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Shaping Experience: Narrative Strategies in Cervantes

Author(s): Peter N. Dunn
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Source: MLN, Vol. 109, No. 2, Hispanic Issue (Mar., 1994), pp. 186-203
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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1957).knowing that the abducted infantgenre. NY: Cornell UP. 2 Press MLN 109 (1994): 186-203? 1994 byThe JohnsHopkins University This content downloaded on Fri. Even so.have puzzled and debated over its authenticity:is Don Quixotereallya novel?What should be the appropriate generic description. Dunn I One of the most influentialbooks to appear in our time on the historyof the novel is TheRiseoftheNovelby Ian Watt.1Watt'sbook placed that rise in the land of Defoe and Fielding. More recently. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1968). has finallybeen restored to its rightfulparent. An Exemplary Historyof theNovel (Chicago: Chicago UP. shiningclich6 whichsaysthatCervantesis the fatherof the modern novel. it would surelybe unmannerlynot to bask in the steadyglow of thatcliche. (Ithaca. Robert Alter. 1978). The Limitsof theNovel.2So we hispanistscan now look back with satisfaction.not only of Don Quixote.Our storyhas a happyending. some scholars. Afterso happy and so providentiala conclusion.and the prize is the bright. Our champions have returnedwiththe prize. Walter all such storiesshould. 1981). of The tide turned with David Grossvogel. more in anger than in sorrow. since 1957 hispanistshave been raisingtheirvoices.ShapingExperience:Narrative in Cervantes Strategies PeterN. Reed. TheRise theNovel(London: Chatto and Windus.but of all the various prose worksof Cervantes?Should theybe classifiedas novel or as romance? 1 Ian Watt. consequently. the novel.historiansof literatureas well as novelistshave increasinglycome to agree withthe protesters. Partial Magic The Novel as a SelfconsciousGenre (Berkeley: California UP. like the heroines of La gitanillaand of La ilustre fregona.

serene. 4 Juan BautistaAvalle-Arcesummarizesthe conjectureson datingthe Persilesin his ed.6That did not workverywell.more showsmuch of the mature.J. with a fine 3 Abundant documentation can be found in Dana B.Other criticshave held that it was the workof his decliningyears. C.On naive thereforean earlypiece) the contrary.5A little later. and could not bring himselfto abandon it. suggestingthat a chronologyof the Novelasejemplarescould be based on Cervantes'increasingdetachmentfromthe postulatesof documentaryrealism. The Trabajosde Persilesy Sigismunda(1617) caused the greatest embarrassment.and the biographical model that sustainsit. 14-16.4So thislarge.MLN 187 as It is generallyrecognized that several of the Novelasexemplares well as the Trabajosde Persilesy Sigismundaare composed in the traditionof romance. and deliberately playfulimplausibilitythat we find in the romantic comedies with which Shakespeare graced his later years. This content downloaded on Fri. scholars could confidentlyassert that the so-called "idealist" stories were composed relativelyearly.although the antiromanceof Don Quixotegivesproofof how greatlyhisjudgment had matured. 1974). persisted in writingromances? There have been various attemptsto answer this question during our century. (Madrid: Castalia. So how do we explain the factthatthe "father of the novel". These examples show clearly that the question of genre has been hopelessly entangled with the equally obstinate problem of the chronologyof the worksin prose.It has been suggestedthatCervantesbegan the Persilesas early as the 1590s.who wrotethe supreme parodyof romance. 1973). (London: Tamesis. 1969).1968). Cervantes: A Critical Bibliography (Blacksburg:VirginiaPolytechnicInstitute.being a full blown romance unredeemed byparody.3 It is not difficultto identify the prejudices that underlie that argument. Avalle-Arceand E.whereas the so-called "realist"ones belonged to a later. expansive and complex workhas had the distinctionof being dismissedas a prodand also of his dotage. 6 NoveltoRomanceA StudyofCervantes' 'Novelasejemplares' (Baltimore:JohnsHopkins UP.In the early decades. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Drake. B. Ruth El Saffarin her book NoveltoRomancetried to turnthe whole critical traditionaround. The essays in this collection were writtenin the late 1960's. whichis one of Manyyearsago I suggestedthatLa senoraCornelia. Riley Ejemplares". is the least read of the Novelasexemplares (it usually dismissed as and was neither naive nor early. so it was not unreasonable of Edward Riley to propose. 5 "Las Novelas Suma cervantina. asjuvenilia and uct of Cervantes'simmaturity also as senilia.

