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Reading the Body Imperiled: Violence against Women in María de Zayas

Lisa Vollendorf

University of Pennsylvania



Abstract: María de Zayas's Novelas amorosas (1637) and Desengaños amorosos (1647) portray myriad acts of violence against women. Zayas's employ of the female body as the focal point of the texts coincides with Foucault's interpretation of the use of the body in the seventeenth century as the site for the reproduction of truth. Additionally, contemporary theories on violence against women highlight parallels between the dynamics of domestic violence and Zayas's representation of violence against women. Two of the novellas of the Desengaños amorosos, Mal presagio casar lejos and El verdugo de su esposa, are particularly scathing in their critique of the patriarchy.

Key Words: 17th century, Zayas y Sotomayor (María de), Spanish literature, women's writing, narrative, feminism, violence against women, Foucault (Michel), Novelas amorosas, Desengaños amorosos



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Catch it. Put it in a pumpkin, in a high tower, in a compound, in a chamber, in a house, in a room. Quick, stick a leash on it, a lock, a chain, some pain, settle it down, so it can never get away from you again. Margaret Atwood, The Female Body (493)

     In María de Zayas's two framed novella collections, at least thirty women are physically victimized by male-authored violence which includes abuse, rape, torture, and murder. In fact, many of the actions mentioned by Margaret Atwood in the above quote are performed on the female body in the Novelas amorosas y exemplares (1637) and in the Desengaños amorosos (1647), all of this in an effort, as Atwood says, to settle the woman's body down so it can never get away. At every turn, women are persecuted by their male lovers, husbands, and brothers, and through these violations the hypocrisy and misogyny of the Spanish patriarchy are exposed and exploited. In an oft-quoted statement, Laura, the protagonist of the fifth novella in the Novelas amorosas, gives testimony to Zayas's indictment of the oppressive treatment of women:

           Por qué, vanos legisladores del mundo, atáis nuestras manos para las venganzas, imposibilitando nuestras fuerzas con vuestras falsas opiniones, pues nos negáis letras y armas? El alma no es la misma que la de los hombres? (193)(27)           

Pleading to men, who are, after all, relegated authority over domestic, social, and political affairs in patriarchy, Zayas's character protests the oppression of women. As suggested by the frustrated tone of this passage, the violence and suffering depicted in Zayas's novellas illustrate the injustices and double standards of the patriarchy, understood here in its most basic sense as the form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in domestic, social, and political affairs, as the primary culprits in the plight of women.

     While Laura is beaten by her husband and consults with a witch to win him back, she eventually enters the convent rather than return to her adulterous marriage. Many protagonists do not fare as well as this convent-bound character, however. By the time we reach the Desengaños amorosos, six of the ten tales are resolved through femicide, that is, through the misogynist killing of women by men (Radford and [273] Russell xiv). Oppressed and violated by husbands, brothers, and other men entrusted with their care, Zayas's female characters struggle to survive in a fictional world which fills the psychic distance separating the sexes with a river of feminine blood.

     A perennial problem facing readers of these violent texts is the question of veracity. Critics have explained Zayasian violence by taking her graphic depictions of abuse and murder at face value (e.g. Amezúa) or by rejecting it as an expression of militant feminism (Chevalier 31). In this same vein, others have reacted to the violence of the Desengaños as an exaggerated commentary on the situation of women in seventeenth-century Spain (Clamurro 44). These observations betray a concern with knowing at what point, if any, the violence in the novellas coincides with the realities of women at the time the texts were written. While different generations of critics have grappled with this issue, their approaches have inevitably lacked the socio-historical information which in the last decade or so has begun to emerge about women in Golden Age Spain(28). Only recently have historians and literary critics made a concerted effort to recover the archeology of the feminine. With the rise of feminist criticism, the critical eye has turned to the recovery of women's history, with scholars such as Sheila Fisher and Janet Halley calling for a critique of

           the extraliterary textual constructions that presented (society's) own readings of medieval and early modern women: the contemporary economic, legal, political, and religious systems and codes articulating the parameters of women's access to power and self-determination. (6)           

Such social, historical, and literary contextualizations can facilitate an understanding of Zayas's position as a woman writing during times of severe cultural control in Counter-Reformation Spain. While an examination of violence in seventeenth-century Spanish society highlights Zayas's use of the female body as the site of power struggles, a reading of two novellas in light of late twentieth-century theories of domestic violence reveals remarkable parallels between Zayas's representation of violence and what we now know to be characteristics of violence against women in many societies.

     The violent ambience of seventeenth-century Spain validates and expands upon Zayas's employ of the female body as the battleground in the war between the sexes. And, keeping in tune with the specifically feminist project of educating both sexes about the victimization of women, Zayas's depiction of masculine violence pointedly overlaps with theories of violence against women. Zayas's attack on the patriarchy reaches to the very core of this social system: the fundamental definition of patriarchy as a cultural system which deems the father head of family and state is criticized and its weaknesses exposed.



I. The Body as Truth

     Recent inquiry into the connection between the preponderance of violence in Baroque literature, especially in the comedia where wife-murder abounds, and contemporaneous cultural phenomena generally has concluded that there exists little or no correlation between real and literary violence (McKendrick and Stroud). Zayas capitalizes on the popularity of such fictional violence by choosing the female body as the primary site on which to inscribe the oppressiveness of the patriarchy. Although this concentration on the body has been interpreted as the inscription of obsessive desire (Gartner 189), Zayas's texts point to a highly politicized agenda which reaches far beyond the realm of desire: hers is a feminist exercise concerned with defining and challenging the body politic.

     In both the Novelas amorosas and the Desengaños amorosos, several references to facts and figures are made which help to firmly ground the novellas in their historical context. As H. Patsy Boyer has noted, The multifarious effects of Spain's militarism on society in general hold a prominent place in Zayas's works (Historical Background [274] xxxiii). The expulsion of the Moors in 1609 and the Catalan revolt of 1640 are both specifically mentioned in the Desengaños amorosos, for example, and serve as signs of ethnic and political unrest that characterized much of the seventeenth century in Spain. The poem dedicated to Philip IV, which appears on the third night of the Novelas amorosas, also provides a clear temporal setting for the novellas. With these references, Zayas locates her novellas in their time, place, and culture. Coinciding with this historical grounding offered by the texts, the narrative reflects the practices surrounding criminal justice (particularly as they were implemented by the Inquisition), complete with excesses of punishment, the presumption of guilt upon accusation, and the injustices that accompany such practices.

     In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault compares the pre-eighteenth century criminal justice system of western Europe with our modern one, signaling the use of the body and the spectacle for the reproduction of truth as a defining philosophy in the seventeenth century (97). In other words, the accepted fashion of arriving at truth heavily depended on the manipulation of the body: torture, often carried out publicly, was used to extract (what was considered to be) true confession. Foucault's assertion captures the thinking of the Inquisition, whose autos de fe punished those who violated Catholic ideology: bodies were routinely quartered, strangled, garroted, and burned under the public gaze. The crucial role played by these highly dramatic public executions as a mechanism of control exemplifies Foucault's description of the (re)production of truth through the body and the spectacle: through the body the justice system produced truth, forcing people to confess and deterring heretic behavior through the spectacle of the auto de fe(29).

     Zayas's texts transpose this ideology of physical violation to the world of fiction and, more specifically, to the woman's body. For while some men also suffer, the texts repeatedly refer back to the female body as the primary site of violation. Firmly grounded in the post-Tridentine requirement that literature be instructional, the Desengaños amorosos appropriate and adapt the cultural code of violence to fit Zayas's pro-woman purposes and to demonstrate women's truth through the display of the violated female body. Lisis, the frame-tale protagonist whose soirees provide the setting for the telling of the tales in both volumes, demands that only women narrate, and that they tell true tales of masculine deceit. Thus the frame characters are charged with disenchanting their audience, a task that entails un-deceiving (desengañar) and educating both men and women about masculine treachery and violence. This exclusion of the male narrative voice has the explicit purpose of restoring women's good name and of recovering the lost feminine voice:

           Y como son los hombres los que presiden en todo, jamás cuentan los malos pagos que dan, sino lo que les dan; y si bien lo miran, ellos cometen la culpa, y ellas siguen tras su opinión... que lo cierto es que no hubiera malas mujeres si no hubiera malos hombres. (333)           

Based on this statement, Amy Williamsen observes that the soiree is based on women's usurpation of a previously male dominated sphere (643). With this purposeful exclusion of men from the narrative act, in other words, a certain liberation takes place and the imperiled female body becomes the focus of the tales. So that while men are occasionally victimized in the novellas, the insistence on women's perspective and masculine deceit emphasizes the totality of feminine suffering as it is endured on both physical and emotional levels. Complying with the mandate to tell true tales of female disenchantment, the ten female narrators release in graphic detail the terrors experienced by women which, more often than not, result in the death of the protagonists. Regardless of their varying degrees of innocence and guilt, female characters perish simply because their male protectors consciously decide to end the women's lives, for different, yet ultimately proprietary, reasons. [275]

     Unleashed by the exclusion of the male narrative voice, violence against women reaches epidemic proportions in the Desengaños amorosos. Although the historical record provides minimal information on the situation of women with regard to violence in the home at this time, María Helena Sánchez Ortega's research on sorcery has revealed similarities among spells used by women on the Iberian Peninsula in an effort to influence men in matters of the heart. Based on the records of the 1655 Valencian sorcery trials, Sánchez Ortega concludes: No doubt the women of the Habsburg regime feared their companion's violent tempers, proof of which is frequently documented in the declarations (67). She details accounts of different women who resorted to magic because they were either persecuted or feared persecution by their husbands:

           Prudencia Grillo, tried by the Toledo tribunal, justifiably resorted to magic because she was afraid of being locked in a castle by the man on whom she depended. Other women also speak of the bad treatment they received at the hands of their husbands or lovers, and of attempts on their lives in various forms. One woman even stated that she was fed ground glass in a murder attempt. (67)           

These statements recall several incidents of violence in the Desengaños amorosos.

     Two of Zayas's characters are enclosed by their husbands and fathers, for example. As punishment for being entranced and raped nightly for over a month, Inés, in La inocencia castigada, is trapped in a small makeshift torture chamber for over six years. Upon being rescued, the emaciated, blind Inés's worm-eaten flesh speaks for her suffering:

           los vestidos, hechos ceniza, que se le veían las más partes de su cuerpo; descalza de pie y pierna, que de los excrementos de su cuerpo, como no tenía dónde echarlos, no sólo se habían consumido, mas la propia carne comida hasta los muslos de llagas y gusanos, de que estaba lleno el hediondo lugar. (428)           

This character's sexual impurity, caused by the repeated violation of her body by a man, plays out Prudencia Grillo's fears of being locked in a castle as described in her testimony to the tribunal. Other female characters who are perceived by men to be sexually impure, such as Laurela in Amar sólo por vencer, Elena in Tarde llega el desengaño, and Beatriz in La perseguida triunfante, are either enclosed in or physically removed from their domestic spaces. And, as Amy Williamsen has so poetically stated, when Laurela dies by having a wall pushed onto her, the patriarchal structure, as figured by the walls themselves, comes tumbling down, proving the social consequences of imposing the honor code to its greatest degree (646).

     Another character whose victimization disturbs the patriarchal order is Camila in La más infame venganza: used as a pawn in a cycle of masculine betrayal and vengeance, she is raped by another man then fed poison by her suddenly hateful husband who perceives her as sexually contaminated after the rape. The poison does not immediately kill her, however, and as her body grows to monstrous proportions, male power over her physical self is secured: (H)inchóse toda con tanta monstruosidad, que sus brazos y piernas parecían unas gordísimas columnas, y el vientre se apartaba una gran vara de la cintura (398). Made grotesque by male jealousy and rage, Camila transcends her physical state and remains in good spirits throughout the six-month period that precedes her death. Once again the texts coincide with the fears expressed by a woman quoted by Sánchez Ortega: while the woman at the tribunal was fed ground glass, Camila was poisoned and made to suffer for her victimization.

     Such is the collective power of so many characters suffering, in fact, that Lisis decides to withdraw from her planned marriage and enter a convent. Significantly, this unusual outcome to the frame tale is explained using the language of the body, thereby securing the connection between the novellas proper (which focus on the feminine body) and the frame tale. Lisis describes her decision to retreat to the female realm of the convent as evidence that she herself will be the greatest disenchantment of all. Before telling her tale, she hints [276] at her refusal to marry:

           De manera, que aquí me he puesto a hablar sin engaño, y yo misma he de ser el mayor desengaño, porque sería morir del engaño y no vivir del aviso, si desengañando a todas, me dexase yo engañar. (634, emphasis added)           

Later, after narrating a bloody tale and citing the grave predicaments of the novella protagonists, Lisis calls husbands the archenemies of women and leaves the soiree holding two women's hands, the three of them off to the convent to later be joined by Lisis's and Isabel's mothers (669). Elizabeth Ordóñez's observation that Zayas inscribes power into the plots of women, making women agents and subjects, even if only temporarily or surreptitiously (6) is evidenced in the frame tale by Lisis's final empowered move as she withdraws from her marriage promise.

     The offering of Lisis's body as el mayor desengaño is significant, since from the outset of the Novelas amorosas and particularly in the Desengaños amorosos her health and happiness are woven into the tapestry of the texts. The first soiree, constituted by the Novelas amorosas, is held at Christmas to entertain the ailing Lisis, who suffers from a fever caused by Juan's lack of affection. The guests are placed at the whim of Lisis's health from the beginning, then, with the sole purpose of the narration being to divert her attention from her sickness. From the turbulent relationship between herself and Juan, who leaves her for another lover, to her new-found unsatisfactory love with Diego, Lisis is plagued by amorous woes which ultimately cause her to plunge into a year-long illness during the space that falls between the Novelas amorosas and the Desengaños amorosos. Instability in love causes physical harm, as the main narrator confirms: Bien sentía el ingrato don Juan ser él la causa de la enfermedad de Lisis, pues el frío de sus tibiezas eran la mayor calentura de la dama (331). The discourse of illness is thus carried over into the second collection, with the presentation of Lisis's body as the text upon which the difficulties of love are written. The recovered, obedient daughter complies with her mother's wish that she become engaged to Diego, and the second soiree is convened to celebrate the upcoming wedding.

     Lisis's friendship with Isabel clearly supports the emphasis on the body as text. Disguised as a slave with a brand on her face, Isabel is given to Lisis as a gift and eventually cures her mistress/friend, succeeding where medical science and her suitor's attentions failed. It is no coincidence, then, that Isabel also offers herself as a bodily text, choosing to be a slave in order, as Lou Charnon-Deutsch has stated, to become in the physical world what her lover made her in metaphysical terms (17). There is no doubt that her autobiographical story depends on the language of the body, for Manuel's rape of her while she is unconscious and her subsequent travels as a slave repeatedly figure her body as the text of violation and suffering. Finding release as she finds her voice and recovers her true identity, Isabel removes the physical manifestations of her emotional pain, explaining: (E)stos hierros que veis en mi rostro no son sino sombras de los que ha puesto en mi claridad y fama la ingratitud de un hombre; y para que me deis más crédito, veislos aquí quitados (339). Like Lisis when she deems herself el mayor desengaño, Isabel reveals an acute understanding of the language of the body and actively assimilates and adopts it in an act of defiance against the sexual economy, rejecting marriage and opting for the sanctity of the all-woman environment of the convent. These key characters, whose turns at narration introduce and close the second soiree, exemplify the detrimental effects of heterosexual relationships on the female body while simultaneously epitomizing the possibility for escaping the worse fates of the tortured, terrorized, and violated women of the novellas proper.

     Nancy Miller has noted, To reread as a woman is at least to imagine the lady's place; to imagine while reading the place of a woman's body; to read reminded that her identity is also re-membered in stories of the body (355). Sustaining the damaging [277] effects of love on the female body, Lisis's illnesses prefigure and, in the Desengaños amorosos, mirror the perils of heterosexual relationships as seen from the female perspective. Zayas's Desengaños, with their inclusion of physical and emotional violation including everything from rape to decapitation, encourage readers to imagine the place of the woman's body. From the brand placed on Isabel's cheek as a sign of slavery to the swollen, poisoned body of Camila to the wife strangled by her own hair to the decapitated Ana, the female body throughout the novellas is dismembered and displayed so that female suffering may be remembered. The victimized female body in these novellas signifies the power of men over women, just as bodies mutilated and punished by the Inquisition served as gruesome reminders of the power of the city and royal governments to carry out violence against those who challenged their authority (Perry, Crime and Society 143). The female body in Zayas becomes the site of truth speaking through its bruises and bloodied flesh for the injustices of a cultural system which sanctions the acting out of men's fears, suspicions, and aggressions onto women.



II. Reading the Body

     Zayas's representation of female victimization encompasses an entire range of suffering which reaches from depression and frustration to physical pain and torture. Through this representation of oppression, fear, and danger, Zayas layers her commentary on the patriarchy to include such issues as psychological wife abuse and various aspects of conjugal violence which, until recently, have not even figured in discussions of violence against women. As Ruth Nadelhaft has observed, treating the subject of domestic violence pointedly raises questions about woman's status, placing the reader in the position of identifying his or her position on the issue (247). Considering that domestic violence as a topic of study and public discussion did not arise in the United States until the 1970s, Zayas's systematic representation of this phenomenon is extraordinary(30). Commenting on both the long history of violence against women and the dearth of public discussion and written record on the subject, Jan Horsfall writes, Patriarchies have no doubt produced a long and mostly unwritten history of wife battering (18). Yet Zayas provides us with a multi-faceted literary treatment of violence against women which takes into account psychological as well as physical impacts of violence and of its threatening presence.

     The violence of the Desengaños fixes the reader's attention on the violated female body as a testimony of misogyny. Frustrated in their attempts at self-protection, speech, and even survival, the female characters in the Desengaños are, as a whole, denied the empowerment achieved by their counterparts in the Novelas amorosas. As opposed to the popular marriage ending of the previous collection, matrimony here is shown as inimical to female values and survival (Boyer, The Ravages 4). Resolution is found either in femicide (in six of the novellas) or in the convent (in the remaining four). Heterosexual relationships are portrayed as oppressive, unjust, and, above all, dangerous to women's physical safety. The characters's retreats to the convent repeatedly figure the convent as the only possibility for escape from masculine brutalities which plague women.

     The femicide of the Desengaños centers around a pervasive masculine paranoia of female freedom, especially sexual freedom. Camila, Roseleta, Ana, Magdalena, and six other wives die at the hands of their husbands, while the unwed Laurela and Mencía fall victim to their father and brother, respectively. All of these deaths occur due to the men's proprietary views toward women: their anger, jealousy, greed, or misogyny out of control, Zayas's male characters view women as their property and therefore feel justified in their use of the female body as the repository for masculine aggression. These male characters, in other words, justify the practice of killing women. This attitude coincides with sociologists Margo [278] Wilson and Martin Daly's assessment of male proprietariness as a primary motive for wife-killing. They state:

           In every society for which we have been able to find a sample of spousal homicides, the story is basically the same: most cases arise out of the husband's jealous, proprietary, violent response to his wife's (real or imagined) infidelity or desertion. (90)           

The authors conclude that the motives in wife-killing exhibit a dreary consistency across cultures and across centuries (96). Zayas's texts, like the wife-murder comedias, also exhibit a dreary consistency in their portrayal of femicide: viewed as chattel by men, the women are treated as property rather than as human beings.

     A closer look at the dynamics of violence as they relate to male proprietariness exposes a misaligned masculine logic which threatens a veritable snuffing out of the feminine. Indeed, if it weren't for the option of the convent, chosen by several as their safehouse, the female characters would have no place of their own in which to seek refuge from the violence. The violence against women proliferated in the Desengaños incorporates many of the characteristics of violent relationships laid out by Lenore Walker in The Battered Woman, including the elements of initial surprise, unpredictability of battering incidents, overwhelming jealousy, unusual male sexuality, concealment, extreme psychological abuse, family threats, extraordinary terror, perceived omnipotence of the batterer, and the victim's awareness of death potential (73-75). The first researcher to discover and explain the cycle of violence in battering relationships, Walker also identifies the three phases in the abuse cycle. The Tension Building Phase, constituted by minor incidents of battering and general psychological abuse, is followed by the Acute Battering Phase in which an uncontrollable discharge of the residual tensions occurs in the form of violence. Finally, the third phase, that of Kindness and Contrite Behavior, involves a kind attitude on the part of the batterer in an attempt to gain back the favor of the woman he abused (55-70). Zayas's portrayal of many of these dynamics of violence against women throughout the Desengaños underscores for the late-twentieth-century reader the patterns among all types of violence against women and the consistency of such violence over time.

