Maria de Zayas: The Dynamics of Discourse.
Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor (1590-1661) wrote twenty novelle in two collections, published in 1637 and 1647, as well as poetry and drama. In many ways, she stands alone as a secular prose writer who models her work on (and against the grain of) Cervantes. The Novelas ejemplares y amorosas and the Desenganos amorosos are fascinating from the perspective of structure, language, and ideology, all of which are marked, logically, by gender inflection. Zayas's subject is feminine inscription in society and in the literary text. Relatively ignored by critics until recent decades, Zayas has now come into her own, or into the canon, thanks to the efforts of a number of scholars in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. and Spain. The twelve essays in this volume attest to the renewed interest in Zayas, whose writings invite scrutiny from multiple vantage points. The contributors include Mary Elizabeth Perry, Susan Paun de Garcia, H. Patsy Boyer, Laura Gorfkle, Margaret R. Greet, Lou Charnon-Deutsch, Amy R. Williamsen, Matthew D. Stroud, Judith A. Whitenack, Ruth El Saffar, William H. Clamurro, and Cristina Enriquez de Salamanca. The essays by Charnon-Deutsch and Clamurro have been published previously.
The "fit" of the essays is exemplary. Perry, Paun de Garcia, and Boyer, together with Whitenack in the introduction, offer an overview of the role of women in the patriarchal order of seventeenth-century Spain. Perry looks, in essence, at women in history. Her focus on the images of enclosure and repressed re·pressed
Being subjected to or characterized by repression. sexuality allows one to see how Zayas transgresses these prohibitions. Paun de Garcia moves to a different type of closed space, the female academies of the Golden Age, replicated to a degree in the frame story of the Desenganos, in which all the narrators are women. Boyer argues for a "baroque reading" of the novelle, that is, for a reading built on structural intricacies and on plays of illusion and disillusion dis·il·lu·sion
tr.v. dis·il·lu·sioned, dis·il·lu·sion·ing, dis·il·lu·sions
To free or deprive of illusion.
1. The act of disenchanting.
2. The condition or fact of being disenchanted. .
Part 2 looks at "Sexual/Textual Dynamics." Gorfkle sees, within the inevitable tragedy of the protagonist of Amar solo por vencer, a temporary respite from authoritarian social practice and a challenge to the codes that define men and women. Looking at what she terms the "(M)Other plot," Greet contrasts the general absence of mothers in the novelle with the more nurturing atmosphere of the frame. If Zayas is unable fully to transform the Oedipal oed·i·pal or Oed·i·pal
Of or characteristic of the Oedipus complex. paradigm through narrative plotting, she can impute impute v. 1) to attach to a person responsibility (and therefore financial liability) for acts or injuries to another, because of a particular relationship, such as mother to child, guardian to ward, employer to employee, or business associates. the validity of the "master plot" through repetition and movement within the frame. In an approach based on the notion of sexual economy, Charnon-Deutsch demonstrates ways in which Zayas, attuned at·tune
tr.v. at·tuned, at·tun·ing, at·tunes
1. To bring into a harmonious or responsive relationship: an industry that is not attuned to market demands.
2. to the realities of male-female relations, demystifies the sacrament of matrimony MATRIMONY. See Marriage. . Reflecting on the ironies of alterity Al`ter´i`ty
n. 1. The state or quality of being other; a being otherwise.
For outness is but the feeling of otherness (alterity) rendered intuitive, or alterity visually represented. , Charnon-Deutsch discusses the trajectory of the novelle in the context of social and political power struggles. Williamsen also stresses the ironic structure of the novelle as she refutes critics who present Zayas as an advocate of the honor code
An honor code or honor system is a set of rules or principles governing a community based on a set of rules or ideals that define what constitutes honorable .
In part 3, on "The Dynamics of Desire," Stroud reads the play La traicion en la amistad This article is about the ship. For other meanings, see Amistad.
La Amistad (Spanish: "Friendship") was a 19th-century two-masted schooner of about 120 tons displacement. through Lacan, Whitehack considers the psychology that underlies Zayas's use of enchantments Track listing
The essays are uniformly well-written and engaging. If there is a unifying purpose, it would seem to be to define the particular recourses through which Maria de Zayas calls into question the reigning judgments on women's place and women's space. The deep structure of social institutions and notions of subjectivity inform both the composition of the texts and readings by scholars interested in unjustified margins and in new centers of investigation.
EDWARD H. FRIEDMAN Indiana University