Cervantes' Christian Romance: A Study of "Persiles y Sigismunda"

Cervantes' Christian Romance: A Study of "Persiles y Sigismunda"

Copyright Date: 1972
Pages: 176
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    Cervantes' Christian Romance: A Study of "Persiles y Sigismunda"
    Book Description:

    Alban Forcione analyzes the problem which has most troubled modern readers of thePersiles, its episodic character and confusing proliferation of action. Examining closely the structure of the romance Cervantes considered his masterpiece and boldest contribution to literature, Mr. Forcione discerns in it a simple pattern: a coherent cycle of catastrophe and restoration linked symbolically to the Christian vision of man's fall and redemption.

    Originally published in 1972.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6890-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    Heralded by its own author as perhaps the best book ever written in Spanish and announced by Philip III’s censor as the most learned and entertaining of Cervantes’ works,Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismundaenjoyed an immediate success comparable to that ofDon Quixote. The years following its posthumous publication in 1617 witnessed ten editions, translations into French, Italian, and English, and imitations in prose fiction and drama. In the eighteenth century new editions, imitations, and translations appeared, and in the early years of the nineteenth century a scholar of the stature of Sismondi could still affirm that many...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Imitation and Innovation
    (pp. 13-63)

    ThePersiles“ha de ser o el [libro] más malo o el mejor que en nuestra lengua se haya compuesto, quiero decir de los de entretenimiento; y digo que me arrepiento de haber dicho elmás malo, porque según la opinión de mis amigos, ha de llegar al estremo de bondad posible.”¹ In this judgment we can hear the voice of Cervantes the ironist calmly considering the contiguity of the antithetical possibilities. We can also hear the voice of the writer nervously recognizing that his work is radical in character and that, like all literary innovations, it must face up...

    (pp. 64-107)

    The symbolic rhythm of the opening scenes of thePersilesis repeated in most of the adventures which compose the major plot of the work. Following their departure from the smoldering kingdom of the barbarians, the pilgrims row to a nearby island where they spend a sleepless night, menaced by the bitter cold and fearful for their survival. In the dim light of morning, they discover that they have put ashore at an uninhabited wasteland of ice, and, as the weather worsens, they return to the sea. Amid the familiar motifs of darkness, isolation, sterility, and fear, the visionary note...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Episodes
    (pp. 108-148)

    In my analysis of the structure of thePersilesin relation to Cervantes’ Aristotelian theories of unity, I concluded that most of the episodes are not “nacidos de los mesmos sucesos” and that in their independence and length they divert the reader’s attention from the development of the main plot, destroying the effect of suspense which Heliodorus’Aethiopicahad achieved and which all contemporary theorists set as the goal of dispositional techniques. I also maintained that aesthetic coherence in the maze of narrative threads forming the surface of thePersilesmust be sought in relation to non-Aristotelian¹ criteria of unity,...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Literature in the Quixote and the Persiles
    (pp. 149-156)

    A tale of life overcoming death, of music calming tempests, a tale almost childlike in its thematic simplicity and repetitions. A dim landscape where dreams of gardens and song banish nightmare visions of destruction and death, and distant stars bear witness from above that the guiding hand of Providence is ever present amid life’s sorrows. How like a fairy tale, we might say. And how unlikely in the writer whose major work freed man from the shackles of transcendentalism and its literary paradigms, creating the genre which has been called the literary offspring of mature humanity.¹

    The fact is that...

  9. EPILOGUE The Poet’s Farewell: Where Life and Literature Meet
    (pp. 157-164)

    On concluding thePersiles, Cervantes was aware that his death was approaching and began his dedication to the Count of Lemos by recalling an ancient song:

    “Puesto ya el pie en el estribo,

    Con las ansias de la muerte,

    Gran señor, ésta te escribo.”

    On perhaps the same day, Tuesday, April 19, 1616, he penned a prologue to thePersiles, in which he describes an encounter with a youthful admirer on the road to Madrid, announces that he will die on or before the following Sunday, and bids his friends farewell.

    The autobiographical anecdote is curious and has been by...

  10. Index
    (pp. 165-167)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 168-168)