Quixotic Economy: Comedy, Romance, and Early Modern Economics in Don Quijote.
THE ASCENSION TO THE throne of Philip III in 1598 brought social and political changes that were reflected in two of the major cultural discourses of the period. In a series of late articles, Anthony Close analyzed the process through which a relaxation of the ecclesiastical and secular censorship and cultural austerity that characterized the reign of Philip II led to a resurgence in the production of comic fiction, particularly following the publication of Guzman de Alfarache in 1599 and 1604. (1) Concurrently, the possibility of political reform under the new regime gave rise to a renewal in the number of memorials submitted to the government by the so-called arbitristas, the political economists of the age. Michel Cavillac has shown that these reform proposals, which insist on the honorability of productive labor and the need for all social classes to participate in the economic renewal of the kingdom, constitute an important part of the cultural "background' in the realistic fiction of the early seventeenth century (42; original emphasis). Moreover, he argues that this economic discourse contributed to the breakdown of the orthodox division of literary styles by helping to dissolve the traditional topicos de persona on which they were predicated, particularly in Guzman de Alfarache and Don Quijote. These are precisely the two prose works of the period that Close identifies as successfully transcending the traditional burlaslveras dichotomy, according to which "los generos jocosos surgen como replica a los serios, presentandose como su contrapartida parodica y degradada" ("La di cotomia" 115). Both critics, therefore, attribute revolutionary formal and thematic innovations to the presence of discreet discourses within the narrative, the comic, and the economic, respectively.
As I shall argue in this essay, however, in Don Quijote the comic and the economic are not separable. Rather, Cervantes introduces the discourse of contemporary political economy as an integral part of the parody of chivalric romance from the inception of the narration, including in the characterization of Don Quijote himself. This aspect of the economic discourse is consonant with Close's analysis of the comic as a parodie reflection of its heroic opposite. Without ever abandoning this burlesque element, Cervantes nevertheless modulates the economic references in unexpected and original ways that transcend the rigorous separation of themes and styles, as Cavillac argues, so as to encompass political critique, social commentary, and, ultimately, to fashion a radical fusion with romance narrative in a sophisticated synthesis that presages the psychological complexity and everyday realism of the modern novel. (2)
The conjunction of comedy and economics was well established in contemporary literary theory. In his Philosophia antigua poetica (1596), Alonso Lopez Pinciano emphasizes the didactic purpose common to both tragedy and comedy, but he draws the following distinction between their methodologies: "la tragedia con sus compassiones ensena valor para sufrir, y la comedia co[n] sus risas, prudencia para se gobernar el hombre en su familia" (3: 16-17). Following a convention codified by Aristotle in the Politics, good governance of one's family was for centuries the very definition of economics (Hutchinson 24). Francisco Cascales draws on this tradition in his Tablas poeticas (1617) to apportion the appropriate "materia poetica" for different literary genres: politics is for epic and tragedy, ethics for satire, while "La [materia] economica sirve al comico, que es la administracion de la familia." (33). Cascales also includes "mercaderes" and "officiales" among the list of "personas humildes" appropriate to comedy, the paradigmatically low genre (204).
Contemporary notions of literary decorum consigned merchants to comedy because mercantile activity carried the taint of dishonour. Lopez Pinciano approvingly cites a tradition derived from Cicero's De Officiis, which held that, while large-scale commerce (managing estates or engaging in international trade) was honorable, small-scale commercial activity was ignoble (1: 160-62). (3) Cascales's separation of ethics, economics, and politics reflects the traditional categories of moral philosophy, but such clear distinctions began to break down in the sixteenth century. In the middle ages, economics meant exclusively household governance (Grice-Hutchinson 122). However, by the turn of the seventeenth century, under what Marie-Laure Acquier calls variously "el paradigma domestico" and "el paradigma de la familia," in which the republic was viewed as a great family whose pater familias was the king, economics came to achieve a prominence that partially subsumed the other two categories of the traditional triumvirate (887-90). (4)
This reformulation is apparent is Martin Gonzalez de Cellorigo's Memorial de la politica necesaria y util restauracion a la Republica de Espana (1600). Gonzalez de Cellorigo, a lawyer in the Chancellery of Valladolid, argues that the kingdom is debilitated, in part, because many just and appropriate laws are systematically ignored. Such would not be the case, he asserts, "si los que cuanto mas nobles, cuanto mas constituidos en dignidad, fuesen los primeros que usasen de la reformacion y buen uso de las leyes del Reino y del justo gobierno en sus familias [...] que mostrando saber y prudencia en la economia son prudentes, para el gobierno universal de la Republica" (99). Gonzalez de Cellorigo further asserts that jurists and legislators "han reducido las leyes y ordenanzas de la politica, de los Colegios y de las familias, a una misma ciencia, entendiendola economica por el justo gobierno que el sabio politico debe guardar entre los de su casa" (99). While acknowledging that Aristotle understood economics only "por ciencia de adquirir bienes," Gonzalez de Cellorigo affirms that under either definition the practice redounds to the benefit of all, "pues asi como la familia bien reglada es la verdadera imagen de la Republica y asi como el prudente gobierno de la casa del mas ilustre es el verdadero modelo de el de un Reino [...] de la misma manera la Republica gozara de prosperidad cuando fueren bien gobernadas las familias de sus ciudadanos" (99-100).
