Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares

Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares: Between History and Creativity

Joseph V. Ricapito
Copyright Date: 1996
Published by: Purdue University Press
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    Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares
    Book Description:

    Miguel de Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares, a collection of short stories in the tradition of Boccaccio, has a solid foundation in the history of Golden Age Spain. Joseph V Ricapito studies Cervantes's work from the point of view of "novelized history" or "history novelized." In line with current New Historical thought, he argues that literary production is largely from life and experience, and that Cervantes was acutely aware of the problems of his day.The novelas offer us a glimpse of Cervantes's Spain and include a cataloguing of the social, political, and historical problems of the time. Ricapitc shows how Cervantes fictionalizes the problems of unpopular minorities like Gypsies and conversos (Jewish converts to Catholicism); the difficulties of social mobility in a Christian setting; the presence in society of differing and even outlandish individuals; and the oppressive role of honor, which was popularized by Lope de Vega and later formed a leitmotiv of spa drama. In his analysis of Cervantes's creative response to history, Ricapito relates the novelas to the works of Lope de Vega and Mateo Aleman and shows how Cervantes brings to life many literary topoi and places them in a realistic, credible framework in which the historical presence is strongly felt. In Cervantes's treatment of Spain's waning prestige in Europe, we see his vision of human behavior. His view is stern, his critique is sharp, and he is sensitive to external stimuli.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-111-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Some years ago in a conversation after a lengthy and enjoyable dinner at La Carmencita in Madrid, Stephen Gilman summed up a part of our conversation by saying that one believed either that literature was a product of creative imagination, or that it was inspired by life. Knowing his work as I do, there was no question that his answer favored the latter. For myself I must say that there is no vacillation either. I fully embrace the notion that literary production is largely from life and experience (my best models being Fernando de Rojas and Miguel de Cervantes), where...

  5. Chapter One “La gitanilla”: At the Crossroads of History and Creativity
    (pp. 11-38)

    It has been the destiny of “La gitanilla” to be regarded benignly as a tale dealing with love, involving a Gypsy girl and a nonGypsy youth, and this perception has tended to give the story a kind of saccharine taste. The love component dominated in the eyes of readers and, indeed, many critics. However, after studying carefully the history of Gypsies in Spain, I believe that this story deals with issues that go beyond young love.

    Gypsies began to arrive in the Spanish peninsula in approximately 1425. At that time relations between Gypsies and the resident Spanish were good, and...

  6. Chapter Two Católicos secretos, Conversos, and the Myth of the Maritime Life in “La española inglesa”
    (pp. 39-68)

    In keeping with the interpretation that I have given to “La gitanilla” (and as I shall do with other stories), I see in “La española inglesa” an example of Cervantes’s historical, religious, and social sensitivity to his time and his wish to interpret critically certain events to his fellow Spaniards through his writing.

    In a tersely argued essay, Carroll B. Johnson advanced an interpretation of “La española inglesa” in which he asserts that the text is filled with “real historical and social issues” and studies how it passes into a literary format (“ ‘La espanola inglesa’ ”379). Basically, Johnson focuses...

  7. Chapter Three “El licenciado Vidriera,” or “La historia de un fracaso”
    (pp. 69-96)

    “El licenciado Vidriera” represents for me one of the best examples of history and literature blended into one unit. There exists an historical and social backdrop to this story that brings coherency to the tale, and at the same time we see Cervantes’s concern with the literary intertextuality and some features of narrativity.¹

    This novel uses for its basic focus a university career in law. The character receives a licentiate of law degree from Salamanca, which confers upon him a certain amount of prestige. Since Cervantes is a native of Alcalá de Henares, it might seem a bit strange that...

  8. Chapter Four The Prose of Honor
    (pp. 97-120)

    It is my belief that some of thenovelas ejemplareswere written either as a “lectura anti-alemaniana” or as a “lectura antilopesca.” The first was a response to Mateo Alemán’s importance as a contemporary prose writer and his authorship of one of the true “best–sellers” of its time. The second, the “lectura antilopesca,” is explained by the tremendous popularity of Lope in his own time compared with Cervantes’s as a dramatist. No one today could see Cervantes, the playwright, as a worthy competitor to Lope, but there is ample evidence to believe that they viewed each other as rivals....

  9. Chapter Five Apologia pro patria sua: Cervantes’s “La señora Cornelia”
    (pp. 121-134)

    The writing of “La señora Cornelia” was an attempt to salvage and protect an ideal picture of Spain that Cervantes held, one that the Spanish reading public also wished to preserve. I study in this tale the idea of Italy as cultural myth and ideal structure, with Spain cast as a negative image; and the final picture that emerges from the work is that of anapologia pro patria sua(Cervantes’s), an image as ideal as its contrary image was false.

    Because of the choice of the locale for the tale, this novela has been labeled as within the Italianate...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 135-150)
  11. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 151-158)
  12. Index
    (pp. 159-165)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 166-167)