Russell. that 'novel' is therefore modern and progressive.The positivistbias in all of these suppositionsis plain to see. 8 See especially:MargaretRose. ascending or al.dividingand followingseparate paths.thatthissuperioritycan be demonstratedby its place in an evolutionarysequence. Kingston."Cervantes:A Question of Genre". 1979). E.8All of these assumptionsshould be discarded. Aristotleand Horace both compare the structureof a poem to a living creature with its necessarylimbs.thatthe Novelasare all more or less novel.ed. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .whereas 'romance' is archaic and Cervantesparodied certain romances in Don Quixote. the more heavilysuch formsare likelyto be encoded. Linda Hutcheon. in any case. One of the pleasures of reading Cervantes'writingsis to be found in followingthe line of the story. I believe thatthe studyof the typologyof the narrativestructureswillprove to be more rewarding and that. I could perhaps have introducedthistopic by sayingthatit deals withCervantes'svariationson a theme.I would like to examine his variationson a form. gentle or abruptcourses. DUNN sense of compromise.but ratherthose events seen as if moving in space. in Mediaevaland RenaissanceStudieson Spain and Portugalin HonourofP. A TheoryofParody(London and New York: Methuen.The more traditionaltheyare.Ontario.means to reject the object of parody.7 Beneath most of these debates lie several unexamined assumptionsand judgmentsofvalue. F. (Oxford: The Societyfor the Studyof Mediaeval Languages and Literatures.By this I do not mean just the succession of events.and thatthe two are not merely differentbut opposed. C. that 'novel' is not merelydifferent from'romance'.changing direction. 1985).in lines thatmaybe director sinuous.1981). W.I shall thereforeattend to the patternsof plot.and all more or less romance. Second. Parody/Metafiction (London: Croom Helm. Hodcroft. but is superiorto it. since formsare a principalvehicle bywhich themes and ideologies are encoded and articulated.and ideologies as well.188 PETER N. and theyboth employvisual imagerythatis no longer fashionablewhen speaking 7 E.Third. such studyshould logicallyprecede the attemptto draw generic distinctions. Fourth. tracing a trajectory. and the workof the GROUPAR at Queen's University. And for the presentI propose to put aside questions of thingfollowinganother.but withthe understandingthat formsimplicate themes. More precisely.that'novel' can be distinguished from'romance' by formalcriteria. We also findassociated withthem the simplisticnotion that to parody. First. This content downloaded on Fri.

sin que la hagas que parezca ed.The regularitywithwhich writersrepeat Horace's exhortationto avoid putting together a monstrous aggregation of parts?1was powerfully canonical. the indeterminacies.l2But formshave power. 319.or to locate the narrativevoice.textand image.Writing in theMargin:SpanishLiterature oftheGoldenAge (Oxford:Clarendon artepoetica. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .1-5. 1974).This prestigederivedfromthejoining of visualwithverbal.and not as the practiceof craft forcraft'ssake. II. see WolfgangIser. This content downloaded on Fri. HarrySieber (Madrid: pulpo. 1986).We encounter this practice most obviouslyin emblem literature. But in renouncing what Paul Julian Smith has called "pictorialism"9and excluding it fromour own practice.In Cervantes'sown writingwe find a memorable example of the writer'sawareness of the shapeof his narrativein the commentby the dog Cipi6n thatif Berganza continues to tell his storyas he is doing.the internalcontradictionsthatinvitedeconstruction. or the gaps. it will come to look like an octopus.Cervantesoftengivesthe impressionof letting the narrativedevelop as it will. 12 For the place of 'gaps and indeterminacies' in the process of reading. 10 Epistulaad Pisones. A studentof Arthurianromance must still take account of the interlacingdesign. general situation and particular embodiment. and of the author's comparison of that design witha tapestry. "The Reading Process: A Phenomenological Approach".but not froma purelyformalistperspective. enigma withphysicalrepresentation. Catedra. but itsprescriptiveforceis supportedbyexamples in the practiceof literature.1l In recent decades we have not paid much attentionto the forms of narrativestructures. aphorism with conceptualized space. 1988).thisexercise of the spatial imagination. 11 "Cipi6n.MLN 189 of literaryworks.We eschew such analogies as being impressionistic and naive." both writingand reading. 274-294.-Quiero decir que la sigas de golpe. in The ImpliedReader(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP. John JayAllen has writtenon "The ProvidentialWorld of Cer9 Paul Julian Smith. All referencesare to thisedition. segun la vas afiadiendo colas. I propose to discuss this element of design in Cervantes.we mustbe carefulnot to ignore somethingwhich in past timesmayhave been importantand even essentialto both authorsand readers.preferringto note the play of rhetoric.of whatwe would have to call visualizing activity.whichenjoyed tremendousprestige all over Europe until it was swallowedup in the nineteenthcentury by political cartoons and commercialadvertizing. growingfromwithinaccording to some hidden genetic code.