These proposed reforms are so urgently necessary, according to Gonzalez de Cellorigo, because the nobility has abandoned productive agriculture in order to live idly from rents on land (censos), as well as because of a common social prejudice against mercantile activity:
Es evidencia que las causas porque vemos el Reino acabado, las rentas reales caidas, los vasallos perdidos y la Republica consumida, es el abuso y depravada costumbre que se ha introducido en estos Reinos de que el no vivir de rentas no es trato de nobles y que todo lo demas, ora toque a agricultura, o a mercaderia, o a otro cualquiera trato por bueno y justo que sea, perjudica a la nobleza. (80)
The paradox is that it is precisely Spain's great colonial wealth that has propitiated this abandonment of productivity in favor of social advancement:
De esto se puede temer seran causa las herencias de los recien heredados, como lo ha sido hasta aqui y lo es el dinero que ha venido de Indias con que los nuestros han salido tan de madre que, no siguiendo la ordenacion natural, han dejado los oficios, los tratos y las demas ocupaciones virtuosas y dadose tanto a la ociosidad, madre de todos los vicios. (49-50)
Other reformers of the period made the same points in the same language. Gaspar Gutierrez de los Rios (1600) asks, with incredulity: "Como no vemos que del honrar a los ociosos, assi pobres, como ricos, resulta el auer tantos? Y que por ser abatidos los que trabajan, ay tan pocos, que conociendo esta flaqueza los estrangeros por via de mercaderias, y buxerias, como si fueramos negros, gozan de nuestras Indias mejor que nosotros?" (280-81). The subordination of the Castilian economy to nefarious foreign merchants and financiers is a common trope, as is the complaint that Spaniards are themselves being treated like slaves (negros or indios). In a memorial of 1558 the Burgalese contador Luis Ortiz complains of foreign merchants:
nos tratan muy peor que a indios porque a los indios para sacarles el oro o plata llevarnosles algunas cosas de mucho o de poco provecho, mas a nosotros, con las nuestras propias, no solo se enriquecen y aprovechan de lo que les falta en sus naturalezas, mas llevannos el dinero del Reino con su industria sin trabajar de sacarlo de las minas como nosotros hacemos. (30-31)
Six decades later, Lope de Deza (1618) similarly laments the people's taste for "mercaderias superfluas para solo deleite y demasia [...] porque todas las que vienen de este genero se permutan a oro y plata, con que las demas naciones se enriquecen y empobrece la nuestra, burlandose ya de nosotros como nosotros hicimos de los indios y Negros" (170-71).
Ultimately, however, the Castilian people themselves bear much of the blame because of their destructive desire to live idly from rents and investments (censos and juros) and spend prodigally. Thus, in an extensive memorial on the means of restoring the health of the Real Hacienda, Gaspar de Pons (1599) asserts:
La verdad es, que la pobreza destos Reynos procede de los nueuos vsos y desordenes y de los muchos censos q[ue] sobre todas las Haciendas ay cargados y de los cambios q[ue] se vsan y de hauer mucha gente que biue ociosa por muchas causas y en particular por la ocasion de Hauerse cargado de pocos anos a esta parte muchos censos y vendidose muchos juros porq[ue] en efecto las Prouincias no pueden sustentar sin Ruina suya mucha gente olgacana y menos quando biue con el regalo y sumptuosidad q[ue] se biue en estos Reynos. (96r)
In his "Discurso sobre el acrecentamiento de la labor de la tierra" (1607), Pedro de Valencia likewise locates the root of all Castile's evils in the "ociosidad, vicios y regalos, gastos y pompas excesivas de los ciudadanos" (139). The simple and easy remedy for such troubles, he avers, is a return to agriculture, so that "se este cada uno en su casa y en su heredad, y [...] se atrevan a casarse y mantener casa, y se multipliquen y llenen la tierra, y se hagan duros y ejercitados en trabajos de provecho" (148-49). Although Valencia does not use the word economics, his assertion that hard-working, frugal subjects "se atrevan a casarse y mantener casa" dovetails with Gonzalez de Cellorigo's above-cited declaration that the republic's rulers must show "saber y prudencia en la economia," i.e. the good governance of their own families, so that the Republic will prosper (99).
