From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
19.1 (1999): 40-65.
Copyright © 1999, The Cervantes Society of America
||E. T. AYLWARD|
ver the past two centuries,
there has been a great deal of speculation about Cervantes's possible authorship
of an anonymous seventeenth-century short story entitled La tía
fingida.1 As we shall see, despite the
efforts of several respected scholars to provide a definitive solution to
the theoretical question of Cervantes's paternity in the case of TF,
the issue has stubbornly resisted all attempts to resolve it.
The nineteenth-century critics who initially proposed the hypothetical case for Cervantes's authorship and then persisted in supporting the viability of that claim included García de Arrieta (1814), Fernández de Navarrete (1818) and B. J. Gallardo (1832). The first critic to take a strong stand against the notion of Cervantes's
distinct versions of TF have come down to us. The first is the text
copied in 1788 by Isidoro Bosarte from a collection of miscellaneous items
prepared in Seville (ca. 1606) by Francisco Porras de la Cámara.
Unfortunately, the complete Porras codex disappeared in 1823. The second
version a completely different rendition of the same story is
to be found in Seville's Biblioteca Colombina, codex A2-141-4,
folios 77-a to 83. Both versions of TF are offered in the
1982 Castalia edition of the Novelas ejemplares edited by Juan Bautista
Avalle-Arce. All references here will be to the Porras text.
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authorship of TF was Adolfo de Castro (1889), but it was Francisco
A. de Icaza's cogently argued De cómo y por qué La
tía fingida no es de Cervantes (1916) that presented the
strongest case against Cervantes's involvement.
Icaza's investigation is primarily lexical. A major part of his documentation (92-97) centers on words and expressions in the text of TF that would already have been considered archaic in Cervantes's time, e.g., aferruzado (colérico), aficionado (enamorado), derribar (quitar). Another significant point of difference lies in the manner in which the author of TF and Cervantes, respectively, employ in their works local or regional colloquial expressions that are not to be found in any standard Spanish dictionary. Icaza argues (98-114) that Cervantes always strives to interpret local or plebeian colloquialisms for his sophisticated reading audience by immediately appending a clarifying definition and/or explanation, usually introduced by an expression such as como dicen, según se dice, como decirse suele, etc. This kind of courtesy and authorial concern for the reader is completely lacking in the author of TF, as Icaza notes from certain colloquial phrases (which I have emphasized below) that go without clarification for the uninitiated reader in the opening paragraphs of the Porras version of that story:
Pasando por cierta calle de Salamanca dos estudiantes mancebos y manchegos, más amigos del baldeo y rodancho que Bártulo y Baldo, vieron en una ventana de una casa y tienda de carne una celosía, y pareciéndoles novedad (porque la gente de la tal casa, si no se descubría y apregonaba, no se vendía), y . . . siendo pláticos en la ciudad, y deshollinadores de cuantas ventanas tenían albahacas con tocas, en toda ella no sabían que tal tía y sobrina hubiesen cursantes en su Universidad, principalmente que viniesen a vivir a semejante casa, en la cual, por ser de buen peaje, siempre se había vendido tinta, aunque no de la fina: que hay casas, así en Salamanca como en otras ciudades, que llevan de suelo vivir siempre en ella mujeres cortesanas, y por otro nombre trabajadoras o enamoradas (Icaza 106-07).
Icaza notes that the average reader might not immediately understand that the baldeo y rodancho referred to above are actually street-slang terms for a sword and shield. Similarly, the Bártulo y Baldo cited immediately thereafter are the names of two fourteenth-century Italian authors and legal commentators.2 The
more complete information on Bártulo and Baldo, see the Avalle-Arce
edition of the Novelas ejemplares, volume 3, page 325, note 2.
|42||E. T. AYLWARD||Cervantes|
implication, therefore, is that these two students are more versed
in street brawling than in their legal studies, but the judgment is expressed
in an oblique, almost opaque, manner, which is contrary to the Cervantine
The uninitiated reader might also fail to recognize that tienda de carne is a colorful albeit vulgar synonym for brothel. As such the expression serves as the key to understanding the significance of the kind of activity that would normally take place in the window overlooking the street (si no se descubría y apregonaba, no se vendía). The insinuation that illicit sexual contact was taking place on those premises is repeated in the narrator's allusion to the building as a very special establishment (por ser de buen peaje, siempre se había vendido tinta, aunque no de la fina) in which the traditional residents (llevan de suelo) have been ladies of the evening (mujeres cortesanas, y por otro nombre trabajadoras o enamoradas).3 Similarly, the deshollinadores mentioned here are not chimney sweeps but rather a clever way of describing a pair of would-be Peeping Toms who go about the city streets spying through the windows of private residences to catch a glimpse of the women (albahacas con tocas) living inside.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of the 1916 study is Icaza's announcement of the discovery of a probable Italian source for the anonymous TF: Pietro Aretino's Ragionamenti (1534). Icaza flatly labels TF un arreglo o adaptación al castellano de varias páginas de los Razonamientos del Aretino (17). He then devotes several pages to a side-by-side comparison of a series of almost identical episodes found in the two works (22-35). The most remarkable of these parallel scenes involves a conversation between two prostitutes in which the older woman (la Nanna) counsels the younger one (la Pippa) regarding some of the peculiar traits she will encounter in the rather cosmopolitan clientele she will be serving. The observations of la Nanna in the Ragionamenti are virtually identical to those of old Doña Claudia to her young protegée Esperanza in TF. The only real difference lies in the designation of the various ethnic groups to be categorized: the Germans, Spaniards, Florentines and Romans of the Italian original are converted into Andalusians, Valencians, Basques,
goes on to list another set of unusual phrases and colloquial expressions
that go unclarified in the text of TF. Among these are del tiempo
de Fernán González, guantes de polvillo, replicar broqueles,
meterse en danzas de espadas, hacer refacción y deshecha, estar de
dos dormidas como gusano de seda and ir hecho un San Jorge
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Catalans, etc. in the Spanish version, but the ethnic quirks and foibles
discussed are essentially the same4.
