Female Quixotism in the transatlantic enlightenment: Fernandez de Lizardi's la Quijotita y su prima.
The migration of texts back and forth across borders depends not only on linguistic translation from one national language to another but also on cultural adaptation. Stephanie Stockhorst proposes a "cultural transfer" model for translation that takes into account "the complexity, processuality, and reciprocity of intercultural exchange relations" (20). As texts circulated through the Atlantic world, they were adapted through translation to new national contexts. Translations in turn were sometimes reintroduced to an earlier context. Reminding us that theories and practices of translation evolve over time, Mary Helen McMurran has argued that as novels spread through translation during the eighteenth century, a common pre-modern translation theory grounded in "authority, temporality, and imitation" gradually gave way by the early nineteenth century to "a new bifurcated matrix of translation: the national and the foreign" (15). This practice of translation legitimized the nationalizing of texts to suit their audience. These models emphasize the process of the give and take of the movement of ideas and texts during the Enlightenment rather than insisting on tracing a simple movement from original text to its production in another language, culture, and nation. Imitation, appropriation, adaptation, and nationalization expand the concept of translation.
As books and ideas circulated throughout the Atlantic world in the eighteenth century, quixotism stands out as a distinctively Spanish literary model manifested in many transatlantic and inter-American adaptations. Cervantine novels, in the words of Stephen Gilman, connect this Atlantic world: "within the ocean of prose fiction there is a Cervantine Gulf Stream traceable but not rigorously surveyable" (xv). While Cervantine novels refer formally to Cervantes's work, Aaron Hanlon proposes understanding the notoriously slippery notion of quixotism as a particular character mode ("Towards a Counter-Poetics" 142-143). Scholars have studied the process through which in the course of their circulation, translation, and adaptation, quixotism and quixotes have been detached from, or reclaimed for, their Spanish origins. Analyzing the quixotic character in the context of world literature, Hanlon points out that the uprooting of the character of don Quijote from the Spanish national context allows the quixote to become a vehicle to define other national characters: "Quixote is a model of heuristic problems arising from deracination, imitation, and distortion, a figure belonging simultaneously to the Spanish Golden Age and the wider literary world" ("Quixotism as Global Heuristic" 49-50). Amelia Dale discusses how "English interpretations, appropriations and transpositions of the figure of Don Quixote play a pivotal role in eighteenth-century constructions of English 'national character'" (5), and Elizabeth Lewis describes the "ways both Spain and England found evidence of Don Quijote in the Spanish landscape while they also used the novel as evidence of each nation's cultural superiority" (35-36). (49)
Discussions of transnational quixotism during the Enlightenment have often overlooked its colonial Latin American and Spanish peninsular iterations in favor of British and American examples. During the late eighteenth century, British satirical writers from both the political right and the left employed the quixotic motif to comment on reactions to the French Revolution. Sarah Wood notes, "It was [a] promiscuously circulated and politically contested Quixote, rather than Cervantes's Spanish original, who crossed the Atlantic with the influx of British literature imports into America both before and after independence" ("Transatlantic Cervantes" 113). Don Quijote, according to Wood, was often invoked in American fiction to "expostulate on the dangers of political extremism at either end of the spectrum" ("Translatlantic Cervantes" 122). Similarly, eighteenthcentury Spanish imitations and continuations of the Quijote tended to satirize such excesses as the bad education of youth, scholasticism, and aristocratic presumptions, while early nineteenth-century Spanish quixotic imitations reveal a reactionary nationalistic discourse that denounces liberal or Napoleonic ambitions (Alvarez de Miranda, "Sobre el Quijotismo" 3234). Francisco Aguilar Pinal identifies two tendencies of eighteenth-century Spanish quixotic satire. In the first, positive, tendency, enlightened intellectuals admiringly imitate Cervantes in order to moralize and correct society by vanquishing "los residuos barrocos de la vida y las costumbres, en nombre de la razon y del buen gusto" (210); the second, often embodied in adaptations and in characters modeled after Sancho Panza (as Ana Rueda discusses in her article in this cluster), is a negative deployment of satire to denounce quixotic vanity and pretensions to nobility and unmerited social advancement. This second aspect of eighteenth-century Spanish quixotism reflects the approach adopted by Mexican novelist Fernandez de Lizardi in his quixotic novel.
