From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
8 special issue (1988): 29-42.
Copyright © 1988, The Cervantes Society of America
||ROBERT M. JOHNSTON|
N The Myth of the Golden Age in the Renaissance, Harry Levin remarks that Cervantes . . . unsuccessfully experimented with pastoral in his first printed work, the long-drawn-out yet unfinished Galatea.1 Apparently sharing this view, other Cervantists have given La Galatea less attention and less praise than Cervantes' other works.2 Among other deficiencies, La Galatea is commonly faulted for lacking unity of theme and action. The many interpolated stories, frequent interruptions in the narrative, the ending itself, which leaves undecided the fates of the main characters, and the repeated intrusions of violence, which disrupt the tranquility of the
Levin, The Myth of the Golden Age in the Renaissance (Bloomington:
Indiana Univ. Press, 1969), p. 140.
2 For example: Ruth Saffar, in her article La Galatea: The Integrity of the Unintegrated Text, refers to the failure of La Galatea and terms it Cervantes' least fortunate literary effort, Dipositio 3 (1978), 337. Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce uses the word fracaso, though he adds that for any other writer La Galatea would have been a major accomplishment, La novela pastoril española, 2nd ed. (Madrid: Istmo, 1974), p. 262. Manuel Durán finds the only redeeming grace in La Galatea to be its style, the melody of its words, which one need not understand Spanish to appreciate, in Cervantes (Boston: Twayne, 1974), p. 84. Jennifer Lowe, The Cuestión de Amor and the Structure of Cervantes' Galatea, BHS 43 (1966), 108, states that while the book is not a complete failure, . . . it would be wrong to claim that the Galatea is an outstanding book which clearly bears the stamp of Cervantes. William Atkinson, Cervantes, El Pinciano, and the Novelas ejemplares, HR, 16 (1948), 192, terms La Galatea a technical failure. In her book, Novel to Romance: A Study [p. 30] of Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares, Ruth El Saffar explains La Galatea's weaknesses as the product of inexperience (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1974), p. xi. On this basis she eliminates it from consideration in her theory of the development of Cervantes' art. Javier Herrero sets aside La Galatea as irrelevant to his analysis of the pastoral episodes in the Quixote, in his article, Arcadia's Inferno: Cervantes' Attack on Pastoral, BHS 55 (1978), 298 n.
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pastoral setting, all contribute to an apparent dissonance.3 Given the importance of consonancia to Cervantes' theory of fiction, as outlined by E. C. Riley and others,4 the assumption that in La Galatea Cervantes
notion of La Galatea as an artistic failure ultimately implies that
it lacks unity. The two most serious attempts to discover unity in the work
are Lowe's study, The Cuestión de Amor . . . ,
and Kenneth P. Allen, Cervantes' Galatea and the discorso
intorno al comporre dei romanzi of Girladi Cinthio, RHM
39 (1976-77), 53-68. Lowe shows that all the stories represent cuestiones
de amor, and that some of the interruptions in the narrative serve
to interweave stories that show different facets of the same basic
cuestiones. Allen shows that the stories are also arranged according
to four specific lover's complaints, Muerte,
desdén, ausencia, and
celos, motifs which are repeated in the same order in
the eclogues at Daranio's wedding near the center of the work. The actions
of the characters vary, but the subject, in the form of these four
quejas, remains constant. He also observes two other sources of unity
recognized by neo-Aristotelian theorists: the title character, Galatea, is
a source of inspiration for the other characters' actions, and there are
various linking techniques which serve to connect episodes. While
these studies suggest a logical scheme behind the arrangement of the episodes,
they do not reveal any overall unity. Allen does not dispel Lowe's conclusion
that there is no one dominant theme or aim which provides a unifying
force for the various parts of the work. Avalle-Arce, in particular, takes
issue with the episodes of violence. In his view they constitute a
realismo exagerado which is incompatible with pastoral and ultimately
destroys the work's harmony, in La novela pastoril española,
pp. 130, 230-31, & 247. A similar opinion is offered by Francisco López
Estrada, in La influencia italiana en La Galatea de
Cervantes, CL 4 (1952), 168. The dissonance between two different
visions of the world, exemplified in the contrast between pastoral tranquility
and violent action, contributes to Enrique Moreno Baez's conclusion that
La Galatea lacks a coherent ideological framework, in Perfil
ideológico de Cervantes, in Suma cervantina, ed. Juan
Bautista Avalle-Arce, and E. C. Riley (London: Tamesis, 1973), pp. 236-39.
