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Rewriting Classical Mythology in the Hispanic Baroque

Rewriting Classical Mythology in the Hispanic Baroque

Edited by Isabel Torres
Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    Rewriting Classical Mythology in the Hispanic Baroque
    Book Description:

    Thirteen essays engage with one of the most obsessive aspects of the Baroque aesthetic, a dedicated commitment in distinct artistic contexts to the treatment of mythological material. Within the various 'Baroques' uncovered, there is a single unity of purpose. Meaning is always negotiable, but the process of interpretation is dependent upon intertextual forms of understanding, and presupposes the active participation of the receiver. The volume explores how the paradigmatic mythical symbols of a Renaissance epistemological world view can be considered a barometer of rupture and a gauge of the contradictory impulses of the time. Essays explore the differing functions of mythology in poetry (Quevedo, Espinosa, Góngora), prose (Cervantes), drama (Lope de Vega, Sor Juana, Calderón), art (Velázquez), and music (Latin American opera). Collectively they trace the dialectic of continuity and rupture that underpins the appropriation of classical mythology in the period; demonstrating that the mythological legacy was not as uniform, as allegorically dominated, nor as depleted of potential as we are sometimes led to believe. ISABEL TORRES is Head of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at Queen's University, Belfast. Contributors: JEAN ANDREWS , STEPHEN BOYD, D. W. CRUICKSHANK, TREVOR. J. DADSON, B.W. IFE, ANTHONY LAPPIN, OLIVER NOBLE WOOD, JEREMY ROBBINS, BRUCE SWANSEY, BARRY TAYLOR, ISABEL TORRES, D. GARETH WALTERS

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-588-8
    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. ix-x)
    Isabel Torres
  5. 1 Introduction: Con pretensión de Fénix
    (pp. 1-16)

    The present volume of essays, united under the umbrella titleRewriting Classical Mythology in the Hispanic Baroque, engages with two of the most problematic concepts in the history of literary criticism, and consequently has the ironic pleasure of (re)constructing its own centre of gravity, or more appropriately in this case, of interpretativegravitas. From our post-theory, twenty-first-century perspective we might sum up the terms ‘Baroque’ and ‘mythology’ as unstable signifiers, each with its own set of variable and often antithetical signifieds. It is appropriate, therefore, that before embarking upon a project that assumes a significant relationship between the two, we...

  6. 2 ‘Al cielo trasladado’: Quevedo’s Apotheosis of Leander
    (pp. 17-27)

    This sonnet has been placed first among Quevedo’s love poems since the publication ofEl Parnaso españolin 1648, three years after his death. Although Pablo Jauralde Pou speculates that Quevedo had probably intended it to be an introductory poem – ‘como pórtico a toda su poesía amorosa’ – there is not much evidence for such a claim.² For one thing, if it was envisaged as an opening poem it was more likely to have been planned by Quevedo’s first editor, José González de Salas, who observed that it was he who had been responsible for matters such as the...

  7. 3 River Gods of Andalusia: Pedro Espinosa’s Fábula de Genil
    (pp. 28-37)

    Cossío’s classic panoptic survey of 1952,Fábulas mitológicas en España, bears witness to the quantity of long Ovidian myths, aliasfábulas, which were produced in the Spanish Golden Age. It also shows how many such poems were retellings of theMetamorphosesrather than new stories in imitation of Ovid: a rough count yielded some 367 imitations as against thirteen ‘Fábulas originales’, some of which are post-1700.¹ Here, I think, lies the significance of theFábula de Genilof Pedro Espinosa. Espinosa (born Antequera 1578, died Sanlúcar 1650) is best known as one of Góngora’s earliest followers, and as the editor...

  8. 4 Rewriting the Pastoral: Góngora’s Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea
    (pp. 38-54)

    Garcilaso de la Vega towers above the sixteenth century in Spain. Probably no Spanish poet before or since has made or left such a lasting contribution to his art. He showed his contemporaries and successors how to write sonnets; he introduced the verse epistle, he created theliraas a vehicle for the Classical ode, and he made the pastoral eclogue the prime poetic form for the remainder of the century. In addition, through his choice of a mixture of hendecasyllabic and heptasyllabic verses in the First Eclogue he laid the ground for the development of thesilvain the...

  9. 5 Galatea Descending … Rereading Góngora’s Polifemo Stanzas 13–23
    (pp. 55-70)

    Even the most radical imitative text works because it represents its revolution within a recognisable frame. The reader of Luis de Góngora’sPolifemonegotiates meaning in a textual arena that revolves around fixed points of reference. A recognisable repertoire of mythological characters, epic resonance, Petrarchan and Neoplatonic codes of writing and reading, and (as we saw in the previous chapter) a Renaissance pastoral environment that recalls most specifically the bucolic world of Garcilaso’s Eclogues, provide the reader with familiar signposts towards meaning that turn out to belong to a defamiliarised textual landscape. A constant dismantling of carefully constructed expectations forces...