as when Don Quixote letsRocinante choose whichroad to follow. Allen's projectwas to show thatCervantescreated a meaningfuluniversein his fiction.and returnshome withhis task completed. up bysayingthatwhen anycharactertestifiesto the designios we find that the lexical doublet designioand disenodenote two aspects of the same: the plot is the economy of providence.We could sum this delcielo. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .or withhis arrivalin a new 13 In 14 Thought55 (1980). This content downloaded on Fri. he setsout once more.the presence of a guiding hand behind apparentlychance eventsare so common thatwe can identifythem as generic markers. Of course.and whenever the knightdeclares a situationto be an adventurereservedfor him alone.14 Within thisplot is one of the basic narrativestructures:thejourney of the hero which ends eitherwithhis return. Three journeys out. multiplecoincidences.This propositionis an ideological-structural Cervantesadopts forpurposes of design. and returnsagain aftera longer lapse of time.Cervantes has adopted one of the oldest plot typesin recorded literature.In PartTwo.Ifwe read enough seventeenthcenturyfictionwe meet manycases of the supposed operation of divine providence:shipwrecks.In the hero's life.and one of the most persistent:the hero sets out. he sets out again with a companion. Let us begin withDon Quixote. in Don Quixote. providence and novelisticdesign are one. the protagonistsets out. Here is an example of whatJosephCampbell called the 'monomyth'.can all be explained.and they can sometimesbe veryclumsyones. or explained away. passes throughtrialsand adventures.chance equals cliche that providence.Obviously. the "inscrutabledesigns of God" are nothingbut the only too scrutabledesigns of the novelist. DUNN 190 vantes' Fiction".But he has a lot of fun withit.and elsewhere.witha designiosdeDios. then returnshome. 184-95. So. "the inscrutable pious referenceto los inescrutables designs of God". Epic and romance would be inconceivablewithoutthisawarenessof a telos:the sense of mission or purpose in the life of the protagonist. battered.13To talk of the concept of "providence"in fiction is notjust to talkof how the readers' moral sense or theirdesire for poeticjustice maybe satisfied. TheHero witha ThousandFaces (Princeton: PrincetonUP.In the firstfivechapters of Part One.and mine is to examine some of the significantforms withwhichthatfictionaluniverseis constructed. 1949).PETER Persilesy Sigismunda. three returns.Aftera few days.sudden reversalsof fortune.captivity.but his journey takes him much fartherbefore he comes home in defeat.

originally.15When Aristoteliantheoristsof literatureclaimed that prose fictionmay be classifiedas a kind of epic.Lolita.and which will make him into a splendid representativeof the communitywhen he returns. thisunderscoresthe comic nature of both the hero and his narrative.A son sets out witha purpose: to avenge his father'sdeath. pared rightdown to the bare line of the plot. He took up his role so hastily.too. is relevantto a reading of Don Quijote. a veryeconomical version.MLN 191 land.perhaps. Or a champion setsout to retrievea precious stolen object thatsymbolizesthe identityof the community.Homer's Odyssey formsof thisbasic narrative. And FredricJameson has pointed out thatmanyheroes of romance approach their tasksnaively. theysanctioned a reading of Don Quixoteforthe tracesof both epic and romance that are in it.Then.In outline. It is not difficultto recall worksof literaturefromall periods thatare modGulliver's elled on thisjourney pattern: TomJones.This same basic structurehas characterized both epic and romance. no magic ring or golden fleece.we see that he has broughtback no prize. In a nonheroic mode. This all such structures.and he realizes thathe should have had a squire. 1976).an aristocraticcaste's fantasiesabout itselfand its world. the and ideologicallyequivalent to a renew home is both structurally and Vergil'sAeneidare both highlyelaborated turn. if we focus on his sorry state and set it against the narrativeparadigms. the firstof these. 135-63." in New Literary History7 (1975).Pilgrim'sProgress.and mastereditscodes so incompletelythathe has to returnin order to begin again. If it is in a new land. thatland becomes his home and the land of his posterity. reflecting. This content downloaded on Fri. or an insult.itshero and itsaudience in a circle of mutual approbation and reinforcement.and of the good/evil dichotomyin Frye's A Studyof theStructure of Romance(Cambridge: widely read The Secular Scripture: Harvard UP.epic.can be exploited in order to transgressthe norms that it denotes. no secret 15 But heroes of medieval romance often begin theirstorynot knowingwho they are.unaware of what is required of them: this.the second. Travels.Candide. and Cervantesplayswiththis ambivalence: a prettyexamof theoryand name a few. romance.See his "Magical Narratives:Romance as Genre. ple of the intertextuality Don Quixote returnsfrom his firstsally. thisis the prototypicallyheroic patternof narrative.and since that posterityincludes his audience. linkingits narrator. the protagonistmay returnwithno greaterprize than a knowledge of his own foolishness: such is the parable of the Prodigal Son. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .not in victorybut in the heroic mode.This article is valuable forits correctivecritiqueof NorthropFrye'sidea of a "natural"world.

His journey and returnis over in double quick time.192 PETER N. So we encountera double paradox: first.and whichis encoded in the cyclicalformof the plot.we see that it signals comic absurdity.or of one who returns. the non heroic mode is even more marked. and returnimposes a powerfulteleologyupon any fictionthat embodies it. as the hero is reintegrated.When our hero finallyreaches the shore of the Mediterranean.Moreover.he is unable to achieve itas long as he wears the persona of Don Quixote. the protagonistdoes produce thejewel.The storydoes not simplystop. his desire for self knowledge.In the end. or has an end withoutclosure. When we look back to the firstsally. It foreshadowsa peculiarlymodern mutationof the hero: the protagonistof a storythat has no end. quest.a lifethatcomes to nothing. The ending is seen to be servestojustify everythingthatleads towardsit including.the patheticjourney of one who neverarrives.By a bitterirony.but beyond that.then. Alonso Quijano. the beginning fromwhichit all started. it is the end in a purposive sense. The narrativepatternofjourney. the one thatis reservedforhim alone.Again.of course. the drasticbrevityof this heroic cycleis a comic distortionof the paradigm.fullof splendor and rare experience into the world he had leftbehind.and it occupies a mathematicallycentral position in the This content downloaded on Fri. as each defeat is more severe than the one before. But ifwe read thispart as the firstof a sequence of three sallies.he could not have attainedthatlucidityand the courage to die had he not undertaken the mad adventureof being Don Quixote. not for the questing Don Quijote.the prize is reserved for the new persona.thatturbulent arena of jealous gods where ancient heroes were tested and where theyproved themselves.he is merelydwarfedbythe worldof commerce and the engines of modern war.but also somethingelse. a consummation. ordeals. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .it is a prize that all those around him reject. That moment is the descent into the underworld. and brings deeper humiliation. each one being of longer duration and larger range.the telosor final cause that embraces the beginning and reintegratesit. his lucidity. There is a special moment in the hero's career when he and the audience are made aware thathis personal trajectoryis inscribedin thevasterdestinyto whichhe is subject. Cervanteswill not let us he relentlesslytrivializesthe heroic endeavor and demythologizesthe grand mythicstructure. DUNN wisdomor newsfromthe end of theworld. and yet.but witha handfulof dust. and he enriches thatworldwithhis meaning.

