Printer Friendly

Introduction: A Consideration of Lay Knowledge in Early Modern Spain.

IN HIS (IRONICALLY) CANONICAL story, "Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote," Jorge Luis Borges spins an absurd yarn of a twentieth-century French intellectual who wills himself to rewrite word for word chapters 1-9 of part 1 of Don Quixote because he considers Cervantes's version contingent and unnecessary (54). Menard seeks to Enrich Cervantes's text by enhancing it with Nietzschean ideas and setting it against the backdrop of 19th-century Orientalist French visions of Spain. Accordingly, the original statement that history is the mother of truth is merely an "elogio retorico de la historia" because the author is "el 'ingenio lego' Cervantes," but when Menard writes these same words, he does so as the contemporary of William James, aware that historical truth "es lo que juzgamos que sucedio" (Borges 57). Perhaps it is because Cervantes's literary works are so entertaining, or because he made himself the target of so many ironic barbs, that the image of the author as the uneducated genius proliferated. Borges has (finally) taught us one lesson well: it is dangerous to fall into the trap laid by an anachronistic understanding of the phrase "ingenio lego" as "ingenio inculto." Paul Merimee showed over 70 years ago that, when Cervantes called himself an "ingenio lego" in the Viaje de Parnaso, the most common meaning of lego was laic, referring to someone with little education in ecclesiastical matters (453). As Covarrubias states regarding lego, "Dezimos de un hombre ser muy lego quando esta poco instruydo en materias eclesiasticas" (757).

As a self-proclaimed ingenio lego, Cervantes did not write as a naive or ignorant rube. As the articles in this issue of Cervantes show, he drew from rich, varied, and deep storehouses of learning and knowledge, but they were not necessarily or primarily those associated with traditional Scholastic and religious knowledge. Peer reviewers have selected these il articles for publication from those submitted by the 70 scholars who attended the 2018 Cervantes Society of America conference held at the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada on September 27-29, 2018. The articles printed in this issue of Cervantes--and edited with the formidable assistance of Isabel Lara--deal with La Galatea, Don Quixote de la Mancha, and Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, as well as the Novelas ejemplares and his comedias. All of these scholars take as a given that Cervantes was an author engaged with his society, knowledgeable of major discourses and problematics, and in control of his art. Far from appearing as the rustic genius who wrote a masterpiece in spite of himself seen in some nineteenth-century criticism, the vanishing author of high modernism and new criticism, or the "dead" author of post-modernism, here the author Cervantes emerges as a necessary presence whose knowledge of extratextual codes of conduct or knowledge systems serves as the key for interpreting the text. How, then, did Cervantes understand himself as an ingenio lego? In order to propose a preliminary answer to that question, I will turn to Cervantes's representation of his literary persona, poetics, and work in the Viaje del Parnaso (1614). As both a statement of his poetics and a literary performance of his persona as poet, it offers meaningful statements and gestures indicating how Cervantes understood his texts to function.

In chapter 6 of the Viaje del Parnaso, the lyrical I, a voice linked to Cervantes, lays eyes in a dream upon the swollen figure of Vainglory, daughter of Desire and Fame, and impregnated by the wind. An unidentified voice identifies her to him: A no estar ciego, / hubieras visto ya quien es la dama; / pero, en fin, tienes el ingenio lego" (Cervantes, Viaje 6.172-74). Cervantes's self-characterization, enunciated by a denigrating rival, is but one of many and varied provided in the poem that lists both his successes and his failures, subjecting the author himself to the multiple voices of polyphony and many points of view of perspectivism (Canavaggio 35-37). Nor does Cervantes limit his self-description to the (possible) gesture of humility implied in the phrase "ingenio lego," for in chapter x, none other than Mercury, god of eloquence, calls him "Adan de los poetas" (1.202), and exclaims: "Y se que aquel instinto sobrehumano / que de raro inventor tu pecho encierra / no te le ha dado el padre Apolo en vano" (1.217-19). Cervantes, in his self-representation as the consummate creator of and through language, has multiple names and multiple identities, and in this aspect is similar to characters he created who were gifted with linguistic ingenuity. In her article "Pedro de Urdemalas / Nicolas de los Rios o el polytropos linguistico," Maria Dolores Morillo examines how Cervantes uses multiplicity of names and viewpoints to create the similarly astute, inventive character Pedro de Urdemalas in the comedia of the same name. As she concludes, the power of imitative art embodied by Urdemalas allows the character to create a false distortion in the shape of Nicolas de los Rios, and provides a lesson in the dark side of inventiveness.