The entire debate should have come to a close with the publication of Icaza's careful examination of the text, but there continued to exist a stubborn cadre of critics who refused to accept the negative conclusions of Icaza's argument. The ranks of the pro-Cervantine school of thought in the early part of this century included Bonilla (1917), Astrana Marín (1948-58) and Medina (1958).
One might also have expected the dispute to be settled definitively with the publication of Manuel Criado de Val's thorough linguistic and syntactical autopsy of TF in his Análisis verbal del estilo (1953), a study which provides a convincing stylistic argument against any claim of Cervantine authorship for that story. To summarize Criado de Val's methodology, he compared the frequency patterns in the use of the certain forms of the subjunctive and conditional moods in the Novelas of Cervantes (1613), as measured against the same verbal patterns in the Porras versions of Rinconete y Cortadillo and El zeloso extremeño, then against the Porras and Colombina versions of TF. A partial summary of the results is as follows (Análisis verbal 35):
|Novelas ejemplares (in general)||54%||18%||10%||16%|
|El zeloso extremeño (1613)||56%||18%||8%||17%|
|El zeloso extremeño (Porras)||56%||16%||11%||15%|
|Rinconete y Cortadillo (1613)||53%||15%||11%||21%|
|Rinconete y Cortadillo (Porras)||44%||27%||10%||18%|
|La tía fingida (Colombina)||54%||26%||10%||10%|
|La tía fingida (Porras)||53%||30%||8%||8%|
As we can see, the frequency ranges for the -se and -ra forms of the imperfect subjunctive for the collection of Novelas ejemplares as a whole are at 54% and 18%, respectively. The frequency patterns found in Cervantes's versions of Rinconete and Zeloso do not deviate more than two or three percentage points from the overall pattern. In the case of TF, however, the frequency of the -ra form increases by roughly fifty percent (from 18% to 26% or 30%, depending upon which version is studied). On the basis of the extremely high frequency of -ra subjunctive forms employed in TF, Criado concluded
also notes several expressions in TF that are exact Spanish translations
of certain Italian phrases in Aretino's book, among them abrir tienda,
esquilmar majuelo, vendimiar viña and disfrutar la
|44||E. T. AYLWARD||Cervantes|
that the anonymous story could not be attributed to Cervantes or to any other
published author of the time. The only logical candidate for the authorship
of TF, according to Criado de Val, was the Licenciado Porras de la
Cámara, who, in the course of compiling his miscellany, must have
decided to join a work of prose fiction of his own invention (TF)
with certain anonymous versions of Rinconete and Zeloso that
were circulating in Sevillian literary circles in the early 1600s (117).
Despite Criado de Val's solid methodology and subsequent judgment against Cervantes's involvement in the creation of TF, some scholars could not accept the obvious truth. Twenty years later, in an essay on Cervantine attributions in the Suma Cervantina (1973), J. B. Avalle-Arce dismissed the issue of TF and Cervantes's paternity as a matter that continued to be sub judice (406). In recent times, pace the substantial weight of the arguments advanced by Icaza and Criado de Val, a small number of critics have persisted in clinging to the tenuous theory of Cervantes's authorship of TF; among these are Corral (1981), Rodríguez-Luis (1984) and Márquez Villanueva (1991).
Corral's willingness to accept Cervantes as the author of TF stems from that author's definition of honestidad as a sincere and disinterested attitude toward life. Furthermore, Corral says, TF supports, in both theme and form, the very same social attitudes that are manifested in the rest of Cervantes's Novelas. The young female who is the focal point of everyone's attention in TF is Esperanza, who Corral says is meant to serve as an example in the obverse of the miraculous powers of nobility that are demonstrated by two of Cervantes's other unlikely heroines, Preciosa (La gitanilla) and Costanza (La ilustre fregona). A negative social environment will have a damaging effect only upon those who lack a fundamental nobility of spirit or blood. Preciosa and Costanza, by virtue of their noble birth, are able to avoid the unfortunate fate of Esperanza, who has no secret aristocratic lineage or values to sustain her in her trials (406). In the final analysis, Corral embraces the notion that Cervantes is the author of TF simply because that story, representing la otra cara de la moneda, serves as a fine thematic complement to a pair works known to have been written by Cervantes.
The initial intention of Julio Rodríguez-Luis's comments on TF seems to be polemical: the first part of his discussion is an attempt to discredit the findings of Icaza. In his discussion of TF itself Rodríguez-Luis ultimately concludes that the figure of Esperanza manages to make a remarkable transformation from caricature to real
|19.1 (1999)||Casamiento / Tía fingida||45|
character, emerging in the end as a mujer discreta. At the close of
the action the old bawd Claudia merits the reader's reprobación,
while the still-youthful Esperanza receives our lástima because
of her naturaleza dócil y obediente (96-97). He finds
several points on which to compare TF to Cervantes's Casamiento
engañoso, most notable among them plot action that is
espontánea, realista y moderna (99).
Francisco Márquez Villanueva's acceptance of the notion of Cervantes's authorship of TF is as tepid as it is ambivalent. On the one hand he appears to be quite fond of the story; he calls it a work llena de pinceladas narrativas perfectamente ajustadas a . . . un firme encuadre semiológico (124). On the other hand, however, he is forced to accept Icaza's argument that TF bears an undeniable resemblance to Aretino's Ragionamenti. But then he declares that this similarity is of no real importance (137). He says he is willing to accept TF as Cervantes's work, but he concedes that it may also have been the work of un temprano imitador consciente y sistemático (146).
