From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 8.2 (1988): 159-82.
Copyright © 1988, The Cervantes Society of America
ARTICLE

Cervantes and Libros de entendimiento*


MARY LEE COZAD

HE escrutinio CHAPTER OF Don Quijote (I, 6), like many episodes of that delightfully ambiguous work, has long been the object of interpretive controversy. Critics have debated the extent to which the literary opinions espoused by the parish priest represent Cervantes' own ideas (Allen 1969: 40; El Saffar 1980: 252-53; Forcione 1970: 107; Weiger 1985: 13). They have pondered the priest's sometimes rather cryptic critical judgments (e.g. Riley 1962: 25; Eisenberg 1982: 147ff), puzzled over his true feelings toward the various fictional modes with

     * After this article had gone to press, I came across the following quotation which may further illuminate what Cervantes meant by having his priest call pastoral romances libros de entendimiento. It is from the glosas to the allegorical bucolic satire Coplas de Mingo Revulgo (c. 1464):

     Y en esta Bucolica que quiere decir cantar rustico y pastoril, quiso dar a entender la doctrina que dicen so color de la rusticidad que parecen decir; porque el entendimiento, cuyo oficio es saber la verdad de las cosas, se ejercita inquiriendolas, y goza, como suele gozarse cuando ha entendido la verdad de ellas. (Quoted in Mia Gerhardt, Essai d'analyse littéraire de la Pastorale dans les littératures italienne, espagnole et française, The Hague: Van Gorcum, 1953, p. 63). See also Ed. Viviana Brodey (Madison,1986), p. 95.

and specifically equates pastoral (or at least bucolic) literature, intellect, and the search for truth, as embodied in the hidden meaning of the allegorical text.

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which he deals (Avalle-Arce 1972: 272; Weiger 1983; among many others) and analyzed the elements of formal parody present in the episode, specifically its (merely festive or more serious?) parallels with an Inquisitional auto da fe (Avalle-Arce 1972; Weiger 1983: 90; Gilman 1968: 4). Based in part on their conclusions, particularly on their interpretations of Cervantes' attitudes toward literature, and in part on grammatical, syntactical or semantic obscurities, some have been led to suggest emendations to the text (Eisenberg 1983: 31-33).
     The passage of Quijote I, 6 which has occasioned the most drastic emendation, a change inspired by a belief in authorial intentions rather than by textual incomprehensibility (and, I might add, a beautiful example of the mental processes which create lectiones faciliores) occurs at the beginning of the priest's discussion of pastoral romances:

Y abriendo uno, vio que era La Diana, de Jorge de Montemayor, y dijo, creyendo que todos los demás eran del mesmo genero:
     —Estos no merecen ser quemados, como los demás, porque no hacen ni harán el daño que los de caballerías han hecho; que son libros de entendimiento, sin perjuicio de tercero (Murillo ed., I, 118).

Pellicer (1797), Clemencín (1833) and Schevill / Bonilla (1914-1928) all suggested a revision of entendimiento to entretenimiento in their respective editions, and Cortejón (1905), Adolfo de Castro (1905), and Rodríguez Marín (1947) incorporated entretenimiento into the text itself. Through Rodríguez Marín's enormously influential edition, the alteration was accepted without question by some subsequent critics (e.g. Moreno Báez 1968: 244). It is a perfect example of a revision which would not have been possible, and hence of a textual “problem” which would not have been a problem at all if Quijote scholars had followed the most elementary principles of textual editing. In the words of Casasayas, such textual alterations are the fault of editors guided more by personal whim and the anachronistic tastes of their own epochs than by sound editorial practices:

los editores, no obstante y a pesar de su aparente buena fe, han empezado por orientar y han persistido orientando sus criterios más hacia el gusto temporal y pasajero, impuesto por la moda o por las corrientes científicas, que a la consecución de una reproducción legítima del texto cervantino y del pensamiento en él reflejado por su autor (Casasayas 2).

     Apparently, like Rodríguez Marín, the textual editors were


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influenced by other references to libros de entretenimiento in Cervantine texts, especially “me acogía el entretenimiento de leer algún libro devoto . . .” (I, 28);”Hojeo más los que son profanos que los devotos, como sean de honesto entretenimiento” (II,16) (Both cited in Rodríguez Marín 1:207). Other uses of entretenimiento with reference to literature, in each case obviously works of fiction, occur in the prologue to Quijote II: “los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, libro a quien daré fin dentro de cuatro meses, Deo volente: el cual ha de ser o el mas malo o el mejor que en nuestra lengua se haya compuesto, quiero decir de los de entretenimiento” (Murillo ed., II, 39); and in the “Coloquio de los perros:” “que todos aquellos libros [pastoral romances] son cosas soñadas y bien escritas, para entretenimiento de los ociosos, y no verdad alguna” (Anaya ed., 106). They may have been influenced as well by seemingly negative references to pastoral literature by other characters in other of Cervantes' works —especially by Berganza's contrast between pastoral and “real” shepherds (“Coloquio de los perros,” Anaya ed., 104)— and by possibly unfavorable dramatic portrayals in the Quijote of attempts to live a literary pastoral life amid the everyday realities of sixteenth-century Spain (Herrero 289; El Saffar 1986: 81 n.1).
     In recent years several scholars / critics have addressed themselves directly to the passage. In his classic 1962 study, Cervantes' Theory of the Novel, E. C. Riley confesses to a slight preference for entretenimiento, but adds that entendimiento, which he defines as “understanding,” “would make sense,” and further notes that “If he did mean entendimiento he would be further distinguishing the pastoral novel from the chivalresque, indirectly stressing the useful, instructional function, which he did not exclude from pastoral, since he could tell the reader that he had mixed some philosophical discourse with amorous shepherds' talk in his Galatea” (84). For Riley, then, a libro de entendimiento would be a work with a philosophical content, one that would impart to the reader some important incidental information rather than simply “tell a story.”1 John Jay Allen emphasizes even

     1 One is reminded of Plutarch's “How the Young Man Should Study Poetry” (Moralia 15: 80) and of course the Horatian “enseñar deleitando.” The theme is a recurrent one throughout late antiquity and Christian times to justify the reading of fiction. Covarrubias refers to books of chivalry as “ficciones gustosas y artificiosas de mucho entretenimiento y poco provecho,” a characterization which seems to support both Riley and Allen.


