From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 1.1-2 (1981): 116-18.
Copyright © 1981, The Cervantes Society of America
REVIEW

MIGUEL DE CERVANTES. Viaje del Parnaso. Critical edition, introduction, and notes by Vicente Gaos. Madrid: Castalia, 1974. 205 pp. + índice de láminas.

      Hardly a year after the appearance of the Suma cervantina, Vicente Gaos published an edition of the Viaje del Parnaso (Madrid, 1974) as Volume 57 in the “Clásicos Castalia” series and as Volume I of Cervantes' Poesías completas. This project had been anticipated four years earlier by Gaos' anthology of Cervantes' Poesías (Madrid, 1970) published in the Taurus “Temas de España” series. The first part of his introduction to the Castalia volume, the part entitled “Cervantes, poeta” (pp. 7-24), is in fact a verbatim reprint of his introduction to the Taurus volume (pp. 9-18), with a few additional paragraphs inserted and several lengthy footnotes added.
     “Cervantes, poeta” is concerned with a somewhat sterile debate about whether Cervantes was really a poet or not, and, if so, whether major or minor. Gaos recognizes that Ricardo Rojas' study of Cervantes' poetry is the most complete one; he values more highly the comments of Gerardo Diego and of Luis Cernuda. He considers that Cervantes' poetic vocation was sincere, even though he may not have been a “poeta nato.” Cervantes' comments on his own poetry, especially those made in the Viaje, are seen as ambiguous: at times ironically modest, at times ironically proud. Gaos reaches conclusions in words such as these: “La poesía de Cervantes es, en efecto, suya, y con ello queda expresada la imposibilidad absoluta de que sea mediocre” (p. 14). “Realmente, el verso le venía estrecho, no podía encajar en él la libertad de su espíritu, su dilatado genio universal. ¿Fue, por eso, mal poeta? Conforme: todo lo malo que podía ser . . . , siendo Cervantes” (p. 24). These words make one wonder whether the debate is not purely rhetorical.
     The second part of the introduction (pp. 24-37) is a more useful commentary upon the Viaje del Parnaso itself. Gaos rightly rejects comparisons with the Canto de Calíope and with Lope's Laurel de Apolo: Cervantes' real intention, he says, was not to write literary criticism (p. 29), but rather to write “una autobiografía reivindicadora” (p. 30). The satirical theme of the poem is man's vanity in general, and the vainglory of poets in particular (p. 31). Gaos focusses most clearly, not upon the mock-heroic epic poem as a genre, but upon one particular aspect of this genre: the parody of classical mythology. “Cervantes, nuevo Luciano, se regocija presentándonos unos dioses apeados de su majestuoso pedestal, trasmutados en seres corrientes y molientes, a más de anacrónicos, pues su atuendo, costumbres y lenguaje son los de los españoles vulgares de la época” (p. 32). And here he cites some of Ortega's perceptive remarks upon the absence, and shame-faced presence, of

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“Bacchus” in Velázquez' Los borrachos. This is a most suggestive rapprochement.
     I do think, however, that this parallel between Velázquez and Cervantes needs to be refined. The mode of Los borrachos is not the burlesque mode of the Viaje, but the realistic mode of the Quijote: in a painting of drunken peasants we see a refined young man playing the part of Bacchus, just as in the Marcela episode, among goatherds, we find a literary young lady playing the part of an idealistic shepherdess. That is, the “ground” of the action is realistic, while the mythic is present only as self-conscious play-acting against this background. in the Viaje, on the other hand, there is no solidly realistic ground at all: the basic action is fantastic, pseudo-epic, with “real” gods who, nevertheless, do talk in the idiom of ordinary Spaniards from early 17th-century Madrid. The two genres, though complementary, are diametrically opposed to one another.
     According to a “Nota previa” (p. 43), Gaos bases his edition upon the princeps (1614), noting his emendations and his variants with respect to the editions of Bonilla (1922) and Rodríguez Marín (1935). A quick check of the first few pages reveals that his textual standards are none too rigorous. Some details are minor, such as silently expanding and abbreviating the titles of the “Dedicatoria” and “Prólogo al Lector.” More serious is the reproduction of Agustín de Casanate's Latin epigram (six elegiac distychs) without a translation and with misprints such as "quaee" instead of "quae". In the preliminary sonnet “El Autor a su pluma,” line 12 begins “y adorne”: Gaos' erraturn “y adonde” makes the syntax impossible. In Cap. I, 6, a dieresis is needed: “hüir” instead of “huir.” In general the punctuation is comparable to that of Rodríguez Marín. Occasionally, however, the punctuation of the princeps is better than that of any of these three modern editions. For example, Cap. IV. 58-60:

Tuue, tengo, y tendrê los pensamientos,
     (Merced al cielo q a tal bien me inclina)
     De toda adulación libres y essentos.

Bonilla, Rodríguez Marín and Gaos all omit the parentheses and do not replace them with exclamation points. Thus Gaos:

     Tuve, tengo y tendré los pensamientos,
merced al cielo que a tal bien me inclina,
de toda adulación libres y exentos.

     In conclusion, the Rodríguez Marín edition continues to be the best so far, with extensive notes and appendices. But since this edition, like the Rojas and the Bonilla editions, has long been out of print, it is useful to have an edition available; and the Gaos edition is a much handier volume, with briefer, more manageable notes at the foot of the page. It also contains an interesting new appendix (pp. 192-205) entitled “Poética de Cervantes,” which consists of comments upon poetry taken from the Galatea, the Quijote, the Novelas ejemplares, the Persiles, and the Laberinto de amor, comments which supplement in relevant ways the Viaje del Parnaso and its Adjunta.


118 ELIAS L. RIVERS Cervantes

     This appendix contains Preciosa's dialog with the page-boy about what it means to be a poet. It is significant that the Gitanilla has been the object of three poetic studies, in addition to the Selig item listed in the Suma cervantina:

Walter Pabst, “Die zweifache Präsenz des Dichters in der Novelle La Gitanilla,” in Das literarische Werk von Miguel de Cervantes (Berlin, 1968), pp. 61-70.

Georges Güntert, “La gitanilla y la poética de Cervantes,” BRAE, 52 (1972), 107-34.

Joseph B. Spieker, “Preciosa y poesía: Sobre el concepto cervantino de la poesía y la estructura de La gitanilla,” Explicación de Textos Literarios, 4 (1975), 213-20.


ELIAS L. RIVERS
SUNY at Stony Brook


Fred Jehle jehle@ipfw.edu Publications of the CSA HCervantes
URL: http://www.h-net.org/~cervantes/csa/articf81/rivers.htm