From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
7.1 (1987): 71-74.
Copyright © 1987, The Cervantes Society of America
This volume is a collection of papers presented by diverse scholars at the May 1985 Penn StateBehrend College Symposium entitled Cervantes and the Pastoral. Organized to celebrate the quadricentennial of the publication of La Galatea, the conference and the present volume are a tribute to their organizers and participants. Appropriately, the first essay in the book is La Galatea, Four Hundred Years Later, the banquet address by Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce who states that Cervantes made his formal literary debut with the pastoral novel which was in great demand in the Spain of the 1580s. Avalle-Arce goes on to say that La Galatea met with only minimal success, and he provides a brief summary of criticism about the pastoral novel in Spain. Literary criticism did not begin in that country until the eighteenth century, long after Cervantes' death, and the pastoral novel was then condemned by critics as a totally artificial genre. Finally, with the arrival of Américo Castro's El pensamiento de Cervantes in 1925, critics' interpretation of the pastoral began to change. Twenty-three years later, Francisco López Estrada, in his La Galatea de Cervantes: Estudio crítico (1948), emphasized the pastoral novel as a literary child of intellectual history. Since then, many illustrious scholars, including Avalle-Arce, have contributed to our understanding of the pastoral in general and La Galatea in particular.
Besides Avalle-Arce's piece, which would have made an excellent formal introduction to the collection, the book includes a prologue by Archie K. Loss, fifteen articles, and a selected bibliography of Cervantes' La Galatea by Anita K. Stoll. Considering the anthology's contents, I find the title to be misleading. It implies that the book contains articles about the pastoral theme as it relates to Cervantes' works, especially because the papers included in the anthology were read at a conference commemorating the four-hundredth anniversary of the publication of La Galatea. Thus, I was surprised to find that the volume housed articles on Góngora and Juan de Tovar and that some of the papers about Cervantes' works had nothing to do with the pastoral. In addition to Avalle Arce's opening address, the essays which comprise the volume are as follows: Anthony Cárdenas, Berganza: Cervantes' Can[is] Domini; Alfonso Callejo, Tradición pastoril-piscatoria y menosprecio de corte en las Soledades de Góngora; Pilar F.-Cañadas Greenwood, Las mujeres en la semántica de La Galatea; John T. Cull, Another Look at Love in La Galatea; Thomas Deveny, The Pastoral and the Epithalamium of the Spanish Golden Age; Darío Fernández-Morera, Una dialéctica del Yo: Don Quijote II; XVI-XVIII; Dominick Finello, Shepherds at Play: Literary Conventions and Disguises in the Pastoral Narratives of the Quijote; Morley Hawk Marks, Deformación de la tradición
pastoril en La casa de los celos de Miguel de Cervantes; Elizabeth
Rhodes, The Poetics of Pastoral: Prologue to the Galatea;
Sanford Shepard and Marcus Shepard, Death in Arcadia. The Psychological
Atmosphere of Cervantes' Galatea; Sylvia Trelles, Aspectos
retóricos de los retratos femeninos en La Galatea; Jeanne
C. Wallace, El llanto como elemento dramático en La
Galatea; Chester L. Wolford, Don Quixote and the Epic
of Subversion; C. A. Zorita, J. J. Labrador, and R. A. Di Franco,
A su albedrío y sin orden alguna (Quijote,
II, LIX). Autor y coincidencias con la Egloga de Juan de
Limitations of space prevent me from offering a critique of each of these essays, but I will comment on a few which caught my attention. Don Quixote and the Epic of Subversion by Wolford, a non-Hispanist, has the flavor of Gerald Brenan's pieces on Spanish literature. Wolford expresses in a lively style both his knowledge and his sixth sense about Don Quijote. In his essay, he divides the arguments about the epic or mock epic into three categories: those that treat the epic theme in general as it applies to the novel, those that view Don Quijote as a hero exemplifying the Spanish character, and those that see the novel as a book that records the changes occurring in Western consciousness during Cervantes' day (the rise of humanism, the rebirth of democratic ideas, and the emergence of the relativism of the modern era). Whereas most Cervantes studies are concerned with a specific requirement of the epic how Cervantes replaces one view of the world (that of the chivalric romance and epic) with another (a more realistic one), Wolford is concerned with a different requirement that of subverting all former notions of heroism, because in these notions a given epic glorifies the ideals of an age. Wolford discusses Don Quijote's role in the book, and he concludes that Don Quijote is not really a hero, although the knight has more of the characteristics of a Homeric hero than of a chivalric one. Wolford notes that the code is there, but that when applied to Don Quijote, who is so physically unsuited to carrying it out, the code is mocked by association. (Perhaps John J. Allen's Don Quixote: Hero or Fool?, University of Florida Monographs, Humanities, Nos. 29, 46, 2 vols. [Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1969-1979] might have been consulted regarding this point.) For Wolford, Don Quijote embodies the earliest traditions of the epic while accomplishing something new in literature. Cervantes not only makes use of the epic tradition, but he also uses it against itself to speak both to his own age and to subsequent generations. Wolford emphasizes that heroism and nobility are mocked and that nothing is safe from Cervantes' subversive art not history, not contemporary society, not the epic. Yet, the epic shares with Don Quijote its subversion, the idea that the values glorified by the epic are seen as unattainable or as bringing about their own destruction.
Another article that deals with Don Quijote is Anthony Cárdenas' Berganza: Cervantes' Can[is] Domini. In his essay, Cárdenas discusses the parallels between St. Dominic and Berganza, the dog, in Cervantes' Coloquio de los perros. Berganza is to the Coloquio what the Dominican Order was to the Church a detached outside viewpoint but with intimate access. Unlike St. Dominic, who achieved widespread religious reform, Berganza does not bring about socio-moral reform in the chaotic world which surrounds him. Berganza is a hero of diminished proportions; he cannot achieve the greatness of a
Dominic because he is unable to surpass his nature, his dogness.
