'Lector Ludens'

'Lector Ludens': The Representation of Play & Recreation in Cervantes

MICHAEL SCHAM
Series: Toronto Iberic
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 400
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt7zwchw
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  • Book Info
    'Lector Ludens'
    Book Description:

    In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain, debating the acceptability of games and recreation was serious business. WithLector Ludens, Michael Scham uses Cervantes'sDon QuijoteandNovelas ejemplaresas the basis for a wide-ranging exploration of early modern Spanish views on recreations ranging from cards and dice to hunting, attending the theater, and reading fiction.

    Shifting fluidly between modern theories of play, little-known Spanish treatises on leisure and games, and the evidence in Cervantes's own works, Scham illuminates Cervantes's intense fascination with games, play, and leisure, as well as the tensions in early modern Spain between the stern moralizing of the Counter-Reformation and the playfulness of Renaissance humanism.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-1739-1
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-7)

    In addition to introducing a protagonist whose unbounded recreational reading begets an inspired lunacy,Don Quijotespecifically addresses the reader (“desocupado lector”) as an individual at leisure. In the prologue to hisNovelas ejemplares, Cervantes invites readers to partake in his stories as players in a game: “Mi intento ha sido poner en la plaza de nuestra república una mesa de trucos, donde cada uno pueda llegar a entretenerse” (“My purpose has been to place in the square of our republic a billiards table where each can go to entertain himself”). In support of widely divergent interpretations, critics have held...

  6. 1 Leisure and Recreation in Early Modern Spain
    (pp. 8-121)

    According to Huizinga’s seminal definition, a game is an agreed-upon fiction, an experience created by a particular structure: “It is an activity which proceeds within certain limits of time and space, in a visible order, according to rules freely accepted, and outside the sphere of necessity or material utility” (132). The ordering demarcation of play, and its freedom from both obligation (to participate) and utility (to produce) are fundamental principles, and it will be instructive to see how they are adhered to or transgressed in the specific games considered below. Pointing out that Huizinga’s notion of play focuses primarily on...

  7. 2 Solitary, Collaborative, and Complicit Play in Don Quijote
    (pp. 122-211)

    Near the end of their wanderings, don Quijote and Sancho are brought back to the ducal palaces for a final entertainment, this time to rescue an Altisidora laid low by her unrequited love for the knight. There are many resonances from earlier episodes, but they are for the most part distorted and moribund, signalling the nearly complete deterioration of don Quijote’s imaginative enterprise. The game imagery of don Quijote’s descent into the Cueva de Montesinos expressed a resignation that did not close off all hope for redemption: “y cuando así no sea, paciencia y barajar” (“if not, shuffle the pack...

  8. 3 The Novelas ejemplares: Ocio, Exemplarity, and Community
    (pp. 212-300)

    The explicit game imagery with which Cervantes presents his collection of stories places theNovelas ejemplaressquarely within the tradition ofeutrapelia– a quality not lost on Fray Juan Bautista, who, in his “Aprobación” of the collection, writes that “la verdadera eutropelia está en estasNovelas” (“trueeutropeliais in theseNovelas” [45]). As noted above, the public space, the implied utility of the stories, the partaking of them in harmonious balance with the serious activities of work and worship, all point to the conventional Aristotelian-Horatian concept of edifying entertainment. In play terms, the tradition of exemplarity corresponds to...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 301-306)

    We have seen that the entire range of contemporary thought on licit and illicit leisure finds expression in Cervantes. Often his players are in accord with conventional views: cards and gambling lead to violence and dissolution; respectable women sometimes while away their time with needlework. Rather than give an unqualified endorsement of play, Cervantes is acutely attuned to its dangers, from the solipsism of unreflective mimesis to the cruelty of turning others into objects of play. But in his awareness of the myriad social, ethical, political, theological, and physiological considerations brought to bear on play, Cervantes also articulated new possibilities...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 307-348)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 349-364)
  12. Index
    (pp. 365-382)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 383-384)