     With their proprietary motivations for femicide, the seventh and eighth novellas of the Desengaños particularly exemplify, through their underlying critique of patriarchy, many characteristics of male violence as identified by Walker(31). Mal presagio casar lejos and El verdugo de su esposa attack this cultural system in its strictest definition: the tales exploit the absolute power of the father figure so as to criticize the very basis of the social structure which relegates women to the underclass in order to assure the continuation of male rule. The sons in these two novellas blindly follow their fathers's orders, attempting to please the paternal at the expense of women's lives. The father's law is firmly ingrained here, as are misogynist and proprietary attitudes towards women which result in a violent erasure of the feminine from the texts, thereby exemplifying the dangers of allowing paternal law to go unchecked. Implicit, then, in these juxtaposed tales, is a wake-up call for the frame tale listeners and the reader: Zayas's claims for political and attitudinal reform are manifested through the deaths of these female characters.

     Coinciding to a tee with Walker's three-phase cycle of violence, Mal presagio embeds the misogynist subtext in the politics of Philip II's reign. The annihilation of Blanca and her sisters by foreign royalty presumably posits a safe distance between the reader and the atrocities by locating the violence in other countries, attributing such brutality to political tensions in the Spanish Empire. Yet the perverse creativity and precise execution of the femicides of the women in the novella transcend the political framework, particularly since the murder of a Flemish woman by her father leaves no doubt as to the blatant misogyny behind the violence. While the Portuguese husband goes to great lengths to fake a love [279] letter in his wife's handwriting in order to justifiably stab her to death, an Italian husband actually uses his wife's body against her, using her hair to strangle her because she praised a Spanish man. Significantly, both of these uxoricides are framed in terms of falsified sexual impropriety, with the blatantly misogynist husbands seeking out this culturally sanctioned excuse to kill their wives. After all, the legal justification for uxoricide appears in the Spanish law code of the time: the Nueva Recopilación recognizes the husband's right to kill his wife and her lover if they are caught in the act of adultery(32). Implicit in the murders of these wives, then, is an attack on the freedom given to men with regard to control of female sexuality and subjectivity.

     Furthermore, in Mal presagio the protagonist's marriage is framed in terms of paternal control. Agreeing to marry (p)or conveniencias a la real corona y gusto de su hermano (521), the orphaned Blanca demands that her Flemish suitor court her in Spain. The Flemish prince agrees and departs for Spain si bien a descontento de su padre (521). Thus cast in terms of the empire and the father, this matrimony is conceived, contracted, and conceded to with the paternal lurking as a major force. With the ire of the father-in-law directed toward her, Blanca receives a vicious anti-Spanish tongue lashing upon her arrival in Flanders, and here begins the psychological abuse and tension-building that characterizes the first phase of the cycle of violence. In spite of her initial resistance to her new husband, Blanca is surprised by the treatment she encounters.

     The acute battering of the second phase of violence occurs when the prince and his father interrupt Blanca's lament. An argument ensues, with the prince maltratándola tanto, que fue milagro salir de sus manos con vida (536). In spite of the painful memory of the beating that surges every time she sees him, Blanca, like many modern-day victims of wife-abuse, is said to still love her husband. Shortly thereafter, the sister-in-law is garroted by her own husband and father. Blanca's husband enters the phase of kindness now, for when Blanca asks him about his father's malevolence, the prince distances himself from his father, justifying his father's actions by saying that he must have had reason to kill Marieta.

     Terrorized and helpless, Blanca hereafter is aware of the possibility of her own death and makes the proper arrangements. Blanca's practical behavior here indicates that she perceives the danger of living in a house where the father's wish is the sons command. Meanwhile, she discovers her husband having sex with his (male) page, which, as an act considered aberrant and evil in seventeenth-century Spain, definitely falls under Walker's category of unusual male sexuality(33). Phase One begins again as the tensions build, with Blanca ordering that the bed be burned. This time, however, Blanca will not survive: she is bled to death under the watchful eye of the father-in-law, with the husband morbidly pleading for her salvation only when the blood flows from her veins. Ultimately the father has the last word, sending the son out of the room and triumphantly crying, Así tuviera a todas las de su nación como tengo a ésta (542). So ends the life of this protagonist, whose marriage and victimization are motivated by the desire to please the paternal. Masked in international political tensions, the abuse and femicide of this novella transcend national concerns and demonstrate a deep-rooted misogyny that knows no borders of time or place.

     The juxtaposed eighth novella, El verdugo de su esposa, builds on the father-pleasing femicide of Mal presagio casar lejos by re-casting the plot in terms of a son's quest to please his father at the cost of two women's lives. Here the feminine perspective is diminished and the phases of violence and the characteristics of abusive relationships no longer play a significant role. Instead, the novella concerns the blatant misogyny of a father and his son which leaves two women's cadavers as evidence of their proprietary attitudes. Perceiving his daughter as a financial liability akin to a bad investment, avarice motivates Pedro to wish for her a religious life, potentially enabling [280] him to leave his entire fortune to his only son, Alonso(34). In an effort to escape her father's control, Mencía marries her suitor; yet her defiance results in her death and the attempted murder of her lover at the hands her brother. Importantly, the act of vengeance occurs with the father's consent and assistance. Another father enters into this femicide as well: Alonso informs a priest, appropriately addressing him as Padre, of his murderous intentions. Such is the priest's fear that he merely hears Mencía's confession and leaves, not daring to tell anyone about the femicide until it is made public.

     Proceeding to Naples with his father's financial backing, Alonso defies his father's wishes by marrying a woman of modest station. Eventually disowned for his actions, he blames his resultant poverty on his wife and turns against her in hatred when his father expresses displeasure with the match. In an effort to regain his father's favor, Alonso enlists a male friend to assist him in decapitating his wife, an action accomplished in a dinner table scene similar to the murder of Marieta in the previous tale. Alonso and his friend are ultimately executed for their crimes, but when the news reaches Pedro in Spain he is filled with pride, proclaiming, Más quiero tener un hijo degollado que mal casado (572). With these words, the father yet again condones femicide, applauding his son's efforts to please him.

     In these two novellas, Zayas exploits the dangers that paternal rule poses for women. The paternally-imposed mindset which facilitates the annihilation of the feminine serves as a metaphor for the patriarchy and its abuses of women which occur in the other eight novellas of the Desengaños and in five of the Novelas amorosas. These male characters, killing to please their fathers and to thereby sustain the male line of power, exhibit dehumanized, proprietary attitudes toward their female relatives, and freely abuse the female body whenever the rule of the father is violated or threatened. Mal presagio casar lejos, which involves psychological and physical abuse as well as many other characteristics of wife abuse, demonstrates the parallels between Walker's observations on violent relationships and Zayas's representation of this phenomenon. The portrayal of the fathers in these Zayasian novellas as causing and condoning abusive behavior in their sons also coincides with theories on the intergenerational effects of violent behavior: as Bonnie Yegidis has pointed out, many researchers now perceive modeling or imitative behavior as the number one factor contributing to family violence (26). With aggressive fathers who encourage and applaud violence against women, the sons in these novellas obediently respond by carrying out the violent acts, seeking to please their fathers and maintain male power by shedding female blood.



III. Resistance to Violence

     Zayas's literary representation of violence as it is inscribed on the female body registers vehement protest against the treatment of women. In Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing, Jill Radford states, The very act of speaking out against femicide is itself an act of resistance (303). Zayas's texts register the voice of resistance to the tolerated oppression and abuse of women under patriarchal rule. The abundance of violence against women which comes as a result of Lisis's insistence on true narrative and all-female narration in the Desengaños proves that women's stories need to be told by women themselves: for women's side of the story and their tale of abuse emerges with force only with exclusion of the masculine narrative voice. Through these stories of violence and victimization the frame characters turn the personal into the political: the repeated abuse of the female body attacks the flawed social system which propagates and sanctions violence against women.

     Ranging in scope and severity, the violence proliferated throughout Zayas's novellas exposes the culturally configured attitudes toward the female body as the receptacle for masculine aggression and fear. The similarities between Zayas's representation [281] of violence and the cultural use of violence and between the dynamics of violent relationships and contemporary theories on wife abuse/murder suggest a strong connection between the texts and their socio-historical context. These parallels indicate that Zayas wrote with a knowledge of the dynamics of violence against women and an understanding of the oppressive patriarchal value system. As Zayas transfers to the female body the Foucauldian cultural paradigm of the body as truth and spectacle, female blood speaks for the imperiled state of women under patriarchal rule. Through this appropriation of cultural authority by which the body is manipulated for truth-seeking purposes, the Desengaños amorosos give voice to women's suffering by privileging the feminine perspective and displaying the dismembered body in order to remember it again.

     Lisis's final speech confirms the political agenda of the Desengaños and encourages women to mobilize if men do not change their ways. Her words harken back to the beginning when she helped women carve out a space for their stories to be heard in the feminine voice. Yet now the tone has become threatening. After enumerating the long list of female suffering as told in the ten novellas, Lisis announces her decision to enter a convent. She demands that women stop deceiving themselves about men's behavior, and that men improve their treatment of women or face the consequences,

           porque si mi defensa por escrito no basta, será fuerza que todas tomemos las armas para defendernos de sus malas intenciones... (669)           

Calling for nothing less than a social revolution, Lisis's words summarize the intended effect of the Desengaños amorosos, while her move to the convent indicates that she is unwilling to compromise her future safety in a society that devalues and dismembers women.

     Promised to be the greatest disenchantment of all, Lisis's retreat to the safety of the convent figures her self as resistance par excellence: with the above farewell, she entreats other women to follow her example as she exits the soiree holding two women's hands, leaving her would-be husband thunderstruck. Through the violent inscription of the father's law on the woman's body, Lisis has read women's truth, seeing the powerlessness of women. Having heard about women being caught, put in a chamber, a house, a room, being leashed and locked and chained, she decides that, rather than let someone else settle her down, she will take charge of her body by removing it to the sanctity of the convent. [282]



WORKS CITED

     Amezúa, Agustín G. de, ed. Prólogo. Desengaños amorosos. Parte segunda del sarao y entretenimiento honesto. Madrid: Real Academia Española, 1950. vii-xxiv.

     Atwood, Margaret. The Female Body. Michigan Quarterly Review (Fall 1990): 490-93.

     Boyer, H. Patsy, trans. Historical Background. The Enchantments of Love. By María de Zayas. Berkeley: U of California P, 1989. xxxii-xxxv.

     _____. The Ravages of Vice and the Vice of Telling Stories. Voces a ti debidas. In Honor of Ruth El Saffar. Eds. Marie Cort Daniels et al. Colorado Springs, CO: Colorado College Studies, 1993. 29-34.

     Charnon-Deutsch, Lou. The Sexual Economy in the Narrative of María de Zayas. Letras Femeninas 17.1-2 (Spring-Fall 1991): 15-28.

     Chevalier, Maxime. Un cuento, una comedia, cuatro novelas (Lope de Rueda, Juan Timoneda, Cristóbal de Tamariz, Lope de Vega, María de Zayas). Essays on Narrative Fiction in the Iberian Peninsula in Honour of Frank Pierce. Ed. R. B. Tate. Oxford: Dolphin, 1982. 26-38.

     Clamurro, William H. Ideological Contradiction and Imperial Decline: Towards a Reading of Zayas's Desengaños amorosos. South Central Review 5.2 (1988): 43-50.

     Cobbe, Frances Power. Wife Torture in England. Contemporary Review 32 (April 1878): 55-87.

     Dobash, R. Emerson, and Russell Dobash. Violence against Wives. A Case against the Patriarchy. NY: The Free Press, 1979.

     Fisher, Sheila, and Janet E. Halley, eds. Introduction. The Lady Vanishes. The Problem of Women's Absence by Late Medieval and Renaissance Texts. Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1989. 1-17.

     Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish. Trans. Alan Sheridan. NY: Pantheon, 1977.

     Flynn, Maureen. Mimesis of the Last Judgment: The Spanish auto de fe. Sixteenth Century Journal 22.2 (1990): 281-97.

     Gartner, Bruce. María de Zayas y Sotomayor: The Poetics of Subversion. Diss. Emory University, 1989.

     Horsfall, Jan. The Presence of the Past. Male Violence in the Family. Sydney, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1991.

     Kamen, Henry. The Inquisition and Society and Spain in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1985.

     King, Margaret. Women in the Renaissance. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991.

     McKendrick, Melveena. Women and Society in the Spanish Drama of the Golden Age: A Study of the Mujer varonil. London: Cambridge UP, 1974.

     Miller, Nancy K. Rereading as a Woman: The Body in Practice. The Female Body in Western Culture. Ed. Susan Suleiman. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1986.354-62.

     Nadelhaft, Ruth. Domestic Violence in Literature: A Preliminary Study. Mosaic 17.2 (Spring 1984): 242-59.

     Ordóñez, Elizabeth. Woman and Her Text in the Works of María de Zayas and Ana Caro. Revista de Estudios Hispánicos 19.1 (January 1985): 3-15.

     Perry, Mary Elizabeth. Crime and Society in Early Modern Seville. Hanover, NH: UP of New England, 1980.

     _____. Gender and Disorder in Early Modern Seville. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1990.

     _____. The 'Nefarious Sin' in Early Modern Seville. Journal of Homosexuality 16.1-2 (1988): 67-90.

     Radford, Jill. Introduction. Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing. Ed. Jill Radford and Diana E. H. Russell. NY: Twayne, 1992. 3-12.

     Radford, Jill, and Diana E. H. Russell, eds. Preface. Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing. NY: Twayne, 1992. xi-xv.

     Sánchez Ortega, María Helena. Sorcery and Eroticism in Love and Magic. Cultural Encounters: The Impact of the Inquisition in Spain and the New World. Ed. Mary Elizabeth Perry and Anne J. Cruz. Berkeley: U of California P, 1991. 58-92.

     Sigler, Robert. Domestic Violence in Context: An Assessment of Community Attitudes. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1989.

     Stroud, Matthew D. Fatal Union. A Pluralistic Approach to the Wife-Murder Comedias. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1990.

     Vigil, Mariló. La vida de las mujeres en los siglos XVI y XVII. Madrid: Siglo Veintiuno, 1986.

     Walker, Lenore. The Battered Woman. NY: Harper& Row, 1980.

     Williamsen, Amy. Engendering Interpretation: Irony as Comic Challenge in María de Zayas. Romance Language Annual 3. (1991): 642-48.

     Wilson, Margo, and Martin Daly. Till Death Do Us Part. Femicide: The Politics of Woman Killing. Ed. Jill Radford and Diana E. H. Russell. NY: Twayne, 1992. 83-98.

     Yegidis, Bonnie. Speaking the Unspeakable: Family Violence in America in the 1990s. The Aching Hearth. Family Violence in Life and Literature. Ed. Sara Munson Deats and Lagretta Tallent Lenker. NY: Plenum Press, 1990. 23-32.

     Zayas y Sotomayor, María de. Novelas completas. Ed. María Martínez del Portal. Barcelona: Bruguera, 1973. [283]





ArribaAbajo

Book Reviews

Janet Pérez



EDITORIAL POLICY. Hispania publishes reviews of selected books in the following categories: academic books (Peninsular and Latin American), linguistics, pedagogy (textbooks), and new fiction. We do not review journal numbers or publish book notices. Publishers and authors should submit books for possible selection to the Book Review Editor, Dr. Janet Pérez, Assoc. Dean, Graduate School, Texas Tech Univ., Lubbock, TX 79409-1033. Hispania cannot accept unsolicited reviews nor honor requests to review specific books. Members of AATSP who wish to be considered as reviewers should send copies of curricula vitae. Those assigned books for review will receive a stylesheet and a statement of editorial policy.



Peninsular

           Alonso de los Ríos, César. Conversaciones con Miguel Delibes. Barcelona: Ediciones Destino, 1993. 202 pp.

     Conversaciones con Miguel Delibes defrauda al estudioso de la ya abundante producción literaria del gran escritor vallisoletano a la vez que nos recuerda un antiguo adagio español que aconseja que cada cual se ocupe de lo que le corresponde. Es decir, se trata de una obra de periodismo que no añade prácticamente nada al estudio y comprensión de la obra de Delibes en nivel académico

     En Conversaciones con Miguel Delibes, Alonso de los Ríos utiliza por segunda vez el título de un libro suyo publicado en 1971 (Madrid: Editorial Magisterio Español). Las conversaciones entre Delibes y Alonso de los Ríos de 1970 son incluidas en el nuevo tomo junto con otras de 1992. En su nueva versión, Conversaciones está constituido por una nueva y poco esclarecedora introducción de quince páginas, texto de naturaleza muy amplia donde se documentan de pasada los intereses ecológicos de Delibes, su situación familiar actual, lo que Castilla y Valladolid representan para él, la presencia de lo autobiográfico en algunos de sus relatos, etc., todo ya bastante conocido por los estudiosos de la ficción narrativa de Delibes.

     Como ya se indicó, la segunda sección de este libro es una fiel reproducción del contenido de las primeras Conversaciones (ciento treinta y una páginas). Lo que entonces se nos reveló de, por ejemplo, Cinco horas con Mario y Parábola del náufrago, o de la importancia que Delibes le asignaba a James Joyce, sigue siendo, por supuesto, vigente aunque dicha información ahora nos resulte muy conocida.

     El tercer apartado está constituido por las conversaciones de 1992 en treinta y nueve páginas. Se discute cómo la caída del gobierno de Dubcek en Checoslovaquia inspiró a Delibes a redactar su Parábola o en qué consiste su posición ante los problemas ecológicos del mundo. Abundan comentarios anecdóticos sobre el origen de varias de sus novelas, lo que piensa Delibes de ellas y sobre la atención que han recibido a manos de sus lectores. Hay momentos en los cuales verdaderas oportunidades son desperdiciadas, como cuando Delibes afirma que no hay misterio en El loco, novela donde aborda el tema de la supervivencia (183). Lamentablemente, Alonso de los Ríos no aprovecha la ocasión para discutir con Delibes profundamente una de sus creaciones más sugerentes y complicadas.

     Concluye el volumen con bibliografías sobre Delibes y de Delibes. En la primera, sólo se incluyen textos críticos publicados antes de 1970 y se nos da la misma bibliografía crítica incluida con las Conversaciones de 1971, que pasa por alto todo lo escrito -libros y artículos- desde 1969. Por su parte, la segunda bibliografía, la de las obras de Delibes, si bien resulta más amplia, demuestra hasta cierto punto un desconocimiento de los escritos de nuestro escritor. Ello es evidente cuando son incluidas fichas de Siestas con viento sur y El loco. Es decir, si bien el primero es un libro más amplio, El loco es incluido allí también ya que este relato ha sido publicado dentro de Siestas y por separado. Por tanto, no era necesario asignarle una ficha independiente en la bibliografía.

     En vista de la fertilidad imaginativa de la obra de Delibes y la complejidad que ha caracterizado muchos de los comentarios críticos de sus creaciones, hay que concluir que un autor tan complicado e importante como Miguel Delibes se merece crítica cultural más perspicaz e informada.

Luis T. González-del Valle         
University of Colorado at Boulder         




           Caro, Ana. El Conde Partinuplés. Edited by Lola Luna. Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 1993. 186 pp. [284]
Ruiz de Alarcón, Juan. Quien mal anda en mal acaba. Edited by Ángel Martínez Blasco. Kassel: Edition Reichenberger, 1993. 174 pp.

     The Reichenberger series of critical editions of Spanish Golden Age plays has recently added two new titles, both offering plays that have received little critical attention in the past. Lola Luna's fine edition of El Conde Partinuplés, by Ana Caro, the best known woman playwright of the period, and Ángel Martínez Blasco's carefully prepared study of Quien mal anda en mal acaba, by Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, facilitate research on works that until now have been relatively obscure.