The inability of the scholarly community to resolve this lingering question has been reflected most recently (1993) in an article by Mary S. Gossy, who attempts to deal with the issue without actually touching it. Gossy confesses to a long-time misreading of the story's happy ending and goes on to call TF a stumbling block for Cervantine scholarship (256), but she skillfully avoids mentioning whether she really believes TF to be Cervantes's own work.5
wonders why Gossy doesn't take her argument one step further and observe
that the denouement of TF is anything but Cervantine. Where else among
Cervantes's works do we have such a bizarre happy resolution
of events (two students fighting over how and by whom Esperanza shall be
possessed)? The moral here is simply too obvious,
facile and unsophisticated to be from Cervantes's pen. A more typically
Cervantine moral coda is the one we find at the conclusion of La
gitanilla, where the Gypsy girl Preciosa, now reconstituted as the
aristocratic Costanza and reunited with her biological parents, submits to
her parents' will and elects to abandon the carefree life of the aduar
(where she had lived in complete contentment and freedom) in order to take
up the very confining (and boringly conventional) role of the wife of the
young noble, Juan de Cárcamo. What many critics have overlooked about
the ending of La gitanilla is that Preciosa's long-time spiritual
counterpart, the page-poet Clemente, is then quietly allowed to slip away
from the royal authorities who seek to imprison him in order to make his
way to Italy, where we assume he will continue to live free and unencumbered
by the stifling conventions of the aristocrats' society. The subtle criticism
contained in the subtext of La gitanilla is what has made Cervantes's
writing so attractive and rewarding to critics over the centuries. That
sophistication and subtlety are precisely the elements that are lacking in
TF, which constitutes a major reason for doubting that Cervantes has
had any hand whatsoever in its composition.
|46||E. T. AYLWARD||Cervantes|
In an earlier study of my own, Cervantes:
Pioneer and Plagiarist (1982), I accepted Criado de Val's grammatical
and stylistic evidence and proceeded to argue against Cervantes's involvement
in the composition of TF. At the risk of being accused of overkill,
I would now like to argue against Cervantes's paternity solely on the basis
of artistic criteria, i.e., by comparing the narrative techniques employed
in TF with those found in an indisputably Cervantine work very similar
to it in theme and execution, El casamiento engañoso.
EL CASAMIENTO ENGAÑOSO
In their respective analyses of El casamiento
engañoso, critics of Spanish literature have generally chosen
to ignore the thematic similarity of that work to the TF. They have
usually opted to note and comment on its close relationship to the Coloquio
de los perros, a prose dialog with which the Casamiento is physically
joined at the end of the Novelas ejemplares. Even so, there have been
a number of comments that merit consideration here.
Amezúa y Mayo, apart from praising the Casamiento's realism, plausibility and artful narration, cites that work as one of only two of the Novelas ejemplares the other being El celoso extremeño in which Cervantes graphically portrays the manner in which a sinful protagonist is eventually punished for his vices (2:389). Joaquín Casalduero observes that the figure of Ensign Campuzano undergoes a remarkable spiritual metamorphosis as we move from the introductory Casamiento to the main action in the Coloquio. The lonely figure of Campuzano as he emerges from the Hospital de la Resurrección at the beginning of the first story is portrayed as una triste figura. But at the conclusion of the Coloquio he appears to have undergone a resurrection of his own and now merits the reader's respect (245). Similarly but on a purely artistic plane, Karl-Ludwig Selig observes that the introductory action of the Casamiento serves to augment the verisimilitude of the Coloquio that follows. The Casamiento, in essence, is designed to prepare the reader to accept the plausibility of Campuzano's bizarre manuscript (399).
A very different interpretation of the Casamiento is offered by Manuel Lloris and Julio Rodríguez-Luis. While clearly underscoring the culpability of Campuzano in forging a deceitful marriage, Lloris offers an open apology for the woman who deceives him. To Lloris's way of thinking, the story is really about Estefanía, not Campuzano; he calls it una historia de una intentona trágico-grotesca de una infeliz mujer en busca de la redención social (20).
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Rodríguez-Luis also defends Estefanía, calling her una
mujer inteligente y franca, ama de casa ejemplar y esposa amantísima
who had originally intended to remain at Campuzano's side (48). Because in
the Casamiento none of the deceivers is able to escape his or her
well-deserved punishment, Rodríguez-Luis pronounces the work la
más ejemplar de todas las Novelas, casi en el sentido
medieval del ejemplo (51).
Other critics have found a link between the figure of the deceitful Ensign and the witch Cañizares from the Coloquio. Pamela Waley believes that the combined stories are an attack by Cervantes on the vice of hypocrisy. The Casamiento treats the evils of hypocrisy in an individual case, while the Coloquio represents the same evil as pandemic throughout Spanish society (204). The difference between Campuzano and Cañizares, Waley maintains, is simply one of degree (212). This view is echoed by Alban K. Forcione, who calls Campuzano and Estefanía's marriage a perversion of the sacrament and notes that they resemble Cañizares in that they cultivate hypocrisy, masterfully manipulate appearances for personal gain, and speak in the twisted and ambiguous language of the devil (137). Forcione calls the combined Casamiento and Coloquio the richest and most original of the Exemplary Novels because it is a fictional hybrid, i.e., a combination of the picaresque novel and the Lucianic satire within the containing frame of a Christian miracle book (140-41).
Still another interpretation is presented by Ruth El Saffar in a 1973 article when she declares that, in and of itself, the Casamiento is not particularly interesting (Montesinos' Cave 455). Its value, she says, comes from its juxtaposition with the Coloquio, transforming the latter from an unfinished dialogue to a work of art (Montesinos' Cave 466).
My own view borrows key elements from both Forcione and El Saffar's arguments. With regard to narrative structure, it makes perfect sense for Cervantes to fuse these two separate stories in order to provide a reasonable frame for a text that purports to be the transcript of a canine conversation. Both stories deal with a common theme: hypocrisy. And from a psychological standpoint, the devastating embarrassment Campuzano suffers at the hands of Estefanía in the Casamiento is certainly cause enough to explain the strange reverie he later experiences and records in the Coloquio. But there is yet another level of meaning here. The fusion of these two disparate elements also serves a critical/theoretical purpose in that it allows Cervantes to represent perfectly the complexity of artistic creation and the interdependence of the author and his reader.
|48||E. T. AYLWARD||Cervantes|
El Saffar alludes to the theoretical implications
of the combined Casamiento/Coloquio when she points out that Campuzano
represents the author while his friend Peralta assumes the role of the reader.