It is also ajourney to the centerof the selfwhichwillbe called upon to embodythe idea and the purpose when he returnsto theworldof 16 A powerfulversionof thisheroic storyoccurs in the Gospel of Nicodemus and other apocryphalChristianwritingsthattell of Christ'sdescent into Hell. 50).' The mythburied in the romance allows Cervantes to play with the prophetic mode. and drawsthe psychic charge thathe needs in order to bear thatknowledge.a storythat remained part of Christian lore as the "harrowingof Hell. where he freed the Hebrew prophets and patriarchs. In Don Quixotethereare twomoments.MLN 193 and the Aeneid. is a reminderthat chivalric romances also contain marvellous adventures under ground. the Pax Romana.when he descends into the Cave of Montesinos. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .when the protagonistis withdrawnfrom all contact with other people. as Odysseus and Aeneas had conversedwiththe shades of theircomrades in arms." This content downloaded on Fri.but about in the transcendentscheme that the his place. Don Quixote's selfproclaimed missionfromthe outsetis to be a savior.a liberator. We maydetecta sarcasticparallel withchapter22 of the PartOne. It is there thatthe hero sees himselfin the epic attempts timelessperspectiveof his culture and his race.But in chapter 22 of PartTwo he descends and resurfaces emptyhanded. An earlier virtuoso performance.fromthe Trojan holocaust willspring.Montesinos. his instrumentality to the one that most obviouslyrecalls the epic paradigm. settingour knight's performance within the traditional pattern of a heroic career framesa critique.16Now.Aeneas in Hades consultsthe shade of his fatherAnchisesin order to have the which he inventsthe storyof a knight plunginginto the lake of boilingpitch (DQI.The lost cityof Troywillbe reborn in the everlastingempire. The second of these.So. The descent of the ancient epic hero into Hades takeshim to the core of the cosmos. beyond time.This visitto the dead is narrativeof both the Odyssey where the hero learns notjust about his personal the worldas idea and purpose. here are Durandarte. wherehe performedhis one and onlysuccessfulact of liberation:freeingthe convictedcriminals. But whatdistinguishesthe visionin the cave is the knight's encounter with the heroes of old.and otherworthiesfromthe world of chivalricfantasywaitingin theirunderworldfora liberatorto come and release them 'in the fulnessof time. He learns that the lost generations that perished in Troy will be redeemed in the new empire he is going to found on the soil of a new in each part.

the impulse to knighthood. of practice chivalrywitha mythof originand primordialinnocence. I would like now to shiftour attentionto another powerfulsubtext in Don Cardenio and Dorotea narratetheirlives theymake their experience intelligibleto themselvesand to their listenersby emplottingit in the mode of but the veryopposite. but to all the secondarynarratives that form themselvesin the presence of the hero: Cardenio and Luscinda. to be precise) our hero delivershis speech on the Age of Gold.. It is the mirage that draws Gris6stomoand Marcela towardstragicselfdestruction. namely the mythof origin.In brief.194 PETER the irreconcilable claims of absolute freedomand absolute is where the epic's ideological baggage is moststronglyencoded in the structure. These are all stories of beautifulyoung people who. thatformthe perfectemblem for Don Quijote's mythicuniverse. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . ifwe situatethe descent into the Cave of Montesinos in that same pattern.where the self can contemplateits destiny. It is the same myththatboth troubles and amuses the spectatorof Shakespeare's As You Like It and The Don Quijote's monologue expresses his desire to link the Tempest. but as we accept this offerwe are compelled to question our conventional identificationof the heroic enterprisewiththatverytypology. at the start.we findno opening out into eternityand purpose. a complex and absurd image of unreality.of course.a frozen temporalityand frustratedpurpose.standingin the community. where timeand eternity. At the same time. Its egalitarianrhetoricserveshim as the moral basis for heroic action.the linear and the cyclicalintersect.It also is the keyto the secondary narrativesthat take shape around him. And yettheyall So the decline move into varyingdegrees of mishap and frustration. This content downloaded on Fri.respect.11. the Graeco-Romancounterpart of the Garden of Eden.Now.Cervantes' powerfullyencoded narrativetypologyhas serveda double purpose: it offersyetanother ground on which to critique his protagonist. fromoriginal perfectiondescribed in Don Quixote's declamation upon the Age of Gold and his lament for our Age of Iron is the paradigm for all the various fictiveworlds that are to come in this book.also of ancient lineage.DUNN action. as well as El well as youth. appear to have everything:theyhave wealth. Quite early in Part One (in 1. Fernando and Dorotea. The descent is thereforea nodal point in the epic structure.and love. What is usuallyoverlookedis itsrelevancenot onlyto the protagonistand to the pastoral episode it leads to.