     Luna's well documented volume on El Conde Partinuplés includes an introduction, a bibliography, and the text itself. The first section deals with Ana Caro, analyzing her place among the writers of her time and presenting the information known about her life. There follow a history of the play, and an analysis of its plot and the roles of the characters, including two semiotic schemata. A comparative study of the work and its sources details the influence of the chivalric novel Historia del Conde Partinuplés, que después fue emperador de Constantinopla and of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. This section also compares the play with other Golden Age dramas and situates it in the context of the theater of its day. The beauty of poetic expression and the spectacle created by the use of magic throughout the play in dealing with the dama invisible, along with excellent character delineation, especially of the gracioso Gaulín, set this play apart from its contemporaries and make it well worth reading.

     In discussing Acción y representación, Luna assesses the tripartite structure of the comedia in general, positing that the actions of the characters prevail over the unities of time and place. She applies this thesis to the play in question, showing how its action takes place in contemporary Spain, although that of the fable is supposedly situated in a mythic time and place. Furthermore, the course of events takes the hero on a path that alternates between an open and dangerous exterior space and a closed and amorous interior one, once again demonstrating the primacy of action over the unities of time and space. The last sections of the introduction comprise a study of the versification of the text illustrating the relationship between verse form and dramatic material, as well as an explanation of the criteria used in preparing the edition. A bibliography lists the editions of the works attributed to Caro, studies and references relating to her work, and a select general bibliography of the comedia.

     The text itself is well presented, carefully footnoted, and followed by a listing of variants. The format is attractive and easy to read, particularly because the spelling has been modernized. This volume is impressive in the amount of documentation that accompanies both the introductory material and the text. It is gratifying to see that this heretofore unjustly ignored work by an outstanding woman playwright of the Golden Age is receiving the critical attention that it so well deserves.

     Martínez Blasco's edition of Alarcón's Quien mal anda en mal acaba, accompanied by his preliminary study, is an excellent addition to the corpus of scholarly work on Alarcón. In the introduction the editor points out that this play has been universally attributed to Alarcón, in spite of the fact that it did not appear in either of the two Partes of his work. Although it has received a great deal of praise and is considered by many critics to be one of Alarcón's best, this is the first critical edition based on its earliest text, an undated suelta published by Francisco de Leefdael in Seville.

     In addition to biographical material about Alarcón, the introductory matter includes a thorough study entitled Inquisición y teatro, which treats the Inquisition in the comedia in general and the historical event on which this play is based. The basis for the plot is the trial by the Inquisition in Cuenca of the morisco Román Ramírez, citizen of Deza, who died in 1599 and whose bones were subsequently exhumed and burned in order to comply with the sentence handed down against him by the Inquisition after his death from natural causes. Martínez even includes a facsimile of the Latin text of the sentence from the Inquisition trial. He relates in great detail the genealogy of Román Ramírez, the situation of the moriscos in Deza (located in Castile) and the charges of witchcraft brought against Román. The editor also includes information not found in the comedia regarding Román's intellectual formation and his knowledge of medicine.

     The next section is devoted to a study of the play itself. A carefully elaborated plot summary is followed by an analysis of the versification and a comparison between it and other works of Alarcón, as well as an effort to establish the date of composition. Also included here is a bibliography of this particular play. There is no bibliography of other works of Alarcón nor of scholarly criticism about him. The text of the play, [285] modernized slightly when necessary, is presented in a very legible format, with notes that indicate the variations from the Hartzenbusch edition and the two subsequent editions, both of which were based on the Hartzenbusch version, which was published in Volume XX of the Biblioteca de Autores Españoles.

     These two plays are presented in handsome volumes and provide easy access to texts that previously were difficult to find in scholarly editions. They are excellent contributions to the growing number of well edited Golden Age comedias.

Jean S. Chittenden         

Trinity University         



           Chacel, Rosa. The Maravillas District. Translation D.A. Démers. Introduction Susan Kirkpatrick. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992. ISBN 0 8032 1449 9 (cloth); 0 8032 6353 8 (alk. paper).

     In her excellent introduction, Susan Kirkpatrick says that Rosa Chacel presents, a la James Joyce, a portrait of artists as young women. In the formation of one of the creative young girls, Chacel combines three representations of Ariadne, Elena's mother, the opera written by Ariadne's father, and a statue of that mythic figure. Thus, for the young adolescent, the eroticism of mother-daughter love, the shaping power of the artistic idea, and the sexual mystery of her own origin are all profoundly intermingled in the figure of Ariadne (x). In fact, Chacel believes that all artistic impulse originates in the erotic (xi). Later, Kirkpatrick shows that, while women's activity (e. g., knitting) is interconnective, creating non-rigid structures in Chacel's work, Chacel omits men's activity from the text by the use of ellipsis. Similarly, her own text is a knitting together of narrative voices, of the concrete and the abstract, of the irreducibly personal and the expansively interpersonal (xx-xxi).

     Démers has done an outstanding translation, especially considering Chacel's dense and labyrinthine style, to use Kirkpatrick's words. My major point of difference with Démers is my interpretation of the tone of the conversations between the young girls. While Démers chooses to include slang in their discussions, I rarely found occasions when such informal language was appropriate. But Ariadne-wow! (7) is not equivalent to pero esta otra, vamos! The translator prefers expressions such as she's got rather than she has (71) and this guy for éste (217). Similarly, I also got the devil from my mother is a slang rendering of mi madre me riñe (72) in the wrong tense.

     On a few occasions, the translation changes the meaning considerably. For example, Isabel's mother did not admonish her to do a good job (2) when she went to visit Elena. The reader infers incorrectly that Isabel expected to work for Elena's grandmother: instead, Isabel was told to behave properly. Perhaps a cultural difference accounts for the rendering of merienda as lunch (79). Tea would have been more appropriate, as the expedition clearly occurs in the late afternoon. While Chacel's style uses long sentences with multiple parts, Démers often breaks the sentences into two shorter sentences. On at least one occasion (67), this confuses the reader: Is Juan Morano the scribe of the Ministry of Public Education or the person walking to meet that ministry employee? In another example, Isabel uses the metaphor of a revolving door to explain art's overwhelming effect: hay que echarse a ella, entregarse a tiempo... Démers expresses this as You just have to push it and move fast, thus making the action active rather than passive (27). At times grammar errors are included: And me like an idiot (6), and No one but him can know that (217). The most glaring error of interpretation is that of Manuel's repeated shout Me ha matado! as They've killed me! (216). Manuel blames only his wife (or rather her death) for his own spiritual demise.

     Such errors are rare, however. The translator often adds welcome clarifications, identifying authors alluded to: for example, Quevedo and Maeterlinck. She even manages to retain the same rhyme scheme (ABABCC) in the poem by Morenas de Tejada (240). I agree with Kirkpatrick that Chacel's writing is labyrinthine, but at the same time open-ended and dynamic (xxii). Démers' translation captures both the complexity and the energy, while aptly expressing Chacel's ideas.

Eunice D. Myers         
Wichita State University         


           Esquival-Heinemann, Bárbara P. Don Quijote's Sally into the World of Opera. New York: Peter Lang, 1993. 176 pp.

     Every adaptation of a literary text offers both a reading of the text and a dialectics of sorts between the original context and the time and place of the rewriting. Borges makes this point in Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, when [286] he argues that even an exact re-creation of Cervantes's novel will bear the inflection of different circumstances, as well as of different writing selves. When the adapter chooses a new medium of expression, the distance from the original and the intervention of a second hand become even more apparent. In this study, Barbara P. Esquival-Heinemann looks at opera libretti based on Don Quixote and written between 1680 and 1976. Her work shows the episodes and the modes that the librettists chose to emphasize, along with the interplay of imitation and invention that marks the creative process. Esquival-Heinemann opens with a brief consideration of opera as genre and then surveys the operatic adaptations of Don Quixote in Italy, Germany and Austria, France, England, and the Hispanic world. Three appendices provide a chronology of the Don Quixote operas, a chart of frequency in the use of specific episodes, and illustrations and pages from selected texts.

     Perhaps the major theme of Don Quijote in Italy is the relation of the novel to the development of the opera buffa, which derived in large part from the intermezzo (an interesting fact given Cervantes's cultivation of the entremés). German librettists produce the Singspiel, considered to be a counterpart of the opera buffa. Esquival-Heinemann notes that in the eighteenth century German critics saw Don Quixote as satire, while viewing Don Quixote himself in a somewhat more personal and serious vein. The symbolic view of the protagonist led to the transformation wrought by nineteenth-century Romanticism, as chronicled by Anthony Close and others. Opera composition in Germany reflects the movement toward a tragic vision of Don Quixote, but librettists also find room for comic treatment of the text.

     In contrast to the German libretti, interpretations of Don Quixote in France remain much the same in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, according to Esquival-Heinemann. French compositions during this period, which on occasion combine opera and ballet, tend to focus on the grotesque and the ridiculous qualities of the novel. An exception -significant for its place in the contemporary repertoire- is Massenet's Don Quichotte, which Esquival-Heinemann believes to be based on a poem by Henri Cain and a play by Jacques Le Lorrain (the librettist) rather than on Cervantes's novel. This opera attributes to Don Quixote the noble character that other French versions forsake in favor of humor. In England, as well, librettists generally emphasize the comic aspects of Don Quixote, and, fittingly, the role of Sancho Panza. Esquival sees in the operatic productions of the four centuries a mirror of the stages elaborated by Edwin B. Knowles: surface farce, serious satire, exploration of the spiritual implications of the text, and a balance of comic and serious elements, respectively. As in the case of other European countries, Don Quixote serves to inspire a new form of opera, namely, the ballad opera.

     Ironically, but understandably, Spain has produced few operatic versions of Don Quixote, due most likely to the reverence in which Cervantes's masterpiece is held in the Hispanic world. The premiere of the first and only Spanish opera based on the novel, Teodoro San José's comic opera Don Quijote y Sancho Panza, with libretto by Eduardo Barriobero y Herrán, took place in 1905.

     This particular sally should be of interest to Quixote scholars, notably with regard to generic diversity and to writing as rewriting. Questions of tone and frequency -the most popular episodes are Camacho's wedding, Sancho's governorship, and the stay at the ducal palace- affect not only the domain of opera but reception of the novel in comprehensive terms. One could argue a bit about balance, about missed opportunities to deal with theories of genre, or about the exclusion of the United States (and its own unique form, the musical comedy, which gave us perhaps the most commercially successful of all adaptations of the Quixote). Nonetheless, it is important to recognize the tremendous amount of research that went into this project and the usefulness of the data collected. The commentary is clearly written, well organized, and enjoyable to read. E. C. Riley's contention that Don Quixote as icon often supersedes Don Quixote as literary figure helps to explain the multiple variations on quixotic themes that enrich and expand upon Cervantes's novel.

Edward H. Friedman         
Indiana University         



           Hildner, David J. Poetry and Truth in the Spanish Works of Fray Luis de León. London: Tamesis, 1992. 177 pp.

     Critics have long considered Fray Luis de León's prose a model of harmony and classical constraint, and in many ways it is, according to David J. Hildner's new book, but it is also sensual, imaginative, and sometimes self-contradictory. In this informative, well-written study, [287] Hildner analyzes the most salient characteristics of Leonine writing -among them, the cleric's use of semifigurative language, his philological precision, his admission of multiple meanings, his recourse to logic and the senses. Hildner examines Leonine concepts of truth and fiction, poetic and logical language, and shows that, although Fray Luis believed that doctrine should be transmitted through creative forms and beautiful words, he set limits to the poetic function. Fray Luis distrusted the purely aesthetic, holding that God and the divine were the only proper subjects for imaginative writing.

     A significant part of the study is devoted to De los nombres de Cristo, which, in Hildner's view, illustrates some of the contradictions inherent in Fray Luis' thought. For Fray Luis writing was a moral activity. Heavily influenced by Neo-Platonism, he conceived of works such as Nombres as part of his search for truth. Yet, De los nombres de Cristo does not constitute an authentic probe because there is no real dialogue. Fray Luis maintains a monolithic view; all of the nombres are different ways of saying the same thing. Hildner believes that Fray Luis was afraid of genuine diversity of opinion because he thought it would lead to a loss of unity in the Church. Hildner points out that Fray Luis often sacrifices authenticity to unity in his writing, so that his descriptions of human society -including married life, government, etc.- are totally inaccurate. However, the truth Fray Luis is concerned with is spiritual essence, rather than objective reality. The descriptive elements in his writing are not mere ornaments, but means by which the passage comes alive, thereby conveying truth to the reader. Often Fray Luis has recourse to multiple semantic and syntactic levels of discourse that seem to defy logical analysis, but for him, divine truth was fused into the living beauty of expression of the language.

     Hildner believes that in spite of the apparent remoteness of Fray Luis' subject matter, the sixteenth-century cleric speaks to the modern reader. For one thing, twentieth-century thought has sought to abolish the distinction between poetic and scientific language, recognizing the poeticity of science's terms and the possibility that the authentic truth, or Word, is revealed by poetry. Furthermore, the twentieth-century no longer sees language as neutral, but views speaking and writing as forms of praxis. These notions, Hildner notes, were self-evident to Fray Luis.

     David Hildner makes use of an impressive number of classical, Christian, and Renaissance sources to elucidate Fray Luis' thought. He shows that in terms of his aesthetics and Weltgeist, Fray Luis was both a man of his times and a remarkable individualist. Hildner explodes some of the myths about Fray Luis -often depicted as the austere formalist in comparison with San Juan, the exuberant sensualist- by exploring the dramatic and erotic elements of some of his writing. Poetry and Truth is a well organized, clearly written, solidly researched study that adds immeasurably to our understanding of the Spanish prose of Fray Luis de León.

Barbara Mujica         
Georgetown University         




           Levine, Linda Gold, Ellen Engelson Marson, and Gloria Feiman Waldman, editors. Spanish Women Writers. A Bio-Bibliographical Source Book. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1993. 596 pp. ISBN 0313268231

     Combining the bio-bibliographical approach of Galerstein and Pérez in their seminal studies, Women Writers of Spain: An Annotated Bio-Bibliographical Guide (1986), and Contemporary Women Writers of Spain (1988), and the theoretical sophistication of Kirkpatrick's Las románticas (1989), Ordóñez's Voices of Their Own (1991), and Nichols's Des/cifrar la diferencia (1992), Spanish Women Writers functions simultaneously on multiple levels. It contains the most complete biobibliographical guide to the fifty women included in the volume, while offering at the same time, a revisioning of canonical authors such as Teresa de Jesús, Rosalía de Castro, Pardo Bazán, Carmen Laforet, and Rosa Chacel, and the first systematic and sustained look at a host of lesser-known writers, both past and present (Teresa de Cartagena, Leonor de la Cueva y Silva, María del Pilar Sinués de Marco, Faustina Sáez de Melgar, Teresa Pàmies, and Ana Diosdado). However, the most notable feature of this source book is its use of feminist criticism to study the authors in question.

     In their concise yet provocative introduction, View from a Tightrope: Six Centuries of Spanish Women Writers, Levine and Marson offer an overview of peninsular women's writing and a summary of the major theoretical and methodological questions that inform this source book. Spanish Women Writers focuses on the problematic relation between the artist's life and work, which is especially crucial in a consideration [288] of the female author's trajectory given the patriarchal nature of Spanish society; the intimate interplay of gender, politics, social mores, identity and creativity in the formation of the woman writer; and, concomitantly, the twin strategies of subversion and survival, which women writers have employed to ...navigate the uneven waters of patriarchy and provide life jackets for those who ventured into the deceptively tranquil currents only to encounter torrential floods along the way (xxi).

     Turning our attention to the fifty individual analyses, we see that, compared to the 468 authors studied by Galerstein, and the nearly 100 writers surveyed by Pérez, this source book by Levine, Marson and Waldman appears deceptively limited in scope. However, the criteria for selection of authors are both broad and inclusive: Spanish Women Writers includes poets, dramatists, novelists, short story writers and essayists from all parts of Spain (writers of all minority languages except Basque are represented), and from the beginnings to the present (the earliest entry is the fourteenth century writer, Leonor López de Córdova, author of the first feminine autobiography in the peninsula; and the latest is Paloma Pedrero, one of the most successful young playwrights of the 1980s). Each study is comprised of four sections: biography, major themes, survey of criticism and bibliography, and I would like to concentrate momentarily on the last of these. The bibliographies are thorough, painstaking, and in some cases, dazzling: they include original, subsequent and modern editions of all of the writers' works arranged according to genre; translations from Spanish to other major European languages, as well as translations from the minority languages to Castilian; books, articles and conference papers on the writer herself, specific works or related questions; and other diverse material -memoirs, letters, interviews and films- all of which is fascinating and useful.

     The researchers themselves are also diverse; from established feminist critics, such as Pérez, Nichols, Waldman and Levine, Maryellen Bieder, Phyllis Zatlin, Mirella Servodidio, Susan Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth Starcevic, Shirley Mangini, as well as prominent peninsular scholars, including the late Ruth El Saffar, Estelle Irizarry, Sharon Keefe Ugalde, and John Wilcox, to exciting young critics like Amy Kaminsky, Barbara Dale May and Alda Blanco. Although all of the studies are undertaken from a feminist perspective, the versatility of these fifty specialists ensures a wide variety of approaches -linguistic, stylistic, structuralist, materialist, psychoanalytical, etc.

     At the risk of slighting the many outstanding contributors to Spanish Women Writers, I would like to highlight four analyses, which in my opinion, are ground-breaking: Kathleen March's study of Rosalía de Castro, which takes into account the Galician poet's revolutionary novels, traditionally ignored by the critics; Waldman's detailed consideration of Lidia Falcón, a writer who has consistently fallen through the cracks, due to the controversial nature of her life and works, and her immense output -essays, novels, autobiography, and reportage (Falcón has authored more than 1000 articles in journals in Spain and abroad); Ellen Engelson Marson's critical appraisal of Gloria Fuertes, which examines the poet's esthetics and her linguistic and formal virtuosity, in contrast to the reductive approach to Fuertes employed by most contemporary peninsular critics, with the exception of Margaret Persin; and finally El Saffar's exemplary study of Pardo Bazán, which postulates the need to look anew at the nineteenth century novelist's work with the feminist critical tools honed in the 1980s.

     The volume ends with a selected bibliography, which contains, surprisingly, the most complete listing of studies of peninsular women writers to date, and two appendixes: a chronology of authors by date of birth, and a comprehensive list of their works available in English translation. In conclusion, Spanish Women Writers offers the monolingual reader in English, the teacher and student of peninsular letters, the specialist in women writers, the feminist literary critic, and the general reader an indispensable research guide. Feminist scholars, in particular, are greatly in debt to Levine, Marson and Waldman, and to the contributors to their source book. Spanish Women Writers constitutes a watershed in peninsular studies. Within a short time, feminist literary historians will characterize the state of the held as before or after its publication.

Susana Cavallo         
Loyola University Chicago         


           Marías, Julián. Mapa del mundo personal. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1993. 206 pp.

     Over the years, whenever anyone asked me to recommend one work that would be the best introduction to Marías's philosophy, I unhesitatingly responded: Antropología metafísica (1970). Recently I added a proviso: if [289] you wish to see Marías's philosophy of human life concretized -since human life exists only in the concrete- read his three-volume autobiography, Una vida presente: memorias (1988-89). Henceforth I will be obliged to respond: you now have a choice between three works, depending on your specific interests -you can begin with his narration of either human life in the abstract, or his own particular life, or the personal dimension of human life. This last work, under review, is situated midway between the abstract and the concrete, grounded in the abstract and itself the ground of the concrete.

     A few words about the title of the study and its method (from its Prólogo): Adopting Ortega's fundamental insight that human life is circumstantial, Marías emphasizes that this means to live is to be in the world and to live with others -not only with other humans but also with other physical bodies (my own body plus the bodies of minerals, plants, animals and other humans). Thus, not everything in the world is, strictly speaking, personal. Furthermore, not everything about a human is, strictly speaking, personal. A human is constituted by the physical, the psychic and the personal. It is with the latter that Marías is concerned in this book (as he has been in all his recent studies). He offers us a map to enable us better to find our way about this terrain.

     Marías situates his philosophic position within that general orientation sometimes called personalism. If the name of this orientation is not familiar, it is because very few philosophers refer to their positions as such. On occasions such thinkers as Jacques Maritain, the neo-Thomist inspired by Bergson, called himself a personalist, but -at least in the United States- only a few philosophers academically connected with Boston University and the University of Southern California consistently applied the designation to themselves. What all personalists have in common is an emphasis on the person as what is distinctively human, and the conviction that the person is the highest form of reality. The method employed by Marías in this book, as in all his works that involve the human, is narration, an application of razón vital, a description of one's experiences as executed and as lived through by the self, a description that follows a plot line and preserves the tensions that constitute human life as a co-living.