Collectively, then, in their reform projects the arbitristas identify a generalized social disorder that privileges idleness and wasteful spending on (imported) consumer goods in place of fruitful investment in the productive sectors of the economy. This destructive vortex of declining productivity is perpetuated by a widespread desire to join the ranks of the nobility and further inflate a parasitic rentier class propped up by an unsustainable system of international finance fuelled by imported American metals and negotiable titles of royal debt (juros). This analysis was standard at the turn of the seventeenth century, and we find exactly the same diagnoses, albeit with slightly different proposed remedies, in a number of prominent figures of the period. The steady flow of memorials that began in the mid-sixteenth century swelled to a wave in the 1590s, becoming what Jean Vilar has termed "una epidemia de alto arbitrismo" in the years 1598-1605 (189).
As Cavillac argues, this discourse is identifiable in Don Quijote, including in the very origin of its protagonist. Recall the specific circumstances in which the as-yet unnamed hidalgo comes to acquire his madness-inducing library:
Es, pues, de saber que este sobredicho hidalgo, los ratos que estaba ocioso--que eran los mas del ano--, se daba a leer libros de caballerias, con tanta aficion y gusto, que olvido casi de todo punto el ejercicio de la caza y aun la administracion de su hacienda; y llego a tanto su curiosidad y desatino en esto, que vendio muchas hanegas de tierra de sembradura para comprar libros de caballerias en que leer. (1.1:39-40)
It is remarkable how precisely this description follows the contours of the sociological criticism advanced by Gonzalez de Cellorigo and others: before going insane, Alonso Quijano is given to a near-perpetual idleness, engages in the wasteful purchase of expensive luxury goods, indulges his juvenile pastime to the exclusion of the good governance of his estate, and is even led by such aberrance, his "curiosidad y desatino," to sell off his only valuable asset, his arable land, in order to feed his bizarre addiction. From the perspective of contemporary reformers, Alonso Quijano appears to be a literally low-rent embodiment of the worst socio-economic problems facing the kingdom. Valencia's (1608) comments on the natural idleness of Spaniards appear particularly apposite in this case: "En Espana es la gerate mas inclinada al ocio que en otras provincias, porque, demas de la general inclinacion de todos los ombres al ocio i [a] aborrecer el trabajo, aqui tiene la gente mucho de vanidad i fantasia, mas que en otras naciones" ("Ociosidad" 165).
Inasmuch as he is an imprudent manager of his hacienda, Quijano/ Quijote is also an appropriate protagonist of a comedy as defined by Lopez Pinciano and Cascales. This is an aspect of Don Quijotes character that Cervantes maintains to the end of the story. In the ducal palace in part two, Don Quijote is berated by the Duke's chaplain: "Volveos a vuestra casa y criad vuestros hijos, si los teneis, y curad de vuestra hacienda, y dejad de andar vagando por el mundo, papando viento y dando que reir a cuantos os conocen y no conocen" (2.31:970). Note the continuing association between economics ("curad de vuestra hacienda") and comedy ("dando que reir a cuantos os conocen") in the cleric's tirade. The same thematic conjunction reappears near the end of the novel, when a Castilian in Barcelona criticizes Don Quijote in similar terms: "Vuelvete, mentecato, a tu casa, y mira por tu hacienda, por tu mujer y tus hijos, y dejate destas vaciedades que te carcomen el seso y te desnatan el entendimiento" (2.62:1241).