In the Viaje del Parnaso, as Cervantes's voice continuously names and renames the self, his image likewise undergoes a fragmentation of identity that shatters images into contrasts of light and darkness, sweet and rasping sound. Such is his description of his poetic voice, as he warns the readers: "Vayan, pues, los leyentes con letura" (1.100). Cervantes reveals a heightened consciousness of the role dream and whimsy play in poetic imagination in order to tap into the deeper play of (unconscious) desire in human relations. The vocation of poetry itself seems to have cast him in such a grotesque shape, as poets pass their lives as in dreams, "llorando guerras, o cantando amores" (1.88). Even the most sane ("mas cuerdo," 1.93) is governed by fruitless craving ("antojo baldio," 1.94) and eternal ignorance ("ignorancia eterna" 1.96). Employing bird imagery, he describes himself as "cisne en las canas, y en la voz un ronco / y negro cuervo, sin que el tiempo pueda / desbastar de mi ingenio el duro tronco" (1.103-105). The resulting self-portrait is of a hybrid monster, whitened with age but speaking with the harsh caw of a crow. Encarnacion Juarez-Almendros shows how Cervantes wrests expressive power by assembling humorous figures with mythological connotation in her article, "Entre con-fusiones corporales: a vueltas con Maritornes y Don Quijote." In this sense, the episode transforms the comically grotesque Asturian maid into a figure of mythological proportions who liberates female sensual power in the face of the phallocentric Don Quixote. Hybridity can wield unique power.

As a sort of ars poetica, the Viaje del Parnaso provides glimpses into the tension between inventive power and the restraining force of credibility with which Cervantes struggled as an author. Writing about his vision of Vainglory, he remarks: "Palpable vi...pues no se si lo escriba, / que a las cosas que tienen de imposibles / siempre mi pluma se ha mostrado esquiva" (6.49-51). Of course, the very vision of the inflating, gigantic female figure of Vainglory is unbelievable, and is only rendered verisimilar within the frame of the dream. Finding the credible frame for the incredible is one of the hallmarks of Cervantes's incorporation of the marvelous into his fiction. Cervantes continues with this disingenuous claim, "Nunca a disparidad abre las puertas / mi corto ingenio, y hallalas contino / de par en par la consonancia abiertas" (6.54-56). The topos of humility by which he denigrates his ingenio is ironic. By tempering the marvelous through verisimilar frames, Cervantes manages to pi ease the discrete reader: " Como pueda agradar un desatino / si no es que de proposito se hace, / mostrandole el donaire su camino?" (4.58-60). Far from being a naive author who stumbles as he charts his way through incredible plot lines, Cervantes here reveals his concern for making them pleasantly agreeable. For later readers, the contexts by which the incredible can be made credible have not always been accessible. In his essay, " Tan desaforado salto: The Taming of Cratilos's Horse in Cervantes's Persiles y Sigismunda," Luis Aviles makes visible how Persiles's leap while mounted atop a horse onto a frozen sea, generally considered not only unbelievable but irrational, makes sense within the frame of courtly liberality and gift-giving. By taking this leap, Persiles responds to the shame he experiences at Sulipicias excessive praise by creating his own gift in return in the form of the tamed horse. Thus, a desatino turns into a donaire.