4 E. C. Riley, Cervantes's Theory of the Novel (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1962), pp. 19-21, and 116-31; also Alban Forcione, Cervantes, Aristotle, and the Persiles (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1970), p. 94 n. While the focus of attention has been on Cervantes' theory as found in later works, La Galatea does contain echoes of well-known Renaissance ideas of harmony and proportion. For example, the perfection of the human body: Muéstrase la una parte de la belleza corporal en cuerpos vivos de varones y de hembras, y ésta consiste en que todas las partes del cuerpo sean de por sí buenas, y que [p. 31] todas juntas hagan un todo perfecto y formen un cuerpo proporcionado de miembros y suavidad de colores (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, La Galatea, ed. Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce, 2nd ed., Clásicos Castellanos [Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1968], II, 44. All references will be to Avalle's edition).
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failed to reconcile pastoral with his goals for fiction might seem justified.
I wish to suggest instead that La Galatea possesses both unity and
harmony and that, to a considerable degree, it is consistent with Cervantes'
goals for fiction in later years.5
Cervantes himself never apologized for La Galatea. Even late in his career, in the Viaje del Parnaso, his use of the term hermosa to describe his first prose work implies that he still saw it to have proportion, harmony, and unity.6 According to Riley, for Cervantes, the beauty and harmony of poetry derive from the poetic truth it contains. Other aspects of his poetic theory, including his ideas on verisimilitude, and on variety and unity, depend on and elaborate his principle.7 In a fair evaluation of La Galatea, we must set aside the goal of verisimilitude, which became important to Cervantes only after 1585.8 A general Cervantine criterion for unity, however, can be applied. In Fielding and the Structure of Don Quixote, Alexander Parker shows the primacy of theme over action in the structure of Don Quixote I and II.9 Parker also extends this principle to other contemporary works: The best Spanish novelists of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries Alemán . . . Quevedo . . . Cervantes are not interested in
only Cervantist who to my knowledge has defended the consonancia of
La Galatea is Joaquín Casalduero, who discovers coherence in
a poetic fluir tumultoso in contrasts between light and darkness
and the juxtaposition of antithetical details and events. He maintains that
Cervantes does accomplish the goal of variety in unity by forming de
contrarios igual tela, as echoed in Damón's sonnet in book V
of La Galatea. However, Casalduero approaches La Galatea as
an example of the influence of the Baroque esthetic on Cervantes' art. Instead
of identifying a truly unifying principle, he points to what he considers
to be Cervantes' destruction of Renaissance symmetry. Cf. La
Galatea, in Suma cervantina, pp. 27-46.
6 Yo corté con mi ingenio aquel vestido / con que al mundo la hermosa Galatea / salió para librarse del olvido (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Obras completas, ed. Angel Valbuena Prat, 17th ed. (Madrid: Aguilar, 1970), I, 90.
7 Riley, pp. 20 & 84.
8 For the influence of López Pinciano and other neo-Aristotelian theorists on Cervantes' ideas about fiction after La Galatea, see Riley, pp. 10-13; Forcione, pp. 102 n, 339-41; and Atkinson, p. 193.
9 Alexander A. Parker, Fielding and the Structure of Don Quixote, BHS 33 (1956), 1-16.
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the rules of epic structure [i.e., singleness of action]; they are, however,
interested in the question of moral responsibility, in . . . the
deliberate choices made by the wills of individual human beings, and
. . . the influences that men exercise on each other.
Consequently, They devise a novelistic structure in which causality
connects . . . human actions to human motives, and where
. . . the separate details of their plots are all intimately
connected, either as causes or effects, with the progressive development
of moral character
. . .10 For the structure
of La Galatea, we must look past the variety of the separate actions
to its unifying theme, which, as Parker would have us suspect, is the development
of exemplary moral character.
