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Literature Among Discourses

Literature Among Discourses: The Spanish Golden Age

Copyright Date: 1986
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Literature Among Discourses
    Book Description:

    Literature in the High Middle Ages referred to anything written. Those who institutionalized the study of literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ignored this medieval meaning, and literary history, especially in the hands of teachers, became what Wlad Godzich and Nicholas Spadaccini call a peregrination from one masterpiece to another. In Spanish literature, a cluster of such masterpieces came to be identified quite early, constituting a siglo de oro, a Golden Age. These outstanding works of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries became a paradigm of achievement for the German romantics who formulated the project of literary history; for this reason, the authors of Literature among Discourses have chosen to begin their own exploratory voyage with the Spanish Golden Age. Their intent is not simply to complete the historical record by studying “popular” texts alongside the canonical works, nor is it to establish these texts as a treasure trove of raw materials awaiting entry into and transformation by the masterpiece. They ask, rather, why the masterpiece came to occupy its place—how specific texts (or classes of texts) came to be differentiated from other discursive entities and labeled “literature.” Taken together, their essays reveal an era in which literature is never a given, but is instead constantly being forged in a manner as complex as the social dynamic itself. Contributors include: the editors, José Antonio Maravall, Michael Nerlich, Ronald Sousa, Constance Sullivan, Jenaro Talens, José Luís Canet, and Javier Herrero. Wlad Godzich is director of the Center for Humanistic Studies, and Nicholas Spadaccini, professor of Spanish and Portuguese, at the University of Minnesota.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5571-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Toward a History of ‘Literature’ Wlad Godzich and Nicholas Spadaccini
    (pp. ix-2)

    In recent years, literary history has receded somewhat from view in literary studies. To be sure, histories of literature, especially histories of Spanish literature,¹ continue to be written, but they no longer occupy the center-stage position that was once theirs. Their principal pedagogical underpinning, the socalled survey course, has been disappearing from the curriculum as well. To some extent, this is a measure of the success of the work of the great literary historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Without their broad historical backdrops, rich in taxonomic detail, the close reading of individual texts — whether practiced under the aegis...

  5. Chapter 1 From the Renaissance to the Baroque The Diphasic Schema of a Social Crisis
    (pp. 3-40)
    Jose Antonio Maravall

    I am becoming increasingly convinced that it is impossible to arrive at an interpretation of the Baroque —a culture experienced by the people of Western Europe during an epoch coinciding approximately with the seventeenth century — without conceiving of this culture as one phase of a more extensive whole. Only in this way do the phenomena contemplated in this period appear to offer the possibility of being explained congruently, according to the schema of a nexus that puts them in relation to other preceding phenomena and that allows us, along this line of interpretation, to grasp the meaning of subsequent ones,...

  6. Chapter 2 Popular Culture and Spanish Literary History Wlad Godzich and Nicholas Spadaccini
    (pp. 41-61)

    “Popular Literature in Spain, 1500-1700” is the title of the conference that has brought the contributors to this volume together. It is a title that requires some explanation and justification. To begin with, its evident literary-historical form combines something that is still struggling for legitimate scholarly recognition — popular literature — with a geographical area and a historical period in which that object has not been very much studied, thus inviting an initial perception that the project at hand is conceived as a way of filling a possible lacuna. To that extent, the focus on popular literature would resemble the recent interest...

  7. Chapter 3 Toward a Nonliterary Understanding of Literature Reflections on the Notion of the “Popular”
    (pp. 62-81)
    Michael Nerlich

    Invited to state my views on the problem of “popular literature” in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain, I find myself—after a moment of immediate enthusiasm generated by the memory of some previous studies I made of such matters as the picaresque and chivalric novels —facing serious problems of definition and methodology: for not only does the term ‘popular’ carry a multitude of ideological questions, as is well known,¹ but the same is true of the term ‘literature’. For what can “popular literature” mean for a period —the Golden Age — in which the great majority of the population (at least 80...

  8. Chapter 4 Gender Markers in Traditional Spanish Proverbs Constance Sullivan
    (pp. 82-102)

    The study of proverbs in any culture is a study of tense linguistic structures that express cultural truisms in short, sententious, often witty form, sometimes containing a metaphor in its literal terms, frequently metaphorical in use, and characterized by mnemonic devices like rhyme, alliteration, parallelism, and other rhythmic elements. Once coined by someone and picked up by other speakers as clever or memorable, a proverb usually maintains fairly accurately its expressive terms, its metaphor if it has one, and its formal characteristics — what I call the core proverb—although individuals and groups over time invent slight variations on the form...

  9. Chapter 5 Literature versus Theatricality On the Notion of the “Popular” and the Spanish Culture of the Golden Age
    (pp. 103-115)
    Jenaro Talens and Jose Luis Canet

    Nietzsche used to say that there are no facts, only interpretations. Echoing this principle, an approach to a topic as complex and as debated as that of “popular culture” in the Spanish Golden Age must begin, therefore, not so much with an analysis of the works or authors in whom the “popular” is manifested as in the questioning of the very concept on which such an analysis seeks to anchor itself. That is, it must focus less on the results of reading than on the mechanisms of the act of reading.

    A true reading is a task through which meaning...

  10. Chapter 6 “Vos outros tambem cantai por vosso uso acostumado”: Representation of the Popular in Gil Vicente
    (pp. 116-131)
    Ronald Sousa

    The words of my title —“Vos outros tambem cantai por vosso uso acostumado” (You too sing, according to your custom) —are said by Fé (Faith), the representation of Christian belief, to the shepherds Bras and Benito at the end of Gil Vicente’sAuto da Fé (Play of the Faith).¹The play, a slight one of some 330 lines, was presented to the court of the Portuguese king Manuel after that court had celebrated Christmas matins in the year 1510.² Like much of Vicente’s early “pastoral-religious” theater, it is in the very strictest of senses occational: much as had been the...

  11. Chapter 7 The Stubborn Text Calisto’s Toothache and Melibea’s Girdle
    (pp. 132-148)
    Javier Herrero

    The tendency of contemporary critics to give considerable autonomy to the reader’s interpretation of a text, to the act of reading, requires careful handling. Writing is an act of communication which, among other elements, is compounded of three essential ones: emission, message, and reception. In literature the reception is performed by the reader and through the act of reading.¹ It is obvious that the message is contained in a text that is (or was) sent by an author. It is also obvious that, in most cases, the reader is here, but the author is not; s/he died years, even centuries...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 151-168)
  13. Contributors
    (pp. 171-172)
  14. Index
    (pp. 175-181)