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more forcefully the probable chivalresque-pastoral contrast in his Quijote edition: “prefiero la lectura de la princeps, pues con la enmienda quedan indistinguibles las novelas pastoriles de las de caballerías. Cervantes parece trazar dos contrastes: 1) libros de entendimiento, frente a los de caballerías, que no lo son, y 2) sin perjuicio de tercero, frente a algunos otros libros de entendimiento” (Allen 1977: 123).
     So far the best argument for emendation has been put forth by Daniel Eisenberg in his carefully researched and well-written “On Editing Don Quixote” (Eisenberg, 1983). Eisenberg argues that books cannot have entendimiento, a human quality which Cervantes only mentions elsewhere with reference to people (32), and that the contrast which the priest wants to emphasize is between pastoral romances, which are genuinely entertaining and harmless to boot, and the romances of chivalry, which are neither (34). According to Eisenberg, the canónigo will “later make the same criticism of the romances of chivalry” (34). John Weiger, in his sensible and perceptive analysis of the escrutinio, explicitly accepts Eisenberg's arguments and reads libros de entretenimiento (Weiger 1985: 237-8, n. 29).
     While conjectural emendation is a chancy business at best,2 and although an expression's rarity and its absence from the rest of Cervantes' text is not ipso facto a reason to reject it, it is possible to accept the logic of Eisenberg's argument if one does not go beyond

     2 Particularly with regard to the Quijote, whose Cuesta edition is a fairly reliable text, as Eisenberg, following Flores (1975) has demonstrated in the rest of his article (Eisenberg 1983). In general, conjectural emendation is a dangerous practice as well, because “Excessive subjectivity, an identification with the author leading to the assumption that the editor perfectly commanded his style, or a supersession of author by editor, were bound to discredit both conjectural emendation and by association, to some extent at least the whole practice of editing” (Kane 213). Kane does accept conjectural emendation under certain conditions, however (219). Cervantes' text has been peculiarly victimized by conjectural emendation. According to Casasayas (155): “Parece que esta teoría de la libertad del editor de ‘enriquecer’ (lo que es un supuesto muy discutible) el texto editado, y que Asensio proclamó abiertamente, es la que siguen los editores, incluso actuales, al socaire de la libertad que les confieren sus estudios e investigaciones. Cfr. los artículos de Flores, Allen y Eisenberg, que citaré luego, que defienden esta postura. Los resultados nefastos al hacer uso de esta autoatribuida libertad están a la vista. El investigador debe dirigir sus esfuerzos al esclarecimiento de la verdad, y, sobre ella, divagar como mejor le venga en gana; pero no le está permitido alterar los datos objetivos que, en sus investigaciones, se halle al paso.”


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the text of the Quijote. If one relates the passage to the literary and cultural context of the times in which it was written, however, a number of factors emerge which support the original Cuesta edition reading of libros de entendimiento. In fact, the priest's remarks about pastoral romances can be read as the dramatization of a sixteenth-century critical debate about whether fiction was inherently bad or whether harmless and worthwhile works of fiction were possible, a controversy thoroughly documented by Ife in his Reading and Fiction in Golden Age Spain (1985: 11). There are mediating texts —perhaps exact sources— which present the controversy in the same terms, using a similar critical vocabulary. In addition, the term entendimiento, as used to describe pastoral romance, is a polysemous word which simultaneously means both “intellect” and “meaning.” The entendimiento reading is supported as well by other evidence of Cervantes' attitude toward the pastoral, a position which was not as negative as some critics would have us believe nor such that it would preclude a characterization of this mode as libros de entendimiento. In any event, the evidence for entendimiento is certainly as strong as any evidence against it, and as it is the reading of the first and all seventeenth-century editions, entendimiento should certainly have preference over a conjecture.
     In support of the text's original reading, it is necessary to examine the following evidence:

  1. The typography of the editio princeps.
  2. Contemporary (i.e. sixteenth and seventeenth-century) dictionary definitions of entendimiento.
  3. The meaning of the term elsewhere in Cervantes' writings —including a discussion of its possible connotation for Cervantes of poetic truth.
  4. Other Golden Age authors' use of the word entendimiento, in both works of fiction and critical, theoretical, or moralistic treatises of the period. In the interests of clarity, contemporary usage of the term entendimiento in its acceptations of “intellect” and “meaning” are treated separately.

     Once libros de entendimiento has been established as the text's intended as well as actual reading, it is important to examine what this reading tells us about the priest's and/or Cervantes' attitude toward pastoral literature, the reason why it matters whether the passage reads entendimiento or entretenimiento.
     One must admit that the typographical evidence for or against a reading of entendimiento is rather mixed. In the first place ent(en)dimiento


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and entret(en)imiento are quite obviously orthographically similar. Entendimiento is fully written out in the princeps (facsim., 21r), and not only shares with entretenimiento the first three and last seven letters, but two letters (en) in the three- and five-letter central sections of each word. In addition, f21r, the page of the princeps in which the passage occurs, was part of gathering C of the Quijote I, set by compositor C, one of the text's more careless printers3 (Flores 1975: 80). On the other hand, compositor C was almost certainly working from an autograph ms. (Flores 1975: 5), not a text corrupted by scribal transcription, and Cervantes' handwriting, while not so clear as to make misreading a near impossibility, should not have been particularly difficult to read, either.4 In addition, since libros de entretenimiento was apparently a more common expression than libros de entendimiento,5 one would think that a careless printer, in so far as he was “reading” the text at all, would have been more apt to make the opposite substitution. The comma after entendimiento in the princeps, while almost certainly provided by the printer rather than by Cervantes (Flores 1975: 6),6 does tend to support Allen's interpretation of a libros de caballerías = entretenimiento vs. libros pastoriles = entendimiento contrast rather than Eisenberg's postulated contrast between nonentertaining libros de caballerías and genuinely entertaining pastoral romances. On balance, then and despite the general reliability of the Cuesta princeps (Eisenberg 1983: 4), the typographical evidence does not seem to preclude the possibility of error or compositional misreading.
     A different story emerges if one goes outside the text of the

