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Rewriting the Italian Novella in Counter-Reformation Spain

Rewriting the Italian Novella in Counter-Reformation Spain

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 179
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  • Book Info
    Rewriting the Italian Novella in Counter-Reformation Spain
    Book Description:

    As they reshaped the Italian novella under the inquisitorial atmosphere of the Counter-Reformation, Spanish narrators labelled their texts as exemplary. However, critics have usually agreed that there is a contradiction between the morals preached in the narrative frames, prologues and sententiae of Spanish novellas and the content of the plots. Rabell sees this ambiguity as a result of the use of the rhetoric of the fictitious case: Spanish novellas rewrite the Italian genre with the specific purpose of either challenging or validating the rules regarding marriage introduced by the Council of Trent. Since civil, canonical and family hierarchies were based on the same metaphor that conceives power as one body in which, by analogy, the husband is the head of his family, as the monarch is the head of the state and the Pope is the head of the church, Spanish novellas explore the contradictions between civil and canon laws regarding the private context of marriage in order to suggest further contradictions within the public sphere of state and church. The fictitious case provides a rhetoric to test the validity of the legal grounds of Counter-Reformation Spain. CARMEN R. RABELL is associate professor, department of comparative literature, University of Puerto Rica - Rio Piedras.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-144-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. 1-14)

    This study is an attempt to answer several intriguing questions regarding the transformation of the transgressive Italian novella into its Spanish exemplary counterpart. For a Boccaccio reader familiar with stories in which the established moral and religious order is constantly challenged through the depiction of secular and ecclesiastic characters who commit all kind of transgressions (adultery, incest, homoerotic acts, etc.), Spanish novellas stand out for the constant sententious remarks of their narrators and their tendency to condemn the infractions of their characters. However, they narrate plots which have highly erotic content that could raise serious doubts about the sincerity of...

    (pp. 15-47)

    Publishing a collection of novellas under the title ofNovelas ejemplares, Cervantes challenged the Italian tradition of the genre or, at least, its generally negative reception among Spanish critics. Indeed, the Boccaccian genre was held in low esteem because of both its questionable morality and its virtual non-existence in the literary theory of the Renaissance.

    Although some Italian theorists mentioned the novella in their discussion of the highly respected classical Aristotelian genres (tragedy, comedy, and epic), the fact is that not even Giraldi Cinthio, a critic and a novelist himself, devoted time to designing a poetic of this ‘new’ genre...

    (pp. 48-109)

    The careful comparison of Italian novellas with their Spanish versions reveals that Spanish authors employ the rhetoric of the fictitious case to test the validity of the legal grounds created by the new set of rules introduced by the Council of Trent. Although, as Quintilian explains, forensic discourse sometimes overlaps with the ceremonial discourse of blame or praise (3.4.16), even those Spanish novellas that are closer to the latter exhibit a tendency to modify Italian originals in light of Spanish laws. Moreover, most of the Spanish novellas exploit the possibilities of anticipating, and refuting, the objections of an absent opponent...

    (pp. 110-152)

    The study of Spanish rewritings of Italian novellas demonstrates the increasing role of forensic discourse in reshaping the genre during the Counter-Reformation’s culture of control. Even though the structure of the fictitious case can be traced back to Boccaccio’s novellas, the use of forensic discourse by Spanish writers has peculiar characteristics. To begin with, if the fictitious case provides Italian authors like Boccaccio or Bandello with a space within which they can challenge the existing order, Spanish narrators tend rather to validate in their stories the new set of rules established by the Council of Trent.

    But the anticipation of...

    (pp. 153-158)

    In attempting to compose a poetic of the novella, Bonciani and Lugo y Dávila labor to enhance the moral image of the genre, while also elevating its artistic value. They achieve their goals by incorporating the novella into the Aristotelian poetic tradition. Although the novella was never mentioned by the Greek philosopher, Lugo y Dávila and Bonciani argue that this newer genre is like tragedy, epic, and comedy, in that they are all representations of human action. Both critics thus establish a connection between the novella and the fable, which Aristotle identifies as the very soul of tragedy.

    While transferring...

    (pp. 159-166)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 167-171)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 172-172)