So, comedy and economics are coupled in the characterization of Don Quijote as a pretend knight errant from beginning to end. This connection is particularly pronounced during his first sally, in which every encounter carries an economic component: Don Quijote is farcically knighted by an innkeeper who pretends to read from the accounts book in which he records the grain sold to mule drivers; the new knight's first adventure involves a salary dispute between the rich farmer Juan Haldudo and his servant boy Andres; and his first pummeling comes at the end of an encounter with a group of silk merchants. In each instance, Don Quijotes characterization is flat, based on straightforward, literature-induced madness, and the scene is presented in primarily comic terms. Moreover, these initial episodes establish the pattern by which the economic discourse is directly related to the parody of literary knight errantry, as evidenced by the dialogue between Don Quijote and the first innkeeper: "preguntole si traia dineros; respondio don Quijote que no traia blanca, porque el nunca habia leido en las historias de los caballeros andantes que ninguno los hubiese traido" (1.3:60). Thus, a core feature of the economic discourse in Don Quijote is its comic function as an element of the parody of chivalric romance. Prominent examples just in the 1605 Quijote include the adventures of the windmills and the fulling mill, which, Cavillac has observed, represented important and relatively recent capital investments in the Castilian economy; the acquisition of the Don Quijote manuscript itself, which is purchased in the market of Toledo in a process that explicitly incorporates contemporary price theory; as well as the adventure of the Helmet of Mambrino, which is resolved when the despoiled barber is paid the just price for his lost basin and in return issues a receipt of sale in which he renounces his right to llamarse a engano and sue for price fraud (Cavillac 52). Further instances in which economics, broadly considered, features prominently include the multiple discussions surrounding Sanchos salary; the liberation of the galley slaves, in which Don Quijote calls for a national alcahuete in the standardized language of contemporary arbitrismo; the "primera de pollinos," which parodies a financial letra de cambio; the adventure of the lions; the Cave of Montesinos; Maese Pedro's puppet show; the barco encantado. Finally, as if in ultimate counterpoint to his earlier imprudent household management, the now-sane Alonso Quijano on his deathbed makes out a will in which he pragmatically distributes his assets among those who will survive him.
In all of these episodes economics is allied to comedy as an element of literary parody. In other instances, however, it forms the basis of a socially-engaged discourse of political satire that repeats the theme of poor household governance among the nobility in a serious register. The Tale of the Captive Captain begins "[e]n un lugar de las montanas de Leon," which directly recalls the first sentence of Don Quijote itself (1.39:493). Ruy Perez de Viedma's description of his father similarly bears affinities with Don Quijotes characterization: "alcanzaba mi padre fama de rico, y verdaderamente lo fuera si asi se diera mana de conservar su hacienda como se la daba en gastalla" (1.39:493). In other words, this hidalgo de Leon shares with the hidalgo de la Mancha the quality of being a poor steward of his hacienda. In this case, however, the prodigal hidalgo is aware of his own nature and takes steps to counteract it, curtailing his own ability to waste his three sons' inheritance by dividing it among them before they set off to seek their fortune. This is a relatively prudent course of action that partially separates the Captain's father from Don Quijote, at least initially. There is likely a subtle political comment in the father's ability to divide his lands, and to sell part of them to his brother, as it indicates that the property was not subject to an entailment, under which lands could only be partitioned and sold off to pay debts with royal permission (Marcos Martin 185-86, 266). The disincentive effect of the consolidation of lands under the mayorazgo system was the subject of criticism in the period from Gonzalez de Cellorigo, among others (Gonzalez de Cellorigo 51, 16972; Valencia, "Acrecentamiento" 150).
The more pointed political reference comes at the end of the Captain's story, however, when his brother the oidor reveals the fortunes of the youngest Viedma brother: "Mi menor hermano esta en el Piru, tan rico, que con lo que ha enviado a mi padre y a mi ha satisfecho bien la parte que el se llevo, y aun dado a las manos de mi padre con que poder hartar su liberalidad natural" (1.42:545). This is an unmistakable comment on the misuse to which Spain's colonial treasure has been put. The remittances of the youngest son, the product of his labor as a merchant in America, have not gone toward any productive investment in Castile. On the contrary, they have served merely to support the wasteful spending of an idle hidalgo. Recall Gonzalez de Cellorigo's previously cited lament that "no es tenido por honrado ni principal si no es el que sigue la holgura [...] De esto se puede temer seran causa las herencias de los recien heredados, como lo ha sido hasta aqui y lo es el dinero que ha venido de Indias" (49-50). Rather than invest his unexpected American windfall productively, the Captain's father has chosen to squander it through wasteful prodigality, just as Don Quijote fritters away his inherited wealth on works of puerile entertainment, to the detriment of the financial well-being and political stability of the kingdom.