As a separate but equally important assumption, we must credit Cervantes with a reasoned intention for the violent actions that challenge the tranquility of the pastoral setting. Lisandro's brutal stabbing of Carino, Artandro's abduction of Rosaura, the background of passion, violence, adventure, and warfare provided by the interpolated stories, and, at the end of the book, Elicio's decision to use force if necessary to prevent Galatea's father from obliging her to marry against her will are types of action which seem more appropriate to heroic than to pastoral fiction. The consonancia of the work will appear disrupted, however, only if we insist on seeing the artistic potential of pastoral literature as simply the representation of a theme or an attitude. Studies by Leo Marx, Raymond Williams, Hallet Smith, William Empson, and others identify the potential of pastoral as a form for literary expression in the contrast it inevitably evokes between two ways of life, one seen as contemplative, passive, and representative of an ideal innocence and happiness, the other as active, heroic, and associated with the harsh, real world.11 In comparison to other Spanish Renaissance pastorals, in La Galatea this contrast is extreme. Garcilaso and Montemayor, for example, achieve an effect more like
Fielding and the Structure of Don Quixote, pp. 15-16.
Parker has shown the same principle to hold in the comedia, in The
approach to the Spanish Drama of the Golden Age (London: The Hispanic
and Luso-Brazilian Councils, 1957), pp. 8 ff.
11 Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (1964; rpt. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), pp. 3-33; Raymond Williams, The City and the Country (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), pp. 1-34. Hallett D. Smith, Chapter One, Pastoral poetry, in Elizabethan Poetry: A Study in Conventions, Meaning, and Expression (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1952), pp.1-63, especially 9-12. The contrast, revealed in William Empson's observation that pastoral, though about shepherds, is not by them or [p. 33] for them, is implicit throughout his book, Some Versions of Pastoral (1935; rpt. New York: New Directions, 1974). See also, Frank Kermode, English Pastoral Poetry (1952; rpt. New York: Norton, 1972), pp. 11-44; Peter V. Marinelli, Pastoral, The Critical Idiom 15 (London: Methuen, 1971).
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the mixture of sadness and tranquility in Virgil's
Eclogues.12 Yet these poets still
exploit the contrast between the idyllic setting and their shepherds' laments
for a lover's death or for unrequited
love.13 In La Galatea, Cervantes
employs such standard contrasts to the pastoral world as muerte,
desdén, celos, and ausencia. Wealth
and politics also intrude. Silveria chooses Daranio over Mireno for his money,
and Galatea's marriage has been arranged by a figure of royal
authority.14 With the episodes of violence,
Cervantes merely accentuates the contrast by moving challenges from the outside
real world into a much sharper contrast with the pastoral one.
In doing this, he dramatically poses the question of the relative value of
the two worlds.
For Renaissance writers, this pastoral design, which is implicit in the figure of the literary shepherd who is both rustic and poet, evoked the traditional contrast of Art and Nature. It did not, however, presuppose a philosophical preference. In Montemayor's Diana, the pastoral ideal posed in naturalist terms gives the dominant role to passionate love and fortune (Nature) with no heed paid to reason or free will (Art). But, in Gil Polo's Diana enamorada, against the background of post-Tridentine concern for orthodox truth in literature, the genre takes a new direction. There, although the ultimate preference still seems to be for the contemplative life, reason and free will are central themes.15 In La Galatea, Cervantes carries these
his article, Et in Arcadia Ego, Erwin Panofsky points to the
theme of death and the elegiac feeling of nostalgia and melancholy
in Moschus, Bion, and Virgin. Virgil's special contribution, according to
Panofsky, is the resolution of dissonance between real human
suffering and super-humanly perfect surroundings into a
vespertinal mixture of sadness and tranquility, in Philosophy
and History, Essays Presented to Ernst Cassirer, ed. Raymond Klibansky
and H. J. Patton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936), pp. 295-320; rpt. in
Pastoral and Romance, ed. Eleanor Terry, Lincoln Englewood Cliffs,
N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1969), pp. 29-30. See also Robert Coleman, ed.,
Eclogues, by Publius Vergilius Maro (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press,
197), pp. 28-35; Paul Alpers, The Eclogue Tradition and the Nature
of Pastoral, CE 34 (1972), 354-59, and Marx, pp. 19-23.
