Printer Friendly

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".

En el prologo de la coleccion de historias cortas publicado en 1613 con el titulo Novelas ejemplares, Miguel de Cervantes reconoce haber incorporado misterios escondidos entre lineas, sin identificar la naturaleza de estos misterios. Lo que Cervantes no confiesa de manera explicita es que la coleccion contiene una gran abundancia de referencias y alegorias alquimicas y que la trama de cada una de las trece historias ilustra diferentes aspectos del proceso alquimico de transformacion espiritual, segun la concepcion renacentista. En el caso especifico de "El licenciado Vidriera," los diferentes nombres otorgados al personaje principal, asi como la secuencia especifica de los acontecimientos de la historia, senalan un proceso de transformacion representado por la maxima alquimica Visita Interiora Terra Rectificando Invenies Lapidem (Visita el interior de la tierra y rectificando descubriras la piedra oculta).


IN THE PROLOGUE TO the Novelas ejemplares of 1613, Miguel de Cervantes indicates that the stories in the collection were created for entertainment, but also that within the lines of the stories there were hidden mysteries that made them worthy of the readers' attention, without explaining the nature of those mysteries: "Solo esto quiero que consideres: Que pues yo he tenido osadia de dirigir estas novelas al gran conde de Lemos, algun misterio tienen escondido que las levanta" (770). Previously in the Prologue, Cervantes also emphasizes the didactic nature of the stories: "Heles dado nombre de Ejemplares, y si bien lo miras, no hay ninguna de quien no se pueda sacar algun ejemplo provechoso" (769). The objective of this study is to offer an interpretation, from an esoteric, and specifically alchemical point of view, that may reveal the nature of some of the hidden mysteries in the story of "El licenciado Vidriera," drawing attention to the specific significances of the names accorded to the main character, the way Cervantes addresses the sequence of events in the novel, and their relationship to alchemical imagery and symbolism.

Considering the substantial knowledge of materials related to alchemy and the occult circulating in Europe and Spain since around the 11th century, (1) and the documented acquaintance of Cervantes with alchemical themes, images, language, 2 as well as his comments on the Prologue to the collection, it is reasonable to conjecture that, in the composition of the Novelas ejemplares, Cervantes may have drawn inspiration from texts and illustrations that represent problems and situations germane to sophisticated aspects of the occult, specifically themes related to the spiritual alchemical process, introducing a connection between the divine, the processes of nature, and allegories of experimentation with matter, as a means to illustrate the workings of the human spirit and its aspirations for transformation and perfection.

"El licenciado Vidriera" is the story of Tomas Rodaja, a young peasant who abandons his village to pursue studies in Salamanca and acquire fame through the practice of law. Uncertain about his path in life, Rodaja abandons his studies, joins the army, and undertakes a journey through Italy and Flanders, where he benefits from an instructional sojourn before returning to Salamanca. Upon his return, Rodaja inflames the passion of a woman. Unaware or indifferent to her desire, Rodaja pursues a platonic friendship with the lady, who decides to win his affection by means of a love potion. Rodaja reacts adversely to the potion, falls ill, and loses his mental sanity for two years. His madness consists of thinking that he is made of glass and that he is just as fragile.3 Changing his name to Vidriera, he wanders around Salamanca preaching to crowds that follow him asking questions. Vidrieras responses are ingenious and humorous, but also unfiltered and hurtful as he harshly criticizes many aspects of society: marriage, religion, education, women, and especially, professions and occupations. With the help of a Hieronymite monk, Tomas recovers his sanity and changes his name to Rueda. After unsuccessful attempts to rebuild his life as a lawyer, he joins the army and dies a hero in Flanders, gaining fame as a man of arms, since he could not be immortalized as a man of law.

Visualizing the sequence of events in the novel, a relationship is revealed between the text and images related to the alchemical process summarized in a well-known image, attributed first to Basil Valentine in the 15th century, of a wheel edged with the anagram V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (see figure 1), representing three major stages Nigredo, Albedo, and Rubedo, which in turn comprise seven additional secondary operations of the Opus Magnum, identified with the words Visita Interiora Terra Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem (Visit the interior of the earth and rectifying you will find the secret stone). Each of the Latin words corresponds to the laboratory processes of Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, Conjunctio, Fermentation, Distillation, and Coagulation, respectively. (4) There are authors, such as Johann Daniel Mylius in his work Philosophia reformata--part one (1622), who admit a fourth major stage of the alchemical process known as Citrinitas, which is crucial to our analysis, but found almost exclusively in older alchemical texts.