Cervantes gives us another portrait of a similarly imprudent nobleman in part two. In the Duke's palace, Don Quijote is approached by Dona Rodriguez in aid of her daughter, who fell in love with a rich farmer's son and was left burlada. Dona Rodriguez has sought redress from the Duke without success, "y es la causa que como el padre del burlador es tan rico y le presta dineros y le sale por fiador de sus trampas por momentos, no le quiere descontentar ni dar pesadumbre en ningun modo" (2.48:1114-15). Just like the mad knight whom he goes to such extraordinary lengths to ridicule, the Duke is a poor governor of his own impoverished hacienda. The extravagant splendor of the ducal court, which so awes Don Quijote and Sancho, is financed by debts contracted with one of the Duke's own vassals, a commoner who is nevertheless a successful and productive member of society.
Don Quijote, Ruy Perez's father, and the Duke are each examples of unproductive noblemen who stand as synecdoches of Castilian economic decline. In these instances, Cervantes exploits the conceptual contiguity between contemporary economic discourse and comic theory in order to couple the arbitristas discourse of political economy with the didactic function of comedy as theorized by Lopez Pinciano and Cascales and thereby produce a socially engaged political comedy that transcends the traditional burlas!veras dichotomy. Nevertheless, even in these instances the economic discourse retains something of its function as a counterpoint to chivalric romance, since Ruy Perez can be read in contrast with Don Quijote as a real hombre de armas, and the ducal palace episodes are a sustained burlesque of typical adventures from literary knight errantry. Elsewhere in Don Quijote, however, Cervantes is more radically experimental in his use of economics, which not only forms a parodie counterpoint to the discourse of romance, but in some cases combines with it in a new narrative hybrid.
One example will suffice to illustrate the point. The story of Dorotea forms part of the interpolated material in part one of Don Quijote, which, as critics such as E. C. Riley, Edwin Williamson, and J. A. Garrido Ardila have noted, contains many of the tropes of traditional romance narrative. Dorotea, however, is a liminal figure. The only daughter and heir of farmers, her parents are not noble but so rich that they are practically hidalgos, not to say caballeros. More intriguingly, Dorotea is the manager of her parents' hacienda, charged with overseeing workers, keeping the accounts, and monitoring the production of grain, wine, and honey. As she explains: "de todo aquello que un tan rico labrador como mi padre puede tener y tiene, tenia yo la cuenta y era la mayordoma y senora, con tanta solicitud mia y con tanto gusto suyo, que buenamente no acertare a encarecerlo" (1.28:352). Unlike Don Quijote, the Captive's father, and the Duke, Dorotea is a competent and successful administrator of her father's estate, and her climactic confrontation with Don Fernando demonstrates her assimilation of the logic and language of economic exchange. (5) She begins by repeating the words "mio" and "tuya," emphasizing that she and Don Fernando belong to each other in reference to the Catholic doctrine of marriage as a contract in which the spouses acquire certain rights of dominion over each other. (6) Dorotea then explicitly declares the legality of the deal with the phrase llamarse a engano, a legal precept whereby a contract could be nullified because of fraud on the part of one of the contracting parties: "tu no ignoraste mi calidad, tu sabes bien de la manera que me entregue a tu voluntad: no te queda lugar ni acogida de llamarte a engano." She makes the point even more explicitly in the climax of her peroration: "quieras o no quieras, yo soy tu esposa: testigos son tus palabras [...] testigo sera la firma que hiciste, y testigo el cielo, a quien tu llamaste por testigo de lo que me prometias" (1.36:468-69). In other words, Don Fernando signed a contract, and he must honor it.