13 See for example, Alexander A. Parker, Theme and Imagery in Garcilaso's First Eclogue, BSS 25 (1948), 22-27.
14 The wedding has been arranged by el rabadán mayor de todos los aperos, or, according to Avalle, el rey (Galatea, II, 131, n.).
15 A. Solé-Leris, The Theory of Love in the Two Dianas: A Contrast, [p. 34] BHS 36 (1959), 65-79. It might be argued, moreover, that in addition to emphasis on reason and free will, the Diana enamorada does not categorically favor the contemplative life. In the ending, Diana sets out in search of Sireno. R. G. Keightly terms this a resolution through action in his study Narrative Perspectives in Spanish Pastoral Fiction, AUMLA 44 (1975), 213.
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themes even farther. Nature, the world of experience, is such that even man's
natural reason does not always discern truth. The support of revealed truth,
education, religion, and faith is therefore
necessary.16 In addition, emphasis on free
will opens the way for heroic action. At the Fuente de las Pizarras, the
courtier Darinto concedes to Elicio that for shepherds and courtiers alike,
es una guerra nuestra vida sobre la tierra (II, 34). This echo
of Job vii. 1, Militia est vita hominis super terram, the same
reference with which Erasmus opens his Enchiridion Militis Christiani,
evokes the familiar image of the spiritual life of the Christian as heroic
enterprise. This and other reminders of the Fall place the world of La
Galatea outside of the prelapsarian paradise, and they make it clear
that to rise from this fallen state, in addition to nature, man needs reason
and virtuous action.17
In this context, Elicio's choice for action at the end of the story emerges as the thematic climax of La Galatea. Hallett Smith describes a convention of Renaissance heroic poetry, modeled after the legend of Hercules at the crossroads, in which the hero is confronted with a symbolic fork in the road. According to Smith, the hero's choice, which symbolized the choice between virtue and vice, usually conveyed the main allegorical meaning of the poem; notably, Tasso, Spenser and other writers of epic poems put the crossroads in pastoral oases in the form of the alternative between action and contemplation.18 Except for the fact that the protagonist is a shepherd instead of a knight, one could describe La Galatea as a heroic romance which consists entirely of a long pastoral sojourn. This is not to say, however, that Cervantes ascribes less value to the contemplative life. As the characters'
this contrasts with the escapist pastoral ideal found in Montemayor,
it is much closer to the mainstream of sixteenth-century religious thought
in Spain both before and after the Counter Reformation. See Otis H. Green,
Spain and the Western Tradition, III (Madison: University of Wisconsin
Press, 1965), 228-49.
17 For example, only moments later, Lauso's song, sung by Damón, praises pastoral life over life in the court only to conclude that it is but a pequeña sombra of the original glory it recalls. It is the humana suerte that time quickly converts all worldly pleasures into mortal disgusto; by implication pastoral otium is included (II, 35-40).
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experiences in La Galatea show, action uniformed by contemplation
is as unreliable as Nature without Art. The vision can only be realized through
the proper combination of both. Elicio's choice to abandon the traditional
passive stance of the literary shepherd represents the reconciliation of
the pastoral and the heroic, the contemplative and the active ways of life.
This union of opposites, which corresponds spiritually to the Christian idea
of world harmony and esthetically to the artistic principle of combining
variety and unity, is the central theme of La Galatea.