With respect to Miguel de Cervantes, the presence of the occult is evident in his works, where themes of mythology, astrology, witchcraft, sorcery, magic, divination, and alchemy, combine with precise transformations undertaken by central characters, phonetic similarities, significant words, and symbolic images. Cervantes's familiarity with alchemy is documented in his works as an art which he clearly held in high esteem, as he reveals in Don Quixote, where he expounds on the wondrous quality of poetry, which originates from the purest alchemy: "La Poesia, senor hidalgo [...] es hecha de una alquimia de tal virtud que quien la sabe tratar la volvera en oro purisimo de inestimable precio, hala de tener el que la tuviere a raya, no dejandola correr en torpes satiras ni en desalmados sonetos" (2:16:1325). Nevertheless, it is in the Novelas ejemplares where specific allegories to the drama of matter are abundant, as Cervantes introduces precise language and images to be recognized and understood by learned readers. In "El licenciado Vidriera," he accords to the protagonist the names of Rodaja, Vidriera, Redoma, and Rueda, as isotopies of slice, part, V.I.T.R.I.O.L., vitrum, vitro, vitriol, vidrio, glass, poison, vase, bottle, flask, retort, rota, rueda, circle, circular, and circulatorium, which are terms associated with the alchemical tradition.

From the first lines of the story, the protagonist is surrounded with symbols and motifs of alchemical transmutation: "Paseandose dos caballeros estudiantes por las riberas de Tormes, hallaron en ellas, debajo de un arbol durmiendo, a un muchacho de hasta edad de once anos, vestido como labrador" (265). The fact that Rodaja is found sleeping under a tree is a highly symbolical image. Sleep, according to A.-J. Pernety in his Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermetique, symbolizes a larval stage, a slumber state that represents the promise of a transformation (234). In Pernety's text, the alchemical symbolism of the tree is also considerable, as it represents the arcane subject from the prima materia to the ultima materia.s The tree is the symbol of the all-transforming philosopher's stone, according to Lindy Abraham in her Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery (150). At the beginning of the story, Rodaja can be identified as the prima materia containing the potentialities of transformation in the laboratory of the text, where it will be tested to reveal the soul contained within through a complex, but specific process. Tomas's modest appearance points to the documented humbleness of the prima materia in alchemical texts. According to C.G. Jung: "The lapis is called on the one hand base, cheap, immature, volatile, and on the other hand, precious, perfect and solid, or the prima materia is base and noble" (Mysterium Coniunctionis 42). (6) Cervantes makes Rodaja break away from his origins and forget his family so he can be identified as an orphan, a familiar designation for the prima materia (Abraham, 139). Rodaja begins his transformation wearing the black robes of the apprentice in Salamanca, acquiring knowledge as a conscious means to achieve fame, which is construed throughout the novel as a pathetic and mistaken pursuit. To the aware reader, the black robes of the apprentice and Rodajas awkward pursuits for wholeness and belonging point to his position at the first stage of the Work, the Nigredo stage. (7) According to Abraham:
   Nigredo is the initial, black stage of the opus alchymicum, in
   which the body of the impure metal, the matter for the Stone, or
   the old outmoded state of being is killed, putrefied, and dissolved
   into the original substance of creation, the *prima materia, in
   order that it may be renovated and reborn in a new form. (135)