Lizardi's Colonial Female Quixote
Jose Joaquin Fernandez de Lizardi (1776-1827) was a Mexican journalist and pamphleteer who published political, moral, and cultural commentary in his newspaper El Pensador Mexicano (1812-1814). Influenced by Enlightenment philosophical rationalism, he was progressive and revolutionary although wary of certain ideas of the philosophes that might confuse liberty with libertinism (Ruiz Cataneda xii-xiii). Lizardi wrote four novels between 1816-1820, most notably El periquillo sarniento, considered Latin America's first novel. He was imprisoned for his political views several times and was excommunicated for supporting Freemasonry (Vogeley, "Fernandez de Lizardi" and Lizardi 30-34). La Quijotitay su prima (1818-1819, 1832) is a didactic novel about women's education and conduct published during Mexico's stuggle for independence, "una novela ensayo" that the author himself classified as "una obra de critica moral" (Ruiz Castaneda xii). Through his female quixotic protagonist, Lizardi critiques traditional values associated with Spain, such as regard for aristocratic titles and superstitious religious practices associated with Baroque Catholicism, as well as modern customs such as luxury and coquetry.
Published in installments between 1818 and 1819 and in a complete version in 1832, Ea Quijotilay su prima reflects the Enlightenment's concern for women's education as a crucial index for the progress of a modern society. (50) Lizardi draws on influential Enlightenment texts for his didactic content, such as Traite de l'education des filies (1687) by the French Roman Catholic archbishop and writer Francois Fenelon (1651-1715) and JeanJacques Rousseau's Emile (1762), both of which advocated a limited education for girls to prepare them to be better wives and mothers. Other influences on Lizardi's thought on women are the Essai sur le caractere, les mceitrs et l'esprit des femmes datis les dijfierens si'edes (1772) by French writer Antoine Leonard Thomas, "Defensa de las mugeres" (1726) by the Spanish essayist and monk, Benito Jeronimo Feijoo, and various articles by Lizardi's contemporary, Mexican journalist Juan Wenceslao Sanchez de la Barquera, who wrote about women's education and the amount of "ilustracion" that women should be allowed (Ruiz Castaneda xiii-xvi).
Lizardi adapts the arguably most powerful literary model of Spain by creating a cautionary Enlightenment female quixote set in a colonial Mexican context, thus "domesticating empire," to echo Karen Stolley's phrase (1-10). Like the North American author Tabitha Gilman Tenney's 1801 novel, Female Quixotism: Exhibited in the Romantic Opinions and Extravagant Adventures of Dorcasina Sheldon, La Quijotita interrogates the role of rank, race, and gender in the construction of the national subject during the birth of a new nation (Hanlon, "Maids, Mistresses" 90-94). Lizardi's novel was published almost seventy years after Charlotte Lennox's wellknown British novel of 1752, The Female Quixote, and it is uncertain whether Lizardi had read either Tenney's novel or the 1808 Spanish translation of Lennox's novel by Bernardo Maria de Calzada, El quijote con faldas (Vogeley, Lizardi 289-290). Lizardi offers what appears to be an original interpretation of the female quixotic character, a translation through the re-gendering, appropriation, and nationalization of Cervantes's character to a colonial Mexican context.
The young protagonist in La Quijotita adopts the decadent values that colonial reformers associated with Spain: a ruinous dedication to fashion and disdain for work; ignorant and superstitious religious faith; and a blind reverence for aristocratic titles. This essay argues that in Lizardi's novel Spain is an ambivalent cultural model that serves as both the cultural foundation of Mexican society (represented by allusions to Cervantes and other Spanish writers) and as the decadent colonial ruler whose moral values must be rejected (the anti-heroic female quixote); as at once the image of modernity (progress and Enlightenment, articulated by Quijotita's father Rodrigo), and the embodiment of an outdated social hierarchy (the fraudulent claim to an aristocratic title that finally undoes the protagonist).