Perhaps we can understand Cervantes's literary works as an attempt to create social capital in a situation where he finds himself ashamedly bereft of it. His autobiographical voice opens chapter 4 of the Viaje del Parnaso by listing his works, starting with La Galatea and ending with Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, soon to appear in print. Even though Cervantes advocates for his "ingenio lego" in the Viaje del Parnaso, this might not be enough to convince one that his comic turn to secular material would have a satirical edge. Nonetheless, he does claim that his sonnet critiquing the funerary catafalque erected in Seville in 1598 to honor Philip II, "Voto [a Dios] que me espanta esta grandeza," claims pride of place as "honra principal de mis escritos" (4.38). The poem's speaker pronounces the sonnet's pregnant final words, "No hubo nada," dissenting from the monument's intended meaning, the exaltation of the monarch (D'Onofrio 175-176). Given Cervantes's clearly stated preference for this poem, it is important to interrogate his other works dealing with political events. Mercedes Alcala-Galan reveals the creation of a similarly destabilizing dissidence in Cervantes's representation of the siege on the Spanish presidio of Oran in her article, "African Space and Abencerrajismo in Cervantes's El gallardo Espanol: Arlaxa and the Deconstruction of the Heroic Comedia." Through his unique characterization of the Islamic female character Arlaxa as a paragon of beauty, intelligence, and independence as well as the nucleus of the plot, Cervantes produces a vision of Oran that contradicts Spanish Catholic mythologization of the historical event.

It is important to note that, in his final command to poets in the Adjunta al Parnaso, Apollo admonishes any who might find favor with a high-ranking noble not to visit or ask for favors, "sino dejese llevar de la corriente de la ventura; que el que tiene providencia de sustentar las sabandijas de la tierra y los gusarapos del agua, la tendra de alimentar a un poeta, por sabandija que sea" (Cervantes 191). There is an intertextual reference here to Matthew 6:26-34, in which Jesus advises his disciples not to worry about their food or clothes, as God will provide these to them just as he feeds the birds and clothes the flowers. What remains unspecified is what sort of liberty would be available to the poet who remains unfed and unclothed by the powerful patron, although one supposes that it would be the poetic liberty to write freely--and even critically--about the patron. In her article "Las faldas de las Panza: indumentaria femenina, cultura material y estratificacion social en el segundo Quijote cervantino," Magdalena Altamirano shows that the contrast between the clothing of the female members of Sanchos family and the Duchess is, of course, laughable. Nonetheless, the description of the Panzas makes visible their bodies, which in turn brings to mind the satirical detail earlier revealed about the Duchess's wound, sign of her decadent lifestyle. In this case, analysis of material culture unveils Cervantes's freedom to make a satirical critique of the lifestyle of the Spanish grandes.

The claim to literary freedom liberates the poet's quill, but plunges him into an economic quagmire. At the end of the lengthy monologue listing his literary works by name at the beginning of Book 4 of the Viaje del Parnaso, Cervantes makes an extraordinary and risible claim to pure heavenly, rather than material, inspiration: "Tuve, tengo y tendre los pensamientos, / merced al cielo que a tal bien me inclina, / de toda adulacion libres y exentos" (4.58-60). Moreover, according to Cervantes, his genius is unadulterated by lying, fraud or deceit: "Nunca pongo los pies por do camina / la mentira, la fraude y el engano, / de la santa virtud total ruina" (4.6^63). He continues to evaluate his literary gift economically, stating that he does not get angry at his "corta fortuna," but rather "con poco me contento, aunque deseo mucho" (4.64, 67-68). Apollo, or Timbrio, responds with advice also couched in economic terms: good comes to some suddenly, but those who acquire it should conserve it carefully and prudently. Nor is evil any different. Finally, he says: "Tu mismo te has forjado tu ventura" (4.79). Apollo's cautionary words to Cervantes reveal a cultural economics in which literary fortune is like economic wealth: some are born with it, some gain it gradually, and some earn it for themselves. As a man who has forged his own luck, Cervantes belongs in the latter camp. It follows that Cervantes, having scrabbled for a living, would be aware of economic debates and issues of his time in ways that other authors, being clerics or nobles, might not be. In his article, "Quixotic Economy: Comedy, Romance, and Early Modern Economics in Don Quijote," Brian Brewer finds in the formulaic language of arbitrismo, economic discourses proposing banking, agricultural, and even domes tic reforms, language used by Cervantes in key episodes. In this way Cervantes brought together disparate generic threads such as romance and comedy in order to create the form of the modern novel.