     3 Evidently 11 gross errors per C-gathering had to be corrected for the second Madrid edition (Flores 1975: 80). That does not prove, of course, that entendimiento should have been added to the corrections. The overwhelming % chance would still be in favor of its not being an error.
     4 In so far as the autograph mss. presented by Romera-Navarro are in Cervantes' hand. Evidently not all of them are.
     5 It was the common term used by the Inquisition, for instance (Bennassar 260), and as I stated above, was found rather frequently in the rest of the Quijote. Remember that Eisenberg rejected libros de entendimiento in part because it is unusual.
     6 Evidently in his non-literary writings Cervantes never used a comma (Romera-Navarro 22). Of course it is impossible to know if the same was true of his literary works. it is also possible that the comma merely signaled a rhetorical rather than a logical pause (Eisenberg 1983: 11) or that it meant nothing at all.


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Quijote, however, in search of other instances of entendimiento's use with reference to literature. Upon undertaking such a quest, one is immediately struck by entendimiento's extraordinary lexical richness, its wide range of meanings, and its frequent use in discussions about literature's worth. Nebrija, in his 1516 Vocabulario de romance en Latín, gives no fewer than four Latin definitions, each in itself a rather complex term with a similar range of meanings: intellectus (perception, understanding, intellect), mens (mind, reason, understanding, intellect), intelligentia (capacity for understanding, intelligence), and sensus (meaning, perception, understanding, way of thinking). Nebrija's definitions clearly constitute a wide enough semantic field to encompass all the sixteenth-century uses of the word adduced by Boyd-Bowman (359) and by Fernández Gómez in his vocabularies of Cervantes (401-402) and Lope (1064). Boyd-Bowman cites one instance of entendimiento in the sense of “meaning:” “respondió no había predicado tal, y que (el obispo) lo glosaba y le daba el dicho entendimiento;” as does Fernández Gómez, quoting Lope: “Como oráculo, Amor sentidos junta, / tiene su voz entendimiento vario.” Although Covarrubias (1611) limits his definition to the intellect component of entendimiento (523), the Diccionario de Autoridades echoes Nebrija's thoroughness, with separate entries for the intellect, understanding, meaning, and intelligence aspects of the term.
     There exists at least one critical study of Cervantes' own use of the word. John Weiger (1985) investigates the origins of entendimiento as a philosophical concept meaning “reasoning power” in the tripartite division of the human consciousness or “soul” into the three faculties of memoria, voluntad, and entendimiento. Although this three-fold division was widely attributed to Aristotle, it apparently originated in St. Augustine and in subsequent Aristotelian-influenced writers (Weiger 1985: 134). For Weiger the dominant meaning of entendimiento in Cervantes' works is “reasoning faculty” or “understanding” in the sense of an intellectual grasp of things (Weiger 1985: 158-59). It includes the “capacity to compose images,” to “permit the mind to see something other than the prosaic physical phenomena perceived by the sense of sight,” to “provide [. . .] images by means of its reasoning power” (Weiger 1985: 159). It provides the means by which a “dream-fiction may refresh the eyes of one's entendimiento (El Coloquio de los perros)” (Weiger 1985: 159) or mind's eye.
     For Cervantes, then, if Weiger is right about his usual use of the term entendimiento, libros de entendimiento could be books of intellect, books that appeal to or make use of that reasoning faculty so important in


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the conceptual background of Cervantes' works. Such a meaning would also be consistent with the Canon of Toledo's oft-quoted plea for a more rational yet still fully enjoyable (and visualized) sort of fiction: “Hanse de casar las fábulas mentirosas con el entendimiento de los que las leyeren, escribiéndose de suerte que, facilitando los imposibles, allanando las grandezas, suspendiendo los ánimos, admiren, suspendan, alborocen y entretengan, de modo que anden a un mismo paso la admiración y la alegría juntas” (Quijote I, 47). In fact, the descriptive, visualizing, image-creating power of literature (perhaps related to the classical rhetorical device of enargaia, and according to Weiger a product of the entendimiento) is the one trait for which the Canon can even praise the libros de caballerías:

hallaba en ellos una cosa buena: que era el sujeto que ofrecían para que un buen entendimiento pudiese mostrarse en ellos, porque daban largo y espacioso campo por donde sin empacho alguno pudiese correr la pluma, describiendo naufragios, tormentas, rencuentros y batallas, pintando un capitán valeroso . . . pintando ora un lamentable y trágico suceso . . . allí una hermosísima . . . representando bondad y lealtad . . . Ya puede mostrarse astrólogo . . . Puede mostrar las astucias de Ulixes (I, 47, underlining mine).

Like other Renaissance authors, Cervantes no doubt “prized the contrivance that can make impossible things seem so credible that the reader's mind, held in suspense, is ravished with delight and wonder” (Nelson 67).
     Cervantes' priest, whose escrutinio is perhaps significantly mentioned during his conversation with the Canon, may have already proclaimed in chapter 6 the existence of a fictional category which, though perhaps not making use of the intellect in its image-composing capacity, through its fully developed casuistry of love, if nothing else, must appeal to the entendimiento as reasoning faculty. I refer, of course, to the pastoral romances, libros de entendimiento.
     Cervantes' priest would not have been unique in equating entendimiento with meritorious works of fiction nor in using the term as one element of a contrast between worthwhile and worthless literature. Other works of the period —and before (Olson 33)— cast the discussion in remarkably similar terms. In fact, the almost topical nature of the contrast and the recurrent use of entendimiento in reference to serious artistic works may in themselves constitute telling evidence that entendimiento was indeed the word intended by Pero Pérez.
     Among the mediating texts in the Jaussian (Jauss 34) or Kristevan


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(Kristeva 67) sense which cast light on the Cervantine passage, one may include a work with which Cervantes could very well have been familiar, Amyot's prologue to his French version of Heliodorus, which was included in the Spanish translation of that work published in Antwerp in 1554. In his prologue Amyot condemns most works of fiction written in romance tongues (the translation reads “en nuestra lengua española”) (Amyot LXXX) for their glaring lack of either worthwhile content or rational form:

no hay ninguna erudición, ningún conocimiento de antigüedad ni cosa alguna, por decir verdad, de la cual se pueda sacar algún provecho, mas antes están las más veces tan disonantes y tan fuera de verdadera similitud, que paresce que sean antes sueños de algún enfermo que desvaría con la calentura, que invenciones de algún hombre de espíritu y sano juicio. Y, por tanto, me paresce que no pueden tener gracia ni fuerza de delectar a un buen entendimiento, porque no son dignas dél porque es una cierta señal que aquel no tiene sentimiento ni conoscimiento de las cosas ingeniosas y gentiles, que se deleita de las bastas y groseras (underlining mine in this and following instances).

