,...

    • 10 Book III
      (pp. 213-224)

      Book III of theCLcontinues the upwards curve of difficulty and obscurity proposed in Book II. It has half the number of proverbs that Book II has, but they are, in some respects, twice as difficult. Patronio suggests that the increasing obscurity gives them greater value, as language is stripped down and away. He refers to the fact that the second book was both ‘más abreviado et más oscuro’ (’more brief and more obscure’) than the first, noting specifically that it had ‘menos palabras’ (‘fewer words’) – a clear equation of brevity of discourse with density of meaning. Indeed, Book...

    • 11 Book IV
      (pp. 225-237)

      In this chapter, my goal shall be less to ‘make sense’ of the proverbs in Book IV than to make sense of the reading process as a medieval reader might have encountered the proverbs, at least in manuscripts known to us. I also relate the sense-making strategies at the micro-level of individual words and phrases to a larger evolution in terms of hermeneutics at the macro-level of the five-bookEl Conde Lucanortext. My interpretation is not the only one possible. James Burke (1998, 234-6) has offered a different, though not antithetical, approach, highlighting the carnavalesque reversals (here, specifically linguistic)...

    • 12 Book V
      (pp. 238-258)

      We have seen that critics of theCLhave in general focused on Book I, and I have remarked on the paradox that while the scholarly editions are based primarily on the five-partCLhoused in Manuscript S, critics prefer to study and translate only the first part. Nevertheless, Books II-IV have occasionally received, as I have noted, some good scholarly attention. Indeed, despite disparaging critical remarks concerning Books II-IV, a few prominent scholars, beginning with María Rosa Lida de Malkiel, have done much to turn the tide. Book V, however, has never been similarly rehabilitated. Indeed, this is the...


    • 13 Conclusion
      (pp. 261-272)

      Nearly seven hundred years separate us from the composition of theCL,and the vicissitudes of the intervening centuries have made it impossible for us to read the work as Juan Manuel and his contemporaries might have. The issues that were of importance to the author and his immediate social world may not have disappeared entirely, but they are certainly much less prominent now. Nevertheless, since its creation, theCLhas been canonized as one of thechefs d’oeuvreof late-medieval Spanish literature. This happened relatively quickly, owing in part to the fame of Juan Manuel and the manner in...

  8. APPENDIX I Figures
    (pp. 273-284)
  9. APPENDIX II Manuscript Orderings of Exempla (from Daniel Devoto, Introductión al estudio de Don Juan Manuel... [1972])
    (pp. 285-288)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 289-322)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 323-336)
  12. Index
    (pp. 337-358)