Other laic forms of knowledge Cervantes employed were related to science as it was then understood. Perhaps influenced by a historiography that emphasized physics and chemistry, historians of science until recently have overlooked the importance of science and technology in early-modern Spain. An Anglo-American school of historians spearheaded by David Goodman has focused on the interplay between political, imperial, and colonial interests and scientific development in the period. Concurrently, historians of science in Spain, following the lead of Jose Maria Lopez Pinero, have investigated the domains of medicine, astronomy, anatomy, and the Spanish institutions that gave form to a systematic educational system designed to prepare navigators, cartographers, engineers, miners, and doctors who would be engaged in imperial enterprises such as transoceanic voyaging, mapping of previously uncharted coastal lands, collecting and categorizing unknown plants and animals, and mining and refining ores. These activities are precisely those associated with ingenio understood as the cognitive faculty that allowed for quick, inventive thinking in the face of unexpected realities, such as that seen when encountering new phenomena in the night skies or never-before-encountered cultures (Schmidt 54-58). The establishment of new institutions, such as the Casa de la Contratacion and Philip lis academy of mathematics, the attraction of international scientific talent into the Hapsburg enterprise, and the regulation of fields such as medicine, are now viewed as evidence of active patronage of science and technology (Goodman 1983). Although Philip II's restrictions on university study abroad and his imposition of the Index of Prohibited Books appear to contradict his promotion of natural science and engineering, this discrepancy can be explained by his desire to prevent Protestant ideas from entering Spain, as revealed in a letter to his sister Juana (Goodman, "Philip II's Patronage" 50). Again, it is in this context that we can focus on Cervantes's claim to be an "ingenio lego."

But if Cervantes self-identified as "lego," how would he approach these early-modern Spanish domains of science and technology? It is to this question which many authors in this volume turn. Shifra Armon in her article, '" A que viene aqui la geometria, senor D. Quijote?': Don Quijote and the History of Curiosity in Spain," takes as a starting point an exasperated comment written by the nineteenth-century scholar, Diego Clemencin, in order to reexamine Cervantes's earlymodern context by focusing on the question of scientific curiosity. In so doing, she both provides a history of nineteenth-century reading of Don Quixote and calls for us to renew inquiry into the topic through viewing Don Quixote as the exemplar of outdated religious modes of thought that frowned upon curiosity because it was believed to tempt humans toward forbidden knowledge.

The ambivalent nature of curiosity orients us toward the ambivalent status of some forms of inquiry practiced with certain degrees of institutional sanction in early-modern Spain, including alchemy and astrology. Philip II built an alchemical laboratory in the Escorial, where Richard Stanyhurst, an exiled English Catholic, worked as an alchemist (Goodman, Power and Penury 15). Although historians of chemistry generally consider alchemy a precursor of modern chemistry because of its tools and techniques for working with metals, the alchemist understood his experimentations to have a spiritual component that depended not only on the nature of the operations but also on his own wisdom and innate power. Drawing on an array of primary sources, both written and visual, Rosa Maria Stoops argues in her article "Of Rodajas, Redomas, Ruedas, Vitro, Vitriolo, V.I.T.R.I.O.L., Vidriera: The Occult Symbolism of the Title Character Names in 'El licenciado Vidriera,'" that Cervantes grounds the story in alchemical concepts. Not only do words, like vidriera, and terms, like redoma, have alchemical associations, but the plot itself corresponds to the rotating alchemical wheel. Meaning is occult in the sense that it is accessible only to the initiated elite.