Ife cites several examples of Renaissance authors who cast a contrast between serious and frivolous writing in terms of works' appeal to or incorporation of entendimiento. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdés praises his own book's attraction for the discerning reader by comparing it to the kind of work it is not: “mas los hombres sabios e naturales atenderán a esta lección, no con otra mayor cobdicia e desseo que por saber e oyr las obras de natura: e assí con más desocupación del entendimiento aurán por bien de oyrme (pues no cuento los disparates de los libros mentirosos de Amadís ni los que dellos dependen)” (Ife 1985: 13). In recommending Fray Luis's De los nombres de Cristo Fr. Marco Antonio Camos praises it as a worthy product of its author's superlative intellect: “todo ello es escriptura, trayda con galano artificio a proposito . . . bien paresce traslado de aquel acendrado entendimiento de su autor” (Ife 1985: 184 n.13). For Fray Pedro de Vega, a worthwhile religious book is one which appeals to the intellect: “Authors should be prepared to engage their readers above all at an intellectual level. Religious authors have erred in the past, he feels, by attempting to stimulate the will rather than exercise the intellect (entendimiento)” (Ife 1985: 55). He too contrasts the truth of worthwhile works with the lying fictions of books of chivalry: “No es fácil de hallar la razón porque siendo natural al entendimiento humano abracarse con la verdad, recibe contento de cosas que sabe él mismo


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que no lo son, sino ymaginación vana del que las escriuió” (Ife 1985: 184 n.17).
     For El Pinciano one must make use of the entendimiento in order to create a rational work of literature with a well-ordered and coherent plot: “Dotrina es del Philosopho que el que quisiere fabricar esta machina que dizen fábula, ante todas cosas, deue fingir y pintar en su entendimiento vna forma y semejança de aquello que pretende, dándole los miembros principales . . .” (Pinciano III, 211). And, like other theorists of his time, he contrasts works guided by the intellect or reason with those which are not: “de do se vee claramente que la obra guiada por la del entendimiento es de más perfección que no la que lo es por los miembros” (Pinciano III, 269). Cascales too will later establish a hierarchical order between superior theatrical works which appeal to the intellect and lesser, though by no means worthless works which exist solely for the purpose of entertainment:

Assi, quando vos pintais y escrivis el desastre o la muerte del otro, la imitacion bien hecha del caso satisfaze y agrada infinito a nuestro entendimiento. Y si hablamos destotro contento más material, que procede de causas ridículas, el trágico tambien puede traerlas algunas vezes con que entretenga a los oyentes. Y estos entretenimientos llama Horacio satyros, aunque no son tan humildes como los de la comedia (Cascales 198).

     Not only is intellect all-important for treatises, plays and fictional works in general, but contemporary authors make similar appeals to the involvement of the entendimiento in evaluating poetry. According to Alejo de Venegas in 1541, all poetry has an intellectual origin: “Porque no es otra cosa poesía sino una invención y traza del entendimiento que por figuras de admiración cuenta notables ejemplos para instruir los ánimos rudos” (Porqueras Mayo 88). Sánchez de Viana (1589) contrasts true poetry, which originates in the poet's intellect and appeals to the reader's intellect, with a lesser, more superficial sort of poetry:

hay unos que se deleitan con la melodía y sonoro contento de la voz, y estos son los vulgares tañedores y cantores. Otros que tienen más graue juicio, con versos medidos exprimen los íntimos concetos de su entendimiento. Y estos son los que concitados del divino espíritu componen gravísimas y sententiosas poesías, y son llamados del divino filósofo poetas, y lo que ellos escriben poesía, la cual no solamente con la suavidad de la voz deleita las orejas como la vulgar música, pero . . . escribe altos y divinísimos sentidos y alimenta el entendimiento celestial ambrosia (Porqueras Mayo 142).


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     References to literary or poetic works as hijos del entendimiento (Cervantes II, prologue; or the anonymous “Discurso en loor de la poesía” [1608] [Porqueras 330] or as partos de sus entendimientos (Balbuena 1604; cited in Porqueras 282) were rather commonplace. In fact, it is quite possible that by characterizing them as libros de entendimiento, Cervantes may be saying not only that pastoral romances are “books of intellect” but they are works of genuine poetry. For Cervantes, by the way, entendimiento may be related to Tasso's fantasia intellettuale or imaginazione intellettuale (Tasso 530, 531), a different sort of imagination which resides in the intellect (entendimiento) rather than the “anima sensitiva,” sense perception or imagination per se, and which is at the origin of the work of genuine poets. Libros de entendimiento in the sense of “books of intellect,” then, might reflect Cervantes' ongoing interest in the relationship between the intellect and the imagination (libros de caballerías being imaginative but not intellectual works) and his sixteenth-century conviction that “intellect and imagination belong to different realms” (El Saffar 1986: 83).
     A similar concern for intellectual content extends to other Renaissance arts. It is a principle sometimes invoked by practicing artists in their defense of painting as a liberal rather than a mechanical art, or “la defensa del arte como estudio intelectual” (Darst 47). Carducho speaks of the docta pintura:

El interior Pintor pinta en la memoria, o en la imaginativa los objetos que le dan los sentidos exteriores por medio del sentido común: a estos objetos perficiona este Pintor interior (si fuere docto), y con su sabiduría los elige y corrige, haziendo en la imaginativa una perfecta Pintura, la qual contempla y medita este docto entendimiento, graduado por los actos de la razón y de la ciencia . . . Las manos (pintor externo) . . . procuran reducir a materia visible aquellas ideas, que están en el discurso del entendimiento concebidas (Darst 46).