In her original telling of the story, Dorotea made no reference to any such cedula de esposo. Rather than an example of a descuido cervantino, however, I believe that this is a purposeful discursive displacement, the substitution of a romance narrative by a novelistic one, in which a legally binding contract substitutes for a gold ring or some other traditional pledge of fidelity. This process comes into sharper focus by comparison with another story in which Cervantes utilizes the same narrative elements to different effect. In the exemplary novel "Las dos doncellas," both Teodosia and Leocadia are seduced by Marco Antonio, and both receive proof from him that he is their legitimate husband. The nature of these tokens is radically different, however. Teodosia receives as a "prenda" a diamond ring inscribed with Marco Antonio's marriage pledge: "Es Marco Antonio esposo de Teodosia" (2: 208). Leocadia, in explicit contrast, requests and receives a "cedula" affirming the same vow (2: 217). The jewels of the ring (3) literalize the metaphorical jewel of Teodosias virginity, which she gives to Marco Antonio in exchange for the promise of marriage. Leocadias paper certificate, to which she mistakenly gives full credit and naively calls her own "joya," is stolen by brigands, and in any case it would lack the legitimacy of the diamond ring as proof of marriage within this particular narrative, which tips the balance toward romance in its fortuitously happy outcome (2: 218-19). Nevertheless, even in "Las dos doncellas" Cervantes includes a prominent economic discourse to counterbalance the traditional romance elements. Marco Antonio is a member of a Genoese family, which, as Barbara Fuchs astutely observes, situates this Novela in dialogue with Spain's imperial project and its Italian creditors (287-90). The (political) message certainly seems clear: Never trust a Genoese bearing a promissory note. This, in turn, recalls the popular hatred of the hombres de negocios, the Crown's international financiers (largely Genoese at the time), and the arbitristas pleas to free the Castilian economy from the shackles of their crippling credit instruments (asientos). (7)
Thus, a comparison of Doroteas story with "Las dos doncellas" illuminates Cervantes's common use of contemporary economic themes in conjunction with traditional romance tropes. In the exemplary novel the discourse of economics is a subtext that remains subordinate within the fundamentally romance narrative. In Don Quijote, in contrast, Cervantes aims at a more radical synthesis of the same motifs, and Doroteas intermediate social position is a conceptually critical element in this process of narrative evolution. A commoner who is as rich as a caballero, she exhibits a productive indeterminacy that reflects the generic ambiguity of the economic content of the episode. Commerce and its practitioners may have been appropriate to the humble characters of the low genre of comedy, as Lopez Pinciano and Cascales maintained, but, as we have seen, a long tradition deemed that the kind of large-scale estate management in which Dorotea engages was honorable and fit for the aristocracy. Concurrently, the arbitristas contended that the nobility had abandoned such appropriate economic activity, so from the reformist perspective, Dorotea is the perfect match for an idle segundon, bearing as she does a large inheritance of land and the agricultural expertise to make it prosper. A conspicuous counterpoint to the unproductive noblzmen who populate Don Quijote, Dorotea represents an injection of new blood into the ossified structures of the moribund Castilian economy. She simultaneously fulfills the arbitristas aspirations for socio-economic renewal based on the pater familias paradigm and challenges their patriarchal postulates. This is evident in the way that her marriage to Don Fernando, conventional outcome within a traditional romance narrative though it may be, upends the canonical explanation of the marriage contract and the dowry that was associated with it. As the Jesuit Luis de Molina (1597) explains:
son dos los contratos que suelen hacerse al celebrar el matrimonio. Uno, por el que los conyuges se entregan mutuamente la potestad sobre los cuerpos, y en esto consiste la razon del matrimonio; otro, por el que el marido toma sobre si el deber de sustentar a la esposa segun la dote. Y este ultimo es un contrato innominado ("hare si das"), y por derecho comun se entrega al varon la dote para soportar las cargas del matrimonio, y disfrutarla todo el tiempo que el matrimonio dure, debiendo devolverse integramente una vez disuelto el matrimonio. (172-73)
Doroteas case manifestly inverts this paradigm, because she will necessarily be the one who assumes the obligation to "sustentar" and "soportar" her husband, inasmuch as she possesses the agricultural experience and commercial acumen to do so. Furthermore, just as Dorotea describes herself as "la mayordoma y senora" of her fathers estate, she will now become, legally, a senora by virtue of her marriage to a member of the aristocracy, which will render her eventual senorio over her inherited property both metaphorical (=mayordoma) and literal.