Together they represent the two parts of the creative process, i.e., the
cooperative effort that is required if works of fiction are to
achieve the level of verisimilitude that neo-Aristotelian critics demanded
of them (Novel to Romance 81-82). El Saffar offers no comment at all
about the role of the hypercritical Cipión in the process, but I would
suggest that the second dog's role in the Coloquio is to give concrete
form to the haunting voice of literary theorists in the author's ear as they
continually interrupt the creative process in an attempt to constrain the
writer's creative instincts and force him to compose in accordance with
established literary precepts.
The consensus of the neo-Aristolelian theorists, most notably Torquato Tasso, appears to have been that the plausibility of a fictional work depended entirely upon internal factors, i.e., whatever empirical data usually of a historical, geographic or scientific nature the author could provide to convince the sophisticated reader of the text's veracity. Cervantes, beginning with Don Quixote, dedicated much of his literary production to demonstrating that verisimilitude depended upon both internal and external elements. The quality of the artist's representation always works in conjunction with whatever the reader is willing to accept as believable. The ultimate verisimilitude of a fictional work, then, will perforce be determined by a cooperative effort between the author and his reader.
What Cervantes demonstrates in the Casamiento/Coloquio is that if the author is skillful enough as Campuzano certainly is in this case he can create a plausible story out of virtually any subject matter, even something as absurd as a conversation between two dogs.
One of the first things we note about the Casamiento is that its basic structure differs remarkably from that of the other Novelas ejemplares. Rather than begin in medias res as most of them do, or at the beginning, as was the case with Rinconete y Cortadillo (R/C), El celoso extremeño (ZE), and El licenciado Vidriera (LV) the three novellas with links to the Porras manuscript the story opens at the conclusion of the action, when a weak and wobbly Ensign Campuzano stumbles out of the Hospital of the Resurrection in Valladolid. The narration then leaps back in time while the Ensign reconstructs for his friend Peralta the series of peculiar events that have conspired to bring him to such a gravely debilitated physical state. From the very title of the work and from the description of Campuzano's physical
|19.1 (1999)||Casamiento / Tía fingida||49|
condition in the opening paragraph (. . . un soldado que,
por servirle su espada de báculo y por la flaqueza de sus piernas
y amarillez de su rostro. . . . Iba haciendo pinitos y dando
traspiés, como convalesciente; NE
3:221),6 it would appear that the element
of surprise is not of paramount importance in this story.
It is also made clear from the start that the Ensign has been devastated by a foolish marriage to some deceitful woman, a fact which is revealed early on by Campuzano himself: . . . algo de aquel hospital, de sudar catorce cargas de bubas que me echó una mujer que escogí por mía, que non debiera (NE 3:222). This opening frankness is deceptive, however; Cervantes has reserved one small but significant surprise for the very end, as we shall see. The narrative order then, is the following:
|| ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ||
|| _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ||
|B||=||Flashback narrative of Campuzano.|
|C||=||Moral commentary of Peralta and Campuzano.|
|D||=||Introduction to the Coloquio.|
In the chronological scheme, however, sections A and B exchange places:
|| ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ¯ ||
|| _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ||
With regard to theme, this story deals with the closely related topics of hypocrisy, the universal conflict in human society between appearances and reality, and the general caution contained in the old
citations from El casamiento engañoso are taken from Miguel
de Cervantes, Novelas ejemplares, III, ed. Juan Bautista
|50||E. T. AYLWARD||Cervantes|
saying about ir por lana y volver trasquilado. The evidence of showy façades is present everywhere in this story; if the lady in question makes an initial grand display of her gaudy rings, Campuzano himself plays the game with his colorful military uniform and gold chain:
Estaba yo entonces bizarrísimo, con aquella gran cadena que vuesa merced debió de conocerme, el sombrero con plumas y cintillo, el vestido de colores, a fuer de soldado, y tan gallardo a los ojos de mi locura, que me daba a entender que las podía matar en el aire (NE 3:223-24).
In a similar vein, the Ensign informs us that
his lady friend's companion approaches another soldier under the pretext
of asking him to carry certain letters to her cousin in Flanders,
but he realizes from the start that the intended recipient is her current
The Ensign's lady, whose name is Estefanía, baits the hook with her mysterious air (she refuses to uncover her face during their first encounter), the pale skin of her hands, and her soft, sensual voice (un tono de habla tan suave que se entraba por los oídos en el alma NE 3:224). After a courtship that lasts not much more than a week, the two are married and Campuzano moves with all his worldly possessions into the comfortable house (una casa muy bien aderezada) she has led him to believe is hers.
The reader must, from all the clues Cervantes has scattered about the early pages of his narrative, realize that Estefanía's representation of herself and her financial situation is nothing but a great sham. The fragile tissue of her lies begins to disintegrate six days later when someone named Doña Clementa suddenly appears at her door and claims the house belongs to her. Estefanía calms the fears of her new husband with a fairly flimsy explanation: she says Doña Clementa is attempting to trick a certain suitor into proposing marriage to her by claiming that house as her own; things will return to normal as soon as Clementa convinces him to marry her, she asserts. What the reader surely suspects and what the Ensign ought to realize is that Estefanía is attributing to her friend the very same scam she has been perpetrating on him. Blinded by his own greed, Campuzano fails to recognize his own precarious situation in the scenario his wife has constructed.