As Nancy Vogeley has argued, in La Quijotita Lizardi not only takes up the status of women in colonial society, but also casts his analysis of women's nature and role in society against the backdrop of race and class in Mexico (Lizardi 188). Vogeley contends that Lizardi's novel also differs from other female quixotic models such as Lennox's The Female Quixote because the author intended his novel for a primarily male audience, readers less interested in women's political and social agency or sentimental life than were Anglo-American women consumers of sentimental novels (Lizardi 188-89). However, it seems reasonable that, given Lizardi's frequent invocation of women's voices in his periodical works, he would also have envisioned that his novel would be read by--or read to--women. His prologue to La Quijotita, for example, is comprised of a letter from a female reader sent to El Pensador requesting a novel that would critique the excesses of women's behavior, as his Periquillo sarniento had done for men: "Seria, pues, una empresa recomendable dar a luz una obrita, que sin zaherir generalmente al sexo, ridiculizara los defectos mas comunes, que en el se advierten" (xxv). (51)
La Quijotita y su prima is a didactic novel, a fictionalized conduct manual, that begins with a series of conversations between Rodrigo, his wife Matilde, and his daughter Pudenciana, the cousin of the Quijotita, Pomposa. Comparing Matilde to her sister Eufrosina, Pomposa's mother, Lizardi portrays how good and bad parents raise their daughters. The novel also contains several connected but independent stories, but as an exemplary tale it chiefly narrates the mistaken education that leads to the misadventures and tragic end of Pomposa, contrasting it with the virtuous and rational upbringing given to her cousin. The chapters are narrated by a pupil of Rodrigo who observes the action and occasionally interacts with the characters. (52) The characters' names, as Ruiz Castaneda notes, are symbolic (xx). Pudenciana's father Rodrigo (whose name recalls his castizo, Castilian heritage) embodies Enlightenment reason and authority and instructs his wife and daughter about proper female behavior. Lizardi incorporates many Enlightenment prescriptions for women's behavior and education into his novel: he advocates breast feeding and parents' direct involvement with their children's education; he denounces the influence of fashion and luxury; he advocates useful education that will produce helpful wives and dutiful mothers; he proposes a new, responsible model of masculinity that supports middle-class values of sobriety, reason, virtue, education, devotion to family, and hard work. Poor Pomposa (pompous or inflated) is the victim of the bad education imparted to her by her mother, Eufrosina (mirth). The diminutives "Pomposita" and "Quijotita" that are used repeatedly in the novel emphasize her youth and reveal a condescending attitude on the part of the narrator. Eufrosina represents for Lizardi a misguided "modern" woman, a "petimetra" (1) who dedicates herself to social life, visits, fashion, and shopping, and who doesn't bother to bring her own daughter up properly. Her flawed character is attributed to the bad judgement and indulgence of her husband, Dionisio (sensuality), who is effeminate and cowardly and consents to all his wife's misguided desires. Spoiled by her incorrigible mother, Pomposita comes to believe that her beauty will conquer any man's heart and that through beauty alone she deserves to marry a nobleman. Her cousin Pudenciana (prudence), in contrast, learns a trade and consults her parents before marrying wisely. After ruining her father's fortune through her taste for luxury, Pomposa loses all her remaining inheritance when she marries, at her mother's urging, a deceitful "gachupin" who claims to be a Spanish "marques". He is arrested for fraud after their marriage and Pomposita's mother, now destitute, prostitutes her daugher. Pomposa dies, horribly disfigured, of syphilis.
The interplay between a heterogeneous colonial society in transformation and the values inherited from the imperial home of Spain and Europe underlies the antitheses between good and bad mothers, fathers, and daughters that drive the novel. In her study of "Quixotes, Imitations, and Transatlantic Genres," Eve Bannet analyzes the importance of literary and epistolary models to the dissemination of culture and new forms of sociability in transatlantic cultures. Bannet describes transnational models of conduct in quixotic works: "In an imperial age dominated by rivalry and war, and in a world altered by social and geographical mobility, by the transnational circulation of books, and by the expansion of the reading public, quixotic texts repeatedly put into question the continued applicability of anachronistic transnational imitations in conduct and writing to different ranks, localities, and genders" (553). For the colonies fighting to distinguish themselves from the models of the colonizer and to forge an independent identity, quixotic texts offered opportunities to evaluate critically outmoded values such as, for example, the worship of aristocratic titles, that were opposed to the newly emergent middle class values of industry, domestic economy, and affective familiar ties. According to Bannet, transnational genres were adapted to a new cultural context by the adoption and variation of certain, but not all, motifs (557). Later, material from the new cultural context would be inserted, transforming the generic model (561). By employing the expectations of the original model, the new work also questioned its viability in the new cultural context (564). Satire was used by later colonial writers to serve pedagogical ends, and Lizardi's novel, published in installments, aimed to reach through new media a wider public of middle-class readers (Johnson 159). Colonial writers Lizardi and, as we shall see, Tabitha Gilman Tenney in Female Quixotism (1801), use their female quixotes, who imitate bad or outdated models, as synecdoques of the colonial subject to critique their societies.