the pricelessPreciosa. "Une Saison en Enfer:La gitanilla". where desire is put to various tests and purified. we are told that he suffereda change of heart and resolvedto become a new man.MLN 195 II Everythingthat I have designated as the pattern of romance-a journey. Here Cervantesemploysthe potential of the journey to plot a change in the self as well as to mark is full stagesin the pursuitof externalgoals. he has no survivingfriendsor relatives.a change which is not a deep transforspend-thrift mation at all. from to nouveauriche.surrenderinghis aristocraticpersonal name for the generic one of Andres (andros.made alluringby reason of its perverse freedoms.and throughwhich the hero mustpass unsullied.'man') Caballero. or attainmentof new integration-all of this can be found elsewherein the worksof Cervantes.It is easilyidentifiedin such stories where the high born youngman as La gitanillaand La ilustrefregona.Next. fromthisstandpoint. First. This content downloaded on Fri. ing and unexpected variations.The journey motifis still present. as the narratorsays.the young Carrizales leaves the home of his noble parents and squanders his inheritance."como un otro Pr6digo". trialsendured.restorationof original order.but it appears in two parts. He emergesfromthislower region of trialand temptationbearing the prize.the journey is a descent into a lower social or moral world of disorder and temptation.17 offerssome interestingvariations The novella El celosoextremeno and innovationson thispattern. terminus. He is immenselyrich in barren metal but no richerin spiritand character. In these cases. rewardattained. On the passage out. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . a demonic subworld.The gypsysocietyof La gitanillais. one in which there is ceaseless movementwithno point of arrival. the hidalgo has gone from extreme to extreme. in Cervantes 5 (1985).whichis easilymissed. unlike the Prodigal Son.His 17 For a similar reading. he goes to the Indies to repair his fortune.which he does with such success that he returnsto Seville loaded withgold ingots.When Carrizalesreturnsto Spain he findsthat.It most obviouslydescribesthe but it is also susceptibleof the most intriguground plan of Persiles.see RobertterHorst. and is finallyrestoredto his familyand to his distinguishedname. in order to prove himselfworthyof the abases himself voluntarily humble girl who is eventuallydiscovered to be his social equal. an amorphous world. But thistransformation of irony.

is undertakenin order to secure a future for his wealth).196 PETER N.his substitutionof connivance.and tragicpathos forjoy and integrationat the end. and the scheming of the young seducer.and to attemptto seduce the youngwife.or anythingvaluable. the dream palace and monument to follythat encloses the restof the narrative.and the marriageof the old man to a child wife whom he hopes to keep fromknowledge of the world.except insofaras it is an affrontto our desire for balance and moderation.the comic details of the household. DUNN returnleads to no recognition and no reintegration. And yetthose introductory paragraphs. This extraordinaryhouse. which is given form in the house. disruption. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .The greaterpart of the novelaconsistsof the preparationsfor Carrizales's marriage (this. the tragicfollyof the old man's defiance of nature. forthe hell of it. but thwarting our expectation thathe will achieve ripeness.The noble treeof romance is here witheredto a dry whichold Carrizalesand the eunuch doorkeeper are the only permittedevidences of the male gender.and to dare to humanize it against the force and the grain of the bawdyfabliau traditionfrom which he liftedit. to dare to acknowledgeits tragicpotential. are essential-the more schematicthe more necessary.Instead. follows. we may well be holding our breath as we contemplate the taskCervanteshas set himself. This content downloaded on Fri. inevitably incitesan ingeniousyounglayaboutto finda wayto break in. are appropriate for a life of monumentalbanalitythatwould not have been worthrecording. the constructionof the house.So Cervantes's reversalof the normal proportionsbetweenjourney and arrival. All this is a matterof a mere few months.whichis nothingless than to retellthatancient chestnut.schematicas theyare.They are effective preciselybecause theyreduce Carrizales's life to a significant outline in the formof the questjourney of romance. closed to everydirection except upwards to the sky. 100).the farceof the old man and the young girl (exemplifiedin Chaucer's "MarriageofJanuaryand May"). in the fulnessof time. he attemptsliterallyto build a new life.whereas thejourneys and the half centuryof life thatprecede it are summarizedin a fewbriefparagraphsat the beginning. As experienced readers.and Loaysa's plans to penetrate this quasi nunnery.It is easy to overlookthe structuralrelevance of the fewparagraphsof that because of our fascinationwitheverything personal good bourgeois fashion. When the debauched spendthriftwas siezed bythe desire to be rebornfromhis mortajade esparto(II.

