From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 16.2 (1996): 138-43.
Copyright © 1996, The Cervantes Society of America


A Reply to a Reply: A Perspective on a Perspective of My Perspective


My first reaction to Pierre L. Ullman's “Réplica a Anthony Cárdenas* was, frankly, one of surprise. I am grateful to him for pointing out some undeniable lapses on my part, and for, in a sense, deconstructing my own deconstruction. When all is said and done, however, I do think Ullman would have better spent his time and energy pondering the richness and grandeur of Cervantine art rather than my poor musings over the same. I should do the same. Nevertheless, editor and colleague, Michael McGaha has offered me the opportunity for a response to Ullman's reply and the following is my acceptance.
     To begin, Ullman reads my study titled “Cervantes's Rhyming Dictum on ‘Celestina’: ‘Vita Artis Gratia’ or ‘Ars Vitae Gratia’?”, as he writes “una refutación de algo que expuse, a fuer de estudioso novel, en mi primer artículo” (1), that is, as a refutation of his “The Burlesque Poems which Frame the ‘Quijote’.” Fact is, my own effort had hoped merely to examine and offer “a” reading (not “the” reading) of the verses at the beginning of the Quijote in reference to Celestina: “. . . Celesti- / Libro en mi opinión divi- / si encubriera más lo huma- ” (Allen I, 80). It is customary when treating a literary issue critically to review what colleagues have previously written on the same matter. For this reason I cited Ullman's study and

     * Cervantes 16.2 (1996): 128-136. Ullman responded to this reply by Cárdenas with “A Reply to a Reply to a Reply”, Cervantes 17.2 (1997): 149-54. -FJ.


16.2 (1996) A Reply to a Reply 139

disagreed with what I viewed as “an ingenious ‘misreading’ derived from [his] examining the Quijote princeps” (Cárdenas 23), namely, his expansion of the truncated verse in question as: “Libró en mi opinion divinamente” rather than as Libró and “divino” as the consensus would have it. My view, my opinion was that Ullman's decoding (still ingenious, mind you) failed at two points: 1) “divinamente” did not fit “the implied rhyme scheme” (Cárdenas 24), and 2) “the use of diacritics in this edition [the princeps] is sufficiently sporadic, in my opinion, to prevent basing a convincing decoding upon such usage” (Cárdenas 24).
     I must admit that Ullman's objections to my objections have shown me the errors of my ways. More exact than “implied rhyme scheme”1, I should have stated that expanding “divi-” to “divinamente” does not follow the established pattern of “implied word endings” as well as does the expansion of “divi-” to “divino.” In every verse of this poem, in every verse of the only other cabo roto poem, that is, in the very first one, “Al libro de don Quijote de la Mancha Urganda la Desconocida” (Allen I, 75-77), in other words, if we exclude the verse in question, in 79 lines of verse, a single syllable finishes the word at the verses' end. What circumstance or set of circumstances could prove this one line to be the exception? Ullman finds such when he views “Libró” as the third person singular preterite form of “librar” instead of the noun “Libro.”
     When I examined the use of diacritics in the princeps, I used a copy of the princeps that was on the shelves in Casa del Libro on Gran Vía in Madrid. It was a chance encounter with this volume and I took my notes while squatting in an aisle in the bookstore. Again Ullman has been astute enough to show the error of my ways: 1) “domó” in the princeps has a grave accent mark and not an acute one as I reported from my notes: my mistake. He goes on to point out that “domó” occurs in the last verse of the first tercet of the sonnet of the Caballero del Febo and not in the last verse as I, in my lapse of “poco detenimiento,” stated: my error again.2

     1 On this point Ullman declares that “todos los esquemas de rima son implícitos, a menos que el poeta declare explícitamente, ante un soneto por ejemplo, algo como: ‘Ya que éste es soneto, su combinación estrófica es abbaabbacdcdcd’” (3). I suppose from what one could consider a captious perspective he is correct.
     2 My “poco detenimiento” results from not looking carefully enough at this sonnet as it appears on I, 81 of John Jay Allen's edition which I used in my study. “Domó” occurs in the last line on that page which, as Ullman points out is indeed the last line of only the first tercet and not the last line of the poem.
     Ullman states earlier, however: “Observamos que son decasílabos agudos con las rimas ‘é,’ ‘ó,’ ‘á,’ e ‘í’ en el orden éóóééááííá, . . . ” (3; emphasis added). I am afraid to say that I cannot be included in that “observamos” for what I observe are “octosílabos agudos.” Please observe:

      soy-san-cho-pan-zaes-cu-de            7 + 1
del-man-che-go-don-Qui-xo 7 + 1
pu-so-pie-sen-pol-vo-ro 7 + 1
por-vi-vi-ra-lo-dis-cre 7 + 1
queel-ta-ci-to-vi-lla-die 7 + 1
to-da-su-ra-zon-dees-to 7 + 1
ci-froe-nu-na-re-ti-ra 7 + 1
se-gun-sien-te-ce-les-ti 7 + 1
li-broen-mio-pi-nion-di-vi 7 + 1
sien-cu-brie-ra-mas-lohu-ma 7 + 1
Nemo sine crimine vivit. 7 + 1


Ullman examines the use of diacritics in these poems and comes up with the plausible and quite defensible theory that their employment occurs “cuando su omisión podría producir confusión” (6).3 He disapproves, however, of my term “sporadic” to describe the use of accents in the princeps and finds unacceptable my description “diacritical eccentricities.” He declares: “En suma, el uso de los diacríticos en la edición príncipe del Quijote no es ‘sporadic,’ sino que se hace según la lógica, aunque no aplicada exactamente; es algo variable, pero de ningún modo excéntrico. Esta última palabra tampoco debe aplicarse a la selección entre las tres tildes [acute accent, grave accent, and circumflex]; la voz más apropiada es ‘fortuito’” (7; my emphasis). This summary occurs not only after his theory of deployment but also after a list he provides of “tildes innecesarias,” “errores” and other oddities (7). The objections to my terminology seems, I must say, nit-picking. “Sporadic” according to Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary means “occurring occasionally, singly, or in scattered instances.” In distinction to “infrequent” “sporadic implies occurrence in scattered instances or isolated outbursts” (Webster's Seventh). I have to maintain that to this modern carcass, given the use especially as studied by Ullman, “sporadic”

     3 “Libró” is in fact the only instance of an acute accent mark. Ullman considers this a matter of “quita y pon, a diferencia de las demás” (5). He adds that “la selección entre tildes agudas, graves o circunflejas es fortuita” (5). He may
be correct on both accounts. Again his “tildes innecesarias” and his “errores” and his list of oddities, however, suggest that the diacritic over “Libró” may be an aberation, albeit, “unnecessary,” an “error,” or an “oddity,” and possibly and consequently “not, given these diacritical eccentricities, a telling point” (Cárdenas 32n5).

16.2 (1996) A Reply to a Reply 141

seems not an entirely inept description. As regards “eccentric” versus “fortuitous” Webster's Seventh indicates for the former “deviating from some established pattern or from accepted usage or conduct” and “suggests a wide divergence from the usual or normal esp. in behavior,” whereas for the latter it offers “occurring by chance” and that this term “so strongly suggests chance that it often connotes entire absence of cause.” It would seem, given Ullman's stance, that “eccentric” would be more acceptable than “fortuitous.” Even the Royal Academy's Diccionario de la lengua española (1992) seems to argue against Ullman's “fortuito” which means: “Que sucede inopinada y casualmente.” In fine, had Ullman written the study he would have used “fortuito” and never “sporadic” nor “eccentric.”
     “Fortuitous” or “sporadic,” “fortuitous” or “eccentric,” as I stated originally and restate: “the use of diacritics in this edition is sufficiently sporadic, in my opinion, to prevent basing a convincing decoding upon such usage. Ullman's strongest point is that the criticism offered in the rhyme is undoubtedly more than straightforward” (Cárdenas 24). “Divinamente” to this reader, although ingenious, remains unsatisfying.
     Ullman finds my ideas, of course matters on prosody aside, “brillantes, acertadas y sugestivas” in one breath; but then in the next “válidas, con tal que se deseche el concepto desconstructivo con el cual cree abonarlas, a saber, la opinión que toda lectura es un ‘misreading’” (4). His understanding that I assume to guarantee my ideas through deconstruction is an interesting reading on his part. How does one “abonar” one's ideas via an approach? My goal in citing Vincent Leitch's understanding of “reading” as “misreading” was to inform the reader of my approach and not to guarantee my ideas. Ullman's objection here may point to yet another shortcoming on my part. I failed in my quoting of Leitch to include the last paragraph within the same footnote, thinking, as I did, that it was unnecessary given that I had cited a good portion of it in my first paragraph. This last paragraph in its entirety reads: “Criticism insists on performing what cannot be performed —reading texts. There can never be ‘correct’ or ‘objective’ readings, only less or more energetic, interesting, careful, or pleasurable misreadings” (Leitch 59). Hence, I never refuted nor attempted to refute Ullman's ‘misreading’ (or if he prefers ‘reading’) of the passage in question. I called it “ingenious” as it deserves (in my opinion) and said that it “fails at two points.” Perhaps I should have said it “fails to convince” or perhaps is less “energetic, interesting, careful, or


pleasurable” for the two reasons I offered and maintain, unconvinced as I am by Ullman's reply.
     Finally, Ullman claims that “es poco aconsejable sustituir el análisis polisémico tipológico por la deconstrucción, por to menos mientras no se haya ensayado el primero” (7-8). What can I say to this? OK? Fine? This is his opinion, he is entitled to such, and I have no desire to try to convince him otherwise.
     Michael Harney offers some observations about literature worth citing here: “Surely the literary work of art capturing as it does a complex experience in complex ways, can accommodate —indeed, requires— several simultaneous critical approaches.” (15) This must certainly hold for a multifaceted work such as the Quixote.
     Ullman concludes: “hemos visto de demostrar que no es preciso recurrir a la desconstrucción ni hablar de ‘misreadings’ para hacer caber las varias interpretaciones del célebre juicio sobre la Celestina dentro de un esquema polisémico ya formulado en la época de Cervantes, siendo así válida cada una de ellas” (12). I agree with the first part about it not being necessary to depend on deconstruction nor to speak of “misreadings.” By the same token, just as Ullman thinks it “poco aconsejable” to view Cervantine art through a deconstructive lens, I think it possible to do so, and if in so doing even Ullman finds “las ideas de Cárdenas . . . brillantes, acertadas y sugestivas,” then my goal to offer a more “energetic, interesting, careful or pleasurable misreading” has been reached.
     To conclude, even though I disagreed and still disagree with parts of Ullman's decoding of the rhyming dictum, the value of his “primer artículo” is “that these poems do prepare the reader for what is to come” (Cárdenas 31) and this “in total opposition to [Irwin] Edman's assessment that the poems are but ‘freaks of the author's pen’” (Cárdenas 31). For this elucidation by Pierre Lioni Ullman I express my gratitude and admiration and also for providing me the opportunity to attempt to express more clearly points I tried to make in my original study and for correcting my blatant errors.



Cárdenas, Anthony J. “Cervantes's Rhyming Dictum on Celestina: Vitae Artis Gratia or Ars Vitae Gratia?” Indiana Journal of Hispanic Literature 5 (1994 [1995]): 19-36.

Cervantes, Miguel de. El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. Ed. John Jay Allen. 2 vols. Letras Hispánicas 100, 101. 5th ed. Madrid: Cátedra, 1983.

——. Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha. Trans. John Ormsby. Introduction by Irwin Edman. Illustrations by Edy Legrand. New York: The Heritage Press, n.d., c. 1950.

Leitch, Vincent B. Deconstructive Criticism: An Advanced Introduction. New York: Columbia UP, 1983.

Real Academia Española. Diccionario de la lengua española. 21st ed. Madrid: Real Academia Española,1993.

Ullman, Pierre Lioni. “The Burlesque Poems which Frame the Quijote.” Anales Cervantinos 9 (1961-62): 213-27.

——. “Réplica a Anthony Cárdenas.” Typed Manuscript. 15 pp. + 4 pp. Xerox copy of the verses as contained in the editio princeps.

Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam, 1963.



[Note: This graphic appeared on  page 137 of the issue, between the note by Pierre L. Ullman and this reply by Anthony J. Cárdenas. -FJ]

Prepared with the help of Sue Dirrim
Fred Jehle Publications of the CSA HCervantes