In the end he is left homeless, penniless and afflicted with a venereal disease that will cause him to lose all of his hair and then have to undergo twenty days of treatment in a hospital. The Ensign can take consolation only from the fact that his deceitful bride will
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find herself equally embarrassed when she learns that all the flashy gold
chains with which she has absconded are virtually worthless. This final piece
of information is the only surprise Cervantes has reserved for the final
The Casamiento is, then, something of a cuento engañoso. The narrator pretends to reveal all in the opening pages, but such turns out to be not quite the case. The reader is seduced, in effect, just as Campuzano has been. The casual onlooker is deceived into believing that he is able to glimpse the objective reality of the situation from Campuzano's very subjective account of the events. But when the last piece of the picture is finally put into place, the reader realizes that he, too, has been had. As it turns out, Campuzano's losses are not nearly so great as he has led Peralta and Cervantes has led his reading public to believe.
All in all, this is a masterful display of Cervantes's talents as a story teller and manipulator of plot: the opening description of the pathetically enfeebled Ensign immediately draws us into the tale; Campuzano's carefully crafted account of his entrapment with an abundance of verbal clues to add spice to the narration and deceive us into thinking we are more clever than the foolish protagonist distracts the reader's attention while Cervantes sets up the final punch line. The coup de grâce is then administered painlessly, almost as an afterthought, a throw-away line to finish off the joke.
The characterization in this story is likewise first-rate, which is sometimes difficult to achieve in a story overflowing with unsavory types. In virtually every other novella in the collection there is at least one morally upright character worthy of our admiration or sympathy; but this is not the case here. Nonetheless, even in a story such as Casamiento, abounding as it does in hypocrites and sleazy charlatans, Cervantes somehow finds a way to temper the stinging criticism he delivers. The self-deprecating humor with which Campuzano tells his tale renders him, if not quite lovable, perhaps somewhat less loathsome than he might have been in the hands of a less skillful narrator. He pays the full price for his stupidity, greed and short-sightedness, but he emerges a better man for the experience. As we shall presently note, the same effect is not achieved in TF, principally because the narration is in less skillful hands.
LA TÍA FINGIDA
We should begin our examination of TF with a discussion of its basic narrative structure, noting that it bears absolutely no resemblance
|52||E. T. AYLWARD||Cervantes|
to that of the Casamiento. In the diagram that follows we observe that the story of the pretended aunt consists of five major scenes (A through E) plus a brief epilogue (F); each of the scenes is followed by an elliptical pause in the action. The action that takes place in the longest scene (D) surrounds almost parenthetically a lengthy conversation (D') between the aunt and niece (entitled Consejo de Estado y Hacienda in the Porras version), a dialogue which Icaza considered to be a re-working of an almost identical scene in Aretino's Ragionamenti (see above).
The scene-by-scene summary of the plot is as follows:
Daytime in Salamanca, on the street in front of the house occupied by Doña Claudia and Esperanza; two students from La Mancha make inquiries about the building's unusual windows and the inhabitants thereof.
Nighttime at same locale; the two students hire musicians to serenade the women who reside in the curious house. Their misguided efforts result in chaos. At dawn the chastened students retreat to the home of Don Félix, a mature gentleman who agrees to assist the young men in the courtship of the lovely Esperanza. Don Félix sends a note to Doña Claudia.
Don Félix meets Grijalba, Esperanza's duenna; they arrange to smuggle Don Félix into Esperanza's bedroom for a nocturnal rendezvous.
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Evening. Don Félix secretly enters Esperanza's home and is led to her bedroom where he overhears an incriminating conversation between Esperanza and Claudia.
D' Consejo de Estado y Hacienda [359-63]
Begins with a long dialogue between Claudia and Esperanza about the various regional types they encounter in their business. Don Félix then learns the unpleasant truth about how these two female con-artists make their living by extracting money from gullible suitors who hope to enjoy Esperanza's great beauty and oft-mended virginity.
Don Félix's presence is discovered when he cannot stifle a sneeze . After he emerges from his hiding place he witnesses a scuffle between Grijalba and Claudia, in the course of which Claudia's wig is tossed in the air . Soon thereafter the Corregidor and his men, who have also overheard the incriminating details of the conversation, enter and prepare to send the women off to jail . Don Félix fails in his attempt to persuade the Corregidor to release the women into his custody .
On the street a short time later the two students and six of their friends attempt to snatch Claudia and Esperanza from the custody of the police. In the ensuing scuffle with the constables only Esperanza is able to be saved. Having rescued Esperanza, the two students soon begin to quarrel over which of them will now possess her. The issue is settled when Student #1 proposes to marry the beautiful young woman so that he may have sex with her. Soon thereafter he takes Esperanza to meet his father, who declares that he is pleased with his son's choice of a bride.
During the judicial process that follows it is revealed that Esperanza is not really Claudia's niece, but rather her criminal protegée. Claudia is sentenced to receive 400 lashes and the humiliation of being forced to wear a pasteboard cone on her head while locked in a cage in the public square. In the meantime Esperanza weds the student who has rescued her from Claudia's clutches.
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When measured against the artful narrative
technique of Cervantes's Casamiento engañoso, the plan for
TF appears to have been conceived without any clear artistic purpose.
Cervantes masterfully holds the reader's attention as the Ensign Campuzano
recounts the events of his whirlwind courtship of Estefanía. Throughout
his narrative Campuzano projects an air of mystery about the woman who became
his wife. At several points along the way occasional snippets of incriminating
information about Estefanía's true character are released, but this
is merely a clever ruse to distract the reader and keep him/her in suspense
until the end, when the story takes a sudden ironic turn. The story of
TF, on the other hand, is completely predictable; there is no red
herring to throw the reader off the scent, nor is there any ironic
twist in the denouement to add an element of surprise.
The absence of suspense, surprise and irony is not the only evidence of narrative naïveté in the author of TF. At the end of the story, even after it is established that the entire incriminating conversation between Claudia and Esperanza has been overheard by the Corregidor, Claudia nevertheless persists in mounting a useless and strident defense of her own reputation and the thrice-sold honor of her niece. A careful craftsman like Cervantes would never have bothered to include such a superfluous and pointless speech in his work.
