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Pious Brief Narrative in Medieval Castilian and Galician Verse

Pious Brief Narrative in Medieval Castilian and Galician Verse: From Berceo to Alfonso X

John Esten Keller
Copyright Date: 1978
Edition: 1
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    Pious Brief Narrative in Medieval Castilian and Galician Verse
    Book Description:

    "Brief narratives," or medieval precursors to the modern short story, are compositions couched in the form of a tale of reasonable short length. They began with writings in Latin and, eventually, made their way into the vernacular languages of Europe. They include the fable, the apologue, the exemplum, the saint's life, the miracle, the biography, the adventure tale, the romance, the jest, and the anecdote, among others. In Spain, the oldest extant brief narratives in written form are in verse and date from the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The earliest examples includeLa vida de Santa Maria EgipciacaandEl libre dels tres reys d'Orient. Both are concise enough to be read in one sitting and were probably read before or after meals as entertainment.

    InPious Brief Narrative in Medieval Castilian and Galician Verse, John E. Keller studies the structure of the pious brief narrative, including such works at theCantigas de Santa Mariaof Alfonso X and Gonzalo de Berceo'sMilagros de Nuestra Senora, among others. He examines which narrative techniques were employed by their authors, including versification, music, and the pictorial arts as aids to narration. Using nine basic elements -- plot, setting, conflict, characterization, theme, style, effect, point of view, and mood or tone -- Keller shows how writers in medieval Spain employed more sophisticated uses of these techniques than has previously been recognized.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4766-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-5)

    In order to study the rise and development of brief narrative, especially of a bygone age, one must base the investigation upon surviving written documents such as collections of short stories, repositories of exempla, long works in which brief narratives are interlarded (novelesque pieces and epic or epico-narrative poems), sermons, tracts of various sorts, and even history and law. Also to be considered are songs, paintings and miniatures, sculptures, carvings in wood and ivory and other materials, figures molded or cast in metals, and, in the latest stages of European brief narrative as printing dawned, woodcuts and other sorts of...

  5. Chapter One The Folktale and Its Contributions
    (pp. 6-9)

    Since any history of a literary genre, such as the brief narrative, must take into account the folktale simply because folktales have existed from the beginning and have been the fundamental step in the development of brief narrative everywhere, some effort must be made to understand the richness of folklore as a background of medieval brief narrative. But, since the history of the folktale depends so heavily upon supposition and theory, the folktale can only form a subsidiary part of this overall consideration of brief narrative.

    Folktales existed in the Iberian Peninsula quite probably from the time men there were...

  6. Chapter Two The Beginnings of Brief Narrative in Spain
    (pp. 10-22)

    Before one can proceed to the manifestations of brief narrative in the medieval Spanish language, he must be mindful of the magnitude of medieval Latin literature in virtually all genres. Across the entire Middle Ages Latin lyric poems, chronicles, scientific treatises, saints’ lives, collections of fables, religious tracts, hymns and secular songs, novelesque works, dramas, and even epics composed most of the archives.¹ The volume of material—classical, patristic, medieval—formed a vast background for the writings in vernacular tongues. Its influence in subject matter and in form and technique even today is not fully realized. And in Spain until...

  7. Chapter Three Gonzalo de Berceo
    (pp. 23-79)

    The first who wrote brief narratives in Spanish verse whose name we know was Gonzalo de Berceo. Some people may be surprised to find this author so prominently discussed as a storyteller, but he was indeed a raconteur par excellence. Not only in hisMilagros de Nuestra Señora,which most students and critics regard as his masterpiece, did he narrate short stories, but to an even greater extent did he do so in two of his saints’ lives—La vida de San Millán de Cogolla and the Vida de Santo Domingo de Silos.¹ His third saint’s life,La vida de...

  8. Chapter Four The Cantigas de Santa Maria of Alfonso X el Sabio
    (pp. 80-126)

    Brief narrative in verse continued beyond the days of Berceo. Indeed, during Berceo’s last years—if he died around 1246, as is generally believed—a new troubadour of the Virgin was already beginning the most extensive and artistic repository of sacred brief narratives in the Middle Ages. He is, of course, Alfonso X el Sabio, who began his rule in 1252 and died in 1284.¹ Born in 1221, he spent an active youth and learned much about life at court, in the army, and as a scholar. The best teachers were his—musicians, legists, theologians, rhetoricians, and historians. At his...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 127-132)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 133-136)
  11. Index
    (pp. 137-142)