Quixotism as Coquetry
Aaron Hanlon's proposal of the character mode of the quixote as "exception" is especially helpful to elucidate the process of cultural adaptation in Lizardi's novel. The quixote is characterized by an imaginative response to idealistic fiction, comes from a literate but not necessarily wealthy background, and aspires to a wealthy lifestyle. The quixotic is also traditional associated with the mimetic; quixotes imitate literary models and often inspire imitations. Finally, Hanlon claims that quixotes consider themselves as exceptions and "follow imitated codes above the rules, laws, customs, and modes of scrutiny that govern their surrounding societies" ("Toward a Counter-Poetics" 151-152).
Lizardi applies his understanding of quixotism to Pomposita very clearly, but in two seemingly distinct ways. First, he describes Pomposa as ridiculously proud, a beauty who will use men's affection to achieve her goal of a wealthy, aristocratic life. As Ruiz Castaneda observes, a superficial interpretation of the quixote as an extravagant and ridiculous madman was common in popular colonial literature of Lizardi's day (xvii). Lizardi attributes the girl's delusions in part to her reading. Eufrosina owns novels by Maria de Zayas, seen as the time as scandalous, and other classic and Enlightenment Spanish works, but claims to have no time to read them or the serious works on education proposed by her brother-in-law Rodrigo. Pomposa reads light, amorously-themed sainetes and comedias (49). Both Pomposa and her mother are portrayed as frivolous readers, and their disordered reading and inability to discern between good and bad books show the lack of criteria and judgement often attributed to women readers in the eighteenth century (Jaffe, "Suspect Pleasure"; "Lectora y lectura femenina"). Pomposa, Lizardi insists, is not herself a bad woman, but rather is a product of a defective education; she imitates the wrong models.
Pomposa's coquetry and claim of power over men because of her beauty, however, can also be seen as a reaction to the lessons of female subordination imparted by her uncle Rodrigo. Matilde had asked her husband to explain how he can claim that women are inferior when men treat women gallantly as idols. Rodrigo refers to the works of Fenelon and Thomas, mentioned above, to claim that although women's spirits or souls are the same as men's, women are inferior to men physically. They are therefore subject to men and owe men obedience, but in turn men must treat women with respect, and their honorable treatment of the weaker sex is an index of civilization (27-37).
Pomposa's mother, however, rejects this subordinate status and encourages the girl to think very highly of herself, her beauty, and her power over men, and Lizardi satirizes her pretentiouness as quixotism. After debating with his fellow students various nicknames for the young Pomposa that would refer to her beauty, pride, and vanity, such as "la Aventada," "la Venus," "Medusa," "la Desdenosa," the witty Sanson Carrasco declares that the girl really ought to be called "la Quijotita" because:
Don Quijote era un loco y dona Pomposa es otra loca. Don Quijote tenia muy lucidos intervalos en los que se explicaba bellamente, no tocandole sobre caballeria; dona Pomposa tiene los suyos, en los que no desagrada su conversacion; pero delira en tocandole sobre puntos de amor y de hermosura. El fantasma que perturbaba el juicio de don Quijote era creerse el mas esforzado caballero, nacido para resuscitar su orden andantesca; el que ocupa el cerebro de dona Pomposa es juzgar que es la mas hermosa y la mas cabal dama del mundo, nacida para vengar su sexo de los desprecios que sufre de los hombres....(166-167)
As in Hanlon's quixotic character attributes outlined above, Pomposa has an imaginative sense of her own worth derived from her reading. She aspires to wealth and prestige and considers herself an exception to the middle-class values of work, respect, and modesty represented by her uncle's family. Pomposa's quixotic coquetry is a rebellion against social hierarchy in which women are destined to occupy a subordinate position. She is not an idealist like Cervantes's don Quijote, however, because her values are flawed and narcissistic. Unlike other females quixotes, such as Lennox's Arabella and Tenney's Dorcasina, Pomposa does not desire an ideal love that would transcend the economic and class interests of matrimony. She is rather a perverse idealist.