If we hold the figure of Esperanza up against comparable female characters in Cervantes's fiction, we see that she isn't blessed with the same kind of moral qualities with which Cervantes always endows his victimized heroines. Her history pales in comparison with that of Leocadia, who is kidnapped and raped at the beginning of La fuerza de la sangre. Esperanza also lacks the natural charm of Costanza, the illegitimate scullery maid who ultimately recovers her aristocratic heritage in La ilustre fregona. Both of these Cervantine creations accept their unhappy fate with humility, grace and dignity, for which they are eventually rewarded.
Nothing of the kind occurs in TF, where an artificial happy ending is tacked onto an otherwise sordid history. Esperanza's sole positive attribute is her physical attractiveness; the author of TF makes no attempt to provide her with any redeeming virtues or personal characteristics that would allow her to be considered a worthy mate for a young nobleman. When the wealthy student volunteers to marry Esperanza in the final pages, he does not make his offer out of any respect for her, nor is he attempting to restore her tarnished family honor. He simply wants to sleep with her.
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Even if we accept such a shallow pretext for
the final resolution, the facility with which Esperanza and the Manchegan
student come to be joined in matrimony runs contrary to the established
Cervantine model. In his Novelas ejemplares and indeed in many
of his longer works as well Cervantes continually obliges his young
lovers to pass through some sort of trial within the crucible of life (a
descent into the Gypsy maelstrom, a period of captivity in slavery, a near-fatal
illness) before they are spiritually prepared to enter the matrimonial state.
The rapid and uncomplicated nuptials which provide the tidy denouement for
TF reflect a debased moral and ethical system of values that runs
totally contrary to the oft-demonstrated Cervantine norm.
Many other notable disparities can be found to set TF apart from Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares. For example, the bawdy allusions and sexual references are much more explicit in TF than they are in any of the authentic Cervantine Novelas ejemplares. Fundamental psychological motivation is another area in which TF comes up short. The one-dimensional characters in TF lack the same kind of deep-seated emotional conflicts and uncontrollable desires that impel Cervantes's fictional protagonists to behave in bizarre and/or extreme ways, e.g., Preciosa in La gitanilla, Tomás Rueda in El licenciado Vidriera, Rodolfo in La fuerza de la sangre, Carrizales in El celoso extremeño, Teodosia and Leocadia in Las dos doncellas, and Campuzano in Casamiento.
Of all the personalities presented in TF the evil procuress Claudia is the most psychologically complex figure, but she is not really a protagonist. As a secondary figure Claudia shares certain characteristics with some of Cervantes's lesser characters, e.g., the old Gypsy woman in Gitanilla, the nefarious sorceress Cañizares in the Coloquio. Ultimately, however, it must be said that Claudia is not an especially complex character; her scheming is quite one-dimensional, predictable and transparent. The libidinous Don Félix is another secondary character in TF who also bears a resemblance to a number of Cervantine creations: the duke's son, Fernando, from Part One of Don Quijote; the elder Carriazo in La ilustre fregona, Loaysa in El celoso extremeño, Rodolfo in La fuerza de la sangre, and the hormonal Hibernians from the Persiles. Although Don Félix is already accustomed is paying for Esperanza's services, he later offers to marry her as a demonstration of his nobility.
The point-by-point description of Esperanza's physical appearance represents still another departure from the Cervantine norm. Cervantes's heroines tend to possess a kind of ethereal beauty that
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resists detailed physical description. His ingenues are almost always golden-haired goddesses, the most notable exception being that of the dark-eyed Moorish brunette, Zoraida, from DQ I; Ch. 39-41. The listing of Esperanza's physical attributes in TF is more detailed than that of any major female character in Cervantes's short fiction; the narrator leaves virtually no feature unmentioned in his verbal portrait of her:
Delante venía su sobrina, moza, al parecer, de diez y ocho años, de rostro mesurado y grave, más aguileño que redondo, los ojos negros rasgados, y al descuido adormecidos, cejas tiradas y bien compuestas, pestañas negras, y encarnada la color del rostro: los cabellos plateados y crespos por artificio, según se descubrían por las sienes: saya de buriel fino, ropa justa de contray o frisado, los chapines de terciopelo negro con sus claveles y rapacejos de plata bruñida, guantes olorosos, y no de polvillo sino de ámbar. El ademán era grave, el mirar honesto, el paso ayroso y de garza. Mirada en partes, parecía mui bien, y en el todo, mucho mejor . . . (NE 3:351).
This luxurious passage should be contrasted with the sparse physical description of Estefanía that Cervantes provides in his Casamiento when Campuzano paints a verbal picture of their first encounter for his friend Peralta. Because the lady in question is making a strong attempt to shroud herself in mystery, Campuzano's description is necessarily economical and confined to one of her hands:
y la otra [Estefanía] se sentó en una silla junto a mí, derribado el manto hasta la barba, sin dejar ver el rostro más de aquello que concedía la raridad del manto; y aunque le supliqué que por cortesía me hiciese merced de descubrirse, no fue posible acabarlo con ella, cosa que me encendió más el deseo de verla. Y para acrecentarle más, o ya fuese de industria [o] acaso, sacó la señora una blanca mano, con muy buenas sortijas (NE 3:223).
Even when Campuzano is finally permitted to behold her physical appearance, she is described simply as
una mujer de hasta treinta años, a quien conocí por las manos. No era hermosa en extremo; pero éralo de suerte que podía enamorar comunicada, porque tenía un tono de habla tan suave que se entraba por los oídos en el alma. (NE 3:224)
Cervantes's portrait here of the deceitful Estefanía is limited to only those details her lovely hands and alluring voice that influenced the judgment of Campuzano, his narrator. The remaining
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which is to say, more tangential elements of her appearance (e.g.,
her eyes, hair, clothing, etc. as in the case of TF's Esperanza) are
quietly passed over. We also note that Cervantes's female deceiver is presented
as a mature woman of some thirty years, not as an adolescent. To posit artfully
cultivated wiles like Estefanía's in a teenager like Esperanza would
have seemed artistically indefensible to a polished craftsman like
From the standpoint of behavior, the only Cervantine females who can reasonably be compared with TF's Esperanza are the wily Estefanía of Casamiento and Isabela Castrucha from the Persiles. But both of these sexually liberated women set themselves apart from Esperanza in one important way: their unusual behavior is driven by a plan to marry a particular suitor. Esperanza, although she hopes to find a husband eventually, never actually selects a candidate or formulates a plan to win him. Her triumph is purely accidental.