Systems of knowledge related to the study of the night sky illustrate well both the ways in which imperial interests could overrule religious ones, allowing new, evidence-based analyses to be taught such as Copernican heliocentrism, and the persistence of ancient, predictive but scientifically unfounded practices such as judiciary astrology. Copernican ideas and the Prutenaic tables for navigation based on them were included in the University of Salamanca syllabus until 1624, and in Alcala de Henares even some years later, in spite of the Vatican's condemnation of Galileo's adherence to heliocentrism, because the Prutenaic tables (for obvious reasons) proved better suited to guide navigation to the Philippines (Vernet). In Book 1 of the Viaje del Parnaso, Mercury mentions that Cervantes as a soldier has lost the use of his hand by referring periphrastically to the Battle of Lepanto as "la naval dura palestra" (1.214). Our author's first-hand experience of maritime travel and navigational instrumentation based on measuring location vis-a-vis the stars is in full display in the episode of the enchanted boat in chapter 29 of part 2 of Don Quixote, as Don Quixote fills his speech with pompous allusions to the celestial sphere (Dominguez). Astrology was taught as a sister discipline to astronomy in the universities, formed part of medical practice and even weather forecasting, but was also intimately tied to politics even in its officially condemned judiciary form. Stephen Hessel discusses in his article, "Celestial Cervantes: Mauricio's Astrology, the Heavens, and the Search for Terrestrial Order," how Cervantes problematizes the varied ways Cervantes's characters desire to find meaning in the stars. For Hessel, the judiciary astrologer Mauricio, who accompanies Persiles and Sigismunda during their sea voyages, is a character who observes the night skies in a reasoned, orderly, even scientific manner, while the others look up towards them in desperation or meditation.

As shown in the final articles of the issue, when Cervantes did deal with more traditional religious content, he often turned to popular or laic forms. In contrast to the more scientific attempts made by Cervantes's Mauricio to know the future, waves of medievally-informed prophetic genres, such as the morisco aljofares and the apocalyptically political visions of self-proclaimed mystics rocked the reigns of Philip II and Philip III. In her article "Mnemosine & Moneta: la profecia mitica del recuerdo en La Galatea de Miguel de Cervantes," Martha Garcia analyzes narrative structure to reveal the presence of the past in the pastoral text through references to memory and mythical prophecy. Her article serves as a salutary reminder of the oral legacy and culture in which Cervantes wrote, which enabled forms from the past to continue into his present.

Religious beliefs and practices changed, however, as popular traditions suffused with oral culture were subjected to greater control by the church after the reforms of the Council of Trent and the influx of devotional printed material impacted practice. One of the realms in which the greatest effect in lay Catholic practice appeared was that of the practice of dying, particularly concerning funerary ritual such as the commission of mourners, masses for the souls of the dead, the writing of wills, and deathbed practices following the procedures set out in the ars moriendi genre. In her article "Death and Ritual in Don Quixote," Stacey Triplette looks at the link between inventories of goods and the expression of affect in early-modern Spain. She then examines lists of goods in various sections of Cervantes's novel to propose that the emotional landscapes associated with the goods contradict the notion that Alonso Quijano died a good death, as the characters involved do not evidence the necessary detachment from earthly goods and desires.

The volume closes with a look at how Cervantes could take a scene in miniature, weave together discourses within it referring to various systems of knowledge, and then satirize the institutions sustaining the discourses. In their article, "La locura como critica social: rexaminando el cuento del loco de Sevilla (2.1)," Bonnie L. Gasior and Anahit Manoukian examine the inset story both in relation to the story of Don Quixote and the sociohistorical context of insane asylums during the early-modern period. The story provides Cervantes a chance to satirize universities and the Church, while at the same time using the tale to alert readers to interpret Don Quixotes lunacy as a symptom of a greater societal ill.

