Finello Replies to Jehenson124
To the Editor:
Yvonne Jehenson's review of my Pastoral Themes and Forms in Cervantes's Fiction (Cervantes 15.2 [Fall, 1995]) presents a very unbalanced and unfair picture of my work.
Jehenson says that I blur the boundaries between the real and literary pastoral, between shepherds, goatherds, rustic landscapes and literary landscapes. Such is not the case. At every juncture in my book (see for example pp. 15, 75, 82, 127, 147), I have made it a point to show the differences and similarities of the two broad pastoral currents-the literary and the concrete / rustic (that is why even chapter subtitles focus on this particular idea).
Jehenson claims that in my book Sancho and Dulcinea become «indistinguishable as rustic personages». Why would anyone be so naive as to be led to think that two major characters like these can be cast into the same mold? What I do say in my book is that rustic perspectives have contributed to the building of Dulcinea's image (first as Aldonza Lorenzo). I then write about Dulcinea's transformation, which, sometimes in the mind of Don Quijote, is that of an elegant literary image transformed into a rustic one. This of course does not mean that I generally depict her as a rustic personage. Such criticism of my work is simplistic.
Jehenson's response to my assigning rustic dimensions to characters of the Quijote leads her to misapply literary theory. She resorts to pastoral theory of the period to look for a justification for the use of rustic personages. Jehenson cites Castelvetro, Drayton, —110→ and Sir Philip Sidney with regard to rustic and literary shepherds being separated in a literary work. Such commentary, however, is not germane. It is not likely that pastoral theory would have affected Cervantes's invention of a rustic like Sancho, because Sancho has both a literary pedigree (see F. Márquez Villanueva, Fuentes literarias cervantinas, 20-94) and most likely an external model or models. Jehenson incorrectly holds theory as a standard for creative artists, even as that theory of pastoral was at best sporadic or even perfunctory, especially in Spain.
Is it not plausible to conclude that a creative artist has taken his inspiration from the reality around him? It is not possible nor would one want or need to justify Sancho and other rustics of the Quijote in the pastoral theory of the time.
Jehenson characterizes what I call Arcadian figures as a «mixed bag»; this is just another example of her taking my work out of context to assign it a negative criticism. I carefully document with abundant citations from primary and secondary sources the Arcadian dimensions which several characters of Cervantes have. Her review makes it sound as it they were stereotyped as pastoral characters by me. Some, like Cardenio and the Gentleman in the Green Suit, have been created with certain pastoral nuances. Cardenio, for example, is surely associated with the pastoral (see for example M. Moner, Cervantès conteur, 186, and F. López Estrada., ed. Galatea, p. 91, who agree); but this does not mean that I think he is wholly a pastoral character and nothing more.
Jehenson objects to my bringing together topoi of other genres to
define the pastoral:
«masquerades, disguises, friendship, leisurely
conversation, interrelated stories, mimetic plays, Renaissance academic
colloquia all become essential to the imaginative pastoral». The fact
of the matter is that these
are essential to many pastoral novels and
plays, and that is why I have studied them in detail. A reading of the vast
body of Spanish pastoral dramas and novels of the period will confirm that
these are featured activities among shepherds in many pastoral works.
What is particularly disturbing about Jehenson's review is that
she generally has failed to comment on the substance of my work. I would have
welcomed a careful and constructive examination of my analyses of the
Galatea, the various pastoral episodes of the
Quijote, and my assessment of the critical
history of Cervantes's pastoral vision. Most of all, I wonder why Jehenson did
not review my chapters on pastoral play, a topic for which I have supplied
abundant documentation. And perhaps an answer to this question emerges
when against my own work she quotes Klaus Theweleit's
«where pastoral is
seen for what it has always been,
a leisurely game... in a courtly
milieu». This leisurely game (italics mine) is precisely the basis
for much of part III of my book, for pastoral evolves into a literary game, as
I explain, late in part II of the
Quijote. This oversight on her part is proof
positive that she ignored a major part of my analysis. The result is a review
that distorts my book.