As for the story itself, even its defenders must admit that TF unfolds in a predictable manner. The various scenes proceed in strict chronological order, without the insertion of any complicating analeptic flashbacks by the narrator. The plot action is unsuspenseful, the ending is anticlimactic, and all the characters are strictly controlled by an omniscient third-person narrator. Virtually no challenge is presented to the reader to understand the events as they unfold, nor is the reader asked to sift through a series of complicating factors. TF must be considered something of a disappointment, not only because of its trite subject matter, but also because of the unimaginative style with which it is told.
We should also take into account the striking differences in moral tone that can be noted between Cervantes's short fiction and TF. William Byron, a biographer of Cervantes, offers several valuable observations regarding the manner in which TF fails to conform to the high moral tone of Cervantes's known works:
Cervantes inveighs in the stories against cruelty, pain, suffering, stupidity, insularity, pride, hypocrisy. The acts of immorality he depicts are forgiven if they are instrumental in bringing about a higher moral good which nullifies the original transgression.
No such progression is perceptible in The Make-Believe Aunt. The story is scarcely more than a long off-color joke in which no morality is organically present, although a feeble excuse for one is tacked on to its very end for reasons of propriety. Then why would an aging but formally virginal Cervantes the same Cervantes who regretted the explicit carnality of La Celestina sit down and write a story that makes Rojas' bawd seem prissy by
|58||E. T. AYLWARD||Cervantes|
comparison, with no discernible purpose except to wallow in ribaldry? It is much easier to believe that The Make-Believe Aunt was written by a younger man with considerable narrative skill but not much else on his mind. It could, for example, have been an early story by Salas Barbadillo, who consciously imitated Cervantes' style and who specialized in short, pungent tales of manners with a pronounced picaresque flavor (481-82).
The lesson of Casamiento is given by
negative example, i.e., a demonstration of how life is NOT to be lived. With
TF, a work which ends with two of the prostitutes being publicly
humiliated while the third is rewarded with a promising proposal of marriage,
the careful reader is left to wonder what, if anything, could be the moral
lesson of such a story.
In all fairness, when discussing TF it must be admitted that there are several points at which this narration appears to reprise certain recognizable features of Cervantes's art, but the resemblances are more pertinent to his entremeses than to his novellas. For the most part, the characters here are low picaresque types; their actions are farcical and exaggerated to the point of slapstick; none of their acts are of the noble and idealistic nature we have observed in the other Novelas ejemplares. Supporters of Cervantes's authorship here may cite the occasional use of refranes (cf. Sancho Panza) in the work, or the reference to a gold chain Don Félix offers as a bond (cf. Campuzano in Casamiento), or even the narrator's interjected comments about the power of love (¡Oh milagro del amor! ¡Oh fuerzas poderosas del deseo!) to support their theory. Nonetheless, the selection most commonly cited as being reflective of Cervantes's style is the passage Icaza cited in 1916 as a direct borrowing from Aretino's Ragionamenti: pretended aunt Doña Claudia's clever catalogue of the various personality types to be found in the various regions of Spain. In this amusing monologue the author, whoever he is, demonstrates a deft comic touch in the tradition of Juan Ruiz, the Arcipreste de Talavera, and Fernando de Rojas:
Porque los vizcaínos, aunque son pocos, es gente corte de razones; pero si pican de una mujer, son largos de bolsa. Los manchegos son gente avalentonada, de los de Cristo me lleve, y llevan ellos el amor a mojicones. Hay aquí también una masa de aragoneses, valencianos y catalanes; tenlos por gente pulida, olorosa, bien criada y mejor aderezada; mas no les pidas más, y si más quieres saber, sábete, hija, que no saben de burlas; porque son, cuando se enojan con una mujer, algo crueles y no de buenos hígados. A los castellanos nuevos tenlos por nobles de pensamiento, y que si
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tienen, dan; y por lo menos, si no dan, no piden. Los extremeños tienen de todo, como boticarios, y son como la alquimia, que si llega a plata, lo es, y si a la cobre, cobre se queda. Para los andaluces, hija, hay necesidad de tener quince sentidos, no que cinco: porque son agudos y perspicaces de ingenios, astutos, sagaces y no nada miserables. Los gallegos no se colocan en predicamento, porque no son alguien. Los asturianos son buenos para el sábado, porque siempre traen a casa grosura y mugre. Pues ya los portugueses es cosa larga de pintarse sus condiciones y propiedades; porque como son gente enjuta de cerebro, cada loco con su tema; mas la de casi todos es que puedes hacer cuenta que el mismo amor vive en ellos envuelto en lacería (NE 3:360-61).7
Within the corpus of short narratives attributed
to Cervantes the only other piece that can be said to feature a similar type
of comic monologue is Rinconete y Cortadillo. The latter work, however,
is not indisputedly accepted as Cervantes's creation because of the existence
of a second version of that tale from the Porras Manuscript that
differs significantly in style and arrangement from the version published
by Cervantes. Any textual similarity to Rinconete, then, cannot be
advanced as proof that TF belongs to Cervantes. Just the opposite
may be indicated: since both of these works along with still another
version of El celoso extremeño are known to have appeared
as part of the Porras codex without any attribution to Cervantes, it is equally
possible that the entire Porras group of tales may have originated with some
other writer or writers. Cervantes has been conceded the authorship of
Rinconete and Celoso simply because he published them as his
own in 1613; the attribution of TF to him has been based primarily
on the fact that one version of that story was found in the company of the
other two tales in Porras's miscellanea. If the evidence is looked at
dispassionately, however, Cervantes's claim to the authorship of all three
of these stories rests on a very shaky
In my opinion, the arguments against Cervantes's authorship of TF are as convincing as they are plentiful. First of all, there is the fact that the story is told in an unbroken linear progression, without a
citations from La tía fingida are taken from the Porras version
as reproduced in Miguel de Cervantes, Novelas ejemplares III, ed.
Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce.
8 For a fuller explanation of the arguments against Cervantes's authorship, see Aylward, Cervantes: Pioneer and Plagiarist.
|60||E. T. AYLWARD||Cervantes|
single interrupting flashback account, which means that the narrative and chronological schemes would be identical:
As all Cervantine scholars know, Cervantes
was very fond of the flashback technique and utilized it in all but a handful
of his collected novellas. Analepsis is completely lacking in this story.
Additional stylistic objections can be raised against TF as well.
For example, the heavy description of the clothing worn by Claudia, Esperanza
and their squire when they make their first appearance is gratuitous, completely
overdone, and quite superfluous to the development of the story. Cervantes
describes his characters in such great physical detail only when it is absolutely
necessary for understanding some particular aspect of their personality (e.g.,
Leocadia in La fuerza de la sangre; Lady Cornelia in the story of
the same name). Furthermore, Cervantes's heroines are almost always virgins,
and if they are not, it is because they have been either vilely deceived
or forcibly raped by an unscrupulous male suitor. Esperanza, the
niece of Claudia, does not begin to approach the innocence required
of a Cervantine heroine; she admits to having been sold as a
virgin on not one or two, but on three previous occasions.
Another point of contention is the uncharacteristic behavior from a Cervantine standpoint, at least of the pair of students who come to the rescue of the heroine. In the first place, the two Manchegan students who come to dominate the action are left unnamed. This clearly runs contrary to Cervantes's custom of providing
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at least one and occasionally more than one name for his
protagonists. In addition, Cervantes would not then have allowed one of his
heroic rescuers to reverse his previous noble conduct and suddenly try to
force his attentions on her, as happens here. We have seen that rape is indeed
a popular theme in Cervantes's fiction, but he does not allow the issue to
be frivolously raised and dropped and without any apparent legal or
moral consequences as happens in TF. Furthermore, having the
second student propose marriage to the intended victim immediately following
his companion's attempted assault is yet another grotesque departure from
the Cervantine model of behavior. And finally, none of Cervantes's heroes
ever attempts to win parental approval of his intended bride by means of
deception or lies, as the student does here in trying to pass Esperanza off
as a gentleman's daughter. Blue-blooded gentlemen like Don Juan de Cárcamo
(Gitanilla) and Tomás de Avendaño (Fregona)
instinctively are attracted only to women who can boast of genuine aristocratic
values and bloodlines even if these females happen to be living temporarily
as gypsies or scullery maids.
With regard to his aristocratic female protagonists, Cervantes always allows them to give early and ample demonstration of their innate noble qualities; they do not instantaneously and conveniently acquire fundamental virtues like discreción when some pivotal moment arrives. As a consequence, there is never any need for the narrator to exaggerate her goodness or attribute false virtues to her in front of her suitor's family. A common Cervantine practice (before the Persiles, at least) is to have the male not the female undergo some sort of trial or ordeal to prove his worthiness to marry a woman who is in every case virtually perfect to begin with. In TF, conversely, it is Esperanza, the duplicitous damsel of dubious virtue, whose nobility is called into question; and even though the reader is told that she survives the inquiry into her worthiness to marry her noble suitor, she is never actually observed demonstrating her discreción within the story.
The case of Claudia is still another example of a departure from Cervantes's usual style. In the epilogue we are informed that the authorities sentenced the old procuress to four hundred lashes and public ridicule in a cage that was to be placed in the center of Salamanca's public square. As Byron noted, it is a mark of Spain's greatest writer that he never dwells upon the often cruel punishments administered by temporal magistrates. In Cervantes's fiction, God often employs mysterious means to work His own peculiar brand of justice in this world. But Cervantes's Supreme Judge is inclined to
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take extraordinary measures more to reward virtuous behavior than to punish
transgressors. The wicked in Cervantes's stories generally get their comeuppance
naturally, as a normal consequence of their own evil machinations, not at
the hands of the temporal authorities or through any kind of divine
Another case in point is the closing paragraph of TF, which contains a moral message that deviates greatly from the Cervantine norm. Passing reference is made to Claudia's sentence and the fact that Esperanza, despite having been denounced to her father-in-law by an anonymous correspondent, has managed to win a special place in his heart. This indeed appears to be consistent with the conclusions Cervantes provided in some of his novellas. But then the narrator destroys the upbeat tone of his epilogue by immediately adding: y tal fin y paradero tubo la señora doña Claudia de Astudillo y Quiñones, y tal le tienen y tendrán todas cuantas su vivir y proceder tubieren (NE 3: 370). Such vindictiveness is simply not part of Cervantes's character nor is it exhibited in any of his works.
* * *
The question of TF as a possible Cervantine
text should have been dismissed decades ago. The cases against TF
presented by Icaza in 1916 and Criado de Val in 1953, respectively, should
have put an end to the discussion. With regard to the story's content, Icaza
has demonstrated that the anonymous work borrowed heavily from Pietro Aretino's
Ragionamenti. Criado de Val has proved from a linguistic standpoint
that the text of TF could not have come from Cervantes's pen.
Unfortunately, their arguments have gone unheeded.
It has been my intention here to argue against the notion of Cervantes's authorship for TF by comparing that work with its closest Cervantine cousins, most notably El casamiento engañoso. It is my judgment that TF, despite certain superficial resemblances to the Casamiento, is most likely NOT the work of Miguel de Cervantes, for three important reasons:
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|UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA|
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|Fred Jehle email@example.com||Publications of the CSA||HCervantes|