Cervantes and the Mystery of Lawlessness

Cervantes and the Mystery of Lawlessness: A Study of El Casamiento Enganoso y el Coloquio de los Perros

Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 252
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  • Book Info
    Cervantes and the Mystery of Lawlessness
    Book Description:

    This examination of the last two tales of Cervantes' Novelas ejemplares reveals the Christian Humanist tradition implicit in the most elusive works of the collection. In his study of El casamiento enganoso and El coloquio de los perros Alban Forcione demonstrates that Cervantes retained in their ostensible pessimism the themes of Erasmus' vision of the renovatio of Christianity

    Originally published in 1984.

    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: 978-1-4008-5470-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  3. INTRODUCTION. “Desatinos de Propósito”: The Ugly Shapes of Satire
    (pp. 3-18)

    In the stories which begin and conclude his collection of exemplary novels,La GitanillaandEl casamiento engañoso y el coloquio de los perros, Cervantes is directly concerned with the reordering of vision, and at the climax of each the protagonist and reader are rewarded with a striking nocturnal revelation, in which an intense visual experience concentrates the imaginative power and the doctrinal content of the entire work. In each case a human face comes into view. InLa Gitanillathe questing hero has purified his love of blinding instinctual forces, and, releasing the divine powers that have been slumbering...

    • CHAPTER I The Anatomy of the Monster
      (pp. 21-58)

      In his outburst of frustration at Berganza’s narrative methods, Cipion, Cervantes’ surrogate reader, pleads with his “author” to “follow the events of his story consecutively.” Quite apart from its general aesthetic and moral implications, his image of the octopus with its proliferating tentacles concentrates in a powerful visual focus the dynamic principle of design that appears to govern the narrative of theColloquy of the Dogs.³ At every point we observe the dialogue striving for an effect of uncontrolled variegation, expanding as if in a process of continual self-generative growth. Such features are, of course, traditional in satirical plotting, and...

    • CHAPTER II Cervantes’ Apocalypse: The Descent into the Grave
      (pp. 59-99)

      The depiction of the witch Cañizares at the center of theColloquy of the Dogsis one of the most powerful scenes in Cervantes’ entire literary production. We have reached the monster at the center of the labyrinth, and, as we move through the aborted anagnorisis and witness the two dogs groping futilely for a correct exegesis of the prophecy that holds the promise of release, the narrative grinds toward a halt, leaving us with the impression of a dreamer mesmerized by a relentlessly oppressive nightmare. The briskly paced flow of episodes and the enlivening movement of the retrospective commentary,...

    • CHAPTER III The Imaginative Unity of the Colloquy: The Center and the Parts
      (pp. 100-128)

      As i pointed out in my examination of the main plot of theColoquio de los perros, Cervantes, in conceiving his final tale, found his principal generic models in the Menippean satire, which had been widely cultivated and popularized by the humanists of the sixteenth century, and in the picaresque narrative, which in Mateo Alemán’sGuzmán de Alfarachehad recently achieved a success rivaling that of his ownQuixote. By combining the intellectualizing, analytical methods of the former with the fictionalizing methods of the latter, Cervantes created a work of tremendous variety in subject matter, style, rhythm, and tonality, a...

    • CHAPTER IV God’s Infinite Mercy: El casamiento engañoso as a Christian Miracle
      (pp. 131-145)

      Up to this point I have focused my analysis on the spectacle of lawlessness thatEl coloquio de los perrospresents and the principal literary techniques that Cervantes employs to give coherent shape to his vision of universal disorder. In his fictional world the forces of evil appear to be in complete control, and, if we observe how effectively they derange the forms of order celebrated in his most ambitious Utopian novella,La Gitanilla, we can appreciate the full force of negation emerging in the final tale.¹ The “well-founded nature” (“bien concertada naturaleza”) manifest in the orderly movement of the...

    • CHAPTER V The Survival of the Humanist Vision
      (pp. 146-186)

      The Ensign’s tale of redemption represents a powerful counterforce to the dominant narrative movement of theColloquy of the Dogs, but its implications concerning man’s capacities for victorious resistance in his battle with evil are not very reassuring, and its depiction of people living according to their fundamental responsibilities as human beings is ephemeral. Whatever the Ensign’s statement—“Well, I still have my sword; as for the rest, I put my trust in God”—might mean as an affirmation of spiritual growth and exemplary humility is not made very clear by Cervantes,¹ and, as we watch the stumbling convalescent enter...

    • CHAPTER VI Language: Divine or Diabolical Gift?
      (pp. 187-236)

      Like many other great writers of the Renaissance, Cervantes was profoundly interested in the problematic relationship between words and things, in the arbitrariness of linguistic signs and systems, and in the possibilities for deception and confusion lurking in the most elaborate system of appearance created by civilization. Having spent so many years at those vital intersections of the Mediterranean world where the mingling of different civilizations, races, customs, and languages was dramatically visible in his daily experience, he was undoubtedly forced to confront such problems as existential facts in a way that enlivened whatever theoretical awareness of them he may...

  6. INDEX
    (pp. 237-243)
  7. Back Matter
    (pp. 244-244)