He has, like Don Quijote, experienced desengaño and learned
from his failures. Although society is not just and he cannot change it,
he does recognize his own worth. According to Cárdenas, perhaps Cervantes'
lesson is that the road to Utopia begins with the self, an idea consistent
with the Dominicans and with the intellectual climate of Cervantes' day.
Elizabeth Rhodes' The Poetics of Pastoral: Prologue to the Galatea is of interest for its approach to Cervantes' La Galatea. Rhodes' thesis is that Cervantes considered his pastoral work as poetry, especially as eclogue material. According to Rhodes, Cervantes' pastoral book is different from those of other writers because it involves characters who exemplify not only the desire for perfect love but also the fate of that desire in a context beyond static contemplation (i.e. in real life). The shepherds in La Galatea represent both idealism and realism without successfully capturing either one. Thus, Cervantes' discovery that an illusion cannot live or be made to live on its own explains why Don Quijote accepts his poetic ideal as fantasy and becomes real at the end of Cervantes' novel and why he rejects the adoption of a shepherd's lifestyle before dying as Alonso Quijano el Bueno. Rhodes suggests that Cervantes' discovery may also account for his decision not to write the second part of La Galatea; he probably knew that his attempt to depict idealism and its integration into reality would fail. Perhaps that is why he resorted to satire in Don Quijote. Whatever the case may be, Don Quijote's death, according to Rhodes, is an affirmation of poetry rather than a rejection of it. By dying as Alonso Quijano, the man he is (the real person), Don Quijote affirms the existence of the fictional character (the knight errant).
The unity of Góngora's Soledades is the topic of Alfonso Callejo's paper, Tradición pastoril-piscatoria y menosprecio de corte en las Soledades de Góngora. Callejo proposes that, through the technique of contrast, Góngora melds both content and form to create the poetic unity of the Soledades. Callejo draws structural and thematic parallels between the Soledad primera and the Soledad segunda. The rustic world of nature represented by the pastoral theme of the Soledad primera and the piscatory topic of the Soledad segunda stands in opposition to the corrupt environment of the Court as the peregrino, who belongs to the latter, travels through the former. Nature then, serves as an instrument of contrast by emphasizing the depravity of the Court. Moreover, it is possible to see in the Soledades both a general moral criticism and a specific social criticism of the Spain of Góngora's day. Góngora's attack on navigation in the Soledad primera is an attack on the Spaniards' voyages to America, which were motivated by greed. The presentation of nature in the work not only responds to an aesthetic and literary interest, but when linked with the technique of contrast, to the need to find an adequate means to criticize courtly life in general and Spain's transatlantic adventure in particular.
Thomas Deveny's paper, The Pastoral and the Epithalamium, sheds much light on the relationship between the pastoral and the epithalamium during the Spanish Golden Age. According to Deveny, the relationship is twofold: wedding poems are incorporated into pastoral romances and the pastoral is an important element in historical epithalamia. Deveny analyzes a wide variety of wedding poems in detail, and he concludes that the
important characteristics of the Spanish epithalamia are as follows: 1) the
sexual aspect of the genre is subdued, 2) poets sometimes incorporate a bombastic
style within the pastoral, 3) in most historical epithalamia the idyllic
world, through the employment of mythology, constitutes a major part of the
poetic uplifting that is basic to the genre, and 4) the epithalamia in pastoral
romances reveal that their authors had a knowledge of both classical and
popular generic traditions. In the Spanish Golden Age, the inclusion of
epithalamia in the larger narrative context of the pastoral romance not only
provides each poem with unique characteristics not normally found in historical
wedding songs, but it also underscores the link between the pastoral and
Sanford Shepard and Marcus Shepard, in their article, Death in Arcadia. The Psychological Atmosphere of Cervantes' Galatea, submit that La Galatea has a psychological message. The pastoral environment in this novel, like that in other books, is more than only a place for melancholic contemplation; it is also the scene of sudden violence, chaos, and death. The countryside, which differs from the urban environment that is man-made, is a seemingly harmless part of nature. According to the Shepards, Cervantes, through the story of Lisandro and Leonida, makes two major points. The first is that good intentions often turn bad, and the second is that human nature has its dark side. Independent of conscious motive, this dark side is capable of taking control of an individual when least expected, causing profound human tragedy. The potential for arbitrary violence and mayhem is triggered when passion and emotion play a central role in our lives. To trust passionate love as our guide for making decisions of great importance is to invite catastrophe such as the murder of Leonida. The Shepards also note that Cervantes seems to be advocating arranged marriages. Through these marriages, families are better able to insure a match that will benefit society as a whole. If, however, such decisions are the result of human passions, the social order is threatened and violence is often the result.
Lack of space precludes my discussing more of the informative essays included in this collection. Silence on my part does not imply that the papers not mentioned are inferior to those on which I have commented. As in any collection, however, the quality of the articles varies somewhat, and as in other proceedings volumes, publication costs discourage the inclusion of ampler versions of the essays read, which would be of greater interest. In some cases, an author might have developed an argument more fully or elaborated a bit more on a given point. A fair amount of typographical errors are evident. The most obvious ones appear at the beginning of the collection: Las Soledades for las Soledades (p. 5), Dominic for Dominick (p. 5), Psichological for Psychological (p. 6), order for orden (p. 6), and say for stay (p. 12). However, in spite of the collection's few imperfections, its editors and contributors should take pride in it; the anthology contains more than enough quality material to make a significant contribution to Hispanism.
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