     Thirteen chapters form the book, commencing with the context of the study as seen in the first two chapters. The first chapter (La condición personal de la vida humana) is an excellent summary of Antropología metafísica, while the second (Persona masculina y feminina) presents Marías's most direct statement yet that unequal treatment of men and women in regards to economics, legal, and social opportunities constitutes an injustice. This statement prevents a misunderstanding of Marías's contention that, although men and women are igualmente personas, they are not personas iguales (in the sense of being the same). They are related disjunctively, i.e., a human is born either a male or a female and socially becomes either a man or a woman. Together they constitute humanity. (Someday someone who accepts this disjunctive theory must develop it to account for the obvious variation between and within the terms of the disjunction, and thereby join in the discussion within the area of gender studies that critiques human sexual polarization as neither metaphysically necessary nor socially just).

     The description of the person Marías presents deepens and clarifies his previous studies of human life and, in turn, further illuminates Ortega's distinction between the interindividual and the social, a distinction that consider his greatest contribution to social philosophy, as presented in El hombre y la gente (1957), his greatest contribution (I think) to philosophy. (For approximately thirty years I have utilized the book in a course on social philosophy/social ethics entitled Person and Society. Because I found no explicit distinction between the individual and the person in Ortega, I supplemented his treatment with Maritain's distinction, as found in The Person and the Common Good. Taking into consideration Ortega and Maritain's fundamental differences in metaphysics, I was able to draw parallels between their respective critiques of political systems in the twentieth century that have tried to dehumanize by depersonalizing. Marías's study goes a long way in developing what was only implicit in Ortega).

     Themes covered in the study include: the genesis of the person (during childhood); the discovery of one's person (through co-living with parents and siblings); the dramatic dimension of personal living; the borders of the personal (God -El gran ausente- and death); friendships (especially between men and women, women and men); love between persons (with the role of the body); the way one is installed in the personal world and how we project our trajectories toward each other; and (finally) the basis of being a person (which is having to go on living through choosing and [290] creating one's own biography). Although each chapter builds upon the previous, most could be read as independent essays (and all should elicit discussions if assigned in literature and/or philosophy courses). The chapter (10) that I found most informative is El amor personal. Marías convincingly argues that what goes by the name of love these days has little to do with persons, concentrating instead on the animal or even the vegetative dimensions of human living, and no en vano la mayoría de los sexólogos son zoólogos (125). Because of this reduction of the desire between the sexes to sexual desire we are at the lowest level in centuries in understanding love. Implied here is Marías's valuable distinction between the sexuate and sexual conditions. Of special importance is the role of the caress in all forms of love as the personalization of the body (or my consciousness that my body is mine, and an ingredient in my life). Marías's publisher would perform his readers a valuable service if it commissioned an anthology of his thoughts on love, as found in his various works over the years.

Antón Donoso         
University of Detroit Mercy         


           Tanner, Marie. The Last Descendant of Aeneas: the Hapsburgs and the Mythic Image of the Emperor. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993. 333 pp. ISBN 0300054882.

     Tanner traces the history of the idea of the Roman emperor and its manifestation in imagery. The image, she believes, developed seamlessly from its origins in antiquity through the early Christian period, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Her study culminates with the Hapsburgs' use of the image in the sixteenth century. The myth was changed and adapted to concur with major historic events and the location of the imperial seat. It originated in antiquity with the vision of Rome's divine destiny; in the early Christian period it synthesized gentile and Jewish divine history and was consolidated by the Hapsburgs in the sixteenth century. Several elements -chronicles, visual imagery, mythical genealogy, among others- helped to form the image.

     Vergil accommodated the Trojan myth to Roman history producing the vision of Rome's divine destiny. During the Byzantine period the myth was christianized by amalgamating Judeo-Christian topoi with their pagan parallels. In Prudentius's Psychomachia Christ is the new Aeneas and Rome the new Jerusalem. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance epic narrative and mythic genealogy advanced the image. Mythical genealogy, providing a fictive ancestry for the emperor, was the most important element in the formation of the image. Biblical figures had already been interpolated during the early Christian period. The genealogical pretensions of the emperors were advocated in monuments and in pictorial and literary works having biblical, historical and mythological subjects.

     Prophecy, unlike genealogy, focused on the eschatological to designate the Holy Roman emperor as the last descendant of Aeneas. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish monarch had become the last world emperor and Spain the last world monarchy, ideas put forth by the philosopher Tommaso Campanella who took into account Spain's role in the discovery of the new world, the expansion of its domains and the signs of the political and religious union of humankind.

     The concluding chapters of Tanner's book dealing with the Hapsburgs in Spain should be of special interest to hispanists who can apply the material to their own research. Among the topics discussed in the context of Hapsburg rule are the mystical and dynastic significance of the Order of the Golden Fleece, the title to Jerusalem, Columbus's discovery of the Americas, and the monarch's solar identity. In Hapsburg mythology the Escorial is viewed as Solomon's Temple, the heavenly Jerusalem and the fulfillment of Rome's imperial legacy.

     Philip II supported the arts to spread the message of Hapsburg piety which was based on devotion to the Eucharist and the Holy Cross. By casting the light of religion on the unknown half of the globe Philip was seen as Christ-Apollo. Philip identified the Eucharist with the sun to the extent that within Hapsburg realms the Eucharist was displayed in a monstrance having the form of a radiating sun. By identifying himself with Apollo, the sun, and then the sun with the Eucharist, Philip drew to himself as emperor the adulation given the Eucharist.

     Tanner's research is impressive. She consulted important libraries in Italy, England and Spain, among them the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and the Biblioteca Hertziana in Rome, the Warburg Institute, the British Library, and the Escorial Library. In contrast to previous studies, Tanner concentrates on the mythical bias and the political motivations of the Renaissance epic narratives. In her treatment of mythic genealogy her special contribution to scholarship [291] goes beyond local issues. The book's notes, select bibliography and copious illustrations add to the scholarly value of the text. Tanner invites other scholars to fill out the lines of inquiry suggested here with knowledge from their special fields. Hispanists, in particular those in Golden Age studies, certainly have much to contribute.

James C. Murray         
Georgia State University         


           Terry, Arthur. Seventeenth-Century Spanish Poetry: The Power of Artifice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 300 pp. ISBN 0521444217.

     The blurb on the jacket of Arthur Terry's book on seventeenth-century Spanish poetry proclaims it the first comprehensive study in English of one of the most important bodies of verse in European literature. To succeed, such a book could only be the result of many years of research, thought, and love of its subject, which is the case here. Integrating modern theoretical concerns and the traditional scholar's broad familiarity with the poets and their works, Terry has accomplished the two goals he set forth in the preface: (1) to provide a text for students and scholars that goes beyond the few poets normally covered in classes on the subject, and (2) to furnish an accessible and reasonably detailed account of seventeenth-century Spanish poetry to readers even less familiar with the literature (ix).

     Limiting his topic to the years 1580-1650 (plus Sor Juana), Terry divides the book into nine chapters. The first sets the historical context for the poetry, tracing the Castilian, Italian and classical traditions, and is followed by a discussion of the poetics of the period. He devotes a chapter each to the major poets -Góngora, Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Sor Juana. Terry provides good analyses of Góngora's longer works and poetic practice in general; for example, he points out that in the Soledades the readers are made to follow out its constantly shifting perspectives, actively taking part in the production of meaning, rather than simply assenting to something we already know, and never settling into a final sense of order (87). In the chapter on Lope, subtitled Re-writing a life, he focuses on the artistic transformation of that life, taking pains not to overemphasize the man at the expense of the conscious artist (95). He explains Quevedo's poetics in terms of a serious rhetorical conservatism: a suspicion of change, of running counter to what he takes to be the genius of the language (154). Sor Juana retains her place in the peninsular canon as the last of the period's major figures in Terry's treatment, which draws heavily on Octavio Paz's work. Two chapters are devoted to minor poets, divided into those whose major work predates the Soledades and those whose work comes after. The poets and poems discussed here are, for the most part, the same ones found in Terry's 1968 Anthology of Spanish Poetry 1500-1700: Part II, where they appeared with little commentary. Women poets other than Sor Juana (except for brief mention of Santa Teresa) are notably absent in this treatment, which otherwise admirably attempts to bring the discipline up to date. There is also a welcome chapter on epic poetry, highly valued by the poets of the period but relatively neglected now.

     More than readable, the text is interesting, with good illustrations of Terry's analysis and translated quotations. The thorough notes, index and selected bibliography will be appreciated by the serious student. For what it sets out to do, this will be a useful text for years to come.

Ted E. McVay, Jr.         
Texas Tech University          


           Trapero, Maximiano, editor. La décima popular en la tradición hispánica: Actas del Simposio Internacional sobre La Décima. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria/Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria, 1994. 412 pp. ISBN 8481030376.

     This volume contains the proceedings of the Simposio Internacional sobre La Décima, held in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in December, 1992, which brought together scholars from Caribbean countries (including the United States) and their Spanish counterparts from the Canary Islands and Andalusia. In connection with the Symposium a musical festival was held in which popular decimista groups performed. The introductory remarks of the Actas promise a forthcoming recording of the musical performances. These events were designed to bring together philologists, musicologists, and performers to promote interchanges not only among researchers from different disciplines but also among investigators and authors/performers of décimas.

     The volume is divided into three principal sections. The first includes inaugural remarks, [292] original décimas composed for the opening of the Symposium, and the keynote address by Samuel Armistead. The second section consists of five plenary addresses by Félix Córdova Iturregui (Puerto Rico), Ivette Jiménez de Báez (Puerto Rico/ Mexico), María Teresa Linares Savio (Cuba), Carmen María Sáenz Coopat (Cuba), and Maximiano Trapero (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria). The third section includes fourteen papers read during the meeting. Since space does not permit detailed analysis of all the papers, the following commentary focuses on the keynote and plenary addresses and some of the major directions in décima studies evidenced in these proceedings.

     In his opening address, Samuel Armistead admits that one of the impediments to a thorough investigation of the décima has been that most specialists of oral poetry have dedicated their research to the romancero. In a brief overview of our present knowledge of Hispanic oral poetry, Armistead notes that Hispanic popular poetry is the product of two legacies -Islamic and Romanic. Lothar Siemens Hernández develops this salient point in his article, Antecedentes de la forma musical de la décima y observaciones históricas sobre su empleo en Canarias, in which he ties the development of the décima to the history of christianized moriscos and their subsequent migration to the Canaries and, later, the Americas during the tumultuous decades immediately preceding and following their expulsion. Armistead's remarks also point to another topic treated by other speakers at the symposium -the link between the oral poetry of the Canaries and the Americas. He gives a brief, country-by-country overview of orally-composed poetry in the Americas, emphasizing its varied, but also universally enduring legacy. He also includes an extensive bibliography.

     Among the plenary speakers, Córdova Iturregui reports on how present-day troubadours in Puerto Rico view the art of improvisation. Jiménez de Báez compares the parallel development in Mexico of the popular, oral décima and the learned, written glosa and how the music and dance which usually accompany them are dynamic manifestations of mestizaje. Linares Salvo, from a musicologist's perspective, follows a similar vein in her article which studies the relationship between the décima and the tonada and how the different musical structures which accompany décimas in Cuba resulted from a mixture of Spanish and pre-colonial cultures. In speaking about instrumental accompaniment, Sáenz Coopat notes Canarian influence on Cuban instrumentation and indicates the effects of mass communication and electrified music on the punto, one of the traditional Cuban forms for playing and improvising décimas. In his article, Trapero, the symposium's organizer and editor of the Actas, studies the romancero and the décima in the Canary Islands and concludes that the latter is a relatively recent phenomenon in the islands. Collecting décimas in the Canaries, he found that the majority of present-day singers are also the composers of their poems, rather than transmitters of a longstanding, and largely anonymous, popular tradition (as is the case for the romance).

     Judging from the essays included in this volume, the Symposium achieved its goal of studying this mode of traditional poetry from a transcultural perspective. Rather than a history of the décima in terms of Spanish influence and American reception, it views this manifestation of the popular poetic voice as a product of cross-pollination. As the stepping stones to the Americas, the Canaries' unique relationship with the cultures of the Caribbean, first points of contact between the Old and New World, is also manifest in the vitality of the décima as a mode of popular poetic expression in the Canaries (as opposed to most parts of the Iberian peninsular where are other forms are more dominant) and its enduring vigor in the Caribbean.

Connie L. Scarborough

University of Cincinnati



           Willem, Linda M., editor. A Sesquicentennial tribute to Galdós 1843-1993. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 1993. 360 pp.

     The twenty-three studies contained in a sesquicentennial tribute to Pérez Galdós, nicely edited by Linda M. Willem, are a useful addition to the ever-growing corpus of Galdosian scholarship. They cover nearly every facet of the field, utilizing diverse critical methologies, with authors representative of various generations of Galdosistas. The general areas covered, in chronological order, are the non-historical novels (eleven essays, the largest group), the Episodios Nacionales (four essays), the short stories (two essays), Galdós's political thought (one essay), plays (two essays), one essay on Galdosian literary criticism, one on his impact in Russia, and a closing essay on intertextual relations between Cervantes and Galdós. As is to be expected in so large a collection of studies, quality and level of interest vary considerably. [293]

     Below is an account of some of the most significant essays. Peter Bly's study of La familia de León Roch (11-26) is a finely reasoned analysis of how landscapes and skyscapes, metaphors for how the protagonists escape from reality, constitute both the structure and theme of the novel. Stephanie Sieburth's study of La desheredada (27-40) examines the novel from a sociological perspective, demonstrating how the working class (through Mariano) and the petty bourgeois class (through Isidora) come to threaten the status quo of the Madrid of the 1860s and 1870s. Following Foucault's concept of discipline, Sieburth demonstrates how the poor have been left out, disinherited, by the system (36). She also argues that Miquis, usually taken by critics to be a benevolent figure, has a dark side: his attempts to cure the spiritual ailment of non-conformity (38). James Whiston's essay on Lo prohibido (41-55) illustrates the importance of the reader's perspective in this novel with a notoriously unreliable narrator.

     Akiko Tsuchiya's study of Fortunata y Jacinta (56-71) again takes up Foucault's theory of discipline to analyze the institutions of oppression in Spanish Restoration society. Mauricia, generally viewed in a negative light by critics, is seen here as representative of a female body that refuses to be 'subjected, used, transformed and improved' (64). Hazel Gold's essay on Fortunata y Jacinta (72-87) identifies Realism's utilization of the body as a novelistic device for achieving a totalized representational narrative technique (73) and Naturalism's emphasis on the deterministic impact of biology on human life, leading to an organic diagnosis of social maladies (74). Along the lines outlined in her excellent book on framing in Galdós's novels, Gold shows the manner in which the novelist reframes the boundaries between physical and mental reality (75). The synecdoche of the dismembered body applies to novelistic characters and to the nation as a whole in the period covered in the novel (80).

     Geoffrey Ribbans's analysis of Fortunata y Jacinta (88-104) is a carefully reasoned study of narrative point of view. He points out that the narrator is reliable in telling the story but cannot be trusted completely at the level of discourse (95), the resulting ambiguity producing an irony that typifies Galdosian narrative discourse. Harriet S. Turner's study of Fortunata y Jacinta (105-20) provides some convincing definitions of the Realism of this novel. Networks of image and motif surround novelistic elements with a metonymic force, leading to dialectical signifiers (111). Tropes are grounded in physical and chemical processes, nature or the economic phenomena of the times (114).

     Teresa M. Vilarós's essay on Tristana (121-37) perceptively highlights the symbolism of Tristana Reluz (127), the exceptionally white young lady who emerges from darkness and returns to it at the end, a male fantasy of feminine otherness and a metaphor for writing (129). Through multiple intertexuality, especially from Dante and a feminine version of the masculine Tristan (134), the protagonist is literally framed, sentenced by the impossibility of a feminine love (135). Another analysis of the same novel by Chad C. Wright (138-54) focuses on bodily metaphors and the symbolism of dismemberment, malfunctioning, and disarticulation (139). Wright is one of the few critics who notices that at the novel's conclusion Tristana becomes the very thing she has despised throughout, namely, a domestic wife and beata(153), and concludes that the very contradictoriness, incompletion, and ambiguity... both in form and content, may very well be its message, and not so much its failing (154).

     Nicholas G. Round's study of Misericordia (155-72) offers some original ideas regarding the relation of this final work of the Contemporary Novels series to both Realism and Spiritualism. Building on Urey's concept of dualism as oxymoron, he explores how Galdós extends the strategies of Realism (160), creating an aesthetic representation of the constraints and emptiness of the beggars' world (160-61). His final conclusion is, however, questionable. He contends that this novel is the last of the author's realistic fictions because after it, there was no more to be said on the subject (172), ignoring the fact that Galdós says more within the frame of Realism in the Episodios and in his theatre. Lou Charnon-Deutsch's The Pygmalion Effect in the Fiction of Pérez Galdós (173-89) is a revealing study from a feminist perspective of how Galdós in many of his non-historical novels from 1876-86 utilizes this important European myth to demonstrate the masculine failure to create an other as a complement to one's self (173). The critic points out correctly the failure of all the Galdosian male characters who try to create or mold a female other (187).

     Diane F. Urey's study of Bailén (204-21), like her book on the Episodios, demonstrates convincingly how these novels constitute a metafictional commentary on the signifying process in multiple senses, that leads in many directions (212), in Bailén specifically, to the difference [294] between reality and illusion, history and fiction (204). She highlights the intertextual dialogue with Don Quijote (206), the linkage between Napoleon and Don Quijote, whose reciprocity demonstrates the instability of any figure or interpretation in this historical novel (211), and the production of ambivalent values of honor, heroism, patriotism, obtained at the price of shame, self-interest, and atrocity (215).

     Linda M. Willem (249-60) finds anticipations of Postmodern concepts of the fantastic in an unfinished short story of 1892 (Dónde está mi cabeza?) and aspects of what she calls historical fantasy in the fifth series of the Episodios, in which, by exposing the artifice of the historical novel Galdós breaks down the illusion of reality on which all realistic fiction rests (256). Eamonn Rodgers (269-82) examines the writer's political thought as expressed in essays and newspapers articles in the three principal periods of his life (270). The constants of his thought were his disappointment with the politics of the Restoration and his rejection of caciquismo (273). A weakness of this approach is that it only considers the political thought expressed in the writer's newspaper articles (281), ignoring the ideas present in his fictional works.

     Lisa P. Condé (283-97) explores how Galdós's concept of women evolves from the dialogue El sacrificio, (once attributed to Pardo Bazán) to his later play La loca de la casa (1893). She points out interestingly how the protagonist Victoria differs fundamentally from the archetype of the ángel del hogar as defined by Catherine Jagoe and Bridget Aldaraca (288), using the female power of her maternity against her husband, Cruz (289), a behavior unacceptable to much of the theatrical audience of the play's time but which was considered acceptable and very modern by audiences in a revival in 1959 (296).

     The final essay, Rubén Benítez's Génesis del cervantismo de Galdós (1865-1876) (344-60), is a helpful intertextual study which focuses on Galdós's early writings and how they present a rejection of Cervantine idealism. Galdós's education in Madrid with Neohegelians results in his rejection of Quixotic idealization, picaresque attitudes and mystical flights (347). Galdosistas of varied interests will find many critical insights in this commemorative collection.

Theodore A. Sackett         
University of Southern California         


Latin America

           Bioy Casares, Adolfo. Memorias. Infancia, adolescencia y cómo se hace un escritor. Colección Andanzas. Barcelona: Tusquets Editores, 1994. 197 pp. ISBN 8472234207.

     El género memorialista se asocia a una relación de recuerdos y pensamientos cuyo subjetivo vaivén los aleja de la prescriptiva linealidad cronológica asociada a la autobiografía. Y es debido tal vez a esta mayor libertad para escoger entre lo que se quiere narrar y lo que se prefiere dejar en el olvido, que Adolfo Bioy Casares ha escrito sus Memorias, recogiendo en este primer volumen incidentes y recuerdos de su niñez y juventud mezclados con las reminiscencias de sus experiencias de lector y escritor de libros. El volumen se estructura en tres secciones de tamaño irregular, entre las cuales la primera es la más reveladora y cohesiva desde el punto de vista biográfico. Esta primera parte, sin título y con sus veintitrés capítulos, es la más larga. La segunda, titulada Historia de mi familia, tiene dos capítulos y es la más corta. La tercera, Historia de mis libros, contiene siete capítulos. El volumen incluye además dieciséis páginas de retratos que documentan sin ningún orden temporal su vida con sus padres y abuelos, así como sus relaciones con su esposa Silvina Ocampo y con su hija Marta.