Quixotism as Saintly Heroism
Pomposa also displays a second type of quixotism, religious heroism, that is related to her coquetry through her miguided education and sense of exceptionalism. Although Cervantes subtly criticizes Baroque Catholic practices in his novel, don Quijote steadfastly denies that he is like a saint; rather, he imitates chivalric heroes like Amadis of Gaul when he does penance--in the name of his lady, not of God--in the Sierra Morena. Lizardi shares Cervantes's anti-clericalism and more openly ridicules Baroque Catholicism by criticizing superstitious practices, a central aspect of Catholic Enlightenment reform (Lehner, Smidt). As James Riley observes, Spanish Bourbon reformers of the Church had tried to suppress Baroque practices, but they ironically alienated the colonial intellectual elite as well as the masses, setting the stage for the difficult nineteenth-century relations between State and Church in Mexico (374). Riley stresses the similarity between the spiritual beliefs of Indians, mestizos, and the Creole elites: "The pursuit of ascetic rigour as an avenue to mystical experience drew Inquisition attention both to the wives of Creole bureaucrats and to illiterate indigenous beatas (holy women)" (382). Lizardi draws attention to this mixture of orthodox and syncretic religious practices in Mexico with his Quijotita.
Pomposa, neglected by her mother, listens to the ghost stories told by her indigenous servants and becomes extremely superstitious. A beata who represents the most retrograde aspects of Catholicism encourages her fears and inculcates in her the most superficial practices of her religion, all with her mother's approbation. After believing she hears ghosts and devils in her room, Pomposa decides to dedicate herself to a religious life and attends many masses and Church festivals with her mother. She reads books about saints that inspire her to go live as a hermit in imitation of the twelfthcentury Saint Rosalia of Naples: "Habia dado Pomposa en que era santa y que para hacer milagros no le faltaba sino vivir en el yermo. La vieja beata con sus elogios y cuentos la alucinaba mas cada dia" (238). Pomposa asks herself, "?Que me detiene para ser ermitana? Todo lo tengo: cilicios, disciplinas, cerdas, Cristo, novenas, libros de votos, ampolletas y calavera. Estoy prevenida de todo como las virgenes prudentes..." (238). Like don Quijote, the girl costumes herself for her role. She dons "una vieja carpeta verde" that she fashions as a "saco" or tunic and escapes from her house to begin imitating her saintly heroines: "!Adios, mundo enganoso y miserable; adios placeres venenosos, gustos acibarados, companias y amistades perniciosas, adios para siempre!" (238).
Lizardi's narration of Pomposa's pilgrimage to the rural outskirts of the city abounds in colorful details that describe the heterogeneous Mexican pueblo. The colonial government attempted to monitor and control the bodies of the "populacho" and its disorderly activities, such as drinking pulque, which was regulated rather than banned because it was important to the local economy and for tax revenue (Carrera 116). The spaces Pomposa travels through while escaping from the city taint her body and she becomes a living example of why women were seen to be susceptible to cultural mixing and moral laxity. After waiting until dark in "la pulqueria que llaman de los Loquitos" (238), Pomposa makes her way to "la garita de San Cosme," the fortified gate regulated by a drawbridge that symbolizes the border between the metropolis and the countryside, the urban and rural, through which the authorities attempted to control the flow of goods and people in the colony. The Spanish soldiers who guard the gate would normally frequent the local pulquerias where they boasted of their exploits fighting against the French in Spain, "pues que por la mayor parte eran de gachupines las tropas que destinaban a esos puestos..." (239), another example of the social, racial, and cultural mixing that occurs in these suspicious public spaces.
When Pomposa attempts to escape the city through the gate, the guards at the "garita de San Cosme" are attending a wake for a young woman in a nearby house. One of the soldiers, a "gallego desmoralizado," jocosely insults the dead girl and claims that he had seen "unos reverendos mas rollizos que los jatos y comadrejas de su convento" entering her house. A "lego fernandino espanol" praying at the wake accuses him of blasphemy and threatens him with the Inquisition, while the other soldiers, inspired by the funereal scene, tell tales about "espantos, apariciones y demonios" (239). Later, when the "gallego" is guarding the gate and its drawbridge, Pomposa gives him a severe fright as she passes through dressed, "segun le parecio, de su mortaja, con un santo cristo colgado al cuello, y su corona de flores ajadas y deslucidas" (240). This mixture of heretical beliefs, official corruption, and repressive authority occurs in the hybrid spaces thorough which Pomposa travels.
Pomposa's passing through the "garita de San Cosme" represents the circulation of peoples, beliefs, and ideas between imperial, colonial, and indigenous cultures in the city. It also prefigures Pomposa's own death as a syphilitic prostitute at the novel's end, for her wandering about the city alone ineluctably associates her with the "public" quality of the fallen woman. Lizardi emphasizes this lapse when Pomposa's foolish mother posts a sign announcing that the girl is missing: "Quien hubiere hallado una nina bonita como de quince anos, que se extravio anoche como a las diez, de su casa, y se fue en camisa y naguas [sic] blancas, ocurra a entregarla a mi casa y le dare un buen hallazgo" (243). Realizing the harm that it would do to the girl's reputation, Pomposa's sensible uncle Rodrigo takes the notice down and proposes more discreet means to locate his niece.
Pomposa wanders outside the city for hours towards Chapultepec until she falls asleep, exhausted. A terrible thunder storm awakens her and she decides to pray to make the rain stop. Pleased with her apparent success, she sits under a tree and prostrates herself to pray, but when she hears a strange sound inside her small valise, she imagines it is the skeleton moving around inside it and faints from fear. An indigenous "carbonero" finds her and takes her home to his "jacal," where his wife cares for her by dressing her by the "tlecuile" (brazier) in dry clothes, a vermin-infested "quexquemel" (poncho or shawl) and "huepile" (indigenous blouse) and gives her "un jarro de alote" to drink (243). Pomposa falls ill with a terrible fever, and the "indios" open her valise to try to discover her identity. A mouse jumps out, solving the enigma of the strange rattling noise Pomposa had heard. The narrator, true to Enlightenment principles, asserts that reason can overcome superstition: "Este fue el parto de la calavera, como en otro tiempo el de los montes, un ridiculo raton. Casi todos los espantos tienen iguales principios" (243). The "indios" manage to contact Pomposa's family, who bring her home in a carriage. Ironically, Lizardi contrasts the sensible and honorable indigenous couple who care for Pomposa to the ignorant beata and the superstitious and immoral soldiers. The corruption of colonial society--religious, civic, moral--extends to the city gates, but not out to the countryside. Pomposa's ridiculous hermit's costume gives way to filthy indigenous garments as her body bears the signs of cultural mixing.
After this ill-fated attempt at heroism and discouraged by fever and vermin, Pomposa abandons the path to sainthood and in a reference to the burning of don Quijote's library in Cervantes's novel, her mother burns all her daughter's religious books: "!Id al fuego, pervertidores del talento de mi hija! No, no mas virtud en mi casa, no mas libros devotos, no mas encierro, no rezos. Desde este instante yo hare que vuelva a reinar en el corazon de mi hija la alegria y que se divierta como siempre" (245). Yet the pattern has been set; Pomposita has been associated with the women of the public streets; her passage through the gates of the city alone has put her into circulation as a tainted commodity. Her father, "acobardado por su mujer," consents to all the extravagances of his wife and daughter, and the narrator concludes, "?que otra cosa se debe esperar de una devocion falsa ni de una virtud aparente y mal entendida?" (245). Pomposa dedicates herself anew to coquetry and to the conquest of a noble title. She tells her modest cousin Pudenciana, who seeks her parents' guidance about her own suitors: "Por eso no me quiero casar con ningun hombre que no sea titulo y mayorazgo, [...]; no, en todo caso que sea mi novio rico y con seguridad; pues, que sea por lo menos marques" (252). Pomposa rejects traditional religious devotion but adopts an outmoded respect for aristocratic titles, and moves from one scandalous situation to another in their pursuit.