Or, Art comes from the intellect (entendimiento), not merely from the hands (Darst 36).
     Evidently the theorists have varied ideas about what role the intellect or entendimiento should play in an artistic endeavor. While some seem to believe that literary works should embody an intellectual content, others that they should appeal to the reader's intellect, and still others that works of art should be guided by the author's intellect in order to be rationally organized and formally coherent, none of these goals is mutually exclusive. In addition, the one constant in nearly all of their discussions is an explicit or implied


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contrast between “serious” or superior works and frivolous, inferior or even pernicious writings —these last often identified specifically as romances of chivalry. They make, in other words, the same explicit comparison as does Cervantes' priest when he contrasts pastoral romances with “los demás,” the harmful romances of chivalry of which he has just purged don Quijote's library.
     The expression libros de entendimiento may also, or alternatively, mean “books of meaning.” As previously noted, Nebrija records this alternate meaning of entendimiento as senses-us (Nebrija 92), and it appears in Lope: “Como oráculo Amor sentidos junta, / tiene su voz entendimiento vario” (Fernández Gómez II, 1064) and Mateo Alemán, who calls his prologue to Guzmán de Alfarache “Declaración para el entendimiento deste libro” (Ife 1985: 119). Boyd-Bowman cites the already-mentioned example of “respondió que no había predicado tal y que (el obispo) lo glosaba y le daba el dicho entendimiento” (359). This meaning of the term persists at least through the time of the Diccionario de Autoridades: “Se toma muchas veces por el sentido y concepto de alguna cosa,” and its literary use quite often refers to the venerable tradition of literature as masking hidden truths. As Ife tells us: “The view that a fable consists of a nucleus and a cortex, and that while the latter may not be truthful the former most certainly must be, is a commonplace of Western thinking about the nature of allegorical and mythical discourse” (Ife 1985: 42).
     This usage of entendimiento appears rather clearly in a number of Spanish discussions about the worth of literary fictions. The anonymous author of the Cifar, in fact, states in his first chapter that the happenings recounted in his book are only apparently untrue —or only untrue on one level. Indeed, they have a hidden moral or exemplary meaning (entendimiento):

El porque este libro nunca aparescio escripto en este lenguaje fasta agora, nin lo vieron los omes nin lo oyeron, cuydaron algunos que non fueran verdaderas las cosas que se y contienen, nin ay prouecho en ellas, non parando mientes al entendimiento de las palabras nin queriendo curar en ellas. Pero commoquier que verdaderas non fuesen, non las deuen tener en poco nin dubdar en ellas fasta que las oyan todas conplidamente e vean el entendimiento dellas, e saquen ende aquello que entendieren de que se puedan aprouechar; ca de [cada] cosa que es [y] dicha pueden tomar buen exiemplo o buen consejo para saber traer su vida mas cierta e mas segura, y sy bien quisiere[n] vsar dellas; ca atal es este libro para quien bien quisiere catar por el, commo la nuez, que ha de parte de fuera fuste seco e tiene el fruto ascondido dentro (Cifar 9:20-10:9).


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There could scarcely be a clearer statement of the Medieval wheat chaff contrast nor a clearer example of entendimiento's use as “meaning.”
     Ife cites Fr. Juan de Pineda (1589), who, although he does not specifically use the word entendimiento, does contrast explicitly truth —or meaning (sentido)— containing fictions with libros de caballerías: “los poetas nunca tuvieron ojo a fingir mentiras, sino a encubrir verdades . . . y que el mentir de los poetas para en el sonido de las palabras, mas no en el sentido que hacen, so pena que no merecerían el nombre de sapientísimos que todos les dan, sino de pierdetiempo y palabras, como los componedores de libros de caballerías” (Ife 1985, 183).
     Even as late an author as Cascales (1617) uses entendimiento with the sense of “meaning,” although he does not employ the term to connote hidden or deeper meaning but as part of an explanation of the nature of jokes: “Y respondiendo, no al entendimiento, sino a las palabras: Yo me alegro se aumente por mi causa / de tus hijos el número” (Cascales 233).
     It is difficult to determine whether “que son libros de entendimiento” refers to “books of meaning” or “books of intellect.” The Cervantine passage's relative lack of context makes ambiguity nearly inevitable, in the reader's interpretation, if not in authorial intent. Perhaps it is not necessary to make a choice between the two interpretations at all, if we can accept Empson's view that in any given literary context a word may have several meanings simultaneously (Empson 1966: 5). “Libros de entendimiento” would then be an example of Empson's third type of ambiguity, which “occurs when two ideas, which are connected only by being both relevant in the context, can be given in a word simultaneously” (Empson 1966: 102). It would in fact be quite possible to postulate that Cervantes intended nuances of both “intellect” and “meaning” to be present in entendimiento —shades of meaning which are related to each other, by the way, at least derivationally, in the sense that it is the intellect which perceives meaning. Given the Renaissance tolerance of ambiguity (Empson 1966: 241) and Cervantes' well-known fondness for ambiguous statements (Chambers 317), at any rate, one could not rule out an intended double or perhaps complex meaning. If we take into account the precedent of the same explicit contrast between libros de entendimiento and libros de caballerías in the priest's statement as in its critical antecedents (Amyot, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, etc.), we may conjecture as the most likely interpretation of libros de entendimiento a primary meaning of “books of intellect” with a secondary meaning