betterknownas Las hilanderas. the circularitythat compels us to reviewthe beginning as we of a moment of reach the end. plays so much of the characterizes that and transgenericplay generic be read as an ironic literatureof thisperiod: Lazarillode Tormes may counter statementto the romances of chivalry. to Vulcan/Mars/Venus.wrenched out of proportion in thisstory.fragmentary. sterile. Carrizales's house is not a home thathas awaited the returnof a hero.The allusions are scattered.who deposits therehis gold and his child bride. ironic. it is not a home.the place where old Pluto hoards treasure and keeps his captivebride. and became an equally hard-drivengetter of wealth. as if througha shaftsunk into the earth.and theyall confirmthe net of fatal self delusion that Carrizales has cast around himself.and a sensibilitytowardsthe it maybe compared human claims of the characters. This house now resemblesHades: dark. disjointed.It does not look out towardsa community. in counterpointingthe world of myth. a false Orpheus who comes not to retrievehis own bride. Here Cervantes y Cortadillo.but to soil another's.18 to an almost ended and it is and uneventful coordinates. However.the stereotypesof comedy.or as a thievingHermes. To Carrizales. to see the end as a transfiguration no such structural to have Cortadillo Rinconete y appears origin.Windows have been blocked. 104). 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Equally notable in itswayis Rinconete in an with his example of that interpicaresque antecedents. as the structureof the heroicjourney is also broken. open scandalous degree.GuzmdndeAlfarache is patterned on the widelypraised Byzantineromances. length in my SpanishPicaresqueFiction:A New Literary 1993).it is an earthlyparadise: to the girl'sparentsit is a tomb (II.For risk-taking to Velazquez's paintingof the Fable ofArachne.withsong. timeless. This content downloaded on Fri. This novela has more allusions to classical mythologythan any of the others (to Hades.This is one of the most remarkableof Cervantes's stories for its daring. havingbeen designed to eliminate traffic withthe worldbeyond itswalls.with perjuredpromises. if we look more closely we find the 18 The variable intergenericcharacteristicsof picaresque writingare treated at History(Ithaca: Cornell UP.but up.MLN 197 he merely lo) and so to illguarded treasuresand misplaced trust. to Argus. Both Lazarilloand Guzmdnrehearse the circularitythatwe have remarked on. Loaysa makes his wayinto itwithguile.

He makes us read themratheras normativefictions. As signifierstheyare capable of modulation and modification. This final piece in the collection goes far beyond anythingCervantes had attemptedbefore. and the proportions are radically altered.not automatically. Whom would we rather believe.who are more thanjust tellerand listener.Normativefictionsand structuresare alwaysripe forparody and irony. transliterary givens.and not just because they were privileged as historic. Once again. Arrivingin Seville.have both lefthome. we Here.time aftertime.or other significantlack.maybe viewedas a singleprotagonist. crippled sensibilities. our engagementwitha textis necessarilya linear process determinedbyour existencein time.El casawe can observethe experience miento enganosoy Coloquiode losperros. And Cervantesplaysa double intertextualgame of closure/non closure: he refusesto close the structuralloop at the same timeas he mimicsthe ambiguous closure of his picaresque antecedents. and theirlifeis unmistakablya road.198 PETER N. man's have to process the most dubious information(one highly suspect account of his fraudulentmarriage. the mythicdescent is disguised in the everydayreality of a great and populous city. of the charactersand the experience of readingbeing shaped bythe most elaborate and the most elusive of narrativeconfigurations.all our examples have seemed to confirmthe observation thatCervantesemployedthe patternsof epic or romance structureand the formsof mythwithdeliberate sophistication.followedby two dogs' convincingaccount of the human world). The Coloquiorepresentsthe experience of narratingin the dialogic relationbetweenthe twodogs.As readers. withinitiation into knowledgein the netherregion.lack of selfawareness.fromwhichwe do not see thememerge. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The temporalityof thiscompound narrativeis artfullydisrupted. fromthisperspective. Here again is our mastertropeof thejourney and the road. metaphorsfororder.although those elements are truncated.And once again we note how oftenin his writingthe reduction of mastertropes and mythsto fragments and allusions is made to signifyuncentered existences. DUNN same essential elements of narrativepattern.but here we are compelled to confrontthe text'sblatanttransgressions of the most astonishingof all the shorterworks. Thus far.interferenceand fragmentation.theyare the narratingselfand This content downloaded on Fri.the boysare led into the underworld. at the conclusion of the collectionof the Novelasejemplares.a man or a dog? Then we puzzle overwhichis the container and which the contained.The two boyswho.