     Memorias. Infancia, adolescencia y cómo se hace un escritor es un libro que se deja leer solo. El estilo entretenido y deceptivamente sencillo del autor nos envuelve en las redes de una deliciosa narración por la que desfilan en libre mezcolanza los escenarios, personajes, animales, poemas, cuentos y libros de sus años formativos, si bien según avanza el libro sus reminiscencias incluyen incidentes de épocas relativamente recientes -sobre todo en lo que se refiere a su amistad y sus colaboraciones con Jorge Luis Borges. Las palabras de Bioy Casares esbozan, en un familiar tono de asombro y complicidad, su descubrimiento simultáneo de la vida al lado de la literatura: los aleccionadores cuentos de su madre sobre el comportamiento de los animales, las fábulas de Iriarte y Samaniego narradas por su padre, y sus emotivas experiencias con los animales que compartían su casa y su hacienda, especialmente su perro y su caballo.

     Los capítulos siguientes van ensanchando las experiencias del protagonista-autor-narrador, sobre todo en lo que se refiere a su insistente y a todas luces casi infructuoso intento de convertirse [295] en un escritor de mérito. No es, declara él mismo con alta dosis de ironía, hasta que comienza su colaboración con Borges, y que éste le entrena en el arte de escribir, que su participación en el mundo de las editoriales y de la cultura argentina alcanza su apogeo. La engañosa sencillez de lengua y tono, parte integral del estilo de Bioy Casares, tal vez pueda contribuir a que el libro no sea recibido y apreciado con toda la seriedad que merece. Es indudable que a pesar de sus juegos con el lector y su continua e irónica auto-crítica, Adolfo Bioy Casares es uno de los escritores argentinos más importantes. No en balde su primer volumen de Memorias aporta una información esencial para establecer la historia de las ideas y del papel del intelectual en la cultura argentina de la mayor parte del tumultuoso siglo XX.

María A. Salgado         
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill         


           Bouvard, Marguerite Guzmán. Revolutionizing Motherhood: The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Wilmington, Delaware: SR Books, 1994. 261 pp. ISBN 0842024867 Cloth, 0842024875 Paper.

     Revolutionizing Motherhood, a riveting analysis of Argentine history and the women known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, traces the development of Argentine politics from the nineteenth century, with its dichotomy of civilización y barbarie, personified by Sarmiento and Rosas, to the present, emphasizing the continuing conflict between democracy and authoritarianism. Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard focuses on the 1976 military coup and its shocking Dirty War, a surreal attempt at repression of opposing points of view. Drawing numerous parallels between Argentina and Nazi Germany, Bouvard spotlights the prevalent antisemitism in Argentina. Many Argentine military officers trained in Germany, while Nazi officers fled to Argentina after World War II. The atmosphere of terror and fear in Argentina recalls the Nazi policy of Night and Fog -people disappear without a trace, there is an absence of law and due process. In spite of eyewitness accounts of abductions, the government denies all knowledge of political disappearances. In this kafkaesque setting, nightmare images of torture, beatings, and the use of electric prods and concentration camps illustrate the dehumanization and depersonalization of the Other.

     Opposing this maelstrom of madness is a group of poor, uneducated women, searching for their missing children. At first apolitical and unsophisticated, they learn to take matters into their own hands. Bravely, they stage weekly marches in the symbolic Plaza de Mayo, locus of government and the site of proclaimed Argentine independence from Spain. Advocating human rights and justice, these Mothers seize political power for themselves and all Argentines, demanding the release of all disappeared, punishment for the guilty parties, and the elimination of military control. Maternal solidarity puts a feminine stamp on the protest movement. The Mothers wear white pañuelos to symbolize their children and the contributions of women in human-rights movements around the world, upholding pregnancy as a means of giving birth to future generations who will continue the struggle. The Mothers' brand of feminism arises in developing a collective role, fighting for the rights of all children, not just their biological daughters and sons, and stressing in all their activities the importance of interpersonal relationships-mother/child; woman/woman.

      Revolutionizing Motherhood eloquently recounts the transformation and empowerment, the political coming-of-age, of women activists, refusing to accept stereotypes of aging; ... rather than turning into public images of crones or hags, they have become braver as they age... (250). Traditionally submissive and uneducated, these Argentine women subvert the machista view of old women as weak and powerless, rejecting the culture of obedience and hierarchy upheld by the church and the cult of moronism (184). Through their courageous response to tyranny, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo evolve into heroes. Their anger gives strength to fight dictatorship as they undergo a metamorphosis into radicals and revolutionaries, advocating the total overthrow of a repressive society in a confrontational style outside the system.

     Bouvard's unflinching and well-researched portrayal includes an introduction, ten chapters, an extensive bibliography based on newspaper articles and interviews with the Mothers, and an index. The style is simple and direct, making the work eminently readable. In each chapter, she juxtaposes intimate poems with a straightforward narration of factual information, reflecting both emotional and rational qualities of the Mothers. Eloquent black-and-white photographs of the Mothers' vigils reveal simple women who cry out in anger and sadness. The combination of fury and courage in their faces is unforgettable as they celebrate Mother's Day [296] holding a single rose in their arms. Refusing to look pretty in a conventional sense, they are beautiful in their sincerity.

Roberta Gordenstein         
University of Connecticut         


           Burgos, Fernand, editor/anotador. Esteban Echeverría, El matadero, Ensayos estélicos y Prosa varia. Hanover, NH: Ediciones del Norte, 1992. 275 pp.

     Este libro, magníficamente presentado y encuadernado, con edición y notas a cargo de Fernando Burgos, constituye una valiosa aportación pedagógica al estudio de la obra de Esteban Echeverría. De pedagógica calificamos aquí la inclusión de los variados materiales que forman el texto: las notas a pie de página a El matadero, el recuento bibliográfico sobre las ediciones de dicha novela, la bibliografía existente sobre el escritor argentino y, finalmente, las láminas que cierran el libro. Todo ello es, pues, de utilidad, por ejemplo como material para un posible seminario graduado sobre la literatura hispanoamericana del período. Las notas a pie de página a El matadero ayudarán, sin duda, a la comprensión del texto, especialmente al lector no hispánico. La selección de Ensayos estéticos es acertada, sobre todo la inclusión de aquellos que, como La situación y el porvenir de la literatura hispanoamericana, contribuyen a esclarecer la primera gran división intelectual entre la metrópoli y las antiguas colonias. Muy reveladora de estos valores es, también, la Prosa varia, pues no es siempre fácil acceder a este tipo de texto menor, especie de diario programático, altamente revelador de los parámetros estéticos y del ethos echeverriano.

     La aportación más original de Fernando Burgos es la introducción crítica de treinta y cinco páginas (1-35) a la obra de Echeverría. Son acertados los comentarios sobre El matadero como texto fundacional de la prosa hispanoamericana y en la valoración de su romanticismo como articulación del espíritu moderno frente a lo clásico..., la apertura a la complejidad y simbolismo de las formas frente a la linealidad y uniformidad de los preceptos, la intranquilidad de la búsqueda y el poder insólito de la imaginación... (32). Sin embargo, los análisis posteriores sobre la ensayística del escritor argentino resultan un tanto explicativos en sus disgresiones sobre las teorías echeverrianas de la forma y el fondo. Burgos extiende, expone y parafrasea a Echeverría, lo cual contribuye sólo parcialmente a aclarar los presupuestos estéticos comentados. Los análisis de Burgos pecan aquí de a-históricos al no tener en cuenta la gran masa teórica que durante el presente siglo ha revolucionado la visión clásica de la relación forma/fondo. La naturaleza del tema es ideal para haber planteado, si acaso eclécticamente, estos análisis desde alguna de las perspectivas críticas hoy al uso. A tal a-historicidad contribuye, por otra parte, el discurso de apología del profesor chileno.

     Este trabajo hubiera mejorado con una visión valorativa algo más equilibrada, como la que ya nos ofrecieron Alfredo Roggiano o Saúl Sosnowsky, incluídos, por otra parte, en la amplia bibliografía del libro. Se echan de menos, pues, análisis que incluyan algo más sobre los límites y contradicciones del liberalismo fronterizo argentino, sobre las razones socio-históricas que alimentaron la peculiar cosmovisión de Echeverría, y que contribuyeron a generar un discurso tan rico en elementos antitéticos: progresistas y reaccionarios.

Pedro M. Muñoz         
Winthrop University         


           Castellanos, Jorge e Isabel. Cultura afrocubana 4. Letras, Música, Arte. Miami: Ediciones Universal, 1994. 511 pp.

     Este cuarto tomo consta de una introducción, seis capítulos y un apéndice que trata de nuevas aportaciones esenciales al corpus de la primera literatura abolicionista cubana, antes del 1900, fecha fijada por los autores. Una extensa bibliografía concluye el libro. En la introducción se definen, discuten y documentan los dos polos opuestos en el hibridismo de la cultura cubana: el eurocubano y el afrocubano, lo que sirve de tesis al libro. Los autores no aceptan totalmente el planteamiento marxista de la desculturación a favor de la transculturación. El hecho de que blancos y negros marchan históricamente juntos y todos revueltos (35) es, para otros críticos, ilusorio aquí en Estados Unidos como en la Cuba castrista.

     El primer capítulo intenta delinear las pautas vitales de la interpretación étnica en la novelística nacional desde 1900 hasta 1958. Se incluyen a escritores menos conocidos en las letras cubanas como Emilio Bacardí (1844-1922) y Félix Soloni (1900-1968). Sin embargo, en casi todas las obras la hermenéutica gira alrededor del punto de vista del narrador blanco y de los personajes también blancos. Este acercamiento hubiera sido aún más fructífero si se hubiese escuchado la voz del afrocubano dentro [297] de su propio discurso novelesco.

     En El negro en el cuento cubano se buscan sus orígenes en el cuadro de costumbres del siglo XVIII, antecedente primordial para la novela, el teatro bufo y la poesía que surgen más tarde. Los autores afirman con cuidadosa documentación textual que la literatura cubana no brinda suficientes imágenes positivas compensatorias de negros y mulatos (90-91). Entre los escritores de la narrativa corta, se estudia detenidamente la obra de Lydia Cabrera y su enriquecedora labor como folklorista y antropóloga. Un acápite se ocupa de tres cuentos de Lino Novás Calvo, precursor, junto con Lydia Cabrera, del realismo mágico en Cuba (124).

     El tercer capítulo presenta la trayectoria de la afrocubanía en la poesía. Se indagan las primeras manifestaciones en el siglo XVIII con Manuel Socorro Rodríguez y Juana Pastor, primera poeta cubana mulata, hasta el siglo XIX con Emilio Ballagas y Nicolás Guillén, los más salientes en este tipo de escritura. El estudio cubre el discurso del bozal, los cantos de funeral, los cantos de cabildos, la canción de cuna y los pregones, además de los fenotipos diversos que caracterizan la sociedad pigmentocrática de la Isla.

     La aparición del afrocubano en el teatro, ocurrida oficialmente en 1573, y su evolución como actor, personaje o autor en el siglo XIX forman el meollo del capítulo cuarto. Además de las ilustraciones de bailes incluidas, el análisis interesa por entrar con hondura en el lenguaje vernáculo de la gente de color que conduce al bufo bozal y al bufo catedrático. El lector, sea cubano o no, puede aquilatar el valor lingüístico de las piezas teatrales y las zarzuelas criollas representadas en las tablas cubanas.

     Por lo que a la música respecta, Jorge e Isabel Castellanos realizan una penetrante labor de erudición. Las raíces de los ritmos afroides provenían no sólo del África, sino también de España donde, según los autores ya en 1492 había abundante población negra esclava y libre (268). Prueban como el canto le servía al esclavo como arma subversiva contra el discurso oficial. Estudian los pregones de artículos para venta que fueron luego inmortalizados por la cantante afrocubana Celia Cruz. La sección sobre la música religiosa se agrupa de acuerdo a los cuatro complejos religiosos básicos de origen africano: lucumí (yoruba), conga (bantú), abakuá (carabalí) y arará (dahomeyana). Los últimos acápites discuten la música popular y la culta en la Isla.

     Sincretismo, Paisaje y Pintura es el título del capítulo final. A diferencia de la música, el arte pictórico en la Isla no crece ni alcanza el nivel internacional de aquélla. Desde las artesanías religiosas, litografías y pinturas del siglo XIX hasta la cerámica en los tronos de la Regla de Ocha del XX, las contribuciones del afrocubano expresan una mezcla de lo mítico con lo estético. Este capítulo es una aportación valiosa a un tema apenas estudiado, aún las pinturas del conocido Wilfredo Lam. Para el especialista sobre el tema afrocubano, la obra ofrece una abundante información documentada. El texto funcionaría bien en una lista de lecturas para un curso de cultura o literatura hispanoamericana.

Luis A. Jiménez         
Florida Southern College         


           Erauso, Catalina de. Vida i sucesos de la monja alférez, autobiografía atribuída a Doña Catalina de Erauso. Edición, introducción y notas de Rima de Vallbona. Tempe, Arizona: Center for Latin American Studies at Arizona State University, 1992. 236 pp. ISBN 0879180773.

     Con esta edición de Vida i sucesos, Rima de Vallbona no sólo enriquece el campo de investigación, sino que también abre nuevas posibilidades de análisis para los estudiosos interesados en la literatura colonial hispanoamericana. Vida i sucesos de la monja alférez de Rima de Vallbona, es la primera edición crítica que se adhiere fielmente a la sintaxis y a las formas del manuscrito que data del siglo dieciocho (único manuscrito disponible hasta la fecha). Incluye además valiosos comentarios de Joaquín María Ferrer, Historia de la Monja alférez Doña Catalina de Erauso (1829, edición primaria) y analiza exhaustivamente problemas presentados por éste y otros críticos en cuanto a anacronismos e inexactitudes del texto.

     Rima de Vallbona sostiene sus puntos de análisis con ocho apéndices, haciendo referencia a numerosos documentos que verifican la existencia de Catalina de Erauso, o que muestran las inexactitudes y los anacronismos del texto desde su debida perspectiva histórica. En esta edición también se nos presentan tres biografías de la Monja Alférez que fueron consideradas seriamente en el pasado. Todos estos son documentos fehacientes que pertenecen a los depósitos de la Real Academia de la Historia de Madrid o al Archivo de Indias. Además, da muestras de su meticulosa y exhaustiva investigación ofreciéndonos al final de su edición la más completa [298] bibliografía compilada hasta el presente, tanto sobre el texto de Vida i sucesos como sobre la persona de Catalina de Erauso.

     Si en su estructura formal, la edición de Vallbona es sin lugar a dudas relevante para los estudios de literatura colonial, en su análisis profundo la autora hace importantes planteamientos que abren nuevas posibilidades para los investigadores del período. Siguiendo ideas presentadas por Enrique Pupo Walker (La vocación literaria en su estudio crítico sobre Los Naufragios [56-60], en el cual éste observa una gran diversidad episódica y estratos narrativos muy disímiles no reconocidos por la crítica ni por el análisis histórico) Rima de Vallbona propone una lectura macrosecuencial del texto de Vida i sucesos que se dará paralelamente al pacto autobiográfico. Estos planteamientos amplían los posibles acercamientos literarios a la obra, extendiéndolos a la forma geométrica de la elipse barroca, propuesta por Severo Sarduy como grama móvil (término acuñado por Julia Kristeva, Semeiotike, París: Seuil, 1969). Severo Sarduy nos habla de un descentramiento, es decir, un doble centro donde nos encontramos con un centro presente que se podría asimilar al significante y un centro virtual que se podría asimilar al significado plausible este último, de múltiples secuencias en la lectura de un texto dado (Barroco, Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1974).

     Así mirado, Rima de Vallbona nos ofrece en su edición de Vida i sucesos la posibilidad de elevar al cuadrado las previas investigaciones y lecturas de dicho texto.

Juana I. Goergen         
Depaul University         


           Myers, Kathleen, ed. Word from New Spain: The Spiritual Autobiography of Madre María de San José (1656-1719). Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1993. 229 pp. ISBN 0853233675 Cased; 0853230587 Paper.

     Over the past ten years there have been considerable efforts to recover the works of colonial women writers from the archives of convents in Spanish America. Inspired in their search by the stellar accomplishments of the Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and the Colombian mystic Madre Castillo, scholars have sought poems, plays, and narrative works to document the skillful and creative contributions of women to New World literature. The result of these investigations has not quite yielded the anticipated information but has instead offered an equally fascinating and imaginative portrait of women in colonial society and a view of historical circumstances in the viceroyalties through the study of their letters, journals and notebooks. An excellent example of this scholarly approach, in which a woman writer has been restored to literary history, is Kathleen Myers' critical edition, Word from New Spain: The Spiritual Autobiography of Madre María de San José (1656-1719).

     The fortuitous discovery of Madre María de San José's manuscript in the John Carter Brown Library has brought to light a dimension of this colonial nun's works not previously studied, as she played a role in the expansion of the convent system in New Spain. Even her contemporaries recognized her extraordinary religious devotion and her talent for mystical expression. Over the course of three decades she wrote and rewrote some twelve volumes of her visions and ecstasies, which include unions with Christ, interventions of the Virgin, and encounters with the devil, and she seemed to be a model nun, the perfecta religiosa so celebrated by the Church. In 1697 she was chosen to be a founder of the Augustinian Recollect convent in Oaxaca, and a petition for her beatification was sent to Pope Benedict XIII shortly after her death.

     Departing from María de San José's participation in the religious life of New Spain, Myers traveled from Providence, Rhode Island to convents in Mexico and to the Vatican archive in her search for the true portrait of colonial womanhood that this seventeenth-century nun represented. She summarizes her findings clearly in the introduction of Word from New Spain and offers insights into the expression of the baroque in Mexico and the influence of the Counter-Reformation there. Most important, however, is the presentation of the story of a young girl growing up in rural New Spain, her thirty-one year struggle to enter the convent, and the creation of her self in the traditional discourse sanctioned for religious women and strictly monitored by male ecclesiastics.

     The introduction to Word from New Spain provides the key to interpreting the carefully selected passages of this critical edition. Confessional autobiography is therefore placed within the colonial Spanish American context as Myers defines the vida and notes its importance for religious women writers in the New World. Of particular significance, in the case of María de San José, is her ability to circumvent and even subvert the conventional norms, attributed to the model established by Santa Teresa de Ávila and insisted upon by her confessor, by imposing [299] her own discursive strategy on the text. While responding to the ideal image of religious womanhood, María de San José demonstrates a lively personal style and individuality that reflect her own view of self and life, according to Myers. Life on the hacienda is a particular focus of María de San José's writings and the subject of volume I, which has been reproduced in its entirety in Word from New Spain. References to it throughout the remainder of the series elaborate and clarify her family situation and describe the patriarchal structure of the household, the disruption of power caused by the death of her father, the influence her mother had on her life, her relationship with the Indian servants, and the difficulties she endured with her siblings. In addition to this Myers reveals the numerous problems María de San José encountered while trying to become a nun, such as the accumulation of a dowry for her entrance into the convent, the repeated denial of Church fathers concerning her suitability for sisterhood, and her relationship with Don Manuel Fernández de Santa Cruz, the same bishop with whom Sor Juana had come into conflict.

     In Word from New Spain Myers has developed a cohesive and comprehensive pattern for investigation into the life and works of religious women writers of the colonial period. The fine introduction, accuracy of the textual transcription, a process described in detail by the editor, and the accompanying bibliographical essay on early autobiographical writings in Spanish American convents assure the success of this volume and make it a valuable tool for both students and scholars of colonial studies that focus on women in the New World.

Julie Greer Johnson         
University of Georgia         


           Parra, Teresa de la. Iphigenia: the diary of a young lady who wrote because she was bored. Trans. Bertie Acker. Introd. Naomi Lindstrom, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993. xvii + 354 pp. ISBN 0292715706.