During his years as a student in Salamanca, Rodaja succeeds in his studies, but uncertain about his path in life, he has a crisis of identity and abandons his studies to travel by sea to Italy and Flanders, familiar centers of Hermetic and alchemical knowledge. This crisis of identity, recognized by numerous Cervantine scholars, (8) further confirms that Rodaja represents the prima materia in a primitive state of massa confusa, and his search for a solid identity is a quest to coagulate. Rodaja changes his black robes for a colourful attire: "Habiase vestido Tomas de papagayo, renunciando los habitos de estudiante, y pusose a lo de Dios es Cristo, como se suele decir" (877). Notably, the colours of the papagayo match the colours of the uniforms of the Spanish soldiers at the time, but this colourful transformation is of extreme relevance for an alchemical interpretation because the prima materia in the alchemical process, still within the Nigredo stage, shows its first potentiality through a colourful display known as the Caudapavonis. According to Jung in Psychology and Alchemy, four colours are observed in the Cauda pavonis phase: red, yellow, green and blue, and there is "preoccupation with the dark centre" (178). Rodaja desires to solidify an identity, but his hesitation represents an initial lack of understanding and difficulty in achieving that identity, hence the colourful display. Cervantes highlights Rodajas good qualities, his piousness as he reads from a book of hours, and his humanistic yearnings as he reads Garcilaso's poetry. Remarkably, Rodaja also demonstrates an incorruptible quality by refusing undeserved privileges in the army, for which he is gently scolded: "Consciencia tan escrupulosa [...] mas es de religioso que de soldado" (877). In this journey, Rodaja is immersed in water at least twice: "grandes borrascas y tormentas, especialmente en el golfo de Leon que tuvieron dos [...] En fin, trasnochados, mojados y con ojeras, llegaron a la hermosa y bellisima ciudad de Genova" (877; my emphasis). The motifs of the sea journey and the immersion in water point to the alchemical symbolism of the peregrinatio, which links the opus to a wandering or odyssey related to the original quest for gold of the golden fleece, which is in turn identified for centuries as an allegory of the philosophical gold, while the image of ablutio, or washing in a powerful corrosive water, refers to the removal of the impurities left in matter in the first stages of the process (Pernety 1).

The next major stage in the alchemical process is the Albedo. This stage refers to a metaphorical death of matter after the Nigredo. According to Abraham, "The Albedo occurs after the blackened matter, the putrefied body of metal or matter for the Stone, lying dead at the bottom of the alembic has been washed to whiteness by the mercurial waters" (4). At this point, Rodaja is ready to advance to the white stage, but the story takes an unexpected turn when an unholy substance, a love potion, is introduced as a means of forcing a transformation in Rodaja. The love philter, used literally as a chemical catalyst, intends to transform Rodaja into the lover that he refuses to be and accelerate his response to a connection with love. Because of the profane nature of the love philter, a vile substance of venefitium (witchcraft) is added to the process. Rodaja is instead poisoned and undergoes a surprising transformation, which is not unfamiliar to the alchemical practice. Peter Forshaw mentions that "both the Gbayat and the Picatrix, [...] draw an analogy between the powers of a talisman and that of poison, 'which flowing through bodies, by altering reduces them to its nature, on account of which a body is converted into another body by the force (vis) of composition existing in it"' (22). At this point, the character Rodaja ceases to exist, figuratively speaking, as the text clearly admits: "[Y] dijo con lengua turbada y tartamuda que un membrillo que habia comido le habia muerto, y declaro quien se le habia dado" (879; my emphasis). (9) In alchemical terms, death produces a white coloration and is represented by a walking skeleton, emblematic of the bones and the resurrection of the Albedo stage preceded by the Cauda pavonis and the ablutio. After an allegorical death or white stage, the process should continue to the red stage or Rubedo, which according to Abraham:
   Is the reddening of the white matter of the Stone at the final
   stage in the opus alchymicum. [...] When the matter of the stone
   has been purified and made spotless at the *albedo it is then ready
   to be reunited with the spirit (or the already united spirit and
   soul). (174)

The love philter causes Rodajas 'death,' but it is a tainted death, so instead of continuing to the Rubedo stage, this complication leads to an intermediate stage of the process known as Citrinitas, which Abraham explains as follows:
   Citrinitas is the yellow stage of the opus alchymicum, following
   the white * albedo ... From the early Christian era the opus was
   divided into four main stages characterized by specific colours
   [...] From around the fifteen or sixteen-century the three main
   colours and stages of the opus became, black, white and red, and
   the citrinitas was generally, but not wholly, dropped from use.

Even though the Citrinitas stage had been phased out of most alchemical treatises by the 16th century, authors who utilized alchemical allegories as structure for their works before Cervantes's time, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, were familiar with this stage of the work. In the Chanounas Yemannes Tale (The Canons Yeoman's Tale), published between 1387 and 1400, Chaucer made considerable use of alchemical allegories which clearly included the terms for Citrinitas, glass, and poison:
   Of tartre, alum glas, berme, wort, and argoille,
   Resalgar, (10) and oure materes enbibyng,
   And eek of oure materes encorporyng,
   And of oure silver citrinacioun. (w. 813-17)

