Le corps comme metaphore dans l'Espagne des XVIe et XVIIe siecles.
The text reproduces twenty-three papers plus the transcript of discussions. It is divided into sections concerning the political and social, religious, linguistic, and literary aspects of the corporal metaphor as used in Golden Age Spain. An introduction by Redondo gives some useful theoretical apercus to guide the reader through the essays that follow.
The conception of metaphor that informs the various studies is an ample one, as Redondo notes in his introduction: "la notion de metaphore a ete prise dans un sens large: elle a ete envisagee comme transfert de sens du reel au figure," based on the "pensee analogique" (5) that, throughout the Renaissance, "discovered" a system of correspondences (such as microcosm-macrocosm) taken as the basis for various organicist theories of hierarchy. Almost invariably, the scholars included in the collection have a traditional understanding of metaphor; their view of the body is likewise fairly unproblematic. Anyone expecting lucubrations grounded in post-structuralist approaches to these themes (feminist, new historicist, etc.) will, with a few exceptions, look in vain in these emphatically and unapologetically prepostmodern essays.
Nonetheless, the volume is a veritable mine of information on the culture of Golden Age Spain; the footnotes alone make fascinating reading, with their wealth of allusions to primary and secondary sources.
The essays themselves are a disparate group, as might be expected in a volume of proceedings. The largest section groups essays that deal with political and social aspects of the corporal metaphor. Pierre Civil considers various discursive and graphic representations in some contemporaneous political tracts as "instruments ideologiques" (17) deployed in the service of a sacralization of monarch and monarchy. Francois Delpech analyzes in a number of Iberian examples the "symbolique trifonctionelle" of the body politic (head, upper body, lower body) - "bricolage," in the author's view, of an underlying mytho-poetic system of representation. A number of contributions trace the corporal metaphor in Golden Age political thought and treatises: Charles Davis, in the case of Spanish Tacitism, where the metaphor serves to suggest that political processes obey natural laws to be studied by the prince as physician of the body politic; Bartolome Bennassar, in the political works of a number of seventeenth-century writers; Christine AguilarAdan, in the so-called "crisis literature" of seventeenth-century Castile where the analogy state-body is the organizing principle for considering the "illness" of the body politic as well as possible remedies; Araceli GuillaumeAlonso, in various juridical treatises, beginning with Alfonso X's Partidas; and Josette Riandiere La Roche, in Quevedo's Politica de Dios (1626). Not surprisingly, the analogy between corporal illness and political crisis, widespread in seventeenth-century Spain's climate of decline, is a focus for a number of essays: for example, Odette Gorsse examines the anti-Olivares "Carta misiva que escribio un doctor cortesano a otto"; and Augustin Redondo takes up a curious political-medical hybrid, Jeronimo Merola's Republique originale titee du corps humaine (1587), which, besides launching a defense of medicine (the author was professor of medicine at the University of Barcelona), champions doctors' potential role as learned practitioners of an "art" in the governance of the "body of the republic."
The section devoted to the "religious aspects" of the corporal metaphor contains essays on the "mystical body," its history and manifestations in Golden Age Spain (Ricardo Saez), as well as its transmutation into the "suffering body" of the social order in Alejo Venegas's Agonia del transito de la muerte (1537) (Anne Milhou-Roudie). In a somewhat offbeat study, Jacques Gelis examines the image of the female belly in a variety of sixteenth and seventeenth-century prints and statuary, wherein the representation of saints' "ventres" serves variously as metaphor for conception, for the "deliverance" (in both senses) of mothers-to-be and of female prisoners, and for the Incarnation. Dominique de Courcelles studies the relationship between printed text and accompanying graphic image in the Catalonian "goigs," seventeenth-century liturgical songs dedicated to glorifying saints' deeds that were sung in the saints' sanctuaries at complines or after mass. Francoise Cremoux considers the multivalent pilgrim's body, metaphor in Golden Age pilgrimage and miracle literature for the tortured body of Christ and sign of the word of God. Finally, Ludwig Schrader studies the use of the linked metaphors "the eyes of the soul" and "the eyes of the spirit" in Spain's body of mystical literature.
The final section of Redondo's volume, "Aspects linguistiques et litteraires," is the most varied. It contains essays on corporal terminology in Golden Age germania or thieves' jargon (Monique Joly); the metaphor of the body in Golden Age esoterical literature and in literary works that bear the trace of esoteric influence (Francisco Javier Blasco); the metaphorical value of various body parts in sermon literature and in miscellanies (Lina Rodriguez Cacho); metaphorical body parts in the passage "Armeria del Valor" in Gracian's Criticon; and the varying connotations of corporal metaphors in the poetry of Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (Ines Rada), the poetry of Francisco de Quevedo (Pablo Jauralde Pou), the theater of Diego Sanchez de Badajoz (Fernando Copello), and "El maestro de danzar" by Lope de Vega (Milagros Torres).
Redondo's series of volumes is becoming an indispensable tool for the study of Spanish Golden Age literature and culture. Le Corps comme metaphore is no exception. It is heartily to be recommended.
BARBARA E. KURTZ Illinois State University
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|Author:||Kurtz, Barbara E.|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1998|
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