14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .of story(Casamiento)is enunciated orally.theyurge us to be aware of our role as readers and listenersbeguiled by stories. the truthvalue of fictions./Non si de' lamentars'altril'inganna). on the other hand. The prende could be foran exemplum designed specificallyto contaken story firmthe Petrarchanepigram. So is the problematicrelation between the Casamientoand the Coloquio. for a Petrarch wittyrecognition of poetic justice (Che chi citing di diletto farfrode.and the other (Coloquio) is a writtentext.mean? This spoken textfull of literaryartifice.but I am not satisfiedthat this is a complete answer. organized around internalsymmetries.What do these oppositions. The more we read thiscomplex work.fuerade la su espadade baculoypor Puertadel Campo.who barks back at him. This is familiarground. escapes fromthe speaker's controlat everyturn.although it is directed by the familiartrope of life as journey. Here is the paradox: the orally delivered storyof the marriageis highlyliteraryin its style. transcribesa conversationwhich."Yo alcanzo el artificiodel Coloquioy la invenci6n.tightly and ends epigrammatically. The Coloquio'swritten text. thiswrittentext that has all the vagaries and indirectionsof direct speech? In part.MLN 199 the internalcritic.the narratorfacingthe implied reader. who concludes his reading of that rambling dialogue.we are reading the Licenciado Peralta reading the Coloquio. In passing I will mentionjust one paradox thatis seeminglytoo big to have been noticed: withinthe world constituted by the text." The matteris furthercomplicated by the fact that we are not merelyreading the Coloquio. que estaen Valladolid.Consider thatreader in the text.I can onlytouch on a fewof the issues that this marvellousstoryforces us to confront. and in the act of reading. at the core of the role.un soldadoque.We begin at the beginningof the text. but the plot has many beginnings.which busy anthologists like to tear apart. by declaring.the problems of origin.porservirle la flaquezade sus piernasy amarillezde su rostro.y basta.This is not so easy.the more we come to realize that such questions as these are merelythe surfacemanifestations of much deeper ones: the reader's commitmentto the act of reading.The oralstoryis an exemplarydemonstrationof the literaryart of the novella.or these complementarities. Salia del Hospitalde la Resurrecci6n.mostrababien claro This content downloaded on Fri. the problemsof desire at the heart of the quest.beginning with somethingas apparentlyclear as the wayit starts.the Licenciado Peralta.

It is also his wayof problematizing the reader's desire forstories. theyexplain nothing.has been the real climax.theyreveal no hidden cause.200 PETER N. the recognitionscene of and the reading the untoldstory. as two friendsare united and express mutual we observea friendshipmakinga new start.An old friend sees him and greets him. Peralta.or creatingsuspense in the principal a recognition. provide no complementary angle of vision.comes to understandit fromwithin. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Instead of explaining. temporalsequence.They have not metfora long time.And it is not untilwe reach the finalwordsof the whole. his wounds were inflicted by his shakycondition syphilis.and his "pinitos"and "traspies"reaffirm and our expectationof an amorous adventureto be related. debia de haber sudado en veinte dias todo el humor que quiza granje6 en una hora. This soldier is clearly not barely recognizing him in his changed condition.then at the beginningof the alferez's storyof his Casamiento.incorporatedas flashbacks.Between thisbeginning and the closure. then the storyof the dogs.thisinsignificantevent. If we disentangle the temporal sequence that Cervanteshas so cunninglyravelled up. Here is one of many ways in which Cervantes challenges the reader's expectations concerning structure.and an amorous misadventure. afterwhich we eagerly await the verdict of the skeptical reader. and even efface it from the attentionof the reader. within a fewlines of the start.a recognition. we discoverthathe begins his tellingalmost at the end of the sequence. stories are told.then the discussion of the two men.they displace it. First. Neither of them correspondswiththe beginningof any of the narrated whichtheyagree not to discussfurtherthe question of the truthof the Coloquio. and causality.but to go out togetherto "recrearlos ojos del the opening wordsof the text.and we are leftin suspense as to where theybegin. Observe how many times we have to begin reading. This content downloaded on Fri.two tracesof earlierevents:a friendship.are twothreadsforthe reader to pursue. The reader who at firstsimplyobservestwomen embracingat the gate of the city.Here. aunque no era el tiempo muycaluroso. on the storyhe and we have been reading. DUNN que.What the tellingof the Casamiento of the Coloquiodo is reconstitutean eventas the characters'experience. pues ya he recreado los ojos del entendimiento"-not until then do we perceive thatthe renewal of friendship.but these flashbacksdo not relate to the main narrativeas flashbacksusually do.

His desire is mediated by a witch. as we end.HistoricalUnderstanding. this middle in which we are foreverwanderingwithouta compass.structure. Volveranen su formaverdadera cuandovierencon prestadiligencia derribarlos soberbioslevantados y alzara los humildesabatidos con manopoderosapara hacerlo thereis promiseof a personal apocalypse. ed.It also revealsa compulsive patternfromwhich there is no escape: the search for the ending thatjustifiesthe beginningand therebyconfersdirection.the past "can be made intelligibleonly as the subject of the storieswe tell. 202. It is a bewitchingformof Cervantesshowsus the Ur-form for the mother. In the wordsof a philosopher of history.In thatpromiseof a returnand reincorporationinto the site of origin of romance.that he is a changeling.binding his beginning and thus end that will confirm desire for an illusory make sense of his existence becomes obsessive.including those of our own lives. Most prominentamong these is the dog Berganza's belief in the story. In the emptypropheticverses utteredby the witchto his 'mother'."19The same may be said of the place of storytelling in our individuallives. and desires fororigin thatare fueled by demonic storiesand become obsessivefantasies. (Ithaca: Cornell UP. He representsour wishto returnin fictionto a beginningthatneverwas.Peter Brooks tied a recent book to the observation thatwe largelydefine and constructour sense of self throughour 19Louis O.told him by the witchCafiizares. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .the late Louis Mink. Brian Fay. There are other originsthatare occluded or obscure. So the dog's us to our desire narrative.The dialogue of Cipi6n and Berganza is repeatedlyconstitutedbya successionof new beginnings on the level of the storyand on thatof the discourse. This content downloaded on Fri. Mink.MLN 201 and the Coloquioare bounded and definedby Both the Casamiento formalbeginningsthatare plainlymarked.a representativeof the devil. 1987). we have come around again to the beginning. so it must be understoodas a selfdestructiveillusion. It is by means of such strategies and patternsof illusion thatwe read and tell al.a finalreturnto an original shape bymeans ofwhichthe end willreinstatethe beginning. and significanceupon the middle. havingoriginallybeen a human child.So.