After Pomposa's family loses sight of her and her mother for several years, an old, filthy, ragged woman suddenly appears to summon them to her house, where she has given Pomposa refuge. Her cousin and aunt find her "cubierta en asquerosisimos andrajos y hecha un esqueleto" (289), an image that recalls her adventure as a hermit when she carried a skull and ended up dressed in filthy indigenous clothes. Like that time, she is terribly ill with a high fever, and the doctor diagnoses "un galico irremediable, como lo decian bien claro las ulceras de boca y nariz y las llagas de las piernas" (291). Pomoposa repents and dies soon after. After narrating her death scene with suitable pathos, Lizardi, like Cervantes, quickly switches to a satiric mode to end the novel:
Quijotita, ?de que sirvieron Tus monadas y embelesos, Si al fin reducida a huesos Todas tus gracias se vieron Y en polvo se convirtieron Tus formas tan exquisitas? Desengano, mujercitas, Pensad con mas madurez, En lograr buena vejez Negada a las Quijotitas. (292)
Lizardi recalls the desengano motif of the Baroque with these verses, but the devastating final portrait he paints of his Quijotita gives his critique an especially cruel tone.
Whereas women writers of the Enlightenment like Josefa Amar in her 1790 Discurso sobre la educacion fisica y moral de las mujeres (Lopez-Cordon Cortezo), or Ines Joyes y Blake in her 1798 Apologia de las mujeres (Bolufer) had advocated women's education as a consolation to them in later life when they would be less distracted by family cares and society, Lizardi paints a ruinous end for women who do not heed their fathers' instruction and accept their subordinate rank in social and family hierarchies. Analyzing the body and colonial space in Lizardi's more famous novel El periquillo sarniento (1816-1820), Magali Carrera concludes that "the body in Lizardi's writing is employed to contrast the elite space/elite body with the plebeian space/plebeian body" (132). In La Quijotita, Lizardi's Pomposa represents the female body, malleable and permeable to the diverse ideas, values, foods, infestations, and diseases that characterize her society. Pomposa is a transgressive, hybrid, colonial subject because she attempts to escape the control represented by her uncle and family. Her quixotism is marked as feminine because although Lizardi emphasizes the role of education and the responsibility of families, Pomposa is shown to be guilty of specifically feminine vices of vanity and superstition, and the victim of a bad mother who is responsible for the suffering and disfigurement enacted on her daughter's body.
Circulating Colonial American Female Quixotism
Lizardi adapts the female quixotic character, then, in two contradictory ways--coquetry and religious heroism--to interrogate the authority of colonial institutions in Mexico. He criticizes the mistaken esteem of the criollos for what he sees as superficial and decadent values of Spain, such as luxury and aristocratic privileges. He denounces in a more veiled way the role of the Catholic Church in the colony and shows that it exercised a great deal of control over the population by maintaining it in ignorance, superstition, and poverty instead of providing an enlightened education. Vogeley explains that enlightened Mexicans wanted to adopt modern social European customs that defended women's education and proposed a new value for women's role in society. But women were traditionally and symbolically associated with the indigenous and their inferior status in social hierarchy, a crucial aspect of mestizaje, for racial mixing usually ocurred through the union of an indigenous female and a European male. "In La Quijotita, a novel for women," writes Vogeley, "[Lizardi] confronts women's natures, thereby inquiring what the nature of any subordinate (that is, a colonial) may be" (Lizardi 25). Lizardi's La Quijotita "considers questions that go to the heart of colonial rule. Displaced onto 'woman' are criollo concerns about what inferiority might mean ..." (Lizardi 188). Both aspects of Pomposa's female quixotism--coquetry and religious heroism--are imitated behaviors that are a response to women's subservient position in society. What Mariselle Melendez has concluded about the Enlightenment and images of women in colonial Peru could equally be applied to Lizardi's late colonial era novel: "The compatibility between the empirical attitude toward knowledge, Spanish Catholicism, Bourbon centralism, and patriotic fervor present in eighteenth-century cultural production in Peru made of the female body an instrument of knowledge and a vital part of the formation of healthy and productive citizens" (174). Lizardi scrutinizes and interrogates through his female quixote, who circulates through the city and whose body is destroyed by its vices and failings, the colonial subject's permeability and potential for virtue or corruption.