As a character, therefore, Dorotea exists in an intermediate space between social classes, gender constructs, and narrative categories. Moreover, the economic discourse that she incarnates remains partially unassimilated as a mediating agent within the generically indeterminate interstice between the low comedy that was its historical birthright and the high romance to which it was conventionally illegitimate. Doroteas story thus contains in concentrated form all of the tensions between comedy, romance, and economics that transect the entire novel. Even in her case, the economic discourse remains aligned with the comic through the parody of chivalric romance. Not only does Dorotea herself adopt the farcical role of Princess Micomicona (whose very name is an outrageous pastiche with connotations of monkey, mico, and hence burlesque imitation and lust), but Sancho Panza expects that the eventual marriage of Don Quijote to this literary damsel-in-distress will lead to his own reward of an African territory and thus many black vassals whom he can sell as slaves. From the proceeds, he fantasizes, "podre comprar algun titulo o algun oficio con que vivir descansado todos los dias de mi vida" (1.29:372). In other words, as Agustin Redondo points out, his goal is to buy a royal appointment or title of nobility and thereafter live in perpetual idleness from the rents, precisely the kind of activity the arbitristas condemned (136). (8) Therefore, if the DNA of the modern novel is found in Don Quijote, then the traditional narrative modes of romance and comedy each form one strand of the double helix, linked by a discourse of economics capable of connecting them both. What emerges is a narrative hybrid that is neither low nor high and that defies traditional categorization. It may appear incongruous that the formulaic discourse of arbitrismo would play so fundamental a role in the inception of the novel, but such is the seminal paradox of Cervantes's quixotic economy.
TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN
Brian Brewer is tenured Assistant Professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies, Trinity College Dublin. His current research focuses on the importance of early modern economic theory and political economy in the development of Cervantes's poetics of the novel. He has published articles in scholarly journals including Bulletin of Spanish Studies, Cervantes, Revista de Estudios Hispanicos, and Revista Hispanica Moderna.
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(1) See Close, "La dicotomia," "Lo comico," and "Lo comico II."
(2) My analysis differs from Cavillac's in regard to how this breakdown of literary orthodoxy manifests itself. Whereas the critic locates the process in the serious representation of respectable merchants, which in Don Quijote comes down to the brief presence of the silk merchants from Toledo in part one, chapter 4, I contend that the blurring of generic boundaries occurs through the embedding of the economic discourse within the narrative itself, as an inseparable component of plot, theme, and characterization. In this focus on the discourse of early modern economics as integral to Cervantes's broader poetics, my approach also differs from those of scholars such as Carroll Johnson, whose materialist reading situates Cervantes's fiction within the transition from late feudalism to early capitalism, and Steven Hutchinson, who draws on Pierre Bordieu's theory of structural homologies to reveal the deep logic of exchange and the nexus of values and interests within the economia etica that underpin the relationships between many of Cervantes's characters and the societies that they inhabit. My work is indebted to the insights of all three scholars.
(3) Many arbitristas engage with this well-known tradition. See Gonzalez de Cellorigo (84-87); Gutierrez de los Rios (50-53); and Deza (13-14).
(4) On the ideology of aristocratic paternalism and the king as pater familias, see Atienza Hernandez; and Corteguera.
(5) Christine Garst-Santos convincingly demonstrates how Dorotea performs a complex self-fashioning by actively appropriating and repurposing a number of contemporary legal, moral, and economic discourses in order to position herself as both a doncella honesta who has been wronged by Don Fernando and a perfecta casada who can supplement his, and by extension, the aristocracy's socially and economically wasteful idleness with productive activity. I concur, but I would also insist that Dorotea performs not just social, but also literary, discourses (pastoral, chivalric, Byzantine), as part of Cervantes's broader generic experiments with a new hybrid of romance and the comic. In this sense, I agree with Stephen Gilman's argument that Dorotea and Cardenio enact the tropes of the Lopean comedia nueva. For a penetrating analysis of Doroteas discursive mastery and the revolutionary psychological complexity and independent subjectivity that it reveals, see Cruz.
(6) Each spouse's body becomes the "legitima propiedad" of the other, in the words of the Dominican theologian Domingo de Soto. Within this "comercio carnal," sexual intimacy is the debt ("debito") that each one may "pedir" and must "pagar" (2: 326-27). The medieval scholastics derived their doctrine of contracts generally from Thomas Aquinas's comments on marriage in the Summa Theologiae (Gordley 15-16). For a history of this issue, see Santana Marcano.
(7) Such was the ambitious goal of the national banking system proposed by Luis Valle de la Cerda in his Desempeno del patrimonio de Sv Magestad of 1600, published with funds appropriated by the Cortes and officially adopted by the Crown, although never implemented. On Valle de la Cerda, the history of the public banking proposal, and arbitrismo as a political phenomenon, see Dubet.
(8) For a study of this episode as Cervantes's critique of royal monetary policy, see Graf.
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|Publication:||Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2019|
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