     Iphigenia: the diary of a young lady who wrote because she was bored is a translation of Teresa de la Parra's scandalously successful _Ifigenia: diario de una señorita que escribió porque se fastidiaba (1924). Considering that seven decades have elapsed since the publication of Iphigenia, Naomi Lindstrom's Introduction and Bertie Acker's Translator's Note are particularly helpful in contextualizing the novel. Lindstrom focuses on the feminine qualities attributed to Ana Teresa Parra Sanojo's writing, despite shifts from the more frivolous journalistic pieces to the proto-feminist stance of the novel. After alluding to the impact of serialization -the chapters appeared simultaneously in Spanish and French-language literary magazines- Lindstrom dwells on a common misperception, the slippage between author and protagonist, which often arises from the choice of a first person narrator. Discussion of protagonist María Eugenia's feminism leads to the comparison with Euripides' Iphigenia. Lindstrom concludes by reviewing possible sources of the negative criticism which tainted the critical reception of the text until the resurgence of feminism in the 1960's led to its rediscovery as a work of social criticism (Lindstrom, xiii).

     Similarly, Bertie Acker counterpoints instances of international recognition such as the annual prize of ten thousand francs given by the [Parisian] Casa Editora Franco-Ibero-Americana, the two translations into French, the support of the Generation of '98 and the praise of Miguel de Unamuno in Spain, to the hostile reception of the outraged public opinion in Venezuela. Despite the accusation that de la Parra was undermining the morals of young women (Acker, xv) the novel was, and continues to be, incredibly popular. The discrepancies among the numerous editions published over seventy years lead the translator to ponder over the question of authenticity in light of the missing original manuscript (Acker xv-xvi).

     Among other factors, the continued success of Iphigenia may be due to the generic conventions of the novel of development. Given the ambiguity of the protagonist's ironic stance, however, de la Parra's [failed?] female Bildungsroman also speaks to those who would opt for bourgeois respectability. Similarly, as a Künstlerroman, Iphigenia not only represents the development of a [female] writer, but also includes a measure of self-reflexivity in that the protagonist provides a fictionalized account of her quest for selfhood. Moreover, in addition to emulating literary models, the protagonist casts herself in a series of roles which foreshadow the parodic stance of the masquerade. Contemporary readers may be fascinated by the rendition of the construction of the subjectivity of a turn-of-the-century Caraqueña. This hermeneutic approach may focus on the depiction of Venezuelan mores, race relations, social stratification, etc. It may also revolve around the question of feminism, particularly in regard to the adaptation of European concepts in Spanish America. [300]

     Readers still feel disappointed at María Eugenia's failure to turn her back on the hypocritical mores of her relatives. The ongoing debate certainly proves the power of de la Parra's ambiguously ironic narrator. Yet, the issue of whether or not María Eugenia made the right choice, considering her alternatives, becomes a moot point given her thorough analysis of the predicament of contemporary [white, middle-class] Venezuelan women. De la Parra heightens the tragic nature of the protagonist's sacrifice by making her fully cognizant of her participation in her own victimization.

     Bertie Acker took on the formidable challenge of recreating periodization, characterization and local color. The fact that we get a feel for de la Parra's style is a measure of the translator's success. Perhaps the proof lies in the reader's absorption in the riveting turns of the melodramatic dénouement, where Acker rises to the occasion in her elegant rendition of the passionately romantic exchanges. Bertie Acker's fine translation is timely in that it significantly broadens de la Parra's audience, allowing for renewed interest in the debates that Iphigenia continues to spawn.

Cynthia Tompkins         
Arizona State University West         


           Rodríguez, Jeanette. Our Lady of Guadalupe: Faith and Empowerment among Mexican-American Women. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994. 227 pp. ISBN 0292770618 Cloth, 1292770626 Paper.

     In the powerful and moving preface to her book, Jeanette Rodríguez, an anthropologist of Ecuadorian descent, reveals her own identity as a researcher, believer, second-generation Latina in U.S. society, and mother. She literally opens-up with the initial pages by sharing her personal dream about monks stealing a mural with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The dream leaves her in tears, but also empowers her to write a book and disseminate its secret. Oneiric images invoke the sensation of some powerful institution -the Catholic Church perhaps- who wants to appropriate Guadalupe's icon, and yet, this becomes impossible, because there is certain truth that Our Lady of Guadalupe incarnates and that cannot be suppressed. By introducing her own voice in such an explicit and intimate way, Rodríguez elegantly overcomes some of the most ardent problems of anthropology related to the power of representation and authority.

     The intent of Rodríguez's interdisciplinary study is to show that Guadalupe, in spite of some cultural readings, is not affirming and encouraging female passivity. On the contrary, she is the maternal divine figure who empowers and nourishes those who believe in her. Rodríguez, aware of current feminist debates, is very quick to explain her use of the term power: she rejects the notion of having the power over as a patriarchal concept and substitutes having power with.

     Before presenting the scientific findings of her study, Rodríguez summarizes the cultural context of the Spanish conquest in its collision with the Aztec civilization. The alleged 1531 appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe is looked at through the prism of race, class, and gender oppression. She offers both Christian and Nahuatl interpretations in order to facilitate the understanding of the importance of the event for their future, transculturated descendants. After discussing the icon of the apparition itself, Rodríguez examines the figure of a christianized Indian Juan Diego who encountered the Virgin. Importantly, the influence of Anglo-American culture over mestizos is never underestimated nor neglected. Furthermore, Rodríguez rightfully sees Mexican American women, who are the focus of this study, as double mestizas: culturally and ethnically.

     The sample that Rodríguez selects for her study is surprisingly small: only twenty women. Although she explicitly states that her purpose is to investigate the experience of Mexican-American women in relation to Our Lady of Guadalupe, to determine if a relationship existed and, if so, to establish the nature of it, she nonetheless assumes the popularity and wide dissemination of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In those terms, it seems counterproductive to choose such a small number of participants, especially considering the fairly simple and short questionnaire. The Mexican-American women selected for the study had to be young (22-30 years of age), married mothers for whom Our Lady of Guadalupe was part of their religious experience. They also had to speak English. It is, however, quite puzzling that Rodríguez chose the participants of the study on the basis of their pre-expressed acceptance of the symbol in research whose purpose is to establish if the relationship with that same symbol existed.

     Each of the participants in the study filled out a demographic questionnaire which established their economic, social, and cultural status. The results of this section show that none of the participants have higher education, and that the [301] average education was 12.1 years. Only one of the participants identified Our Lady of Guadalupe as a priority in comparison to other religious beliefs, such as Christ and God. Participants also wrote a personal reflection inspired by observing the provided image of Guadalupe. Most of the group identified her as a mother type or someone to be prayed to, but significantly only four women mentioned the strength that the image of Guadalupe offers them. Later, the women were given a list of 300 adjectives from which they were supposed to choose those that, according to their opinion, described Our Lady of Guadalupe. The two highest rated qualities show that they see her as the ideal self and as the nurturing parent. The final part of the research is related to the taped interviews in which the women explained their written accounts.

     Rodríguez's inspirational study is, without a doubt, ground breaking in the sense that it explores an issue that has not been treated yet. A long pastoral experience of the author along with her study of psychology complement the small number of the participants in the group. This study definitely deepens our knowledge of acculturation of Mexican-American women.

Ksenija Bilbija         
University of Wisconsin-Madison         


           Sapega, Ellen W. Ficções Modernistas. Um estudo da obra em prosa de José de Almada Negreiros 1915-1925. Lisboa: Ministério da Educação, 1992. 139 pp.

     In Entre lo uno y lo diverso: Introducción a la Literatura comparada (1985), Claudio Guillén puts Almada Negreiros (1893-1970) in the company of the best-known double or multiple artists in history, a company that includes Michelangelo, William Blake, Hans Arp, and Henri Michaux. In his native Portugal, however, his paintings, illustrations, and sculpture have always taken precedence over his writing. Lip service is often paid to his handful of modernist titles, but adequate critical study and interpretation has gone largely elsewhere. Such classics of Modernism as the fable-parable O Cágado (1921), the novella A Engomadeira (written in 1915, published in 1917), and the novel Nome de Guerra (written in 1925, published in 1938) have played second-fiddle, if sheer amount of critical writing is an indication, to the writings of Fernando Pessoa and his various heteronyms.

     Ellen Sapega's studies are a welcome step in the attempt to establish the basis for a more equitable reckoning. The book surveys the corpus of Almada's innovative fiction (following an introductory chapter that serves to place Almada in the context of European modernism) in five compact chapters that proceed from the valid assumption that Almada was, in effect, o primeiro escritor português deste século a ousar incorporar, na ficção, uma visão narrativa característica da modernidade, na qual se destacam as ironias implícitas num mundo que se presenta so artista como radicalmente fragmentado (13). Not only does Almada lead the way in grappling with notions of subjectivity in its new and sometimes unidentified relationships with the experience of the real, but his fictional experiments led him to a sense of personal subjectivity that would guide his productive life after 1925.

     A Engomadeira and K4 O Quadrado Azul are most intelligibly read within the intelligence offered by the sensacionista ideas formulated by Almada's coeval and fellow-collaborator in Orpheu and Portugal Futurista, Fernando Pessoa. Answers to narrative questions raised by these two novellas are arrived at in the fables O Cágado and O homem que não sabe escrever (the latter rescued from the Artigos no Diário de Lisboa volume of the Obras Completas -the third, for which Ellen Sapega wrote the preface). Here the author points to Almada's discovery of ingenuousness as the future engine for much of his work. Put another way, these parables demonstrate the strong Almadean idea, if they do so obliquely, that modern man must or had best recognize the sanity of pre-logical apprehension of things. Nome de Guerra is approached as a culminating retrospective summary of Almada's major fictional interests in the ten or so years of his significant literary activity (1915-1925), one which results in a new but constructive literary impasse marking the end of the author's career as fiction writer.

     This nuanced, attentive reading of Almada's always engaging fiction in the context of the modernism he did so much to shape and define should attract further serious attention to the writings of an artist-writer whose place in literature must be defined both within twentieth-century Portuguese culture and well beyond that culture. Whether he had talent (not genius), as the puckish Fernando Pessoa once said, Almada must be given his due as one of the great multiple artists of the modern era.

George Monteiro         
Brown University [302]         


      Schmidhuber, Guillermo. El teatro mexicano en cierne, 1922-1938. New York: Peter Lang, 1992. 223 pp.

     This book, the first in the Taft Memorial Fund and University of Cincinnati Series in Latin American and U.S. Latino Theatre, is important because it clarifies the actual significance of those influences, drama troupes and dramatists which took part in the formation of the modern theatre in Mexico. During the course of his study, Schmidhuber convincingly dispels misconceptions that were perpetrated by some of the key players in this drama of drama and that, for more than half a century, have concealed the reality of this theatre's personal and group dynamics.

     As the author aptly proves, the sixteen years from 1922 to 1938 are the formative years of the nation's modern theatre: 1922 marks the beginning of Mexico's first stable theatre group and, 1938 is the year Usigli wrote El Gesticulador, the drama that provided the dramatic esthetic that was to inspire subsequent generations.

     The study, which is essentially chronological in its development, discusses the three principal dramatic currents prominent in Mexico during the 1920s and 1930s: the traditional theatre heavily indebted to Spanish influence; the theatre Schmidhuber terms the mexicanista; and the experimental or vanguard, particularly that of French and Italian (Pirandello) influences. One of the more useful results of the analysis, itself a product of the author's years of study of the plays written during this period, is his conclusion that, throughout its development, there are three dramatic constants that changed only as experimentation brought new ways of making theatre: gender/style, structure, and theme. The reader should not be tempted to make light of the foregoing because only one who has actually read the works written and produced in Mexico during this time could justify this claim, and only after having verified that all other dramatic elements are useless for a consistent, meaningful analysis of the evolution of this drama during the years in question. From the beginning of his work, Schmidhuber resorts to a clever formulaic representation of these constants in order to aid the reader's comprehension of the changes in the plays under discussion.

     Some of the most revealing portions of the study are documents and commentary that prove that the Comedia Mexicana and the Grupo de los Siete Autores essentially worked for the same end -that, despite disparaging criticism of the former group by dramatists such as Villaurrutia, Novo and C. Gorostiza, there was little difference in the number and types of works these two groups actually staged. After dispelling the supposed differences of these two groups, Schmidhuber provides a detailed commentary on Teatro de Ulises, including the insights of its principal proponents concerning the group's vanguardist identity; thereafter the author brings to light, for the first time, the important contributions of Teatro de Orientación, the culmination of the experimental movement in the first third of this century in Mexico, and of a parallel movement, the Post-romantic. The latter and its significance also have not been mentioned in previous studies of this theatre.

     After 138 pages devoted to individuals and groups, the author devotes the remaining fifty-eight pages of text to Usigli, his work in general, and in particular to El gesticulador in which previously existing influences and traditions meld into the work that, more than any other, is the pioneer drama of the modern Mexican theatre. This study concludes with the reminder that, despite their coming together in Usigli's drama of César Rubio, the three traditions that preceded the 1938 composition have continued to play separate roles in Mexico's theatre during the second half of this century.

     The five chapters of El teatro mexicano en cierne, 1922-1938 conclude with seven pages of Bibliografía dramática, three pages of Apéndice Bibliográfico (La crítica y el teatro mexicano), six pages of Bibliografía crítica, and the Índice onomástico y de grupos. The reader's own conclusion will surely be favorable. Schmidhuber's study is well written, to the point, and, undeniably, a unique contribution.

Robert J. Morris         
Lander University         


           Taylor, Kathy. The New Narrative of Mexico: Sub-Versions of History in Mexican Fiction. Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1994.185 pp. ISBN 0838752667.

     A real artist in any field of endeavor makes the performance of a task appear easy. Kathy Taylor demonstrates such artistry in her recent book, The New Narrative of Mexico: Sub-Versions of History in Mexican Fiction. Although she has chosen to study some of the most intellectually demanding works of contemporary Mexican fiction, she has managed to make their explication appear effortless. Thoughtfully conceived [303] and artfully executed, Taylor's book explores the nebulous boundary between story and history, offering many valuable in sights to the readers of these complex novels.

     Taylor examines four works: La noche de Tlatelolco (Elena Poniatowska, 1971); Testimonios sobre Mariana (Elena Garro, 1981); Morirás lejos (José Emilio Pacheco, 1967); and Pretexta (Federico Campbell, 1979). Besides the chapters devoted to these works, the book includes an introduction and conclusion, a bibliographical appendix (a list of works on Tlatelolco), a list of works cited, and an index. The extensive notes on each chapter reflect one of the strengths of her study: her ability to incorporate the theories of a great variety of authors (from literary critics to social historians, novelists to psychologists) and apply them to the works under consideration. This is not just literary name-dropping; the comments of these diverse authors prove to be instructive in the context of Taylor's observations. Another plus is that Taylor's language is refreshingly free of the complicated jargon which travels as excess baggage in much of contemporary criticism. When she does create a new term (periosia, her name for the hybridization of poetry and journalism), the neologism seems justified, not gratuitous.

     In her introductory chapter, Taylor finds the model for Latin American testimonial narrative in the chronicles of the Conquest, which were literary creations as well as historical accounts. The mestizo character of this literature, which fictionalized the chroniclers as protagonists of their own history, is seen also in the novels of the Mexican Revolution. In these, The writer as reporter, historian, and novelist adds to his observations of the events, the organization, interpretation, and style appropriate to his individual sensibility, the social context in which he writes, and the corresponding effect that he hopes to create (16).

     In La noche de Tlatelolco, Poniatowska performs these multiple functions by applying novelistic structure to a historical event, the Tlatelolco massacre of 1968. Skillfully weaving together fragments of oral and written documents (the students' chants, newspaper reports, eyewitness accounts, placards, poems, etc.), the author creates a verbal tapestry (26). Taylor's explanation of the way in which Poniatowska exercises the prerogatives of the fiction writer in the selection and use of raw testimony is the high point of her excellent analysis.

     Testimonios sobre Mariana is, by contrast, an inversion of La noche de Tlatelolco. It is not a testimonial novel, but rather a novel in the form of three testimonies given by friends and lovers of the mysterious Mariana. Since there is no master narrator to unify the three versions, the reader must assume the role of detective to try to determine their historical accuracy. As Taylor explains, the three narratives should, like the sides of a triangle, define a space where the true Mariana exists, but this space ultimately remains empty, for the reader remains unable to create a coherent image of the character.

     In the discussion of Morirás lejos, Taylor shows the author's struggle with an ethical and artistic dilemma: how does one write the (hi)story of Jewish persecution so that the atrocities of the past will not be repeated? Pacheco's answer, as Taylor interprets it, is to write a novel of synchronization between past and present, history and fiction, social responsibility and artistic experimentation (91). Through the textual juxtaposition of events belonging to different eras, Pacheco alerts the reader to historical parallels and the potential for these incidents to recur in the present.

     Of the four works under consideration, Campbell's Pretexta most directly confronts the role of the writer as historian, since the novel's protagonist has been hired by the government to fabricate a phony biography of an outspoken journalist. By linguistically deconstructing the word pretexta, Taylor elucidates the metaphor of the text as a weaving in which the protagonist-writer combines various narrative threads to produce an artistic whole. She concludes that each sub-version of history thus created represents to some degree a subversion of some other official story.

     Like the authors whose works she so successfully illuminates, Taylor has artfully woven threads from many sources to create her own tapestry of words, an important contribution to the criticism of these very complex works.

Susan Dennis         
Texas A&M University         


           Vargas Llosa, Mario. El pez en el agua. Barcelona: Editorial Seix Barral, 1993. 541 pp. ISBN 8432206792.

     In 1990 Vargas Llosa was the leading candidate for the Peruvian presidency, but he lost to Alberto Fujimori. His memoir, El pez en el agua, consists of twenty chapters, the even-numbered ones chronicling the events of the campaign and the odd-numbered ones narrating the author's [304] life from 1936, the year of his birth, to 1958, when he left his native land.

     Although Vargas Llosa devotes more pages to the political campaign than to his personal life, many of his readers will be intrigued by bits of information they may not have known previously. Until he was ten, the author had been led to believe that his father was dead. Then, one day, his mother announced that he was going to meet his father that very afternoon. The shock was intensified when the heretofore pampered child came face to face with the rigidly authoritarian figure that would change his life forever. Much has been written about Vargas Llosa's Freudian rejection of his father, but what we read here elicits our sympathy for him and makes us question his mother's judgment in returning to the man she had divorced. A positive result of the relationship, however, is Vargas Llosa's choice of a literary career, a choice made in part because he knew it would displease his father.

     The Peruvian author was propelled into the political arena in August 1987 when Alan García, Peru's APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana) president, announced his decision to nationalize the country's banks. Strongly opposed to this move, Vargas Llosa soon found himself leading thousands of angry citizens against the unpopular García. His Frente Democrático (also called Movimiento Libertad) soon emerged as a coalition with two other parties, Acción Popular and Partido Popular Cristiano, and as Vargas Llosa readily admits, his decision to unite with these parties, which together with APRA were blamed for the nation's disastrous economic decline, may have alienated many voters. Thus, although Vargas Llosa did indeed advocate change -a free-market economy, privatization of nationally owned industries, fundamental reforms in education, and reduced government spending- he was viewed by many Peruvians as a traditional, right-wing, upper-class politician. Still, Vargas Llosa was well ahead of his opponents until approximately ten days before the election (April 8, 1990), when Fujimori began to make astonishing gains. Billing himself as an outsider (Jimmy Carter comes to mind), this dark horse immediately captured the imagination of voters, especially among the lower classes. When on election day it became evident that the necessary segunda vuelta would produce a Fujimori victory (the leftist parties would undoubtedly join together), Vargas Llosa offered to cede the election to his opponent in the hope that the latter would adopt some of his economic policies. However, he soon discovered that Fujimori had been thrust into the campaign as García's testaferro to prevent Vargas Llosa's imminent victory.

     During the weeks before the second election (June 10), negative information surfaced on Fujimori (his authoritarian behavior as president of an agrarian university and the ludicrously low taxes he had negotiated on his extensive real estate holdings). But the vicious accusations leveled against Vargas Llosa go well beyond the pale. Indeed, one might conjecture that the calumny he was subjected to explains his decision, shortly after the election, to become a Spanish citizen.

     Admirers of Vargas will, after reading this memoir, admire him even more. Brilliant, scrupulously honest and forthright, and for this reviewer unquestionably the best qualified candidate, he may have lost because he was too frank with the electors, telling them exactly what was needed to solve the problems plaguing Peru. In his bid for a job he never really wanted, he threw himself heart and soul, often at great personal risk, into the campaign, studying all the issues, visiting every corner of Peru, and traveling to Asia to learn from the economic successes of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.