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(or implication —Empson 1954: 15) of “meaning,” a sense which would evoke for the critically well-read reader a residue of Medieval associations of “hidden meanings” in worthwhile literature, appeals to look beneath the “chaff” to the “wheat” which it contains.7
     It may not even be necessary to choose between a primary and a secondary meaning of entendimiento. The two acceptations may be united in a larger, overriding meaning which includes simultaneously nuances of both “intellect” and “meaning,” a sort of Neo-Platonic higher knowledge. For Fernando de Herrera literary inspiration was the product of imagination regulated by the entendimiento (reminiscent of Tasso's fantasia intellettuale, which, as we have said, was a higher sort of imagination based on entendimiento), and the entendimiento the abode of Platonic forms. He compares poets to the sculptor Phidias, who “tenía en el entendimiento impresa una forma o idea maravillosísima de hermosura, en quien mirando atento, enderezaba la mano y el artificio a la semejanza de ella, así conviene que siga el poeta la idea del entendimiento, formada de lo más aventajado que puede alcanzar la imaginación para imitar de ella lo más hermoso y excelente” (Darst 57). For Herrera, then, a libro de entendimiento would be an inspired work, one at once born in the intellect and reflecting a Platonic form, hence containing meaning in its most profound sense of a Higher Truth. Or, one may cite Góngora, who believes that works of literature delight the entendimiento (intellect) precisely because they contain hidden meanings (Darst 72). Luis Alfonso de Carvallo's Cisne de Apolo (1602) (Porqueras Mayo 223) provides support as well for a double meaning of entendimiento. In this critical dialogue one of his characters explicitly equates entendimiento with both “intellect” and “meaning:”

     7 Alternatively, one could view the richly nuanced entendimiento as a “portmanteau” word of the type described by Skelton: “now the word seems to operate as a unity of all its powers . . . now the word is a ‘portmanteau’; it contains many personal, historical, and imaginative associations” (1), or one could simply choose not to choose or to delineate among primary and secondary meanings but, as Martin conjectures in interpreting a passage of Mallarmé: “Perhaps the intention is that, unable to give two mutually incompatible concepts any one interpretation, we should allow our minds to hover in a no-man's-land of uncertainty between them” (101). Charles W. Steele postulates that the term mudanza, a word which appears in the Marcela-Grisóstomo episode of the Quijote, has a somewhat related primary and secondary meaning, both of which the reader would be expected to grasp (12).


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Lect.—Eso procede que no alcanzas el verdadero sentido y significación de la ficción.
Zoilo.—¿A qué llamas sentido?
Lect.—A lo que concibe el entendimiento de alguna cosa dicha o leída, como dice Silvestre, y tú y los más a quien falta este entendimiento para concebir lo que el Cupido niño y ciego significa, juzgaréislo por ficción vana y superflua.

Incidentally, the idea of beauty / Nature as a reflection of Platonic forms constitutes as well the basis for the Neo-Platonic philosophy of which pastoral romances are full, and which additionally underlies their “microcosmos novelístico” (Avalle-Arce 1974: 76). A characterization of pastoral works as libros de entendimiento would hence be doubly relevant.
     At any rate, an interpretation of entendimiento as “intellect” or “meaning” either separately or conjointly, and both characteristics of true poetry, would certainly be compatible with Cervantes' oft-cited concern with the theme of “truth” in literature (if one can indeed equate “truth” and “meaning”). Among the many critics who have discussed Cervantes' overwhelming interest in the philosophical / literary theme of truth or alternatively, “the discovery of truth, through fiction” are Avalle-Arce (1961: 15), Chambers (311), El Saffar (1986: 8), Forcione (1979: 136, 141, 339; 1982: 9); Ife (1985: 43); Nelson (99); Parker (1, 5, 15); Percas (19, 54); Riley (7, 12, 84, 128, 144); Weiger (1985: 45). Parker has pointed out that for Cervantes the lack of truth in the libros de caballerías constituted their principal defect: “He aquí to malo de los libros de caballerías: no dar testimonio de la verdad. Este primer falseamiento de la verdad conduce a otro: enfrascado en estas lecturas, llega Don Quijote a verse distinto de lo que es y a llenarse de una enorme vanidad” (296). Again, if one can equate truth and meaning, Libros de caballerías would then be meaningless works.
     But, despite abundant testimony that entendimiento could be used to refer to literature, is the full expression libros de entendimiento a grammatical and lexical possibility? Eisenberg denies that it is: “‘Entendimiento’ was not a quality that books had. People can entender, inanimate objects cannot, and therefore people, not books can have entendimiento” (Eisenberg 1983: 32). The crux of the problem would seem to be whether an abstract adjectival phrase like de entendimiento could be used with a concrete, inanimate noun like libros. To deny the possibility, Eisenberg appears to be limiting entendimiento to its narrowest most physical meaning as the reasoning part of the brain


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and to be taking de entendimiento as a near synonym for entendido or inteligente, as in hombre de entendimiento. However, if one interprets entendimiento as “meaning” or “intellectual content or qualities” —a use which a number of sixteenth and seventeenth-century critics certainly made of it— and de as “que contiene” (Luque Durán 54) or “propio de” (Luque Durán 58) the phrase, while rare, is undeniably within the realm of possible utterances. It is perhaps analogous to such expressions as Diego Gracián's (1552) “los libros de mentiras” (Ife 43), used as well by the Cortes de Valladolid in 1555, specifically in reference to romances of chivalry: “Otrosí decimos que está muy notorio el daño que en estos Reinos ha hecho y hace a hombres y doncellas e a otros géneros de gentes leer libros de mentiras y vanidades como son Amadís y todos los libros que después dél se han fingido de su calidad y letura y coplas y farsas de amores y otras vanidades” (Menéndez y Pelayo, CCLXXXVI). Libros de mentiras could perhaps best be interpreted as “books full of lies.” Libros de entendimiento could even be construed as books which are products of the intellect (though the absence of a definite article makes this reading more tenuous), just as Alfonso de Carvallo believes that artistic works are products of the imagination: “Las señales que Huarte pone para conocer el hombre que está en el tercero grado de calor son que se mostrara agudo en las obras de la imaginativa” (Porqueras 220), and Carrillo y Sotomayor that poetic works “Obras son del entendimiento” (Porqueras 341).
     The other part of the Cervantine passage —sin perjuicio de tercero— uncontested, has not shared the first part's critical attention, but it too is a typical product of contemporary literary thought. The priest shares his age's overriding concern with literary fiction's capacity for harm. For him pastoral works were not only libros de entendimiento but sin perjuicio de tercero, a phrase which the Cortázar / Lerner edition interprets as “que no perjudica la moral ni las buenas costumbres” (53).8 And once again the priest's very choice of words seems to reflect the critical debate of the time and to echo a commonly-made antithesis between worthwhile literary works and libros de caballerías.