  10. 6 A Tale of Two Serpents: Biblical and Mythological Allusions in Cervantes’s El celoso extremeño
    (pp. 71-89)

    The purpose of this chapter is to examine the interplay of classical–mythological with biblical and other Christian–religious allusions inEl celoso extremeño, the seventh of Cervantes’sNovelas ejemplares. The ‘two serpents’ of the title refers to what it is hoped to show is the paradigmatic way in which the male protagonists, Felipo de Carrizales and Loaysa, are portrayed as serpents or monsters from the perspectives, respectively, of classical myth and biblical narrative.¹ After a brief contextualizing introduction, the allusions of both kinds will be listed and examined. The essay will then proceed to explore key aspects of their...

  11. 7 The Wound and the Bow: Cervantes, Philoctetes and the Pathology of Genius
    (pp. 90-100)
    B. W. IFE

    Cervantes’s last great prose romance,Persiles y Sigismunda, has rightly attracted considerable critical attention since Alban K. Forcione’s two seminal studies of the 1970s.¹ ThePersilesis an infinitely fascinating and challenging work, vast and sprawling in terms of its scope and construction, and oddly telescoped in its fourth and final book. An explanation for what feels like a rushed conclusion may be sought in the material circumstances of the work’s composition: although thePersilesappears to have been in progress whenDon Quijotewas published in 1605, Cervantes may well have been working on it until a few days...

  12. 8 Myth or History? Lope de Vega’s Caballero de Olmedo
    (pp. 101-118)

    In the following chapter, I will understand ‘myth’ as a story that was thought to have been composed either for an allegorical purpose, or as a fantastic elaboration of a historical event. This genre of mythological storytelling was defined by Pérez de Moya in his highly influential work,Philosofía secreta, as ‘una habla que con palabras de admiración significa algún secreto natural, o cuento de historia, como la fábula que dice ser Venus de la espuma del mar engendrada’.¹ This understanding was long and venerable: for example, the myth of Apollo and Daphne was explained in the medievalOvide moralise...

  13. 9 Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s Eco y Narciso: Court Drama and the Poetics of Reflection
    (pp. 119-127)

    It has become a critical cliché to talk of the way seventeenth-century European courts were highly theatrical in their self-presentation. The idea of the court as theatre, of the king as the central protagonist in the elaborate ‘stage setting’ of court ceremonial, has been frequently applied to the Habsburg court.¹ It is thus accepted that the court theatre mirrors, in John Varey’s words, the King’s ‘taste, his ambitions, his virtues, his nobility and, above all, his royal power’, and that, in turn, the court’s organizing principle is theatre.²

    Calderón’s court dramas certainly exhibit what Melveena McKendrick has recently referred to...

  14. 10 From Allegory to Mockery: Baroque Theatrical Representations of the Labyrinth
    (pp. 128-138)

    It is a commonplace to affirm that the Renaissance recuperated classical mythology. But like manytopoi, it does not stand closer scrutiny.¹ Throughout the Middle Ages classical mythology was utilized for a variety of reasons, for instance to claim an origin – in fables that proclaimed Aeneas as the founder of Rome, or Hercules as the ancestor of the Spanish monarchy. It also survived through Catholic festivities and allegorical interpretation.² It is true to say, however, that the recuperation of classical mythology in Spanish letters as a vehicle for satire and parody was particularly effective during the reign of the...

  15. 11 Mars Recontextualized in the Golden Age of Spain: Psychological and Aesthetic Readings of Velázquez’s Marte
    (pp. 139-155)

    The title of Velázquez’sMarte(c. 1640–42, Fig. 11.1) invites certain preconceptions: first, that the subject of the work will be Mars, the Roman god of war; second, that the image will be of a splendid armed figure personifying the essence of military power; and third, that the portrait will possess a clear function. ¹ Velázquez’s depiction of Mars, however, brutally undermines such expectations. In place of the traditional embodiment of war, a dishevelled and apparently bemused individual gazes blankly into the extra-pictorial space. Instead of assuming a posture of divine authority on a chariot or a campaign couch,...

  16. 12 Ut pictura poesis: Calderón’s Picturing of Myth
    (pp. 156-170)

    Near the end of his life, in a deposition made in 1677, Calderón is recorded as referring to the ‘natural inclinación que siempre tuvo a la pintura’.¹ This remark is confirmed by the inventory of his possessions made after his death four years later. His paintings were assessed by Claudio Coello, who valued them at 17,000reales. There were 119 items, most of them religious, but including seven landscapes and thirty-four vases of flowers. These figures are striking, both in terms of numbers and of value. They included Calderón’s most valuable possessions: an Italian painting of St Francis in ecstasy,...

  17. 13 Opera on the Margins in Colonial Latin America: Conceived under the Sign of Love
    (pp. 171-188)

    The Jesuit Reductions, that is mission settlements, in the Chiquitania region of what is now the Eastern Bolivian department of Santa Cruz, were begun in 1691, when the first reduction was established by the principal of a Jesuit College. Gauvin Bailey describes the circumstances of its foundation:

    That year the Jesuit superior of the Tarija College, José Francisco de Arce, led an expedition to a Chiquitos settlement a few days’ ride north of the boomtown of Santa Cruz to found the reduction of San Javier on December 31. He went when he heard that a smallpox epidemic had struck the...

    (pp. 189-204)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 205-210)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 211-211)