     Since the election, Fujimori has adopted some of Vargas Llosa's economic policies, but he has weakened the democratic process by assuming dictatorial powers. The Peruvian electorate erred and is now suffering the consequences. Clearly and elegantly written, El pez en el agua masterfully describes the violence, the political corruption, and the rampant hypocrisy of journalists and intellectuals polluting the moral atmosphere of a nation in peril. It is one of the most fascinating and informative nonfiction books published in the Hispanic world in recent years.

George R. McMurray         
Colorado State University         


           Con leal franqueza: correspondencia entre Alfonso Reyes y Genaro Estrada. I: 1916- 1927; compilación y notas de Serge I. Zäitzeff. México: El Colegio Nacional, 1992. 485 pp. ISBN 9686664615.

     Muchas colecciones epistolares que no tienen finalidad literaria, ensayística o confesional adolecen inmerecidamente de gran desdén de parte de un lectorado culto. Se les considera a menudo centones o inventarios de comunicaciones [305] que interesan sólo a un público marginal o muy específico. Se olvida con frecuencia que no es el asunto de la correspondencia sino el elemento humano y la personalidad de los corresponsales lo que muchas veces confiere valor primario a las misivas. La compilación que aquí se reseña, integrada por cartas oficiales, pliegos personales y notas confidenciales entre dos afamados escritores y diplomáticos mexicanos, son prueba de que la comunicación escrita no literaria puede despertar gran interés por su valor documental y anecdótico.

     En el mundo hispanohablante se conoce bien la figura del polígrafo Alfonso Reyes como para ocuparnos de su biobibliografía en esta recensión. El otro corresponsal, Genaro Estrada (1887-1937), no es tan renombrado. Su actividad literaria, a pesar de que en una de sus cartas confiesa -insinceramente, a todas luces-: detesto la literatura (132), se orientó principalmente hacia la novela, la poesía y el artículo literario. Es mucho más conocido, sin embargo, por su actividad docente, su interés en la fundación de revistas literarias, por haber sido inspirador y autor de una colección de manuales bibliográficos y de treinta y nueve volúmenes del impresionante Archivo Histórico Diplomático Mexicano y, sobre todo, por su notable actividad diplomática en su país y en varios Ministerios mexicanos de Europa y Asia. Como subsecretario en el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de México, Estrada fue informante, consejero y confidente de Alfonso Reyes, sobre todo durante las gestiones diplomáticas de éste en Madrid y París. Paralelamente, como lo confiesa Estrada, Reyes fue su confesor laico, caja fuerte y archivo secreto (257).

     Esta sabrosa compilación de intercambios entre los mencionados escritores, debida a la labor del Prof. Zäitzeff, de la Universidad de Calgary, en Alberta, Canadá, nos entrega una bien organizada y anotada correspondencia. Ya hemos categorizado su naturaleza: comunicaciones diplomáticas, notas semiburocráticas, y papeles personales. Por las primeras, nos enteramos de la intrahistoria política de un período dramático de la vida de México: la de los últimos años de la Revolución de 1910 y la institucionalización de la misma bajo los presidentes Obregón y Calles. No obstante, cabe observar que la Revolución apenas si se nombra o alude en todas esas misivas; sólo se presupone. Ambos corresponsales vivieron en su diplomática torre de marfil, ajenos, a pesar de ser funcionarios de rango, a los avatares, grupos e intereses del conflicto revolucionario. Este segmento diplomático está redactado en estilo y léxico, obviamente, oficiales, aunque dista mucho de tener el tono árido y escueto de la burocracia.

     Aquí siempre asoma la maestría y el calor humano de la pluma de ambos escritores. Aún en los informes administrativos aparece el literato. Esto se adecúa bien a la antigua práctica de los países hispánicos de poner en manos de escritores y artistas las representaciones diplomáticas. Más interesantes son las notas semiburocráticas y, especialmente, las cartas y notas personales. Sorprende, a la vez, que Estrada y Reyes nunca hubiesen empleado el tuteo, a pesar de que, como ya se señaló, fueron grandes amigos. Asombran también los epítetos chuscos con que iniciaban y despedían sus mutuas cartas: gordo de mi alma, mi querido gordo, gordo imponderable, Genarísimo mío, lechón impar, gordo inexplicable, Buda de su propio ombligo, y otros semejantes. No deja de extrañar este recurso en escritores de gran renombre, pero se debe saber que su amistad fue desenfadada, leal y franca, (de aquí el título de esta compilación) y que ambos eran bastante proclives a lo socarrón y humorístico, especialmente Reyes.

     Las notas íntimas y confidenciales, muchas signadas con la admonición hay que leer y romper, (que obvia y afortunadamente los destinatarios no lo hicieron, con probable perjuicio para los remitentes), son las que tocan la cuerda más confesional. Ésta es más viva en Reyes: la queja, la murmuración, el maquiavelismo diplomático, la añoranza de México o de Europa, la estrechez financiera, la aventurilla extramarital, el celo literario y otras más. Estos papeles son también de gran importancia por la información que proporcionan sobre la situación, movimientos y figuras de la inteligentsia mexicana de la época. Por estas páginas desfilan Nervo, Urbina, Vasconcelos, González Martínez, Icaza, Torri, los Henríquez Ureña, M.L. Guzmán, Siqueiros, Rivera y muchos más. Podría afirmarse que el canon literario del Ateneo de la Juventud y de Contemporáneos fue establecido en esta correspondencia.

     El contenido de esta compilación epistolar es, temáticamente, una interesante y valiosa combinación de historia, autobiografía, literatura y política. Importa indicar que el compilador de esta colección, mexicanista de renombre, es también colector y editor de otros cuerpos epistolares: comunicaciones entre Alfonso Reyes y Rafael Cabrera; Alfonso Reyes y Xavier Icaza; Xavier Icaza y Genaro Estrada; Xavier Icaza y Carlos Díaz Dufóo; Manuel Toussaint y Alfonso [306] Reyes; Antonio Castro Leal y Alfonso Reyes. Todas estas colecciones muestran las mismas características de la presente: organización, acuciosidad y excelente labor en sus prefacios y notas críticas y biobibliográficas. El compilador ha añadido otro meritorio eslabón a su tarea de colector y analista de la correspondencia de varias de las más importantes personalidades literarias del México de la primera mitad del siglo que está por fenecer.

Roberto Bravo         
Texas Tech University         


Linguistics and Pedagogy

           Brown, Joan L., and Carmen Martín Gaite. Conversaciones creadoras. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company, 1994.247 pp. ISBN 0669173746.

     Conversaciones Creadoras is a conversation textbook aimed at intermediate level Spanish-speakers that emphasizes increasing language productivity in Spanish through active participation in simulated conversation situations within specific cultural contexts. Each of the twelve chapters consists of nine parts: Notas Culturales, two short cultural readings; Vocabulario básico, twenty-five vocabulary items selected by the authors as fundamental; Práctica del vocabulario básico; Conversación creadora, the incomplete dialogue that serves as the point of departure for student mini-dramas; Comprensión strives to focus students' formulation of their conclusion to the dialogue; Escenas, four situations with conflicts to be acted out in pairs; Más actividades creadoras, oral and written activities to further practice the chapter's vocabulary and cultural topic; and Vocabulario útil, lists of additional vocabulary related to the chapter's topic.

     The authors present a text that focuses on a learner-centered approach in which the Conversación creadora in each chapter is featured as an unfinished dialogue to which students create and act out their own conclusions. Each creative conversation takes place in a different country allowing for exposure to differences in culture and language. Perhaps in an attempt to over generalize to students, the voseo is misidentified as a form of 'tú' (194). Identified as a model of authentic Spanish, the dialogue should not be confused as a copy of an actual dialogue or authentic reading. Nevertheless, the conversaciones are generally entertaining and succeed in engendering a functional conflict that can be parlayed into a dialogue by students (e.g. trying to persuade a visitor to Spain to see a bullfight, 152-153). Some flexibility from the tedium of performing twelve dramas is offered by the authors as a change of pace in their thorough chapter-by-chapter teaching suggestions sections, such as having students report how they would conclude the drama.

     Another positive attribute of the text is the introduction to each chapter with two short cultural readings, one on an aspect of Latin America and the other on Spain. These informative, although predictably generalized (especially for Latin America), author-generated readings serve to introduce the chapter's topic, e.g., sports, health, restaurants, or university life, within the context of culture. The questions for the realia, in the form of Mapas o documentos, as well as the Notas culturales function more as identification checks than as a spark for starting conversation. The comprehension check questions for the Notas culturales are only in the teacher's edition. Additional questions, perhaps as a pre-reading exercise, within the student text might have served well to stimulate students' thought toward further discussion of the topic. Black and white reproductions of ads appear sporadically in the text, always linked to the theme or function of the chapter, but with no exercises or suggestions for using them.

     Perhaps inspired by the trend in total production testing such as included in the ACTFL Oral Proficiency exams, a strong feature of the text is the inclusion of plentiful, imaginative situations for paired work in each chapter. Students select from four scenes, allowing for individual selection and the ability to avoid scenes containing sex-related roles which may not be possible for role-play due to a class make-up and roles with which some may not identify well such as pretending to be a child fearful of hospitals (136), or a conservative middle-aged physician (135).

     Active vocabulary, presented in English translations, is limited to twenty-five items which are tested in a variety of challenging practices that include selection of antonyms, matching definitions, and crossword puzzles. Answers to these and other exercises are occasionally ambiguous (32, 167, 219). As per the goal of also seeking cultural competence, region-specific vocabulary is annotated although en seguida is tested as an antonym of luego (190) whereas in much of Latin America it is a synonym. The Vocabulario útil at the end of each chapter is a necessary addition for student performances. [307] One caveat, the list may consist of up to one-hundred forty-four items (139-143). Although most vocabulary can be identified within the semantic field related to a chapter, the lack of a glossary in the text is strongly noted. Students are advised to bring a dictionary to class.

     Brown and Martín Gaite are successful in achieving a highly learner-centered conversation textbook that stresses conversation through specific cultural contexts and functions. The incorporation of a clear discussion of the authors' teaching philosophy, ideas for evaluation, and specific teaching suggestions is invaluable. Personal expression is de-emphasize due to the focus on learning through simulated scenarios and there are few opportunities for narration or speaking in the past. Nevertheless, the plentiful and varied material offers a necessary flexibility for instructors to select activities that may appeal better to individual interests and knowledge. In conclusion, this text has much to offer with its emphasis on learner-created role-plays and activities that require students' imagination and creativity.

Dianne Hobbs         
Virginia Tech         


             González, Trinidad and Joseph Farrel. Composición práctica. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1994. 264 pp. ISBN 047158486x.

     This text, as advertised, focuses on the teaching of practical writing skills. The twelve chapters are organized to take students from the level of sentence formation and paragraph writing (chapters 1 through 4) to more complex writing tasks. Chapter 5 deals with the language of advertising to teach students how to create an effect, to motivate or to convince. The next three chapters are particularly well-organized. They provide a thorough analysis, with excellent, authentic examples of the process of writing invitations, personal notes and letters and business correspondence. Chapters 9 and 10 focus on narrative and descriptive writing respectively. Chapter 11 teaches how to write summaries while the last chapter applies many of the writing techniques previously presented to the development of an expository essay.

     In addition, there is a very useful introductory chapter which provides excellent advice and practical exercises on how to use Spanish and bilingual dictionaries. At the end of the text the authors have provided five very functional appendices covering syllabification and diphthongs, accents, capitalization, and punctuation and, for the rare teacher of composition without one, there is a correction key. An Instructor's Manual is available upon request. The only practical writing topic not covered is the preparation of a research paper with the attendant documentation according to the MLA or APA format.

     Each chapter is structured so as to demonstrate and teach a specific writing skill and is divided into the following sections: Objectives identifies the specific writing task to be learned; Para hablar de tema provides a brief vocabulary list related to the chapter theme and specific writing focus; Análisis describes the process of developing the writing skill, Para escribir mejor reproduces authentic writing models and prewriting exercises; Estructuras en acción focuses on one grammar point specifically related to the writing task; A la prueba suggests themes and additional vocabulary for the final writing project. The chapter topics deal with practical situations and the vocabulary selection allows students to gain proficiency in writing about subjects they will need to address in real-life situations.

     As, a composition text, the book is very complete. However, for second-year college courses combining grammar review and composition, it does not provide a complete review of grammar. It does not include an overall review of the tense system, the use of certain verbs to indicate probability, conditional/contrary-to-fact sentences, prepositions (including por and para), nor does it include the use of ser and estar with past participles.

     While the authors do not pretend to include a complete review of grammar as a text component, the level of grammatical sophistication will determine the types of courses it may be used for. For example, chapter 6 introduces the use of the conditional tense and imperfect subjunctive to soften requests but does not discuss their practical application to writing conditional sentences. The presentation of ser and estar does not include an explanation of the use of these verbs with past participles. Both of these grammatical structures are necessary to achieve a certain level of syntactic complexity in writing.

     This text is appropriate for advanced high school courses and may be adapted for use in second year college classes with a specific composition component. The grammar explanations it provides for the subjunctive in the subordinate clause, the preterite-imperfect and other grammar issues are very good. It does not simply repeat the old prescriptive rules but provides thorough, linguistically accurate description of [308] grammar function.

     The text is written in Spanish at a level an educated writer would use. It will certainly enable teachers to help students learn how to produce the kinds of writing they are likely to need in their everyday social and professional lives.

Jack B. Jelinski         
Montana State University         


            Schon, Isabel, editor. Review of Contemporary Spanish-Speaking Writers and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults: A Biographical Dictionary. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1994. 248 pp.

      Children's literature, at least in Spanish, has had belated recognition in Hispanic studies within the U.S. Only in 1993 did CLASP (Consortium for Latin American Studies Programs) under the auspices of the Latin American Studies Association establish a book award for children and young adults. The honor is intended for a U.S. author who in English or in Spanish presents the Latin American experience or Latinos in the U.S. in an engaging fashion. Isabel Schon's latest book substantiates the current recognition of literature for this age group within the Hispanic area.

     This dictionary has approximately 200 alphabetically arranged names of contemporary authors and illustrators from the Spanish-speaking world and the United States. Compiled through questionnaires sent to all of the authors abstracted from various of Schon's bibliographies published between 1978 and 1991, the entries include the following information: personal data, address, career, professional organization, awards and honors, bibliography of books written/ illustrated, autobiographical comments, and critical sources. The editor accessed the information through an index to authors; a listing of authors by country provides another point of access.

     The book also serves as a primitive index to the writing of children's literature and its importance in some of the Latin American republics. Spain overwhelms with the largest number of authors; Mexico and Argentina are second and third respectively; Costa Rica and Venezuela each have one author; Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador and Puerto Rico do not appear. There is no explanation for the omission.

     Probably no other American scholar is more appropriate for the task of compiling this reference book than Isabel Schon, director for the Study of Books in Spanish for Children and Adolescents at California State University, San Marcos. An author of children's stories herself, she is also the compiler of at least ten books regarding Hispanic literature of this age group.

     The present biographical dictionary achieves importance as the only one of its kind in English. As U.S. educators flirt with bilingual education and librarians serve a multicultural clientele and the Hispanic population increases, the book becomes indispensable. Schon has done pioneering work especially with the difficult and frustrating task of gathering information through questionnaires. A future edition might be honed to include some of the following: Such key works as the thirty reference books listed in Sheehy's Guide to Reference Books (1986) and its 1992 update alert the user to the structure of the world of children's literature. Latin America and the Caribbean: A Critical Guide to Research Sources (1992), listing four bibliographies for Brazil but none for Spanish America, verifies the underdeveloped nature of children's books in Spanish.

     Several small items might enhance the book. For example, what are the criteria for inclusion? Is one book sufficient to label a writer a children's author? Perhaps an introductory essay regarding the history of this literature in Spanish America might orient the uninitiated. That the present text does not differentiate between writers and illustrators might reflect a reality of publishing where the two talents combine in one individual. Should the distinction be noted in the index or is this a differentiation of no importance? Surely no other form of writing puts author and illustrator in such a symbiotic relationship. Finally, should fiction and nonfiction be noted in separate categories? It seems that adults might have a preference here in selection. The critical sources, at times noting a periodical but no dates, frustrate the search for more information on the writer under study. These suggestions could be incorporated into a second edition of this work

     Schon makes us aware of a new field. The presence of Contemporary Spanish-speaking Writers and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults deserves praise. It caters to a population of Hispanics in the U.S. in need of such a resource.

Richard D. Woods         
Trinity University         


            Serrano, Juan, and Susan Serrano. Spanish Verbs: Ser and Estar. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1992. 217 pp. [309]

     Few languages so early in the learning sequence present the American learner with such a puzzle as does Spanish ser and estar. Just at the time that teachers wish to gently induct students into the language, the problem of ser and estar looms up, and must be dealt with in however simplified a way. Later, in the learning sequence, ser and estar again and again return problematically. Many non-native teachers of Spanish are a little vague on the topic of ser and estar, and have never mastered the most subtle and idiomatic uses of the two verbs. Native-speaking teachers are often no better off, while they possess a large store of expressions and uses of ser and estar, they may suffer front an inability to reduce these to generalizations that can be captured by the American student.

     The authors of Ser and Estar subtitle their book Key to Mastering the Language. It is composed of eight chapters, the first four of which are grouped around the goal of understanding ser and estar, the remaining four being seen as helping to master the two verbs. The Serranos view the two verbs as the most fundamental building blocks of the Spanish language and consider that these verbs are revelatory of how the Spanish mind works. The authors correctly allude to the fact that often grammatical explanations of ser and estar are simply wrong as offered by teachers and textbooks, such as the common error of positing a distinction of permanence versus transitoriness between the two verbs. Incorrect invocation of the notion of permanence produces errors such as Juan es siempre ocupado where the siempre leads a student to opt for the supposedly permanent ser. In contrast the Serranos offer a dichotomy of state versus nature, where even a permanent condition such as death remains a state. Thus el café está caliente tells nothing about coffee's inherent characteristic or nature -it refers to the state the coffee is in. Put another way, the Serranos offer a dichotomy that they term whatness versus howness. Hence aunque Pedro es viejo, está joven, in the sense that he is or acts young for what he is -an old man. Similarly es soltero tells us that the man is a bachelor, while está soltero indicates that his situation or state is that of unmarried. This formulation is not really that new; thirty years ago George De Mello's Español contemporáneo split the categories in terms of characteristic (ser) versus condition (estar), essentially the same division as now suggested by the Serranos.

     The Spanish speaker often finds the English lack of a distinction in the copula to be ambiguous, e.g., he is cold could be translated into Spanish by es frío, está frío, tiene frío. Teachers might do well to point this out to our students. In parallel, it might be advisable to expose students to exercises which show that especially estar can be rendered in English by many more forms than just the copula -translations such as to look, to feel, to seem, to become, etc., while in the other direction to be can often be best rendered by verbs such as encontrarse, quedar(se), verse, andar.

     The likely market for this book will be that of teachers and perhaps some graduate students and trainee teachers. If this is so the book might have benefited from a little pruning. For example on page 79 we are offered a description of the passive voice which merely states what would be known to most readers. An interesting recommendation is to imagine a suppressed celebrada in sentences with ser + location of event. La clase es (celebrada) en el quinto piso. This is very useful for instructors, but of limited value in explaining to students, since quite often students come across such uses long before they have studied the Spanish passive voice. In general this book would be a useful purchase for teachers and student teachers, since it offers a truly large store of examples and uses of the two verbs. The text is very inexpensively priced, and is of a decent production quality, with only a very rare typo.

David Barnwell         
University of Guam         


           Williams, Mark. The Story of Spain. Fuengirola: Mirador Publications, 1992. 250 pp. ISBN 8888127049.

     The title of this work prepares us for what it is: a history of Spain, and in this case, interestingly told. The book begins by stating that the basic fact of all Spanish history is the formation of the Straits [sic] of Gibraltar about half a million years ago when water from the Atlantic punched its way through the primeval land bridge between Europe and Africa. The Story of Spain recounts the events of that country's history up to recent times, explaining the impact of those events. Along the way Williams includes anecdotes that reveal the foibles of the rulers. These and more serious weaknesses kept Spain from being a leading power in Europe. A helpful feature of the book is the generous number of small, uncluttered maps that show the various states of the Iberian Peninsula's historical development. Sixteen pages of splendid illustrations [310] include such items as the Altamira cave, El Escorial, historical paintings by Goya, Velázquez, and Picasso, and a photo of Prince Juan Carlos on his way to the ceremony proclaiming him as king.

