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On the Genoese in Spanish life and literature in Cervantes' time, see Fuchs 287-89.



Marcel Bataillon (790) remarks that Cervantes questions in an Erasmian way, but softly: some questions «prefería no hacer en voz muy alta». Concerning the criticism conveyed in items {91–93} Bataillon notes that «aparece cargada de ironía bastante temible». In his note 68 Bataillon links a passage from Plato's Phaedo to two letters by Erasmus, one of which notes that «non omnes episcopi sunt que mitras gerunt». Compare this and Vidriera's comparable {92} with the youthful Tomás Rodajas's misplaced confidence in the meritocratic operation of the Church's apparatus: «yo he oído decir que de los hombres se hacen los obispos» (43).



As to the plausibility of Vidriera's representation of the author's and first readers' world, the narrator's report is so impoverished in particulars of scene and incident as to fail miserably in comparison with the pages of, for example, Juan Rufo, whose Seiscientos apotegmas contains a thicker world of imagery and information about diverse individuals, social attitudes and actions and characteristic foibles of the influential, the ambitious, and the pretentious.



On Francisco de Quevedo's Sueños, consult James Crosby's edition, notes, and bibliography; on Spain's literary fools, Francisco Márquez Villanueva's several studies are our indispensable guides. The carnivalization of literature and the Menippean strain of pre-novel fiction are discussed by Bakhtin.



«These [terms]... concern the efforts of one to find amusement or delight at the expense of another; they vary from mere mischief to sheer malice» (American Heritage Dictionary 1117). «Ridicule refers to the attempt to arouse laughter or merriment at another's expense by making fun of or belittling him. Mock implies contempt through caricature. Taunt suggests reproach through sarcasm. Twit applies to an effort to ridicule by calling attention to something embarrassing. Deride implies scorn and contempt in demeaning another. Gibe refers to light taunting of someone over something trivial or humorous». Each of these terms is appropriate for naming parts of Vidriera's usage.



The relevant senses of the noun included in the American Heritage Dictionary are: something said or done to provoke amusement and laughter; a jeering remark; a taunt. As for the verb, it is: to act or speak playfully; make sport; to joke; to make witty or amusing remarks; to utter scoffs or jeers; to gibe. One sees in this range from playfulness to jeering the variable social significance and volatility of jesting, the gradations of offensiveness for the objects and of partisan piling-on for bystanders, and the potential for tendentiousness in playful speech. Vidriera exercises all of the options jesting provides. The roughly equivalent Spanish term is burla.



The gravest social problem experienced by Spaniards from the fifteenth century through the lifetime of Miguel de Cervantes is the mistreatment of the New Christian descendants of Spain's Jews and Muslims. Américo Castro, Marcel Bataillon, Stephen Gilman, Francisco Márquez Villanueva, and other scholars in their wake have brought back to light the coincidental centrality and marginality, the eminence and ostracism, of the talented and detested descendants of Spain's Jews. Tomás, who silences his origins and values learning, and aspires to rise and be honored, and puts his trust in God and the law, and is rejected at the center and shunted to the margin, is an embodiment of the virtues and frustrations of this caste. (His insane opposite number Vidriera is the disembodied voice of his community's unreasonable prejudices.) Tomás Rueda returns to Court, he proclaims, «para abogar y ganar la vida» (74), but the likelihood that he might realize his potential in his chosen profession is no greater than it had been, according to Sebastián de Horozco, for another accomplished aspirant a generation earlier. Horozco reminds that unfortunate fellow of the stain that disqualifies him from the practice of law: «E aunque tengáis aparejo / para muy bien deprender, / dexad a un xpiano viejo / abogar y dar consejo / pues vos no lo podéis ser» (Márquez, «Sebastián de Horozco» 411).



Changes in cultural context obscure many of Vidriera's jests and jokes, which now require editors' elucidation. Sumat dilúculo, «To be taken at dawn», is misconstrued by the ignorant doctor to convey «dilu-culo (donde el primer término significa 'lavar, limpiar')» (Sevilla Arroyo 93 n. 123).



Drawing more fully on Freud's study of jokework, I have examined one such joke that is both aggressive and sexual, Sancho Panza's story of Lope Ruiz and Torralba (Don Quijote, I, 20), in «Sancho's Jokework».



Jokes and jests are socially constructed and exclusive. The laughter they provoke betokens understanding and agreement that may not extend much beyond the scene and moment of the joke's realization. Most of Vidriera's jokes and jests would have earned only qualified approval or none at all from Cervantes' first circle of adequate readers.

Items {2} and {3}, we imagine, had one intention and effect when they were uttered and a closely related intention and effect when they were narrated: they generated laughter at the expense of the ropera and her husband. When these jests were first read by real readers, I surmise, they would have preserved that charge for some, but it is likely that they were received differently by others of Cervantes' readers, those closest in response to his ideal readers. The same items (and many other jests) when they are read today are garbled in transmission to us, so that we must depend on expert commentators to raise them above apparent or trivial nonsense. Today's readers are led by our understanding of the situation (specifically the crowd's on-going provocation of Vidriera) to recognize that these items are meant to produce laughter that will fracture the crowd into an «us» and a «them», isolating those laughed at. For readers today many jests are at best pallid; we are induced to participate not by Vidriera's jestwork but by recognition that jestwork is being accomplished by the fool and certified by its reproduction in the text. We require footnotes elucidating the Latin, its maliciousness, and the husband's reaction to put us on equal footing with the jest-maker and the allies his jest secures for him and to partake in the superiority (ethnic and religious) that justifies whatever laughter we muster. Our laughter is our willful, contrived, intellectual, imitative response to the situation that calls on us either to laugh knowingly or to accept exclusion and inferiority faintly comparable to that inflicted on the butts of the jests. We are embarrassed to miss the point and thereby to forfeit membership in the approving crowd, and so we acquit ourselves with a chuckle.