Textual Agency

Textual Agency: Writing Culture and Social Networks in Fifteenth-Century Spain

ANA M. GÓMEZ-BRAVO
Series: Toronto Iberic
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 344
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt5hjxq6
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Textual Agency
    Book Description:

    Gómez-Bravo also explores how authorial and textual agency were competing forces in the midst of an era marked by the institution of the Inquisition, the advent of the absolutist state, the growth of cities, and the constitution of the Spanish nation.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6751-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-14)

    In a 1928 letter to Jorge Guillén, Pedro Salinas (1992), a fellow member of the self-conscious Generación del 27, congratulated Guillén on his forth-coming book of poetry: “Me has dado una alegría sin igual. Ver tus poemas así en conjunto, casi al borde del libro es lo que yo quería. Porque así se te ve en toda tu estatura de poeta, completo, variado, fidelísimo y rico a la vez” (90).¹

    The single poems circulated in unpublished form among the members of the group and were published in newspapers and other periodicals, largely due to economic necessity. The important goal of...

  4. 1 Poetry, Bureaucracy, and the Social Order
    (pp. 15-32)

    In one of his letters (Letra X), royal chronicler, secretary, and escribano Fernando de Pulgar (1982) identified ink-stained hands as a mark of the pen professional and a bloody foot as that of the warring nobility, both being part of their respective jobs (“oficio”): “usando vuestra merced de su oficio e yo del mío, no es maravilla que mi mano esté de tinta e vuestro pie sangriento” (61).¹ Don Enrique Enríquez, King Fernando’s uncle and his chiefmayordomo(major-domo), had been fighting in the war of Granada when he received the injury, caused by a firearm. Pulgar’s image presents his...

  5. 2 Escribano Culture and Socio-professional Contiguity
    (pp. 33-58)

    The material means at hand, and the skill and value attached to paper transactions were common currency in circles that drew much of their cultural and economic worth from the written word. The transition from a “notary culture” to (pre)humanism from the fourteenth to the fifteenth centuries has been noted as key in establishing changes in books and writing (Petrucci 1992). However, this did not mean that scribal or notarial competencies were superseded by other professional occupations. Instead, they remained at the core of writerly culture. Caballeros, hidalgos, and medianos shared in what could be called escribano culture. Many of...

  6. 3 Pervasive Papers
    (pp. 59-76)

    Leaving paper trails was key for the competent bureaucrat, as well as the politician and poet. As Fernando de Pulgar (1982) eloquently noted in one of hisLetras, “Muchos tenplos y hedificios fizieron algunos reyes e enperadores pasados, de los quales no queda piedra que veemos, pero queda escriptura que leemos” (62).¹ This chapter will propose that the progression towards a multiplication of official records bears strong and meaningful ties to the flourishing of a rich tradition of writing and compiling poetry, facilitated not only by the agents responsible for textual production in the period, but also by the use...

  7. 4 The Hands Have It
    (pp. 77-91)

    On 19 October 1419, King Juan II issued a royal provision ordering all public escribanos to present themselves at court to take an exam in order to ascertain their professional skills. The document was copied, authenticated, and widely distributed. The original letter was received and its authenticity established in a ceremony that involved the material examination of the document. Before the escribano could proceed with the production of copies, law expert and royal servant Juan Sánchez Peralta held the letter in his hands (“tomo la dicha carta oreginal en sus manos”), saw it (“viola”), touched it (“tocola”), and certified that...

  8. 5 Papers Unite
    (pp. 92-122)

    The freewheeling existence that made loose papers active agents had the drawback of a potential evanescence. Papers led a precarious life because, with the exception of legal documents, they were often deemed to lack the monetary value of other household belongings. To this day, archives have relegated loose papers to sections labelled “useless papers” (“Papeles inútiles”). The instability of the material life of single papers was also due to their fragile nature as medium. The constant danger of loss, destruction, or defacement spurred the use of different strategies of preservation. In addition, the flexibility afforded by the single paper needed...

  9. 6 Paper Politics
    (pp. 123-147)

    The female correspondent in Fernando de la Torre’sLibro de las veynte cartas e quistionesdeemed book pages a durable and effective archival method. She saw Fernando de la Torre’s efforts in dealing with her writings as an archival process of transfer into a book whose aim was to preserve writing as memory of “things past” and “forgotten deeds,” a common topos for the writing of history, a process that had the power to transform her “unpolished admonishments” into a book of glory and example: “y qué juzgaré del fin vuestro que fue en tresladar mis grosseros amonestamientos e sinples...

  10. 7 Books as Memory
    (pp. 148-163)

    The nature of fair-copy codices as textual repositories was heavily influenced by the acknowledged need to preserve the compilation of authenticated legal documents for posterity.

    Fair copying created a permanent record that would by design become part of both the individual and the collective institutional memory. The effort to establish and consolidate church and state institutions was fostered by the growth of literacy, which in turn promoted the written word as key to legal legitimacy.¹ This is noticeable in the language used in donations or property transfer. The necrologies that had begun to take shape in the ninth century had...

  11. 8 Arranging the Compilation
    (pp. 164-186)

    Moving the text from roll, booklet, or loose paper to a book and creating an organic whole relied on careful threading to open up the text, hold it together, and secure its meaning in the hands of an attentive compiler. The individual support of the copied text would endure an erasure that it resisted by creating a textual imprint of the vanished medium, effectively narrating itself and its (past) situation. Turning a pile of sundry papers into an organic whole created the need for a meaningful paratext. The paratext, as much as the text, bears the mark of the material...

  12. 9 The Book of Fragments
    (pp. 187-213)

    The central role of poetry in social interaction helped propagate the poetic paper in ways that were unforeseeable and that escaped the author’s control, as well as that of other hands. The sheer pervasiveness and the number of papers encouraged the search for fitting repositories, particularly as such papers were actively sought and their content valued. Securing a poem conveyed the need to know its reference points in order to better understand it. When copying the poem in a textual archive, contextualization took the form of a rubric. However, when the texts are arranged mindfully, contextualization by way of rubrication...

  13. Conclusion
    (pp. 214-218)

    The previous chapters have followed the journey of the text from pieces of paper to book as it was propelled by the social, political, and cultural forces of the time. The resulting picture has shown the rapid movement of the text and the constitution of textual agency. While the focus of this book has remained on the fifteenth century, it also paints a wider landscape in which the continuities throughout centuries form strong links that belie claims of ruptures and boundaries. The manuscript practices described here bear strong parallels with those already established for the Golden Age and, it could...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 219-268)
  15. References
    (pp. 269-320)
  16. Index
    (pp. 321-332)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 333-333)