     8 Beneficio de tercero, provecho de tercero and perjuicio de tercero were apparently commonly-used quasi-legal expressions in sixteenth-century Spain. Gabriel López, a beggar arrested by the Inquisition in 1570 for reciting a heretical prayer, for instance, tells the tribunal that “lo fundamental de sus recursos le viene de la mendicidad y de algunas monedas que le dan por recitar oraciones en provecho de terceros” (Bennassar 223; italics mine).


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As Ife tells us: “if we are to believe the literary critics and commentators of sixteenth-century Spain, the reading of fiction at that period was a pastime fraught with hidden danger and moral peril” (11). The pastoral itself was by no means excluded from the general condemnation. Malón de Chaide lumps pastoral works with equally harmful chivalric fiction: “¿Qué ha de hacer la doncellita que apenas sabe andar, y trae una Diana en la faldriquera?” (Ife 176). Fray Juan de la Cerda compares them to aceite de escorpiones (Ife 15), and includes them in a list of other extremely dangerous works: “es muy inútil y de poco prouecho la lección de las Celestinas, Dianas, Boscanes, Amadises, Esplandianes, y otros libros llenos de portentosas mentiras” (Ife 181).
     Pero Pérez, Cervantes' priest, however, would exclude pastoral works from the ranks of the harmful. In fact, they apparently occupy for him the place in a worthwhile literature vs. libros de caballerías contrast which some other critics would reserve for works of true poetry. Sánchez de Lima, for instance, praises poetry in the following terms: “¿Qué diré más de la poesía? Sino que es tan provechosa a la república cristiana, cuanto dañosos y perjuiciales los libros de caballerías, que no sirven de otra cosa sino de corromper los ánimos de los mancebos y doncellas” (Porqueras Mayo 131). The priest's use of the word perjuicio may reveal a rather abundant critical reading, as sixteenth-century theorists not uncommonly use that word or its variants to characterize non-worthwhile activities or harmful poetry: “que aunque no fuese más de por no pasar las horas de nuestro corto vivir en otras cosas más perjudiciales y juegos ociosos, está muy bien empleado el tiempo en el ejercicio de la poesía” (1587, Bernardo González de Bovadilla; cited in Porqueras 140); or “Estos y otros semejantes suelen ser los fines de los poetas. De los cuales aunque muchos sean tan dañosos y perjudiciales, no pierde por eso el arte. Pues, como dije, más son fines del que usa mal del arte, que de la misma arte; la cual es en sí buena y siempre fue tenida y estimada en mucho por lo[s] hombres más doctos y graves que ha habido en el mundo” (1592, Juan Díaz Rengifo; in Porqueras Mayo 155). Given the similarities of language one might even ask whether his characterization of pastoral romances as sin perjuicio is further indirect evidence that for Pero Pérez at least, these libros de entendimiento are works of true poetry.
     The entire passage, then, in which the priest characterizes pastoral works as libros de entendimiento, sin perjuicio de tercero, is a dramatization of the contemporary controversy over whether worthwhile works of


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literature could exist. It is yet another example of the Cervantine tendency, as Percas de Ponseti (among others) tells us, always to present literary theory in context (Percas 14). Since the argument about the harmfulness and worth of literary fictions was primarily a sixteenth-century concern, it is evidence as well (albeit of a rather circular sort) for an early composition of this part of the Quijote. The extent to which the priest's words may reflect Cervantes' opinions concerning serious literature is also characteristically ambiguous and ambivalent (Percas 14). However, if indeed the proper reading is libros de entendimiento, and if the phrase is a reflection of mediating texts in which the same contrast (worthwhile works vs. libros de caballerías) is set up, we are in the realm of such truisms of Renaissance literary theory that we are probably on safe ground in saying that they were shared by Cervantes as well.
     Before discussing the implications of Pero Pérez's words for his own or Cervantes' evaluation of pastoral literature in particular, one can reach some conclusions about their attitudes toward literary texts in general. Based on the foregoing analysis of parallel texts, the following conclusions are possible with respect to the priest's / Cervantes' literary opinions, several of them already noted by previous critics in other Cervantine contexts:

  1. For both Cervantes and the priest, serious works of literature are products of the mind / intellect, as was Cervantes' own Galatea: “no he publicado antes de ahora este libro, ni tampoco quise tenerle para mí solo más tiempo guardado, pues para más que para mi gusto solo le compuso mi entendimiento (Galatea, Avalle-Arce ed., 8).
  2. Serious literary works do not insult the reader's intelligence. As Ruth El Saffar has noted with respect to other critical passages in the Quijote: “The principal complaint against the romances of chivalry, as voiced by such ‘learned’ figures as the priest, the barber, and the Canon of Toledo in Part I, is that they abuse the intelligence of their readers” (El Saffar 1986: 83), no doubt also reflections of the sort of mediating texts which contrast romances of chivalry with more worthwhile works.
  3. Serious literature should contain a certain amount of didactic content and incidental information. The Neoplatonic philosophy, casuistry of love, and possible roman à clef elements in pastoral romance would fill this requirement quite nicely and in fact are cited by Cervantes in the prologue to his own Galatea: “no temeré mucho que alguno condemne haber mezclado razones de filosofía entre algunas amorosas de pastores, que pocas veces se levantan a más que [p. 177] a tratar cosas del campo . . . Mas advirtiendo . . . que muchos de los disfrazados pastores della lo eran solo en el hábito, queda llana esta objectión.”


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  1. The passage would also support Riley's conclusion (Riley 105) that “for Cervantes, a book that was to be really effective morally had to be acceptable intellectually and satisfy aesthetically.”