La Quijotita y su prima bears more relation to Tenney's American novel Female Quixotism than it does to Lennox's mid-century British novel. Instead of arranging a happy ending for their protagonists after their disillusionment, as had Lennox, Lizardi and Tenney conclude with the defeat of their female quixotes. Pomposita ends up much worse, morally and physically, than Tenney's quixote Dorcasina, who describes herself at the novel's end as "solitary, neglected, and despised" (324). Dorcasina ends her life as a grey-haired spinster who devotes herself and her remaining fortune to charitable works for other unhappy women. In her final letter, she warns a friend not to be deluded with romantic novels, as she had been. Although her father left her an excellent library that "consists of a welljudged selection of modern books" (325), Dorcasina blames her defective education for her inability to learn from and delight in this reading. Tenney shares with Lizardi the Enlightenment belief in the role of education to regulate women's behavior. Like Lizardi, Tenney questions the hybrid values of her newly-formed nation, showing its vices and corruption, both imported and native (Davidson xxii-xxiii). Dorcasina is fooled by a deceitful Irishman who is really a criminal, and Pomposita is ruined by a "gaditano" who pretends to be an aristocrat and absconds with her inheritance. Both novels question through their female characters how well the new nation is serving its citizens (Wood, "Transatlantic Cervantes" 121). But like Lennox, Tenney portrays a sympathetic, idealistic, although deluded female quixote, whereas Lizardi's corrupted Quijotita seems to deserve her bad end for her presumption and vanity.
In the process of the cultural transfer of translation, female quixotism circulates to the colonies and returns to Spain later in the nineteenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, quixotism was no longer exclusively Spanish; it was a transnational model. When it moved back across the Atlantic and took root again in its native country, it would bring with it the multiple meanings and semantic possibilities it had accumulated during its travels. The aspect of religious heroism that Lizardi gives to his female quixote can be seen as a precursor to the adaptation of this transatlantic model by anti-clerical novelists such as Armando Palacio Valdes, in Marta y Maria (1883), and Leopoldo Alas, Clarin, in La Regenta, (1884-5), among others, who create female quixotes dedicated to saintly heroism. Like Lizardi, these novelists reveal their anxiety about modernity by questioning women's role in the social changes associated with the process of modernization; by associating the feminine with the decadence of outdated aristocratic values and with the fear of the social chaos provoked by uncontrolled sexuality; and finally by linking women to religious conservatism that opposed political and social progress. Lizardi sought to uphold Enlightenment values and yet also to reject the social structures and values--many of which he attributed to Mexico's imperial Spanish rulers--that he saw crippling colonial society. He found in the female quixote a vehicle for his ambivalent imaginary construction of relations between Spain and Mexico.
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CATHERINE M. JAFFE
Texas State University
(49) Francoise Etienvre describes how Spanish intellectuals in the eighteenth century came to view Cervantes's novel as a "simbolo nacional" (103), and Pedro Alvarez de Miranda discusses the prolific linguistic production of terms associated with the Quijote in eighteenth-century Spain ("La estela linguistica" 43-69).
(50) Maria del Carmen Ruiz Castaneda, in her introduction to the Porrua edition of Ea Qnijotita, Nancy Vogeley, in chapter 7 of Efiardi and the Birth oj the Novel in Spanish Nmerica, and Graciela Michelotti, in her introduction to her 2008 edition of EaQnijotita, provide important context and analysis of Lizardi's work.
(51) All quotations from the text are taken from the Porrua edition.
(52) Ruiz Castaneda asserts that an anonymous article that appeared in 1810 in the Semanario Economico de Mexico (29 de noviembre y 6 de diciembre), "Dialogo entre Cecilia y Feliciano sobre educacion de las ninas," was probably written by Sanchez de la Barquera and was the source for Lizardi's novel (xvi).
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|Publication:||Dieciocho: Hispanic Enlightenment|
|Article Type:||Ensayo critico|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2017|
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