The thematic unity of La Galatea depends on the fact that the vision of happiness and the formula for its attainment are expressed throughout the work in terms of analogous polarities. Art and Nature, action and contemplation, reason and experience, arms and letters, pastoral and heroic, at various points combine to produce different reflections of beauty, harmony, truth. In Book VI, Elicio describes the pastoral landscape. Land and river sweetly embrace and intertwine, water and heavens join in a harmonious mutual reflection, which increases the beauty of each and which suggests the presence of God. Most important, the inhabitants, with their gardens, orchards, and waterwheels combine Art with Nature to produce a beauty which exceeds Elicio's power to describe. He compares the setting to the Campos Elíseos, . . . si en alguna parte de la tierra . . . tienen asiento (II, 170-71), yet instead of a symbolic reevocation of the original Garden, the landscape in La Galatea is a new creation, a tercia naturaleza, that aspires to that original perfection. Nature and Art are equally indispensable components, but the key to the perfection the shepherds attain is their industria, their active application of Art to Nature.19
Elicio closes his description by pointing to Galatea, who not only for Elicio, but for all the shepherds, is a symbol of beauty and goodness, an inspiration to love and virtuous action. According to the wise
19 The passage reads: Y la industria de sus moradores ha hecho tanto, que la naturaleza, encorporada con el arte, es hecha artífice y connatural del arte, y de entrambas a dos se ha hecho una tercia naturaleza, a la cual no sabré dar nombre (II, 170). My interpretation agrees with Casalduero's, p. 44. The opposite view, that Cervantes gives Nature the active role, is held, for example, by Avalle-Arce, La novela pastoril, p. 243, and Alban Forcione, Cervantes, Aristotle, and the Persiles, p. 221. Both stress Nature's role as artífice but overlook Cervantes' greater emphasis on the industria of the inhabitants. This reading is inconsistent with the rest of the thematic context.
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shepherd, Tirsi, Galatea's reserve in her treatment of Elicio is not cruelty,
but discrecion, since, de su discrecion nace conocerse,
y de conocerse estimarse, y de estimarse no querer perderse
. . . (I, 116). In Christian terms, self-knowledge is the
pathway to virtue and thus to victory in the spiritual
battle.20 Galatea's application of
discreción to her original nature results in a state of inner
perfection analogous to the tercia naturaleza of the ideal
Nature yields to and combines with Art also in the theory of love. True love in La Galatea begins with the neo-Platonic attraction to beauty, but guided by reason and revealed truth (nuestra verdadera ley), it looks beyond beauty to the transcendent Christian love of the good.21 As Christian caritas, this love encompasses todas las virtudes.22 It is also an active, even heroic, endeavor. The opening poem of La Galatea, sung by Elicio himself to the martial beat of octavas reales, treats true love as a militant quest. Other songs, such as Elicio's Por lo imposible peleo, echo this tone. The shepherd Lenio complains that love causes torment and despair, but Tirsi insists that nothing of worth may be had in this life without fatiga y trabajo (II, 64). He claims, in fact, that love is the most difficult of all quests, since it consists of uniting two wills, two minds, and two souls into one (II, 65-66). As a combination of Nature with the governance of Reason, love reflects the ideal of happiness. As a source of virtue and as an inspiration to action, it shows the way for its attainment. In the first sense, as a topic or subject, it is one facet of the central theme. In the second sense, which implies the process of man's perfection, love is the primary theme of all the actions of La Galatea.
theme is a commonplace in Renaissance literature. It is the subject of section
i, 3, of Erasmus' Handbook for the Militant Christian. It also appears
in Juan Luis Vives, Fray Luis de Granada, and others; cf. Green, III, 240-41,
21 Francisco López Estrada identifies parallel passages and concepts taken from Pietro Bembo, Mario Equicola, and León Hebreo in La Galatea de Cervantes, (Tenerife: Univ. de la Laguna de Tenerife, 1948), pp. 89-95, and 110-14. See also his article, La influencia italiana . . . , 162-66. Otis Green stresses the completely Christian quality of Cervantes' neo-Platonism in La Galatea, in Spain and the Western Tradition, I (1963), 185-94. Cf. Elicio's remark to Erastro: esta es la última y mayor perfección que en el amor divino se encierra, y en el humano también, cuando no se quiere más de por ser bueno lo que se ama (I, 201), and Avalle's comment on the passage, p. xxii.
22 Tirsi specifically lists templanza, fortaleza, justicia, and prudencia (II, 62). Faith and hope, the two remaining virtues, figure constantly in the shepherds' songs about love.
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As the central theme in which Art and Nature,
action and contemplation, and reason and experience converge, love is analogous
to beauty and goodness. It is also analogous to poetry and truth. At the
obsequies for the dead shepherd Meliso, Calliope, the muse of epic poetry,
emerges from the flames of the shepherds' fire to inspire their endeavors
as poets. Although pastoral life and poetry are generally identified with
the contemplative life, Calliope's message to the shepherds, her
Canto, and even her appearance stress the relationship of poetry to
action. The branch of verde y pacífica oliva in her left
hand is balanced by one of vencedora palma in her right (II,
186). Her laurel wreath, symbol of fame, is the reward for poets and soldiers
alike. Her Canto, a list in octavas reales of contemporary
Spanish poets, resembles the reviews of heroes common in Renaissance epics.
The first poets named, in fact, are also
soldiers.23 This convergence of action and
poetry, arms and letters, points to the heart of the work's
Riley describes Cervantes' idea of artistic creation in terms of the classical and Renaissance formula of natura, studium, and exercitatio. For Cervantes, poetry requires both natural ability and a formal knowledge of the art tempered with good judgment. It also requires a great deal of intellectual effort to overcome the difficulties inherent in the creative process.25 In this respect, the creation of poetry compares to the life of the Christian. Both should aspire to reflect the same ideal of divine perfection. Both require the same balance of reason and experience, action and contemplation, and both are themselves acts of free will.26 The theme of life as a work of art and the
Avalle's notes, Galatea, II, 190-98.
24 Leslie Deutsch Johnson rightly asserts that in the Canto de Calíope Cervantes vitalizes the old theme of arms and letters and that this points to the shepherds' decision to use force at the end of the story, in Three Who Made a Revolution: Cervantes, Galatea and Caliope, Hispano 57 (1976), 31-32.
25 Riley, pp. 67-70.
26 Both are, in fact, different expressions of the aspiration to regain Paradise. The concept is conventional in the Renaissance; E. M. W. Tilliard notes, for example: More fundamental than any Aristotelian belief that poetry was more instructive than history or philosophy was the neo-Platonic doctrine that poetry was man's effort to rise above his fallen self and to reach out towards perfection. . . . The perfection is at once that of the Platonic Good and of the Garden of Eden . . . . Cf. The Elizabethan World Picture (New York: Macmillan, 1944), p. 21.
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exemplary quality of poetry stem from this parallel, and it is basic to the
design of La Galatea. As poets, the shepherds strive to realize the
ideal through contemplation. As lovers and characters in their own stories,
they attempt to realize it in action.
The unity of action in La Galatea stems from the fact that all of the characters' stories (all of which are quejas or cuestiones de amor) represent attempts to convert the vision into reality. They are joined in one sense because they all incorporate the pastoral sojourn at the same point in their plots. Each character arrives in the pastoral foreground in a similar state of mental turmoil and remains until his or her problem is in some way resolved. Most important, as the other characters narrate their problems and search for solutions, the central characters, Elicio and Galatea, are passive observers. From their perspective, these stories provide a series of exempla equivalent to observed experience (Nature). Together with Elicio and Galatea's knowledge of true love and their discreción (Art), this experience is arranged to move them gradually from their passive stance as shepherds to the choice for action. Three points from which this trajectory may be observed are: Daranio's wedding at the end of Book III; the debate on Love at the Fuente de las Pizarras in Book IV; and the crisis in Book V when Elicio learns that Galatea's father has arranged her marriage to a stranger.
Events up to and including Daranio's wedding show the negative results of wrong choices made by lovers. Lisandro's murder of Carino and the tale he recounts to Elicio and Erastro reveal the tragic consequences of actions motivated by hatred and jealousy between friends. Teolinda's story told to Galatea and Florisa shows both the difficulty of avoiding love and the consequences of choosing a lover who permits appearances to deceive him and ignite his jealousy. In Books II and III, Elicio observes the courtier Silerio, and the suffering shepherd, Mireno, two more examples of despair. Silerio has fallen in love with his best friend's girl, Nísida, who he also believes is now dead. Mireno consumes himself in rabia and dolor because his beloved shepherdess Silveria has decided to marry Daranio for his money.
The wedding of Daranio and Silveria, at the center of the work, sums up the themes of the previous action and prefigures the predicament Elicio will face. During the wedding, shepherds sing songs lamenting muerte, desdén, ausencia, and celos. The wise shepherd, Damón, awards the prize for the greatest suffering to celos, the only affliction that increases rather than diminishes with time. Although the stories of Lisandro, Teolinda, and Silerio do involve death, disdain, and absence, respectively, jealousy is in fact the underlying theme of all the
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stories in the first half of La Galatea. It is what Mireno suffers
and what Silerio is fleeing from. As the opposite of true love, its end result
is despair. Mireno's pledge to go off to a foreign land and pine away his
life singing pastoral laments identifies the passive attitude of the traditional
literary shepherd with his jealousy and
despair.27 He is last seen sinking deeper
into his misery and finally disappears altogether from the action.
At the Fuente de las Pizarras in Book IV, Tirsi's long description of love helps explain the errors of the characters in the first three books and clarifies the formula for the attainment of happiness. What remains to be resolved, as theory is set to practice, is the proper timing for action. Cervantes focuses this question in the climax of La Galatea, when Elicio learns of Galatea's approaching marriage. Elicio's friend Erastro urges him to follow a course identical to Mireno's. The wise shepherd Damón urges him to declare his love to Galatea and offer to free her from her father's abuse of authority. Three simultaneous events confirm the wisdom of Damon's advice: Galatea reveals she is opposed to her father's plan, Rosaura is forcefully abducted by one of her suitors, Artandro, and the story of Silerio and Timbrio ends happily.
Galatea's opposition to the marriage her father has arranged means that it would lack the union of two wills essential to true love as described by Tirsi.28 This abuse of parental authority legitimizes Elicio and Galatea's option to act. The forceful abduction of Rosaura by Artandro, which both Elicio and Galatea witness, shows that timeliness is crucial to the success of action. Rosaura's fickleness, her indecision, and her arrogance in promising to marry two suitors and then playing
identifies the Bodas de Camacho in Don Quixote II as a realistic version
of this episode (La novela pastoril, pp. 257-58). Compared to Basilio's
action in Don Quixote, the error of Mireno's choice is especially
clear. The two situations are identical, but Basilio counters adverse fortune
with industria and ingenio and wins back his beloved Quiteria.
Mireno, on the other hand, without faith and hope lacks the fortitude to
seek such a remedy. Mireno's attitude and state of mind are similar to
Grisóstomo's and Cardenio's in Don Quixote I (cf. Javier Herrero,
Arcadia's Inferno . . . , pp. 289-99, and also his article,
Sierra Morena as Labyrinth: From Wilderness to Christian Knighthood,
FMLS 17 , 55-67). His attitude toward love also compares to
that of the characters in Montemayor's Diana (cf. Solé-Leris,
28 Cervantes' position on this point remains consistent in his later works, as shown by Marcel Bataillón, in Cervantes y el matrimonio cristiano, in Varia lección de clásicos españoles (Madrid: Gredos, 1964), pp. 238-55.
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one against the other have made possible her own misfortune. By the time
she makes up her mind to marry Grisaldo, she has missed her chance and events
are beyond her control. On the other hand, Artandro has proved that, for
better or for worse, bold action can change men's fortunes.
In contrast to the plights of both Rosaura and Galatea, Silerio's story reaches an unexpected happy ending. The arrival of Silerio's friends, Timbrio, Nísida, and her sister Blanca, together with Silerio's decision to marry Blanca, concludes their trials and symbolizes the attainment of self-knowledge and inner harmony by all four. It is the only happy ending to any of the stories witnessed by Elicio and Galatea. While the action and setting of this story are heroic, not pastoral, it contains hopes, despairs, reversals of fortune, and travail comparable to those faced by lovers in the pastoral world. Timbrio's stoic faith, his love for Nísida, his friendship for Silerio, and his active pursuit of happiness are a lesson to all lovers, courtiers and shepherds alike.29
In the last book of La Galatea, Elicio's description of the ideal landscape and the Canto de Calíope both support the choice for action. At the end, surrounded by other lovers, most of whom have failed love's trials, exhorted to courage by Damón and Tirsi, Elicio sands at a crossroads that offers the same alternatives and has the same significance as those faced by the knights of epic poems. He spends the final night of the story in solitary contemplation and at dawn he and his companions march on Galatea's father's house. Galatea's acceptance of Elicio's help suggests their wills are now in harmony. The shepherds' intention reflects a similar harmony in terms of contemplation and action. They hope to sway Galatea's father with Tirsi's razones and will use force only if that fails. Cervantes ends the story here, yet the lack of closure in the action places more emphasis on the theme. Elicio's choice, which is also that of the shepherds who follow him, is the external manifestation of an internal state of mind synonymous with self-knowledge, love, and truth. In short, this single act of free will realizes the model for harmony and perfection.
story of Timbrio and Silerio is a version of the traditional story of los
dos amigos. Cf. Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce, Nuevos deslindes
cervantinos (Barcelona: Ariel, 1975), pp. 182-89. The theme of conflict
between their friendship and their love for the same girl complements the
situation in the main plot with Elicio, Erastro, and Galatea. This fact,
the length of Silerio's and Timbrio's accounts, and the placement of the
ending, near the moment of Elicio's choice, makes it the most important of
the interpolated stories.
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Paradoxically, the shepherds' decision negates
the pastoral ideal in order to attain it. But this paradox in turn encompasses
the reconciliation of all the sets of juxtaposed opposites. Through the
resolution of the contrast between shepherd and knight, the opposition between
Art and Nature, pastoral and heroic, reason and experience, arms and letters,
action and contemplation are also symbolically reconciled and unified. The
separate actions are also unified since this one act and the state of mind
it represents comprise the solution to all the other quejas or
cuestiones de amor. Elicio's choice, then, is the structural and thematic
nexis of the La Galatea, through which variety and apparent discord
give way to concordia.
In the final analysis, the entire structure of La Galatea grows out of the pastoral convention of endowing shepherds with refined values or the inverse, making shepherds out of refined types, which has essentially the same effect. In this respect, La Galatea exemplifies what William Empson calls the pastoral effect of combining the high and the low, the complex and the simple, or in his words, the clash and reconciliation of the refined, the universal, and the low, which is the whole point of pastoral.30 Elicio's choice could have been made by a knight instead of a shepherd. Heroic also puts the complex into the simple, according to Empson.31 But La Galatea makes an all the more encompassing statement about man and the universe by realizing this function in characters of low station.
Whatever criticisms Cervantes may level at the surface conventions of pastoral in his later works, it seems unjustified to classify La Galatea as an unsuccessful experiment. In fact, La Galatea comes close to fulfilling the criteria for the ideal romance which the Canon describes in Don Quixote I, 47. Admiratio seems to come naturally from the combination of opposites inherent in the convention. In addition, La Galatea contains a variety of characters, subject matter, and exemplary actions. It does in fact compose a single tela de varios y hermosos lazos tejida, which through perfección y hermosura accomplishes el fin mejor que se pretende en los escritos, que es enseñar y deleitar juntamente . . . .32 Indeed, the only criterion that La Galatea really does not meet is that of verisimilitude. In conclusion, I suggest that one
31 Empson, p. 140.
32 Obras completas II, 1460.
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reason Cervantes never wrote the promised continuation of La Galatea is that it could already stand as a finished work. I also suggest that if we can imagine the combination of verisimilitude with the pastoral design as employed in La Galatea the contrast of opposite worlds, high values in lowly characters, and high characters in lowly disguise we can see the continuation of the most successful features of La Galatea in Don Quixote, the Novelas ejemplares, and the Persiles.
||Prepared with the help of Myrna Douglas||
|Fred Jehle email@example.com||Publications of the CSA||HCervantes|