     Again characteristically, Cervantes does not allow the priest's views on the worth and harmlessness of at least some serious literature to remain unchallenged. The niece's and housekeeper's fear that Quijote might take it into his head to lead a pastoral rather than a chivalric life is a salutary warning that in the hands of a flawed reader all literature is dangerous.
     After determining that the proper textual reading is entendimiento and not entretenimiento, the important question to ask is what a characterization of pastoral romances as libros de entendimiento tells us about Cervantes' / the priest's attitude toward pastoral literature. Although it has become something of a cliché to speak of Cervantes' ambivalent attitude toward the pastoral (Poggioli 35; Riley 11; et al.), and some critics have even claimed Cervantine hostility toward pastoral literature (El Saffar 1986: 81), Cervantes, at least at this time and in this context, the escrutinio episode of chapter I, 6, did not have a negative opinion of pastoral romance as a literary genre. Based on the meanings given to entendimiento in similar critical contexts in Cervantes' time, and assuming even a minimal identification between Cervantes the author and the character of the parish priest —and given the extent to which the priest's words here correspond to Cervantes' Galatea prologue, their identification in this “pastoral” section of I, 6 is probably fairly close— we can surmise that Cervantes considered the pastoral to be a serious literary genre, seriously conceived and seriously intended, and pastoral romances intellectual works with a philosophical or instructional content, works of meaning and by extension, works of true poetry. His high opinion of the genre, however, does not preclude his finding flaws in individual works nor, additionally, through his joint criticism of the Diana and praise for the Diana enamorada, his expressing a preference for an internally motivated, causally structured, psychologically plausible narrative. Pastoral romances may be libros de entendimiento as well because, as Tovar reminds us (Tovar 31) they apply logic to “la vida sentimental.”
     In support of allegations of Cervantes' ambivalence or hostility toward the pastoral, critics usually refer to the Marcela-Grisóstomo episode or to the “fingida Arcadia” (II, 58) (Avalle-Arce 267) in the


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Quijote, or present Berganza's remarks in the “Coloquio de los perros” which contrast the life of “real” shepherds with that of characters in pastoral romance and conclude with the already-mentioned statement that “todos aquellos libros son cosas soñadas y bien escritas, para entretenimiento de los ociosos, y no verdad alguna” (“Coloquio,” Anaya ed., 106). Apart from the obvious consideration that each of the other Cervantine representations of the pastoral was written at another time and in a different context, there are other reasons for not taking too seriously the negativity of either the Quijote's pastoral episodes or Berganza's words, nor for allowing them to influence our reading of the priest's characterization of pastoral romances as libros de entendimiento. Insofar as either the Marcela-Grisóstomo or “fingida Arcadia” episodes portray the pastoral mode negatively at all —a debatable point at best— it is once again because of the characters' confusion between literature and life. Like Quijote, the ersatz shepherds are flawed (in some cases merely frivolous?) readers, so exaggeratedly impressionable as to be in potential danger from any literary work.
     It is also unwise to judge Cervantes' view of pastoral on the basis of Berganza's remarks in the “Coloquio de los perros.” As Renato Poggioli has perceptively observed: “Cervantes' condemnation of the pastoral in the Coloquio must be taken therefore with a grain of salt, and we must not forget that the author ascribes that condemnation to an animal character, although to a very wise and articulate one” (Poggioli 164). Analyses which attempt to use one of the Cervantine texts to illuminate the other ignore the differing tones of the two passages. Cervantes' representation of Berganza's remarks is a joke based on the dramatic irony resulting from the extreme distance between the author and Berganza on the one hand, and Berganza and the reader on the other. Berganza's contrast between the externals of literary and “real” pastoral life betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of literary convention and underlines the limitations of the dog-narrator. While his rather wide life's experience may have made him a passable cynical philosopher, he is a naïve reader, or rather in his case, a listener, and not a literary critic at all. Hence, both author and (sophisticated) reader can feel quite superior to him. He does not have the wide experience of literary texts which is one of Pero Pérez's critical virtues, and therefore he is unreliable in judging any truly literary work. (Although it can be simultaneously seen as funny that a literary genre is not necessarily like “life.” One of


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the jokes in Berganza's remarks is that, although naïvely stated, there is still an element of “truth” in them).
     As I believe I have demonstrated, there is not such a great distance between Cervantes the author and Pero Pérez the priest —at least in their fundamental evaluation of the pastoral romance as genre. The jokes in the escrutinio chapter are made by the priest, not at the expense of the priest, and the reader seems to be expected to accept him as somewhat of an authority on the works he evaluates. (Even self-proclaimed authorities often have more credibility than the naïve). At best, the two texts are simply not directly comparable, since they deal with two very different aspects of the pastoral (intellectual worth and harmlessness vs. correspondence to superficial “reality”) and are conveyed by two widely different narrative voices. At worst, it is possible for one Cervantine narrative voice to criticize certain aspects of the pastoral —its lack of external verisimilitude, for instance— without implying that the literary mode is either harmful or frivolous.
     We may not even have to choose between Pero Pérez's and Berganza's evaluations of the pastoral literary mode. In Cervantes' view (insofar as we can separate his view from that of Pero Pérez or Berganza), the pastoral may be a “serious” but slightly flawed sort of literature —a form which is a product of the author's intellect, appeals to the reader's intellect and has a serious “intellectual” content but which is somewhat lacking in enargaia or visualizing power, unlike the libros de caballerías, and which does violate the narrower rules of verisimilitude— those most likely to be invoked by a naïve and literal-minded reader / listener like Berganza. Both the priest's and Berganzá s responses to pastoral may hence be true but limited. For a complete picture of Cervantes' probable attitude, which is after all only a statement of the obvious, one must probably combine the two views. Pastoral is in fact both intellectually serious and not strictly verisimilar, if one defines verisimilitude as based on everyday surrounding reality. It is not the complete sort of fiction which either the Quijote or the Persiles would be.
     In any event, while there is disagreement over the extent of the priest's authority and his mirroring of Cervantes' ideas —the extremes of opinion represented by Allen (Allen II, 58) and El Saffar (1980: 253), with Weiger's opinion a typical “middle” view— even if the priest does not completely echo Cervantes when he calls pastoral works libros de entendimiento, an examination of contemporary critical texts has shown


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that he is a representative spokesman for the literary theory of the times. As such, he truly believes that pastoral romances are libros de entendimiento, a phrase which for him signified at once books of intellect, meaning, and genuine poetry.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY


 
 
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Digitized with the help of Contessa Marion
Fred Jehle jehle@ipfw.edu Publications of the CSA HCervantes
URL: http://www.h-net.org/~cervantes/csa/articf88/cozad.htm