From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 15.2 (1995): 58-74.
Copyright © 1995, The Cervantes Society of America

Leandra and That Nagging Question


Don Quijote has been enchanted and is headed homeward in an ox cart. He is accompanied by two clerics —the canon of Toledo and the parish priest Pero Pérez— and two lugareños —Sancho Panza and the village barber Maese Nicolás—, for all of whom he believes he has proven the worth of the libros de caballerías by his impromptu creation of a minilibro, the tale of that courageously adventuresome Caballero del Lago. Supping on provisions brought from the Canon's mule train, these five men and assorted servants “a deshora oyeron un recio estruendo y un son de esquila, que por entre unas zarzas y espesas matas que allí junto sonaba, y al mesmo instante vieron salir de entre aquellas malezas una hermosa cabra, toda la piel manchada de negro, blanco y pardo. Tras ella venía un cabrero dándole voces, y diciéndole palabras a su uso, para que se detuviese, o al rebaño volviese” (I, 50).1 Thus begins the brief intercalated tale of the newly-become pastores Eugenio and Anselmo, and of the beautiful aldeana Leandra and the fanfarrón Vicente de la Roca who carried her off, leaving scores of suitors grieving for the love now denied them.

     1 John Jay Allen's edition is the source of citations; all not identified by part and chapter as here, are from I, 51 (bracketed all-Spanish texts within quotations are Allen's; see pp. 37-38).


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     Clemencín stated that the sole apparent reason for its inclusion is structural: “El cuento del pastor Eugenio no tuvo al parecer otro objeto que preparar la escena de los mogicones de Don Quijote, y su batalla con los disciplinantes que se refieren en el capítulo LII, y reanimar de esta suerte la relación del viaje, que entorpecida con los diálogos y discursos que preceden, había perdido la rapidez y movimiento que le convenía al concluirse” (1489a, n. 35 to I, 50). This may well be, but another structure cannot be overlooked, that of the seven intercalated stories within Part One, the symmetrical placement and interconnections of which have been explored by Immerwahr.2 I hope to show that the pattern of this last of the seven bears its strongest relationships to the first with the devotees of Marcela, and the third with Dorotea's autobiography; I shall then address myself to That Nagging Question perennially on every reader's mind when Leandra's name is mentioned: did she or didn't she?3

*     *     *

     The herdsman catches the goat which had come to the group of diners and he speaks to her “como si fuera capaz de discurso y entendimiento” (I, 50). He knows he is being overheard but speaks “a su uso,” to his own circumstance, as it were, seemingly oblivious to the fact (seemingly . . . ) that his words will provoke a request for explanation. So curious is it all that Don Quijote prompts clarification because, he says, “‘tiene este caso un no sé qué de sombra de aventura de caballería’” (I, 50); he thus leads the way to the following chapter fifty-one which is devoted entirely to Eugenio's cuento (much

     2 Williamson agrees with Immerwahr and Herrero that this story comes very close to overt parody: “It would appear that for this final tale in Part I Cervantes has assembled most of the conventional elements which exist in different permutations in the other tales and fashioned them into a composite story which verges on open parody and which is again likened to the romances of chivalry” (58) —avant la lettre and by Don Quijote, we must remember. Casalduero earlier found structural links to other intercalated tales and calls it “la reprise de las historias de amor” (198); Murillo modifies this characterization: “It is a reprise of the pastoral narrative on the low-brow level” (131). Perhaps our hero's mention of echoes of the libros de caballerías —so faint as to be difficult if not impossible to hear— is an initial clue to Cervantes' parodic intention.
     3 A brief Spanish-language version of this article was read at the Cervantes conference at the University of Texas—Pan American in Edinburg on 16 April 1994: “Leandra y aquella pregunta palpitante.” I thank my friend and colleague David Gitlitz for prompting me to address this topic.


as chapter twenty-eight is to Dorotea's).4 In chapter fifty-two we come to the raucously comic denouement, the rough-and-tumble fight between Eugenio and Don Quijote who had been freed to attend to his personal hygiene and to eat, the same fight Clemencín cited as the principal reason for this narrated interruption.
     The presentation therefore is composed of three parts: 1) a personal declaration which whets curiosity and begs explanation; 2) a narrative of a past event; and 3) an ending which brings one back to “the present.”5 Following the hints given above, the reader may have already found a link to Dorotea, for her tale is presented in similar fashion: 1) words spoken in desperation, believing herself alone, but which pique the curiosity of the hidden listeners; 2) the explicatory narrative which gives some cause for doubt: is each woman involved as innocent as she depicts herself (Dorotea) or is depicted (Leandra)?; and 3) the return to the “present,” Dorotea's plea for advice a segue which functions in the same manner as Don Quijote's offer to liberate Leandra. Of course Eugenio speaks in company but he appears to be ignoring it, and in exasperation instead, a strong emotion though not as devastating as Dorotea's desperation. The instances in phase three are neither parallel nor similar except as the structural bridge to the “history” itself; the two variations do not, however, invalidate the strong comparisons.
     When Dorotea reveals her true sex, first by referring to herself as desdichada, then by revealing her feet and hair, the three men listening and looking —Pero Pérez, Cardenio, Maese Nicolás— wonder and marvel.6 It is the priest who voices their curiosity: “‘Lo que vuestro traje, señora, nos niega, vuestros cabellos nos descubren: señales claras que no deben de ser de poco momento las causas que han disfrazado vuestra belleza en hábito tan indigno, y traídola a tanta soledad como es ésta’” (I, 28). No such altering disguise is initially obvious for Eugenio; he is identified as a cabrero because of his dress and actions. A disclaimer of sorts follows when he announces “‘Rústico soy; pero no tanto que no entienda cómo se ha de tratar con los hombres y con las bestias’” (I, 50). Only later, in his tale, does

     4 Francisco Márquez Villanueva (139-40) and Stanislav Zimic (67-71) discuss sources, but these are not germane to this study, only the text which Cervantes left and which raises that Question.
     5 Weiger perceives a tripartite structure to the tale itself: “the story of Leandra has a discernible beginning (her life is concisely narrated from birth to the age of sixteen), a middle (the conflict of the plot) and an end (her removal to the convent)” (268).
     6 Fajardo has rightfully pointed out the voyeurism involved (1984, 91-96).

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he fully reveal that the goatherd's guise is adopted: he has remade his life in imitation of literature like so many characters in the Quiijote.7
     Eugenio's initial words must be examined closely:

“¡Ah, cerrera, cerrera, Manchada, Manchada, y cómo andáis vos estos días de pie cojo! ¿Qué lobos os espantan, hija? ¿No me diréis qué es esto, hermosa? Mas ¡qué puede ser sino que sois hembra y no podéis estar sosegada; que mal haya vuestra condición, y la de todas aquellas a quien imitáis! Volved, volved, amiga; que si no tan contenta, a lo menos, estaréis más segura en vuestro aprisco, o con vuestras compañeras; que si vos que las habéis de guardar y encaminar andáis tan sin guía y tan descaminada, ¿en qué podrán parar ellas?” (I, 50).

The canon comments that the goat, because she is female, “‘ha de seguir su natural distinto’” or instinto (I, 50), a remark which for the moment appears to exist solely as a criticism of the sex in general for its flightiness.8

     7 Immerwahr links this tale with Cervantes' distrust of the pastoral: “Eugenio's denunciation of the female gender in his nanny goat is no less a burlesque descent from the posthumous love poems of Grisóstomo than his brawl with Quijote is a descent from Grisóstomo's dignified funeral. If the second pastoral thus appears to be a parody of the first, it may be that Cervantes is pointing to the inadequacy of this vehicle, with its endless stylized laments of unrequited love, for the portrayal of a vital human love capable and worthy of fulfillment” (134-35). The idea of “descent” is, I believe, outmoded: Grisóstomo suffered from an obsession as destructive as Anselmo's in El curioso impertinente and his suicide is a more serious criticism of pastoral literature's pernicious influence on life than is Eugenio's semi-comic frustration. Héctor Márquez states that this seventh tale “parece terminar con la desesperación de la protagonista pero queda sin resolver el problema de los pastores enamorados” (105), but the text does not give any evidence of desperation in Leandra; if her adherents continue grieving, that's their problem, the text seems to suggest. Williamson points out that Leandra's “reclusion does not prevent the local swains from getting themselves up as goatherds to roam about the countryside (like those others in the Marcela story) weeping for her love” (57, emphasis added on their role-playing). In their get-up they are to be categorized with Grisóstomo, although they are of course less passionate. Eugenio recognizes the aberrant nature of so much weeping and wailing in a passage which also prompts the reader to recall Grisóstomo: “‘de todos se estiende la locura, que hay quien se queje de desdén sin haberla jamás hablado, y aun quien se lamente y sienta la rabiosa enfermedad de los celos, que ella jamás dio a nadie [. . .].’”
     8 Edmund Gayton had a mid-seventeenth-century sensibility and, though English, may assist us in perceiving the comic underside of this tale: “The Goatherd, having laid his Goat from skipping, / Under that Embleme tels of maidens [p. 62] tripping: / And would insinuate into our brests, / That there are farre more women-straies, then Beasts. / If the toy take them, like the speckled Goat, / They care not for the spoile of petticoat” (279).


     But once the reader has heard Eugenio's tale and has learned that the only woman involved, the beautiful object of the adoration of Eugenio, Anselmo, and myriad others, was carried off by the braggart soldier Vicente, he of the Joseph's-coat wardrobe, on subsequent reflection the texts here cited acquire wider meaning. As we approach our Question we must recall how Leandra became so taken with Vicente: “‘Enamoróla el oropel de sus vistosos trajes; encantáronla sus romances, que de cada uno que componía daba veinte traslados [comparable to his manner of dress]; llegaron a sus oídos las hazañas que él de sí mismo había referido, y, finalmente, que así el diablo lo debía de tener ordenado, ella se vino a enamorar dél, antes que en él naciese presunción de solicitarla.’”9 What the Dueña Dolorida says of herself in Part Two could easily be spoken by Leandra by changing only a name: “‘no me rindieron los versos; sino mi simplicidad; no me ablandaron las músicas, sino mi liviandad; mi mucha ignorancia y mi poco advertimiento abrieron el camino y desembarazaron la senda a los pasos de [Vicente instead of Don Clavijo]’” (II, 38). This young woman, so impressed by the superficial and lacking motherly counsel to seek more substance, keeps her sudden infatuation secret from her father (and, naturally, from all the adoring swains) as the two plan their flight. I use the word “flight” meaningfully even though the text nowhere specifically refers to their departure as such: the goat and Leandra are one and the same, the animal in imitation of the woman, each fleeing the fold (flock / family protection) for no good reason but the impulse to seek contentment (expressed elliptically in the phrase “‘si no tan contenta [. . .] estaréis más segura’”).10 Not, as Casalduero states,

     9 Fajardo links Leandra's skin-deep beauty to Vicente's “superficial charms and glittering clothes —a counterpart of her own seductiveness” (1986, 244); it is ironically fitting that he should successfully lure her with promises of enjoying the glitter and gaudery of Naples. Márquez Villanueva states that Leandra was “arrastrada de un capricho sensual [. . .] con pésimo juicio” (137). Compare Gayton: “Leandra, not so wise as faire, / Was taken with this pedlars ware: / His fabulous stories she adores, / As Desdemona did the Moors” (280).
     10 Doña Lorenza in El viejo celoso felt the same yearnings which are implied for Leandra, but in her case it was the vecina Ortigosa who promised a cure by “spiriting” a young galán into her chamber (and arms): “‘Quizá con esta [vida] que ahora se comenzará, se le quitará toda esa mala gana y le vendrá otra más saludable y que más la contente’” (Entremeses 223). The Cañizares-Carrizales complex of zealous protection-preservation is an undercurrent in Eugenio's tale as well.

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the goat symbolizing all women (198), not “‘todas aquellas a quien imitáis’”: Leandra is the sole point of reference for Eugenio's words and it is she who, given her social standing and beauty, might well have been expected to guardar y encaminar as “‘una hija de tan estremada hermosura, rara discreción, donaire y virtud,’” one who might for her excellence —prima inter pares— wear a metaphorical esquila of exemplarity.
     As in Dorotea's tale, the initial portion of the text sets a beautiful young woman within a socioeconomic context: wealth and virtues, products of heaven and earth. She is not only loved but even venerated, the one by her parents, “‘cristianos viejos ranciosos’” for whom she was “‘mayordoma y señora’” (I, 28), the other by those enthralled by her beauty, “‘que como a cosa rara, o como a imagen de milagros, de todas partes a verla venían’”11 And yet each took as truth the words of her raptor:

DOROTEA [in her own words]: “sobre todo, me comenzaron a hacer fuerza y a inclinarme a lo que fue, sin yo pensarlo, mi [perdición] los juramentos de don Fernando, los testigos que ponía, las lágrimas que derramaba y, finalmente, su disposición y gentileza, que acompañada con tantas muestras de verdadero amor, pudieran rendir a otro tan libre y recatado corazón como el mío” (I, 28).

LEANDRA [according to Eugenio]: “preguntáronla su desgracia; confesó sin apremio que Vicente de la Rosa la había engañado, y debajo de su palabra de ser su esposo la persuadió que dejase la casa de su padre; que él la llevaría a la más rica y más viciosa ciudad que había en todo el universo mundo, que era Nápoles, y que ella, mal advertida y peor engañada, le había creído [. . .].”

Riches and pleasures: for one the prospect of social elevation in marriage to a segundón, for the other the lure of Neopolitan flings and fancies.

     11 “Imagen de milagros está dicho por imagen notoriamente milagrosa, a la cual van a visitar devotamente desde tierras lejanas” (Rodríguez-Marín 244, n. 12). Were one as socarrón as Sancho, the only miracle attributable might be the preservation of her own virginity, but of course we have yet to answer the Question. And isn't it curious that never, to my immediate knowledge, has Leonisa in El amante liberal prompted the same query, she who spent a week in a cave with seven Turks who, like her, had survived a shipwreck, yet she says she emerged inviolate? But of course that preservation is central to Cervantes' purpose: “La pareja Ricardo-Leonisa se destaca idealmente dentro del marco de lascivias y desatadas pasiones que despierta, pero cuya violencia no mancha ni el puro amor del héroe ni la virtud de su amada” (Rodríguez-Luis 23, emphasis added).


     Did she or didn't she? Dorotea did, equally mal advertida (despite her deliberations and rationalizations) y peor engañada (seduced and quickly abandoned), but she had the wit and the gumption to set out to make things right. And Leandra?:

“la llevó [Vicente] a un áspero monte, y la encerró en aquella cueva donde la habían hallado. Contó también cómo el soldado, sin quitalle su honor, le robó cuanto tenía, y la dejó en aquella cueva, y se fue: suceso que de nuevo puso en admiración a todos.

     “[Duro se nos] hizo de creer la continencia del mozo, pero ella lo afirmó con tantas veras, que fueron parte para que el desconsolado padre se consolase, no haciendo cuenta de las riquezas que le llevaban, pues le habían dejado a su hija con la joya que, si una vez se pierde, no deja esperanza de que jamás se cobre. El mismo día que pareció Leandra la despareció su padre a nuestros ojos, y la llevó a encerrar en un monesterio de una villa que está aquí cerca, esperando que el tiempo gaste alguna parte de la mala opinión en que su hija se puso.”

Certainly it is hard to believe the continency; as Héctor Márquez says, “Los mismos pensamientos pasan por la mente del lector” (105). Irony of ironies: we still ponder the Question of her honor centuries later.12
     Clemencín was right to comment on that cave:

No se concibe fácilmente cómo se encierra a una persona en una cueva, ni cómo pasó en ella Leandra tres días desnuda en camisa; ni cómo dejó de hacer alguna diligencia para salir de aquel estado de soledad y abandono; ni cómo dejó de pasar el Vicente más adelante, según observó el mismo Eugenio: Difícil, señor, se hizo de creer la continencia del mozo. Palabras que Eugenio dirigió exclusivamente al Canónigo [the señor of the text], prescindiendo de los demás circunstantes, o porque consideró que era la persona más autorizada de su auditorio, o porque, como estómago agradecido,

     12 Ullman imputes a motive which the text does not seem to substantiate: “Leandra swears about a past non-performance of a man in order to save herself, and it is the spectators within the novel who doubt it. The reader, though, must come to his own conclusion” (318, emphasis added); in a footnote he adds: “We might compare Leandra with Zoraida, whose virginity is likewise dubious, depending on what we know about pirates. The captive's statement is really de rigueur.” Might not Eugenio's also be such, albeit perhaps with less conviction? Márquez Villanueva would disagree, for he states of the two despojadas, “ambas conservan su honor [note!] por encima de toda consideración de verosimilitud” (137). (Gayton meets the exigency of rhyme in stating motive: “For to a Cave he brought the damzell, / Pretending there to rest her hams well”! [281].)

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se acordaba de los lomos del conejo fiambre y del trago a que sirvieron de agradable cimiento (1491a, n. 11 on I, 51).
     If one continues looking at Leandra through the lens of Dorotea, one might be inclined to agree that she did. In each case we have a tale being told directly to an ecclesiastic and in each case a best face is being put on the protagonist in an exculpatory mode.13 Dorotea must not only explain why she is alone in the wilds and dressed as a man, she must also relate her experience to the priest, the one member of the trio before her who she might well feel promises succor, advice, and comfort, if not immediate forgiveness. Her tale is not a spur-of-the-moment creation but a narrative artfully crafted to play upon men's sympathies, weaving innocence and ignorance into a tapestry which, despite her skill, betrays its artifice and, yes, the cunning by which she seduced Don Fernando —or let herself be seduced.
     Likewise Eugenio's cuento is not extemporaneous: “El estilo conceptuoso, sutil y alambicado de Eugenio no se ajusta bien con la llaneza y rusticidad del que gastan los de su profesión y oficio” (Clemencín 1489b, n. 3 to I, 51; see also 1492b, n. 16); as Márquez Villanueva puts it, the “mayor afán de este pastor de libro de texto no es sino demostrar ante aquellos forasteros que él no es ningún rústico simple «que no entienda cómo se ha de tratar con los hombres y con las bestias»” (79, citing from I, 50, as seen above).14 In his own artful manner Eugenio must not only explain why he spoke as he did to a goat, of all things, he must also relate Leandra's experience to the canon, the one member of the group before him who could well heap more opprobrium on the aldeana, hence he will not confirm a reality —that she did— which would put an immediate end to Leandra's honor, yet he is sufficiently “bitter and disconsolate” (Fajardo 1986, 244) to allow a doubt to stand as he takes pains to show the impact of her wishes and her father's.
     And in the process readers cannot forget —I believe that Cervantes wished us to recall vividly— the thwarted lovers of Marcela:

     13 This was my argument in “Dorotea, or the Narrators' Arts” and I apply it here as well.
     14 He is not, strictly speaking, a “surprisingly cultivated goatherd” (Williamson 58), but a surprisingly cultivated aldeano playing at goatherd, a subtle difference but meaningful. Casalduero drew a comparison to Garcilaso's Égloga I: “Anselmo y Eugenio, el uno con sus ovejas, el otro con sus cabras —nuevos Nemorosos y Salicios—, dejan la aldea para el valle, donde pasan la vida cantando alabanzas o vituperios de la amada” (200).


“‘No hay hueco de peña, ni margen de arroyo, ni sombra de árbol que no esté ocupada de algún pastor que sus desventuras a los aires cuente; el eco repite el nombre de Leandra dondequiera que pueda formarse: Leandra resuenan los montes, Leandra murmuran los arroyos, y Leandra nos tiene a todos suspensos y encantados, esperando sin esperanza y temiendo sin saber de qué tememos.’”15 If Eugenio can be called a “pastor de libro de texto,” so also Grisóstomo, and his story really was a tragedy whereas the reader should indeed be skeptical about Eugenio's reference to “esta tragedia.”16
     If it seems so difficult to believe Vicente's forbearance, why are so many suitors hopelessly hoping and unpurposively fearing? Do they believe and await without hope for the end of her incarceration? Do they fear that she did? Why does Eugenio still fix his passion on Leandra? Is he tepidly defending her honor —which he has clearly placed in doubt— when he says that “‘los que conocían su discreción y mucho entendimiento, no atribuyeron a ignorancia su pecado, sino a su desenvoltura y a la natural inclinación de las mujeres, que por la mayor parte suele ser desatinada y mal compuesta’”? One cannot escape the misogynism of his remarks, such that one may well deduce, as has Márquez Villanueva,17 that the whole episode is merely his chosen point of departure for a self-indulgent literary exercise on a time-honored theme and the concomitant pleasurable otium of playing at goatherd.
     Does Don Quijote help us to answer the Question? Were he able, he states, he would assist Eugenio, but how does one rightly interpret

     15 Ambrosio speaks: “‘No está muy lejos de aquí un sitio donde hay casi dos docenas de altas hayas, y no hay ninguna que en su lisa corteza no tenga grabado y escrito el nombre de Marcela, y encima de alguna, una corona grabada en el mesmo árbol, como si más claramente dijera su amante que Marcela la lleva y la merece de toda la hermosura humana. Aquí suspira un pastor, allí se queja otro; acullá se oyen amorosas canciones, acá desesperadas endechas’” (I, 12); he continues the list of dejected and self-pitying poses.
     16 Vicente Gaos cautions us: “La historia que se cuenta no autoriza ciertamente a llamarla tragedia, pero el punto de vista del enamorado Eugenio no tiene por qué coincidir con el del lector” (944, n. 40a); one does have to wonder, however, just how enamorado he is. Márquez Villanueva sees Eugenio typically putting on airs: “es exageración graciosamente acorde con las ínfulas literarias del joven” (79, n. 2). Weiger perceives the impetus within the narrator himself: “What Eugenio terms ‘esta tragedia’ is really his own story, whose unrequited love has presented him with an unhappy love affair quite removed from any true sense of tragedy” (Weiger 268).
     17 “La escandalosa conducta de [Leandra] no ha traído consigo más secuela que la de dar a sus galanes el pretexto que necesitan para hacer y vivir un poco de literatura” (138).

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his offer?: “‘que yo sacara del monesterio (donde, sin duda alguna, debe de estar contra su voluntad) a Leandra, a pesar de la abadesa y de cuantos quisieran estorbarlo, y os la pusiera en vuestras manos, para que hiciérades della a toda vuestra voluntad y talante [at this point one wonders what to infer18], guardando, pero, las leyes de caballería, que mandan que a ninguna doncella se le sea fecho desaguisado alguno’” (I, 52) —but this injunction is made moments after specifically calling Eugenio “‘hermano cabrero.’” Gentlemanly compañerismo, perhaps, but Don Quijote is projecting courtly or noble gentility into what he mistakenly believes is a chivalrous history.
     Can a comparison of Leandra and the cabra shed some light? Márquez Villanueva (91) links Leandra's choice of consort to the possibility expressed by Don Quijote that if a daughter were to choose her husband without parental advice and consent, “‘tal habría que escogiese al criado de su padre, y tal al que vio pasar por la calle, a su parecer bizarro y entonado, aunque fuese un desbaratado espadachín’” (II, 19, emphasis added to the accurate description of Vicente); he goes on to state that “No es otro [. . .] el sentido del acercamiento simbólico de Leandra a una cabra, animal proverbialmente lujurioso y falto de mollera.” The adjective manchada may literally refer to a multicolor-spotted animal, but the association with mancha in its definition of an affront to one's honor cannot be overlooked in an age when the comedias made much of that word so central to the pundonor. Is Dorotea's tale a clue in the sense that a labradora manchada and a Leandra-as-cabra parallel may be accepted in the priest's phrases “‘Lo que vuestro traje, señora, nos niega, vuestros cabellos [or piel] nos descubren’” and “‘traídola a tanta soledad’” (I, 28, emphases added)?
     Flighty Leandra is capricious. Cervantes may or may not have been aware of the etymological link to capra of which Márquez Villanueva reminds us (91, n. 17). As for cerrera, which Riquer explains as “Que gusta de andar por los cerros” (503), Clemencín is more expansive: “Amiga de andar por cerros, de andar vagando por parajes ásperos y escabrosos como son los cerros y barrancos. Aquí está usada esta palabra en sentido recto; Fr. Luis de Granada la usó en

     18 One proffered explanation: “The story of her flight with Vicente de la Roca and the near loss of her virginity [note!] has excited our hero and caused him to fantasize her at the mercy of a man” (Johnson 132). Another rather ignores the erotic element in his offer: “it is simple to relate this response to the typical reaction of Don Quijote when faced with any possibility for an interpretation along the lines of chivalric tales” (Weiger 265).


metafórico, cuando dijo (capítulo XXVIII, de la Escala espiritual): mas si lo dejares (al pensamiento) andar cerrero y suelto por donde quisiere, nunca to podrás tener contigo” (1488a, n. 31 to I, 50). One could claim that Cervantes had this same metaphorical meaning in mind, and that his sly insinuation of the goat as parallel to the sheep which left the Biblical fold is our clue that she did. Even more untenable would be to link cerro and descaminado and introduce ir por los cerros de Ubeda: “se dize del que no lleva camino en lo que dize y procede por términos remotos y desproporcionados” (Covarrubias 411a, emphasis added), intending the last adjective to refer in the present case to the level of social expectations.
     Did she or didn't she? Leandra believed that Vicente would marry her, told no one, and went off in secret. Here there is a difference, perhaps significant, as compared to Dorotea who had her conniving maid as witness to Don Fernando's promise to wed, his oath given to be her legitimate husband: “‘“aquí te doy la mano de serlo tuyo, y sean testigos desta verdad los cielos, y a quien ninguna cosa se asconde, y esta imagen de nuestra Señora que aquí tienes”’” (I, 28). Leandra had no such witness (we must assume) and thus a clandestine betrothal could not be claimed. Such betrothals were forbidden by the Council of Trent which “con su decreto Tametsi (publicaciones de tres amonestaciones, presencia personal del párroco y de dos o tres testigos, etc.), puso fin a las grandes injusticias y tragedias que surgieron del matrimonio clandestino” (Piluso 67).19
     Leandra's father rushes her off to a convent, evidence of a caring and responsible nature which one might expect from a man whom Eugenio has characterized as “‘un labrador muy honrado, y tanto, que aunque es anexo al ser rico el ser honrado, más lo era por la virtud que tenía que por la riqueza que alcanzaba.’” This description is remarkably similar to that which Dorotea provides of her parents who, besides being Old Christians, are “‘tan ricos, que su riqueza y magnífico trato les va poco a poco adquiriendo el nombre de hidalgos,

     19 Piluso notes that “Cervantes sigue y cree en los decretos del Concilio tridentino. Pero eso no quiere decir que no presente casos de matrimonios clandestinos en su obra. Sí, lo hace y lo hace por motivos dramáticos. Cervantes presenta el problema unido al conflicto entre padres e hijos respecto a la elección de cónyuges” (69). He does not include the Leandra-Vicente liaison in the list of those women whom Cervantes portrayed as possessed through promise of marriage: Teodosia by Marco Antonio in Las dos doncellas, and in the Quijote Dorotea by Don Fernando, and the daughter of Doña Rodríguez by the unnamed son of a friend of the Duke (73-80). The rape of Leocadia and her ensuing adventures in La fuerza de la sangre do not seem to help us to answer our Question.

15.2 (1995) Leandra and That Nagging Question 69

y aun de caballeros’” (I, 28), a mark of the esteem accorded them by their peers. Leandra's father clearly had the protection of the family reputation as good and sufficient reason for his precipitous removal of his daughter, but certainly he has done nothing to deserve the harsh criticism of Eugenio and Anselmo: “‘abominábamos del poco recato del padre de Leandra.’” He is, after all, the one who decided that his daughter, too young at present for marriage, should choose her husband-to-be; he effectively eliminated (he thought) all rivals but these two who now so demean him: “‘nos entretuvo a entrambos con la poca edad de su hija y con palabras generales, que ni le obligaban, ni nos desobligaban tampoco.’” The father's reaction provides no clue to answering our Question except as one hypothesizes his real feelings about the mala opinión which, Eugenio tells us, he (the father) hopes will fade in time.
     One thorny problem is yet to be confronted. We know that Dorotea self-servingly colored her story with —for one example— the claim that her infrequent spare time was spent reading books of devotion, yet she later states that she knows well how to play Micomicona according to the chivalresque stereotype of a damsel in distress as so often depicted in the libros de caballerías. What about Eugenio? Is it possible that the references to the father's mismanagement of the situation are only an indirect expression of his own bitterness? “‘Los pocos años de Leandra sirvieron de disculpa de su culpa’” seems to intimate forgiveness, but a partial disclaimer follows immediately: “‘a lo menos con aquellos que no les iba algún interés en que ella fuese mala o buena,’” and he makes the poorly veiled reference to himself cited above: “‘pero los que conocían su discreción y mucho entendimiento no atribuyeron a ignorancia su pecado, sino a su desenvoltura y a la natural inclinación de las mujeres, que, por la mayor parte, suele ser desatinada y mal compuesta.’” In a very few lines, then, he has gone from general to partial exculpation and then to her sinfulness as one of her sex; the misogynism could not be made more apparent.
     And perhaps Anselmo seemed to Leandra as distasteful a choice for lifelong partner as Eugenio “con el típico narcisismo de la adolescencia,” this “dechado en su opinión” (Márquez Villanueva 79) who raises Leandra to uniqueness in womanly perfection and the extended fame of a Miss Universo. He sounds rather a prig in some ways,20 and so very self-satisfied with being a bright light in his dull

     20 I refer principally to his reaction to Vicente's familiarity in speech: “‘con una no vista arrogancia, llamaba de vos a sus iguales y a los mismos que le conocían.’” Rodríguez-Marín explains the root of such prickly umbrage: “Para hacerlo bien a los iguales, en no habiendo muy estrecha amistad con ellos había tratarse de vuestra merced, y no de vos, tratamiento que sólo se daba a los inferiores, o a los iguales con quienes se tenía grande familiaridad” (298, n. 2); one can imagine Eugenio's feeling needful of being treated as superior.


town. No wonder, as Márquez Villanueva puts it, that “Vicente destaca como un pájaro tropical sobre el fondo grisáceo de la vida pueblerina” (78), particularly if Eugenio or Anselmo are the romantic alternatives. Zimic properly poses this question: “¿No son quizás Eugenio, Anselmo y los otros pretendientes una de las causas más cruciales de la desastrosa experiencia de Leandra?” (73).
     Perhaps all this was indeed nothing more than a sophomoric exercise in literary ostentation, and therefore the reason for Eugenio's anger is that Don Quijote breaks the spell he is sure he has cast over his listeners and interrupts the flow of encomia, principally from the canon.21 Clemencín properly underscored his authorial self-consciousness: “en el discurso de Eugenio había más sutileza y atildadura de la que convenía al estado y profesión del orador” (1493b, n. 3 to I, 52), this in reference to Cervantes' phrase regarding the Canon's praise: “dijo que había dicho bien el cura en decir que los montes criaban letrados.”22 I stated above that Dorotea's “is not a spur-of-the-moment creation but a narrative artfully crafted to play on the sympathies”; Eugenio's tale may well be of the same mold, though seeking more praise than sympathy.23 In the process “traza

     21 “If it appears obvious that within the framework of the Quijote the Leandra story is history, we need to recall that the curate and canon comment upon it as though it were literature, a reaction echoed by their subsequent entertainment by the physical conflict between Don Quijote and Eugenio” (Weiger 271).
     22 Zimic draws our attention to the irony of the canon's remarks (72-73).
     23 Weiger calls our attention to the fact of “the absence of any comment upon the plausibility of the tale. We may infer from this that the canon —and, presumably, the curate as well— finds no lack of verisimilitude in this story, despite the preservation of Leandra's virginity [she didn't] in the face of the escapade with Vicente [. . .]. If we in our day have difficulty accepting the likelihood of this situation [maybe she did], the canon and curate find no objection therein, despite the ploy of the palabra de esposo which most often led precisely to the surrender of virginity [she could have] in so many a literary work of the day. (That the two ecclesiastics reflect a post-Tridentine disapproval of this device does not, of course, detract from their comprehension of it as a means of deceiving innocent maidens.)” (266). Weiger later states that Vicente “does not afford [Leandra] any gratification” (267-68) and that he “found her family jewels more enticing than the jewel of her virginity. In short, Vicente's attitude, as represented by Eugenio, is that of the misogynist. It will be recalled that Eugenio's expressed difficulty with the probability of Leandra's preserved virginity did not revolve around his opinion —good or bad— of Leandra under such circumstances, but was limited to his doubts about the young soldier's restraint” (278-79). [p. 71] Murillo's explanation is facile: Vicente forbore “perhaps because his braggardness concealed impotence” (131). Zimic sees his attitude formed in his childhood lack of peer esteem, leading now to an almost vicious contempt for his fellow townspeople: “Vicente abandona a Leandra en la cueva, sin quitarle la «joya», con ademán de grandiosa, diabólica perversidad, desdeñosa precisamente de lo que todos sus antiguos menospreciadores más desean en la vida, sin esperanza alguna de poderlo jamás lograr” (76).

15.2 (1995) Leandra and That Nagging Question 71

de la propia Leandra un contorno hiperbólico, en que su fama llega a las antesalas de los reyes, y tan convencional también como para encarecer, contra todo el peso de los hechos, la «rara discreción, donaire y virtud» de la fugada” (Márquez Villanueva 79-80).
     One who seeks the most faithful picture of Leandra can only return to Eugenio's opening remarks wherein, the reader must suppose, he might very well have been the least self-serving. Leandra-as-cabra hermosa is manchada as well as cerrera. Neither of these words offers firm evidence on the base of which to answer the Question with any certitude. Plumbing the critical ambivalence of manchada and entertaining a retrospect interpretation of cerrera are exegetical exercises of suspicious validity. She walks de pie cojo, another sign of malaise or injury, but how much can one appropriately read into the phrase? She is hembra and not sosegada, subject to the condición of her sex. Héctor Márquez would have us believe that Cervantes has created this interlude only to repeat his thoughts about the choice of marriage partners,24 but had Cervantes planned to use Leandra's example in order to moralize, why stress flightiness without clearly showing the tragic outcome that might obtain? Dorotea's case is aggravated by Don Fernando's duplicity but great authorial pains are taken to lead her to success.25 Marcela's self-defense is praised by

     24 “El autor aprovecha la oportunidad para hacer algunos comentarios directos sobre la condición de la mujer y para dar ejemplos con el sentido de moraleja: la selección de marido debe ser base de la voluntad de las hijas, los rasgos favorables que las hijas deben considerar; las promesas falsas, los casamientos secretos, la ligereza de las mujeres y otros temas semejantes” (104).
     25 Nowhere in her study does Wiltrout treat Leandra, but one might mentally compare her while reading these words about Marcela and Dorotea: “Ambas son ricas, más nobles en acciones que en linaje, razón por la cual están en mayor libertad para forjar su propio destino, y también se marcharon de su casa en busca de una solución radical a un problema amoroso. En ambos casos la nobleza en las acciones de las mujeres excede la de los hombres que las siguen o las abandonan” (170). Leandra is a somewhat of a reverse image: she shares the basic characteristics, but her action is hardly noble; in fact she dragged herself down to Vicente's level. There is a faint resemblance to Zoraida, another woman whose goal is escape rather than sexual satisfaction. While these three receive Cervantes' approbation (Zoraida only implicitly), Leandra does not, rather seems to be left in limbo.