Indeed, in the Citrinitas stage, vitriol--or poison--is a byproduct with the appearance of glassy shards. Knowledgeable of these facts, Cervantes proceeds to introduce the vitreous image and gives the protagonist the name Vidriera. The alchemical significances of the glass, the poison, the name Vidriera, and the events at this stage correspond to the Citrinitas phase, which Cervantes could have known because by the time in which he writes his Novelas, centuries of alchemical knowledge had been established in Spain, according to Jose Ramon de Luanco, Juan Garcia Font, Mar Rey Bueno, and numerous other authors. At this point, the drama is squarely in the Rectificando operation, which has indeed the meaning of "set things right," during which Vidriera--and possibly Cervantes--make public their opinion about diverse subjects. Daniel Heiple indicates that: "La critica de principios del siglo, siguiendo una sugerencia de Menendez Pelayo, opinaba que "El licenciado Vidriera" no era mas que un pretexto para que Cervantes publicase sus apotegmas" (17). However, according to Dan Merkur in his alchemical interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear, which shares with Vidriera the motif of temporary madness, when Lear recovers his sanity the alchemical marriage is accomplished (278). As it occurs with Vidriera, who notably rebuffs the sexual advances of a lady, "Lear did not enact the alchemical marriage physically with a sexual partner ... but he engaged in its magical use of imagination" (278). Vidriera and Lear visit the deep recesses of their psyche induced by temporary insanity, following the alchemical order of the V.I.T.R.I.O.L. anagram. In the end, their mind, body, and soul reunite in harmonic unity, as they achieve higher degrees of awareness. Cervantes plays skillfully with words, sounds, images, and their occult significances, displaying his talent to produce an entertaining story for some of his readers, but a more sophisticated text for the learned reader whom he may have sought to impress. The anagram V.I.T.R.I.O.L., edged around a wheel containing the sum of the operations of the Great Work is symbolic of an involution within the earth or within the psyche/soul to rectify and correct what is tainted, and discover the true remedy for affliction. This is the philosophical stone, which in mystical terms means arriving at heightened awareness or consciousness. In the alchemical experiment, it is during the Citrinitas phase that matter will produce a corrosive poison with the appearance of glass shards, called for this reason vitrolum, vetrum, vitriolo, and vitriol. In alchemical treatises this substance is represented by a green lion devouring the sun, called vitriolo, and is a code name for the prima materia, not the common poison, but the vitriol of the philosophers. This vitriol is also called "verdigris," which is a translation from the Latin 'viride Hispanus' or 'Spanish green,' a dye known in Spain since the Middle Ages.

An analysis of the word vidriera in the 16th century reveals that the use of this word at the time did not have the present meaning of 'window' or 'display,' but rather the meaning of'flask' or 'bottle,' which is also essential for an alchemical interpretation, because Vidriera may then be seen as a vessel containing a soul where important transformations are occurring. This connotation of flask or container is confirmed in the text, when Vidriera is called on occasion 'Redoma' and 'Redomilla,' words that have the sole meaning of bottle or flask and are also used to describe a retort in a laboratory. Just like the glass shards, Vidriera is a notably fragile, transparent, and acerbic character, whose corrosive commentary condemning society and occupations is so hurtful, and indeed, vitriolic, that it earns him the adjective of villain: "Hermano licenciado Vidriera (que asi decia el que se llamaba), mas teneis de bellaco que de loco" (881). Vidriera reserves his good opinion only for poetry, medicine, and arms. Subsequent events underscore Cervantes's creativity in utilizing such a distinct knowledge to criticize social types and practices, but most importantly, he emphasizes the rash quality of Vidriera to relate this name to vitro and vitriol, or glassy poison, as a phase in a process of transformation because this is the most important event, the hidden mystery occult under the guise of entertainment. Citing the Rosarium philosophorum and its explanation of vitriol, Jung indicates that: "In the alchemical view rust, like verdigris, is the metal's sickness. At the same time, this leprosy is the vera prima materia, the basis for the preparation of the philosophical gold" (Psychology and Alchemy 152). In the Citrinitas stage, the liquid of the green lion, the poisonous glass, is burned to white ashes to advance to the resurrection stage or Rubedo. The soul is reunited with the body and a conjunction of the opposites takes place, as illustrated in texts such as The Crowning of Nature. (11) On the interpretation of alchemical sequences, McLean indicates that at this point in the process, "the wheel of the four elements have been entirely transformed into white [and] the White stone is ready to be brought out from the inner enclosed realm of the retort into the world." Vidriera, the glass man is no more, but the main character is not destroyed. He becomes Rueda, abandons again the practice of law, becomes a soldier, and dies with honour. These events provide a fitting conclusion to an entertaining story, but furthermore evoke specific images in the active reader, such as the ones contained in the alchemical text Speculum Veritatis" whose illustrations show Mercurius dressed as a soldier, turning an eightspoked wheel fixed to a tree symbolizing the rotating nature of the alchemical process.