Although the Viaje del Parnaso reads as an ars poetica, if one returns to chapter 1, the work's plot reminds one of a lunatic delusion. Apollo calls Cervantes to literary battle in a warship made of verses because conflict has broken out over the envy his works have caused throughout the world: "Tus obras los rincones de la tierra, / llevandola [s] en grupa Rocinante, / descubren, y a la envidia mueven guerra." (1.220222) Although it is true that the first part of Don Quixote had been translated into English and French by 1612, and published in Milan in 1610, it is absurd to say that envy of its international success had ignited battle. Among the phrases Cervantes deploys in his self-representation in the poem, both the hybrid figure of the white swan with the voice of the crow and the "ingenio lego" stand out because of their internal contradiction. In addition, they link his work intertextually to Lope de Vega's writing, whom Lokos has seen alluded to in the figure of Vainglory (150). In Pastores de Belen, Lope de Vegas pastoral novel a lo divino (1612), the elderly Mahol avoids judging between poems recited by competing shepherds, but instead offers these words: "No me mandes juzgar aqui, porque no me suceda lo que los poetas escriben de Midas; ni es bien que el cuervo ronco, aunque por anos blanco, desate su voz desagradable entre los cisnes" (Vega de Carpio 97). Unlike Mahol, who observes social norms obliging the elderly not to compete with the younger, Cervantes dares to claim for himself a swansong: "cisne en las canas, y en la voz / un ronco y negro cuervo" (i.103-104). The Pastores de Belen provides a bit more context for Cervantes's self-representation, as in Book 2 shepherds and shepherdesses take on the names of concepts such as liberality and patience. Locura is defined as "el fingir los hombres que saben, [...] y en no saber que no saben, y en sustentar que saben" (Lope 121). When Cervantes claims for himself the identity of an "ingenio lego," he admits what he does not know--ecclesiastical letters--, while simultaneously asserting his sanity and rationality in writing about what he does know. In so doing, he affirms the salutary act of writing fiction a lo profano, which opens up beyond the folkloric to embrace secular domains of knowledge, political content, and social commentary.

UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY

rlschmid@ucalgary.ca

Works Cited

Borges, Jorge Luis. "Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote." Ficciones. Madrid: Alianza, 1988. 47-59.

Canavaggio, Jean. "La dimension biografica del Viaje del Parnaso." Cervantes 1.1-2 (1981): 29-41.

Cervantes, Miguel. Viaje delParnasso. Ed. Vicente Gaos. Madrid: Castalia, 1973.

Covarrubias, Sebastian de. Tesoro de la lengua castellana o espanola. Barcelona: Editorial Alta Fulla, 2003.

Dominguez, Julia. "'Coluros, lineas, paralelos y zodiacos': Cervantes y el viaje por la cosmografia en el Quijote." Cervantes 29.2 (2009): 139-57.

D'Onofrio, Julia, '"fuese y no hubo nada: Cervantes frente a la manipulacion y la dilapidacion simbolica." Anales cervantinos 46 (2014): 161-78.

Goodman, David C. "Philip Us Patronage of Science and Engineering." British Journal for the History of Science 16:1 (1983): 44-66.

--. Power and Penury: Government, Technology and Science in Philip II's Spain. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988.

Lokos, Ellen D. The Solitary Journey: Cervantes's Voyage to Parnassus. New York: Peter Lang, 1991.

Merimee, Paul. "A propos de l'expression 'ingenio lego' appliquee a Cervantes." Bulletin Hispanique 49.3-4 (1947): 452-55.

Schmidt, Rachel. "Cervantes's Ingenioso Hidalgo: Ingenio and the Americas." Cervantes 35.2 (2015): 51-76.

Vega de Carpio, Lope. Pastores de Belen. Madrid: Rialp, 1973.

Vernet, Juan. "Copernicus in Spain." The Reception of Copernicus' Heliocentric Theory: Proceedings of a Symposium Organized by the Nicolas Copernicus Committee of the Interntational Union of the History and Philosophy of Science. Ed. Jerzy Dobrzycki. Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1972. Turun, Poland 1973. 271-91.
COPYRIGHT 2019 Cervantes Society of America
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2019 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Schmidt, Rachel
Publication:Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Mar 22, 2019
Words:4230
Previous Article:Fond Memories of Amy Williamsen (1959-2019).
Next Article:Pedro de Urdemalas/Nicolas de los Rios o el politropo linguistico: Multiplicidad y heteronomia en Pedro de Urdemalas.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters