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Cervantes La Galatea

Cervantes La Galatea

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Cervantes's "La Galatea": Feminine Spaces, Subjects, and CommunitiesAuthor(s): Rosalie Hernández-PecoraroSource:
Pacific Coast Philology,
Vol. 33, No. 1 (1998), pp. 15-30Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 21/02/2011 03:06
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Cervanles'sLaGalatea:
FenminineSpaces,Subjects,andCommunitiesRosalieHemaindez-Pecoraro
UniversityofIllinois,Urbana-ChampaignFollowing pastoralconvention,Cervantes structures much of theac-tioninhislocusamoenusaround thefiguresof male loversand theirsuf-feringforidealizedobjectsofdesire.Yet La Galateaalsocontainsacon-siderable numberof femalecharacters who seemtorelate on levelsthatstandapartfrom and sometimesdisrupttheoverriding pastoralideol-ogyofmalebondingthrough suffering.Characters suchas Galatea andGelasiaopenlydeclaretheiraversiontomaleobjectificationandattempttobeunderstoodbeyondits limits.Others,likeTeolinda andRosaura,aggressively pursuetheirlovers,clearlytransgressingthe rules ofde-mure behaviorusually expectedoffemalepastoralcharacters.Evenmorerelevant to a feministreadingof Cervantes's textis thewayinwhichallfemalecharacters,regardlessof their attitudes towardslove andmen,managetoform anautonomousand inclusivetypeofpastoralcommu-nity,distinct fromtheidentificatorymodelpresentin thegroupofmalelovers. In thispaperIwanttoemphasizehow La Galateagoesbeyonditspastoralprecursors throughthewaysinwhichitincludesrepresenta-tions offeminine desire and offersaspacein whichfemalecharacters,notwithstandingtheirdifferences,freelyandindiscriminatelyshare thesedesiresasacommunity.It will not bepossibletoarguethatafeminineperspectiveorsubjectposition prevailsinLaGalatea.Nevertheless,Ipro-posethat theparticularitiesof femininedesireandcommunitynot beignored(astheyarebymalecharacters)nourreadingof this Cervantinetext.Thewayinwhich female characters enact analternativediscursivepositioncan beexaminedinrelationtothepsychicconstitution ofthemaleself andcommunity.The constitution of thepastoralmalesubject,hiscommunity,and itspoetic practicecan beunderstoodthroughtheFreudianconceptsofanaclisis(male narcissism),groupidentification,andsublimation.1 Fromthepastoralmalelover'sperspective,the be-lovedserves asamirroruponwhich toreflect anidealizedimageoftheselfwhich,althoughfalse,givestheanaclitic(narcissistic)lover an illu-sion ofpost-Oedipalfullness of self andmeaning.For thepastoralcom-munity,"Love"andits embodimentinidealizedothersfunctionsasa"leader"whichpermitsgroupidentificationandlimitsindividualnar-cissismamonglovers. Malepastoralcharacterscometogetherthrough15
 
RosalieHerndndez-Pecorarosharingtheirvirtuallyidenticalattitudestowards "Love"and theirbe-loved othersin aprocessofself-sameidentification.Themalepastoralcommunity'semphasisonpoetryasthesuperiormode ofexpressioncan,inturn,beinterpretedasawayofsublimatinglibidinal desiresthatcan neverbe realized withinthepastoralworld.Poetryreplacesthelover'smost basic(anddebased)sexualdesires,producingin turn"higher"cultural achievementsthroughthepoetic process.Ifwefollow this masculinepastorallogic,femalecharacters shouldeitherconfirmorfrustrate,supportordisrupt,these(masculine)pro-cessesastheyare foundintexts suchasJorgedeMontemayor'sDianaand Cervantes'sLaGaltea.Withinthepastorallocusamoenus,womencanonlyserveas constructedobjects,asmirrors,and as abstractedourcesofpoeticinspirationforthe maleloverand hiscommunityof lovers.Butwheredothefemalepastoralcharactersstandassubjects?Wheredoestheirfunctionas idealizedobjectsendandtheirsubjectivity(ifatall)begin?And howdoes themalecommunityof loverscontrol thesubver-sivefeminineelements thatappearin differentlevels ofthe text?Theanswersto thesequestionswilloffer,Icontend,onewayofapproachinga feministinterpretationofpastoraltexts,andspecificallyLa Galatea.Giventheusefulnessofpsychoanalysisinexploringthedynamicsofmalesubjectivityandidentificationinpastoraltexts,abriefsummaryofFreud andLacan'sconceptsoffemininesubjectivityprovidesastartingpointfora discussionoffemininepresenceinpastoraltexts.Freud'sversionofsexualityisbasedonthewayinwhichbothsexescometo understandthe lackof thephallusin theirfirstobjectofdesire,themother.When themale childrealizesthathismotherislackingthepenis,he identifieswithhis father(whoisperceivedasnon-lacking)andthereafterfearsbeingcastrated,and thuslacking,likehis mother.Thechildassociatesthepeniswithpowerandfullness.Its absenceisidenti-fiedwiththereverse,weaknessand lack.Secondarynarcissism,oranaclisis,constantlycompensatesfor thefearof castrationbyofferingthemalesubjectidealizedversionsof himselfthat assurehimof hispos-sessionof thephallus,ofbeing perfect,notlackingandcomplete.Inturn,accordingtoFreud,thefemalechildcomesto understandherselfaslack-ing,asnon-phallic,asa castratedbeing.She,like hermother,doesnotpossessthepenisandeventuallylosesallhopeofhavingone andac-ceptsher"nature"asa castratedbeing.Freudthusconcludes:"There-sultisanessentialdifferencebetweenher[woman]andtheboy,namely,thatsheacceptscastrationas an establishedfact,anoperationalreadyperformed,whereastheboydreadsthepossibilityof itsbeing performed"16

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