The wheel--Rota, Rueda--is the most exemplary representation of the Opus Magnum as a circulatory process. The end of Citrinitas, where Vidriera figuratively dies again and becomes Rueda, brings to mind the alchemical wheel that keeps turning. The remaining operations of the alchemical process, after setting things right in the Rectificando operation, take place rapidly and advance to the Rubedo stage. For some authors Citrinitas and Rubedo are sometimes contemporary, according to Jung (Psychology and Alchemy 180). After having visited the depth recesses of his soul, the protagonist overcomes his crisis of identity and madness, acquires wisdom, recognizes the futility of trying to acquire fame as a lawyer, rectifies this vain objective, and goes to Flanders where he dies a hero, for the glory of arms, completing the cycle represented in the V.I.T.R.I.O.L. dictum.

In alchemical terms, the spiritualization of matter, which is the goal of the Opus Magnum, is not a linear process, but rather involves complicated steps in a circular process to achieve the solve et coagula (dissolve and coagulate) principle. According to Jung: "It is to be noted that the wheel is a favourite symbol in alchemy for the circulation process, the circulatio" (Psychology and Alchemy 157).

The plot of "El licenciado Vidriera" and the alchemical interpretation of the striking imagery and language presented in the text, demonstrate the experimental quality of the story as exemplum, functioning as a key in the interpretation of the novela and the multiple transformations therein contained. As the points of contact between the text and the alchemical tradition come together, images and language help the aware reader understand and reevaluate its aesthetic value, further illuminating the text for readers who endeavor to discover the hidden mysteries within it.


Rosa Maria Stoops is Professor of French and Spanish at the Department of English and Foreign Languages, in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Montevallo. Stoops's research interests concentrate on the esoteric content--alchemy, Hermeticism, and magic--in medieval and Renaissance literature, especially in the works of Miguel de Cervantes. Her articles and contributions have appeared in Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, Anuario de Estudios Cervantinos, and Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes. She is currently working on a manuscript titled "The Transformation of Myth: Alchemy and Magic in the Works of Miguel de Cervantes." Works Cited

Abraham, Lyndy. Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.

Brann, Noel. "Alchemy and Melancholy in Medieval and Renaissance Thought: A Query into the Mystical Basis of their Relationship." Ambix: The Journal of the Society for the Study of Alchemy and Early Chemistry. 32.3 (1985): 127-48.

Cervantes, Miguel de. Obras Completas. Recopilacion, Estudio Preliminar, Prologos y Notas por Angel Valbuena Pratt. Madrid: Aguilar, 1967.

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale: An Interlinear Translation. Middle English text by Larry D. Benson. The Geoffrey Chaucer Page. Harvard University,

Clamurro, William. Beneath the Fiction: The Contrary Worlds of Cervantes's NOVELAS EJEMPLARES. New York: Peter Lang, 1997.

Corpus Diacronico del Espanol de la Real Academia Espanola (CORDE). http://corpus.

El-Saffar, Ruth. Novel to Romance. A Study of Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1974.

Forshaw, Peter. "From Occult Ekphrasis to Magical Art: Transforming Text into Talismanic Image in the Scriptorium of Alfonso X." Bild und Schrift auf'magischen'Artefakten. Ed. Sarah Kiyanrad, Christoffer Theis, and Laura Willer. Berlin: DeGruyter, 2018. 15-48.

Forcione, Alban K. Cervantes and the Humanist Vision: A Study of Four EXEMPLARY NOVELS. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1982.

Garcia Font, Juan. Historia de la alquimia en Espana., Madrid: Editora Nacional, 1976.

Heiple, Daniel L. "El licenciado Vidriera y el humor tradicional del loco." Hispania 66.1 (1983): 17-20.

Jung, Carl Gustave. Alchemical Studies. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1970.

--. Mysterium Coniunctionis. New York: Pantheon, 1963.

--. Psychology and Alchemy. New York: Pantheon, 1953.

--. Symbols of Transformation. New York: Harper, 1962.

Luanco, Jose Ramon de. La alquimia en Espana. Barcelona: Alta Fulla, 1998.

Magrinya Badiella, Carles. Post tenebras spero lucem: Alquimia y ritos en el Quijote y otras obras Cervantinas. Doctoral dissertation in the field of Romance Languages, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden, 2015, p. 14.

McLean, Adam. "Advanced Study Course on Alchemical Sequences [2000]." The Alchemy Web Bookshop,

Merkur, Dan."Spiritual Alchemy in King Lear." Theosophical History: A Quarterly Journal of Research 8.10 (2002): 274-89.

Pernety, A.-J. Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermetique. Milan: Arche, 1980.

Read, John. The Alchemist in Life, Literature and Art. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1947.

Rey Bueno, Mar. Alquimia: El gran secreto. Madrid: EDAF, 2002.

Speak, Gill. "An Odd Kind of Melancholy: Reflections on the Glass Delusion in Europe (1440-680)." History of Psychiatry 1.2 (1990): 191-206.

Valentin, Basile. Azoth ou Le moyen de fair l'Or cache des philosophes. Milan: Arche Edidit, 1994.

Taylor Rene. "Libros hermeticos de Juan de Herrera y Felipe II." Editado en Arquitectura y Magia: Consideraciones sobre la idea de El Escorial. Madrid: Ediciones Siruela, 1995. 137-41.

(1) See, for example, Forshaw; Garcia Font; Luanco; Read; Rey Bueno; and Taylor.

(2) According to Carles Magrinya Badiella, a quantitative study of the Corpus Diacronico del Espanol (CORDE) de la Real Academia Espanola, shows that Cervantes is the Golden Age author with more mentions of the word alquimia in his works: 18 times between 1585 and 1616, representing approximately an 18% of 69 mentions in 44 documents (14).

(3) This specific type of madness, known as the Glass Delusion, is a common motif in European literature of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. See Speak.

(4) A second rendition of the alchemical V.I.T.R.I.O.L. from Daniel Stolz von Stolzenberg, in Theatrum Chymicum of 1614, represents the three major figures of sacred geometry: A circle and a triangle contained within a quadrangle. Edged within the circle, the anagram V.I.T.R.I.O.L. also comprises the the seven operations of the Great Work: Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem.

(5) The Dictionnaire Mytho-Hermetique is considered one the most authoritative compilations of terms relating to themes, metaphors, and allegories of the alchemical tradition.

(6) For Jung's theories on alchemy, see also Psychology and Alchemy, and Symbols of Transformation.

(7) Pernety indicates that the Nigredo, or putrefaction, "est toujours indiquee par quelque chose de noir dans les ouvrages des Philosophes" (337).

(8) William Clamurro suggests that the crisis of identity the character is of sexual nature, indicating that Tomas's rejection of the woman's advances is pointedly not based on his love for another, but rather stems from a symbolically significant male frigidity (126). Ruth El Saffar highlights the crisis of identity of the character, concluding that the madness of the licentiate is a natural development in the circumstances that precede the poisoning (126). Alban Forcione focuses on the mental state of the main character and his controversial development in the particular medium of the local society of Salamanca (56). For Forcione, the madness of the glass licentiate is fundamentally paradoxical and his treatment by Cervantes, as both visionary and fool, contributes to the widespread disagreement among Cervantes scholars as to whether or not he is to be taken as a reliable spokesman for his author (243).

(9) It is important to indicate that Rodaja has suffered a metaphorical death to imply that the process of transmutation continues, and he must be now identified with another name.

(10) Resalgar is a common name for arsenic in the 14th century.

(11) See images in Mclean ("Study Course").

(12) According to McLean in Lesson Nine, the Speculum veritatis, seems only to exist in one manuscript, Codex Latinus 7286 in the Vatican Library, probably dating to the early 17th century.

Caption: Figure 1: V.I.T.R.I.O.L. in Basil Valentine's Azoth (1624).
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:Stoops, Rosa Maria
Publication:Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Mar 22, 2019
Previous Article:"?A que viene aqui la geometria, senor D. Quijote?": Don Quijote and the History of Curiosity in Spain.
Next Article:Celestial Cervantes: Mauricio's Astrology, the Heavens, and the Search for Terrestrial Order.

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