This act of renewal does take place on a road. xiv. a storyis not assuredplenitude of meaningjust because it spans the birthand the death of its subject. But before theygo design and turbulence.if we are fortunate enough ever to do so.where a meal is we let them resonate and penetrate our understandingof the doubleness of this fictionas much as we are able.withinthe constraintsof a transindividualsymbolicorder.presence/ absence. Inevitablytheybond with all the other obstinate and eternallyproblematic pairs that start up as we read: nature/artifice. and that embrace ratherthan the images of the world's 20 Peter Brooks. or to It takesus fromthe Hospital outside the citygate craggysingularity.Cityand river. Dichotomies finallymeet in an embrace.analysis. Finally.inner and outer:we note the opposing pairs. The friendshipof Campuzano and Peralta is both the frameand the core of this extraordinarynarrative. are none other than armasand letras. to the pleasant walk in the open where the twomen take a viewof the cityand itsrivermargin.skeptical.And the a momentof renewal.of course. DUNN fictions. but weary.22). and open to each other's presence. experience/knowledge. This content downloaded on Fri.202 PETER N. We understand ourselves. is the end.The beginning is hidden fromus and so. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .the subtext that underlies the fictionswithwhich we have beguiled ourselves.They all attemptto recoverand reconstitutethe buried narrative. and read them how we will. a road withoutpretensions to heroic elevation.many meanings. to a house withinthe city. A life contains many stories.20 Contraryto whatthe convictGines de Pasamonte tellsDon Quixote (DQI. Readingfor thePlot Design and Intentionin Narrative(New York: Knopf.afterthe conversationsand the leads out once more. either real or fictional. the two friendseat togetherunder one in the world of Don Quixote.fiction/truth. We call such acts by various names: confession.though Cervantesgives us the merestglimpseof it. and one of them lays out his shamefulexperience and his strange fantasiesbefore the other. throughrepeated acts of demystification and deconstructionthat we practice upon the fantasies and the narrativesinto whichwe have braided our experience. then theyworship together. as structureand flow.purgation. of longer rhetoricalantagoniststhirsting forglory.reality/dream. as society and nature. But it is a companionable road. 1984). but it is a road thatstartsand ends at no place that is on the map.

" ed. and see" (II. it should also provoke the suspicion thathe exploited the processes and recycledthe devices thattypifiedthat paradigm more extensivelythan we have realized. fragmentationand truncationof a paradigm also have significance.and Poland. Various framing devices also await examination. perhaps that dog's despairingview of the world may not be entirelytrue. eloquentlystressedthe sociabilityof the "mesa de trucos" of the Prologue to the Novelasas well as the scenes of shared reading and underNovels" in Cervantes's"Exemplary standingin his fictionalcommunities:"Afterword. and then conclude "No volvamos mas a esa disputa". and not only in the service of and Rinconete y parody or irony.solipsismthe worstsin. and has been rewrittenfor other audiences in the United States. The presentversionis not and cannot be definitive. 1989. 359).I am aware that the concept "experience" to defineit as requiresdiscussion. dentlyof or in complex combinationswiththe patternsof romance.As we observed in the cases of El celosoextremeno Cortadillo. Nevertheless.21 The road.23 Wesleyan University 21 See his Cervantes and theMystery ofLawlessness(Princeton UP. is a companionable one. The suggestion made manyyears ago by Walter Pabst that one could read the Novelasin termsof fairytale and folk tale found littlefavorand has never reallybeen explored.Its literaryrepresentationis dependent on notions of verisimilitudeand historicalcontext that are beyond the scope of an article. as the source of destructivefantasies.22 Friendshipis the wayof escape fromsolipsismand despair. 331-52. A book which I am preparing with YvonneJehenson will deal with this question as part of a fuller investigationof Cervantes'snarrativestrategies. Finally. it maybe sufficient thatrealitywhichtakesshape in the existencesof Cervantes'sfictionalcharacters.If it succeeds in demonstratingthat even in his most unromantic works Cervantes never renounced romance as a structuralparadigm. givenat Fordham Universityin April.solitarinessis found to be the most dangerous condition. Michael Nerlich and Nicholas Spadaccini (Minand theAdventureof Writing.At the same time.his irritabledisbelief.For the purposes of thispaper. Forcione has This content downloaded on Fri.thereare specifictraitsin the typologyof the folktale thatilluminatethose verynovelasthat have proved least attractiveto modern readers. If one friendcan suspend his skepticism. 6].or either indepenmodelling types. neapolis: Prisma Institute[Hispanic Issues.MLN 203 evil (pace Forcione) may be what needs to be read back into the Novelas. 14 Dec 2012 08:50:22 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1990). pp. 22 Alban faras to read the otherfriend'sfantasiesof talkingdogs. In the varied worlds of Cervantes. "let us go outside. we need to stress the fact that he uses other narrativestrategies.based on other traditionalmodes of story-telling. 23 This paper originatedas the CervantesLecture. the United Kingdom. I repeat. 1984).