     Williams offers a rationale for the orthography of both people and place names. He uses the Spanish form, except where he feels confusion might arise, thus Spain and the Canary Islands (not España and Las Islas Canarias), but Sevilla, Zaragoza, and Mallorca rather than the English variations. Throughout the section dealing with antiquity and the early middle ages, the anglicized versions of the names of historical individuals are used... Later, however, the Spanish spellings seem more appropriate. Accents are used erratically, without any obvious reason for omission or inclusion.

     The Story of Spain does not follow the pattern of the usual textbook. There are no questions or exercises, and no footnotes or endnotes to tell us the sources of the book's well-researched material. However, the book can be adapted for classroom use in a course that includes students from other disciplines, or for classes that have not yet attained the expertise to absorb this material in Spanish.

     The author, who did graduate studies in history in both the United States and Spain, has added an unusual feature to this work. At the end of each chapter, he lists Sights and Sites. Here he gives places and sights relating to the era and locations discussed in that chapter. For example, at the end of Chapter 7, The French Century, one of the sixteen sights listed is Salamanca: The Plaza Mayor, built for the city by Felipe V, is among the most beautiful in Spain, designed by the Churriguera brothers. This information would be helpful to anyone planning a study abroad program or an individual trip to Spain. Also useful are the list of suggested readings and the sixteen-page index at the end of the book.

Ruth L. Bennett         
Queens College, CUNY         


New Fiction

           Aparicio, Juan Pedro. La forma de la noche. Madrid: Alfaguara, 1994. 285 pp.

     Una división maniquea de las novelas sobre la Guerra Civil española permitiría colocar a La forma de la noche en un virtuoso término medio, entre las que se ocupan de episodios puntuales desde una perspectiva personal o de un grupo reducido y aquéllas más ambiciosas, que se pretenden crónicas exhaustivas de lo que la contienda significó para todo el país. En esta su cuarta novela, Aparicio se propone no tanto un intento de olvido o reconciliación cuanto una matización del conflicto de las dos Españas, matización basada en la abundancia de episodios en los que la pertenencia a uno u otro bando depende de la casualidad o las necesidades de supervivencia, y otros en los que la fidelidad a la postura adoptada está sujeta a pasiones como la amorosa. A esta categoría pertenece la línea narrativa más desarrollada de la novela: la relación entre Blanca, representante de la alta burguesía ovetense y Chacho, ex-futbolista y combatiente republicano. Estos y otros personajes los retoma Aparicio de su novela anterior (Retratos de ambigú) por lo que la lectura de ambas se complementa y permite anclar en esos personajes lo que de otro modo habría corrido el peligro de quedar en relato disperso y atento a demasiados frentes. La forma de la noche, en efecto, toca muchos de los aspectos de la contienda y se acerca a ellos con distintas estrategias narrativas. Dividida en dos partes, la mayoría de la primera sección se ocupa de Oviedo y el frente asturiano, y la segunda, de extensión muy reducida, de la suerte de Chacho encarcelado en la ciudad de Lot una vez acabada la contienda. La novela se abre el 18 de julio de 1936, día en que unos tigres del circo Franconi se escapan tras un accidente y vagan por tierras asturianas aterrando a la población. Las andanzas de la jauría de fieras comienzan a incorporarse a las escaramuzas de la guerra y se cuentan mezclando la realidad y la imaginación, el odio y el temor. Las ilustraciones sobre episodios del frente que realiza un dibujante de un periódico local sirven de guía en los primeros momentos de la novela. Los dibujos, y con ellos la historia, van de lo cómico a lo trágico, de lo documental a lo grotesco. Con muy buena mano el narrador vuela ligero de uno a otro episodio y nos permite asistir a diversos momentos del sitio de Oviedo, a escuchar los miedos y los razonamientos de miembros de uno y otro bando y a presenciar los estragos de la contienda. Más adelante, el ritmo narrativo se serena y la acción se centra en Chacho, único superviviente de su grupo de milicianos que queda enterrado en un caserón derruido. En el centro de las imaginaciones del personaje inmovilizado, y en el centro de la novela, está su recuerdo del episodio de las dos fuentes, anécdota narrativa que podría servir de emblema de La forma de la noche y su tratamiento literario de disputas y polarizaciones. El niño [311] Chacho es víctima de un debate secular e irresoluble sobre la calidad del agua de las dos fuentes del pueblo e idea una estratagema que le permite ahorrarse caminatas y comprobar la cerrazón y arbitrariedad de los dos bandos. Al final de la obra, Chacho consigue sus deseos valiéndose una vez más de una argucia y aprovechando en la cárcel de Lot lo que la leyenda popular le ha enseñado sobre sí mismo en un final que remite a Retratos de Ambigú. Más ambiciosa y más satisfactoria que esa novela, La forma de la noche confirma el gran talento narrativo de Juan Pedro Aparicio.

Antonio Candau         
Southwest Texas State University         


           Fernández Cubas, Cristina. Con Agatha en Estambul. Barcelona: Tusquets, 1994. 233 pp.

     Since 1980, Cristina Fernández Cubas has published three volumes of short fiction, a novel, and several tales for children. In her most recent collection of stories she again explores problems of identity and perception, foregrounds the insufficiency of logic and rationality, presents unfathomable mysteries and unresolved enigmas, and cultivates the Gothic and the fantastic. Disturbing and unsettling, the adjectives most frequently used in connection with her writing, are applicable to these latest texts.

     Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has identified the unspeakable as one of the preoccupations of Gothic fiction. It is evident in the opening narrative, Mundo, in the relationship of the narrator's father, Doña Eulalia, and Padre José, as well as in the silence of the nuns and the feigned muteness of Madre Perú. The convent which the narrator is forced to enter when she is only fifteen is a Gothic enclosure. The secret drawers of the large trunk (mundo) she brings with her are compared to the convent cells in which the nuns age, lapse into madness, or thirst for revenge. Fernández Cubas highlights female creativity and the art of storytelling, as the nuns embroider table linen, sheets, wedding gowns, and christening dresses for the use of others, Madre Perú carves into the surface of a calabash her history, and the aged Madre Carolina narrates hers to us.

     Problems of meaning and decoding are central in the closing, titular narrative: Con Agatha en Estambul. The action is set in a fog-enshrouded, legendary city and an equally legendary hotel, the Pera Palas, where Agatha Christie stayed during her 1926 disappearance. The narrator, like her counterparts in La ventana del jardín and La Flor de España, vainly tries to decipher what occurs around her, conjecturing, surmising, and (mis)reading behavior and events. Her growing sensation of unreality leads her to doubt the very existence of Istanbul, logic, and her own linguistic ability. She wrestles both with the secrets of the Turkish language and the question of what, if anything, is going on between her husband and the woman who has attached herself to him. The possibility of Julio's infidelity parallels that of Christie's first husband, and the narrator finds herself identifying with Agatha. Unlike Christie's sleuths, who are able to solve the riddles that confront them, Fernández Cubas's protagonist ends by throwing up her hands and happily abandoning herself to the adventure of life. The story is an affectionate tribute to Christie, whose books brightened Fernández Cubas's years in the colegio, and an excellent example of the Spanish writer's sense of humor.

     La mujer de verde is a tale of inescapable destiny, wherein the protagonist's efforts to save someone from death instead precipitate that person's demise. El lugar, with its accounts of acts of possession and dispossession, of this life and the next, of waking and dream experience, is a modern ghost story. The narrator's initial surprise when his strong-willed bride decides to abandon her studies of law turns into acceptance when she explains that she has now found her place in the world, with him. Complications arise, however, when she requests to be buried in his family's vault, so as to assure herself of a place in the next world as well. Ausencia, written in the second person singular, features a temporary loss of memory that affords Elena the opportunity for self-knowledge and a momentary respite from her customary dissatisfaction with life.

     Like Fernández Cubas's previous fiction, these five tales demonstrate her preference for first-person narration, her ability to create characters who are interesting psychological studies, her penchant for ambiguity, uncertainty, and elliptical narration, and her talent for constructing puzzles that the reader must attempt to piece together. The opening and closing stories figure among the best that she has written to date.

Kathleen M. Glenn         
Wake Forest University         


           Giardinelli, Mempo. El castigo de Dios (Cuentos). Buenos Aires: Tesis-Grupo Editorial [312] Norma, 1993. 198 pp.

     El castigo de Dios, Mempo Giardinelli's most recent collection of stories, contains twenty-two short narratives that vary in length from three to nine pages, and one long story, the last of the volume, of some forty pages. All the stories but one (Carlitos Dancing Bar, set in Brazil) take place in the extreme northeastern Argentine provinces of Formosa, Chaco and Corrientes, the region of Giardinelli's childhood and adolescent years, familiar to readers of many of his previous short narratives and his novels La revolución en bicicleta (1980), Luna caliente (1983) and Santo oficio de la memoria (1991).

     Though the setting is provincial, the stories of El castigo de Dios are diverse in theme and universal in scope. Two stories, Nadie va a creer esto and La gente no sabe lo que hace, have strong science fiction elements. Others, such as Naturaleza muerta con odio, Jeannie Miller and Luminoso amarillo, are powerful denunciations of social inequities, racial bigotry and human exploitation. A sense of humor ranging from dry irony to physical slapstick is evident in many of the stories. Zapatos and Turcos, in particular, are noteworthy for their irony and humorous approach to the serious topic of marital and domestic strife.

     The juxtaposition of dissimilar narratives holds the reader's interest and curiosity. For example, the somber tale of a tense and emotional encounter of a group of ex-prisoners from the era of the military government with a musician whom they recognize as one of their former torturers (Kilómetro 11) follows a whimsical fantasy of a kissing machine that requires increasingly complex verbal prompting from its inventor in exchange for its most valued kisses, the passionate ones (La máquina de dar besitos). Another example is the juxtapositioning of an experiment in narrative technique and a story which, like Kilómetro 11, also brings the conflicts of Argentina's national crisis to a personal level. The former (El Gran Mongol) is an elaboration of an absurd dream through visual imagery evoked by a series of increasingly distorted photographs. The latter, the title piece, is the story of a general on the social and political rise who learns that his only possibility of saving his dying son is to locate a renowned medical specialist, a fugitive from the general's own ruthless political policies.

     The unadorned, straightforward prose, mimetic description and dialogue, and rejection of baroque structures, all evident in El castigo de Dios and other works by Giardinelli, are important characteristics of post-Boom fiction in Spanish America. Underlying the apparent simplicity, however, are Giardinelli's strikingly original similes and a conscious concern with problems of narrative perspective and technique that surfaces throughout the collection. The final story, Señor con pollo en la puerta, is a long conversation over drinks in a bar and, in many ways, a gloss on this concern. Rafa and Cardozo, two Argentine writers and long-standing friends, discuss narrative theory, categories of short fiction, the relationship of some stories to the real incidents on which they are based, and appropriate themes and materials for short stories.

     As the writers' state of inebriation increases, the conversation becomes a literary debate and even a contest of sorts: Cardozo and Rafa narrate to each other, in turn, a series of stories, vignettes and anecdotes based on persons, incidents or events familiar to both from their common childhood experiences. These are attractive narrative possibilities that the writers, who seem to represent aspects of Giardinelli's artistic persona, have been unable to convert to fiction. Parts of the conversation seem to be a deliberate effort to fictionalize questions relating to short narrative that Giardinelli explores on a theoretical level in Así se escribe un cuento (1992), particularly in sections Sobre la definición del género and Estructura y morfología del cuento (27-58). In continually alternating roles of narrator and narratee, each writer passes judgement on the other's narration, critiquing in the process narrative technique, choice of perspective, level of ambiguity, the effectiveness of the endings, etc. The story thus becomes a series of intercalated narratives of unequal quality that answers the question posed by Rafa early in the conversation: Y por qué un cuento no puede ser también eso? Una historia que sea una sucesión de historias inconclusas, deshilachadas, que tejen al azar dos idiotas llenos de sonido y de furia? (165). One suspects that Señor con pollo en la puerta is also a repository for many of Giardinelli's narrative possibilities that did not make the final cut as separate stories in the volume.

     The stories of El castigo de Dios represent some of Giardinelli's best work. I recommend the collection very highly to anyone interested in post-Boom fiction in general or Giardinelli in particular.

Robert A. Parsons         
University of Scranton [313]         


           Landero, Luis. Caballeros de fortuna. Barcelona: Tusquets Editores, 1994. 322 pp. ISBN 8472234118.

     Knowing that sequels were never any good, Luis Landero has taken a different direction in his much-awaited second novel. His first novel, Juegos de la edad tardía, won the Ícaro Prize of 1989, and the Premio Nacional and Premio de la Crítica of 1990; it has been translated into nine languages thus far. An extremely dense and witty book of long gestation, Juegos captured both critical acclaim and the popular imagination, and Landero, with his ponderous palindromes and mind-boggling mental games, became something of a cult hero. The Extremaduran professional guitarist and university and high-school educator began the slow process of weaving another such engrossing yarn. In his new work he has forsaken Madrid as point of gravitation (and location of the fictitious Centro Cultural Faroni) for the mythical provincial town of Gévora. From the Quijotesque pairing of Gregorio and Gil he has moved to a more diverse panorama of players, several of whom are on a par with the hilarity of their predecessors. The machinations of fate, holding sway over characters who would tinker with destiny, provide the over-arching structure, but the scaffolding is at times too visible to make of Caballeros the seemingly spontaneous and effortless tour de force reminiscent of Landero's first novel.

     The principal soldiers of fortune are Belmiro Ventura y Vega (a.k.a. el Chileno) and Esteban Tejedor Estévez. Their lineage has pitted them against each other as descendants of conquistador Don Quintín de Vargas y Ventura, hero of the Conquest of Chile, and claimants to the family fortune. However, while the former, who has returned to comfortably inhabit his ancestral mansion, is only dimly aware of the existence of the latter, the impoverished Esteban has grown up resentful and impatient and plots his triumph over the Usurper. Belmiro has spent his life writing academic treatises on the history of Renaissance ideas in Latin America; Esteban has been delivering milk in Gévora. Complications develop in the form of romantic entanglements: Belmiro is surprised to find himself in the throes of an autumnal passion for the local schoolmarm Amalia Guzmán, who is also courted by Luciano Obispo Rebollo, the fourteen-year-old son of a local mystic and (purportedly) a dead saint who appeared to her in a vision. Esteban's greed is sharpened by his infatuation with the daughter of a prosperous businessman.

     All are observed by two distinct witnesses. Don Julio Martín Aguado is a self-styled intellectual elitist/populist full of Orteguian contradictions, with occasional delusions of grandeur that raise him in his own mind to the level of Alexander the Great. Don Julio suffered from hopeless inanity and could only respond to issues of the day with bland remarks or inarticulate noises, such as puaff!, brrrg!, and uajx! (21). His fortune changed when the gift of eloquence descended upon him as he walked past the Cybeles Fountain in November of 1976. He suddenly gained not only a vocabulary, but charisma, and was instantly able to halt a dispute over a traffic accident with the simple plea, Ladies and gentlemen, acquiescence (91). He went on to found the Unión Moderada Independiente (Un solar, una lengua, un pueblo, una consigna, y un futuro 185), and to welcome back Belmiro with open arms as rightful leader of Gévora's intellectual elite, a role Belmiro disdains. It is the voice of the masses, however, that narrates the novel itself. An amorphous we, a group of spectators who sit on a park bench in the Plaza de España (weather permitting; otherwise they take refuge in the Casino) and swing their feet as they watch are in charge of writing the collective history (the Unamunian intrahistory) of the town. Gregorio and Gil are listed as among the membership; the narrator infrequently uses the first-person singular to distinguish himself as a schoolteacher who has never worked.

     The main narrative thread concerns the months between Belmiro's return in October of 1976 and the fateful night that reverses nearly everyone's fortunes in June of 1977, but ample flashbacks go back as far as the Civil War and an epilogue condenses the aftermath, from 1977 to 1993. Like Antonio Muñoz Molina's El jinete polaco (1991), Caballeros can be viewed as an attempt to define a generation that has experienced extremely different milieus and that seeks to reconcile past and present. While the Muñoz Molina novel was narrated by an intensely intimate voice and propelled by erotic striving, Caballeros employs the combined distance and familiarity of anonymity in its narrative voice and is fueled by a savouring of the absurd.

     Caballeros de fortuna satirizes so many Spanish commonplaces, as well as historical, political, and cultural figures, that the underlying motifs of fate and fortune pale in comparison to [314] some of the characters' engaging idiosyncrasies. One such outstanding moment is Don Julio admonishing a crowd of schoolchildren at play by shouting Invertebrates! (20). The individual appeal of Don Julio, Padre Mirón, and others may not compensate for the purposefully contrived entanglements in which they find themselves, but Caballeros de fortuna remains a memorable assortment of parodied provincial types, who combine to form a small microcosm that is at once convincing and absurd.

Elizabeth A. Scarlett         
University of Virginia         


           Mendicutti, Eduardo. Los novios búlgaros. Barcelona: Tusquets Editores, 1993. 236 pp. ISBN 8472236994.

     Los novios búlgaros is an erotic novel, representative of Spain's current literatura light. It humorously portrays the mores of a particular gay coterie that frequents the Puerta del Sol area to present an image of a frivolous, materialistic, consumerist society. This permissive setting attracts a group of Bulgarian emigres who bring their own agenda for social and (particularly) economic transformation in a Spain that is still fundamentally traditional.

     The narrator of the novel is Daniel Vergara, a middle-aged, middle-class executive whose outward appearance belies an irregular private life. Like his flashier cofrades del amor distinto (31), Daniel has an eye for the undocumented Bulgarian youths who have unwittingly descended on the clique's favorite haunts; he is soon smitten by the handsome car thief Kyril. Kyril accepts seduction by the well-off capitalist as a means of effortlessly advancing his goals: gaining resident status, marrying his Bulgarian girlfriend Kalina and getting rich quickly. In the name of love, Daniel is willing to embark on a quixotic one-man rescue mission: his generosity and self-sacrifice know no bounds as he teaches Kyril Spanish and French, satisfies all his whims -a motorcycle, cars, jewelry, trips- bails him out when his recklessness and illegal deals result in accidents and police encounters, sponsors him as his chauffeur in order to secure him a work permit, and invites Kalina to Madrid so that the couple can finally wed. As a menage à trois, the relationship gains stability but slowly loses appeal as Daniel's role comes to resemble that of indulgent father over that of anxious lover.

     Rich in allusions to Spanish classics -there are evident traces of Libro de buen amor, El Conde Lucanor, La Celestina, and the mystics- Los novios búlgaros is primarily a meeting of the picaresque and chivalry. Kyril's voracious hunger at the gay soirées, his need to acquire the creature comforts through any means, including prostitution, theft, fraud and the betrayal of the very hand that feeds him, places him squarely in the tradition of the pícaro, and it is Kyril's picaresque activities and their consequences that comprise most of the plot. As a character, Daniel is self-conscious of his literary roots in novels of chivalry. His parodic adherence to courtly love standards exposes the need for new models of love and his preoccupation with dignity and ethics reveals life's moral ambiguity. Daniel's desire for values leads him to ponder the structure and meaning of personal relationships and family ties, as well as the place of scruples in today's world.

     Yet, in the final analysis Los novios búlgaros is quite conventional in forme and fond. The plot consists of a succession of juxtaposed and practically interchangeable adventures with hardly a climax. The predictability of the antics is broken in two chapters set in the protagonists' respective family homes. In Burgaria, Kyril's working-class folks joyously receive the threesome with food and celebration, with Kalina and Daniel welcomed equally as new-in-laws; in contrast, Kyril and Kalina are met with suspicion and arrogance when they visit Daniel at his family's estate in Andalucía. For all his dissatisfaction with the lack of affective models for gay men, Daniel opts for his conventional family, thereby precipitating the process of separation with the Bulgarian couple, and upholding the reigning cultural model. Indeed, the generally stereotypical and caricaturesque representation of homosexuals and women throughout the novel is consistent with this conformist world view. Thus, the risque subject matter of Los novios búlgaros does not challenge the existing social order but masks an essential collusion with its canon.

Alicia Ramos         
Williams College         

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