none other than Don Quijote. The childlike Doña Clara will be wed as will Luscinda and also Zoraida (the reader presumes), the latter to be remembered, Casalduero reminds us (200), as another who lost all jewels but that which is most precious and irreplaceable. The adulteress Camila is of course duly punished.
     Leandra is the only female protagonist in the seven intercalated stories whose future is left unresolved. According to Immerwahr's scheme (12728) one should compare her with Marcela,26 tales one and seven being complementary, but we hear the one directly and only hear of and about the other —and it seems perfectly appropriate to suspect the objectivity of the latter narrative told by yet another of Cervantes' untrustworthy narrators.27 If one deduces that Marcela's defensive self-determination is repeated in Leandra, she didn't. But if, according to the scheme of “fascinating symmetry of antitheses” (Immerwahr 121, citing Friedrich Schlegel), her character must provide a contrast in weakness, she did.
     Did she or didn't she? Cervantes in the prologue to the 1605 Quijote gave the reader the choice: “puedes decir de la historia todo aquello que to pareciese, sin temor que te calunien por el mal ni te premien por el bien que dijeres della.”


     26 So also Ullman: “Marcela and Leandra each obtain a drove of admirers who behave in the same way, thus bringing about similar situations. Yet the two heroines are totally different. The first left home alone and, though surrounded by men, appears utterly devoid of erotic interest in the opposite sex and manages to maintain her freedom and honor; the second left home with a man, and as a result has lost her freedom, her honor, and the company of men” (313), honor here, I presume, in the sense of fama.
     Comparing Eugenio to Grisóstomo is inconclusive except as an indication of the degree of “lovingness,” the latter's all-encompassing and obsessive, the other's rather more tepid, if not detached (cf. Zimic: “El suicidio de Grisóstomo responde a parecidos caprichos y resentimiento de la vanidad herida” [72]). Was each “enamorment” less romance and more an intellectual exercise prompted by pastoral literature? If so, is one to believe that Marcela existed solely as object of stylized amatory declamation, and Leandra merely as an unwitting target for misogynist clichés, each would-be “pastoralized” lover doomed to frustration from the very beginning but ignorant thereof because of egotistical tunnel vision?
     27 I translate Avalle-Arce's apt phrase. He has pointed out that “[q]ue los hablantes mienten es experiencia diaria, pero que lo haga el relator de la obra es inconcebible. [. . .] Pero la mentira como urdimbre de la técnica literaria esto fue maravilloso invento cervantino” (172).


Avalle-Arce, Juan Bautista. “Cervantes y el narrador infidente.” Dicenda, 7 (1987), 163-72.

Casalduero, Joaquin. Sentido y forma del Quijote (1605-1615). Madrid: Insula,1967.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de. Entremeses. Ed. Miguel Herrero García. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1962.

——. El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, IV. Ed. Francisco Rodríguez-Marín. 9th ed. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1975.

——. El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. Ed. John Jay Allen. 2 vols. 10th ed. Madrid: Cátedra, 1988.

——. El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. Edición IV Centenario. “Enteramente comentada por [Diego] Clemencín.” Valencia: Alfredo Ortells, 1991.

——. El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, I. Ed. Vicente Gaos. Madrid: Gredos, 1987.

Covarrubias Horozco, Sebastián de. Tesoro de la Lengua Castellana o Española [1611]. Adiciones de Benito Remigio Noydens [1674]. Ed. Martín de Riquer, rep. Barcelona: Alta Fulla, 1987.

Fajardo, Salvador J. “Unveiling Dorotea or the Reader as Voyeur.” Cervantes, 4 (1984), 89-108.

——. “The Enchanted Return: On the Conclusion to Don Quixote I.” Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 16 (1986), 233-51.

Gayton, Edmund. Pleasant Notes upon Don Quixot [referred to as Festivous Notes in the headings of the verso pages and the book divisions]. London, 1654.

Hathaway, Robert L. “Dorotea, or the Narrators' Arts.” Cervantes, 13 (1993),109-26.



Herrero, Javier. “Arcadia's Inferno: Cervantes' Attack on Pastoral.” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies, 55 (1978), 289-99.

Immerwahr, Raymond S. “Structural Symmetry in the Episodic Narratives of Don Quijote, Part One.” Comparative Literature, 10 (1958), 121-35.

Johnson, Carroll B. Madness or Lust. A Psychoanalytical Approach to Don Quixote. Berkeley: U California P, 1983.

Márquez Villanueva, Francisco. Personajes y temas del Quijote. Madrid: Taurus, 1975.

Murillo, Luis A. A Critical Introduction to Don Quixote. New York: Peter Lang, 1988.

Rodríguez-Luis, Julio. Novedad y ejemplo de las novelas de Cervantes, I. Madrid: Porrúa Turanzas, 1980.

Unman, Pierre L. “The Surrogates of Baroque Marcela and Mannerist Leandra.” Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, 5 (1971), 307-19.

Weiger, John G. “The Curious Pertinence of Eugenio's Tale in Don Quijote.” MLN, 96 (1981), 261-85.

Wiltrout, Ann E. “Las mujeres del Quijote.” Anales Cervantinos, 12 (1973), 167-72.

Zimic, Stanislav. “Sobre los amores de Leandra y Vicente de la Roca (Don Quijote, I caps. 50-52).” Anales Cervantinos, 30 (1992), 67-76.

Digitized with the help of Kendall Sydnor
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