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Freud's assumptions are embraced and applied rigorously albeit briefly (394-97) by Maurice Molho, for whom Vidriera's jests are «la máscara de una obsesiva tendencia hostil». «Al coro que rodea a Vidriera le toca el papel del tercero que aplaude al chiste tendencioso por el placer del que a su vez se beneficia, satisfaciendo sus propias tendencias hostiles.»



Everyone who borrows from Freud's study of jokes finds good reason to mention its translator's prefatory caution concerning the «terminological difficulty which runs through the whole work» (xxx). The difficulty is only partly due to the lack of full correspondence between English and German terms, joke and Witz, jest and Scherz. Freud allows that «all the technical methods of jokes are already employed... in jests; moreover linguistic usage draws no consistent line between a jest and a joke. What distinguishes a jest from a joke is that the meaning of the sentence which escapes criticism [in a jest] need not be valuable or new or even good; it need merely be permissible to say the thing in this way» (159). Freud's reasoning and many examples in Cervantes' text suggest that the more «valuable» or «good» the meaning (understood: «valuable» or «good», and «permissible» in the jester's and his receivers' estimation), the more likely it is to be tendentious (tendenziös 'partisan', 'biased', 'prejudiced').



For reasons that vary from case to case I would claim that the following items are lively but not far removed from borderline minimal jests: {40, 42, 45, 53, 56, 60, 65, 72, 83}. Formally they are minimal, the justifying sense that enlivens them is prejudicial. In each case but {40} and {65} the bias clearly is ethnic, directed against professions and occupations commonly associated with descendants of Jews. Item {40} claims that sailors are unbelieving heathens. Item {65} mocks actors by ascribing to them qualities associated with gypsies; to call them «perpetuos gitanos» is to damn them with doubtful praise.



Vidriera shares this way of thinking about women with that other neurotic obsessive Carrizales in Cervantes' entremés «El viejo celoso»: «Donde [las mujeres] se estropean, y adonde ellas se dañan, es en casa de las vecinas y de las amigas. Más maldades encubre una mala amiga que la capa de la noche; más conciertos se hacen en su casa y más se concluyen que en una semblea ['asamblea']» (263–64).



This is especially the case in {57}, if R. M. Price is right when he explains that «the hangman would sit on the shoulders of the condemned as they hung, to finish them off quickly, or to entertain the mob» (134 n. 43). This grizzly vision of justice on the gibbet, yoked to reactionary resentment of the money-handling professions together with the anti-Semitic resonances of banking, raise this jest to a level of aggressiveness that qualifies it for inclusion in the most tendentious category of jests.



«Entendió... la malicia» because he, unlike his wife, was able to understand Vidriera's Latin (King 102). The fool is doubly mean to insult the woman in terms she cannot, but some of the crowd can, grasp; she is both ignorant, being a woman, and accursed, being a conversa.



Readers may want to add to the group I propose. To my mind item {35}, discussed above, can be said to attain this degree of tendentiousness when, under cover, it raises the charge of dishonor against the indolent exploiters of their menials. And when again behind a façade Vidriera labels the most eminent in the realm and their sycophants comparably ignorant and foolish (item {27}), that too exemplifies what intensity of attack an apparently trivial jest can achieve. The next few items studied below construct their nasty discharges openly, not subverting censure and prejudice (as items {27} and {35} do) but exploiting it for the injury of the targeted classes.



The calculation of responses could be complicated beyond the possibility of satisfactory reckoning if we chose to chart the range of likely modern readings of this and other jests and compared them with our best estimates concerning the range of responses of the first readers. Certainly plausible conjecture is involved in any such measurements; I proceed knowing that our understanding of Cervantes' Spain, including his readers' habits, is incomplete, but that-thanks to Américo Castro and the first generation of his collaborators and students-we know more about what united and divided Spaniards, and why, than was known by previous modern readers. In consequence we have recovered innumerable obscured meanings in this text and others.



The tailor is damned if he does and damned if he does not make the clothing required by a society organized on the principle that you are what you wear. Tomás R. (that is, the Tomás known for some years as Rodaja and later as Rueda) is a living contradiction of the pernicious notion that appearances define essences; he changes his clothes and his social role seven times in this short story, appearing at first to be a labrador, and then successively a student, a traveler, a student again, an unshod loco, a lawyer, and a soldier. The narrator calls attention to his clothes eight times.



The mule-driver of Don Quijote is richly particularized in his cameo appearance: he is one of the «ricos harrieros de Arévalo» and even, it is said, a relative of Cide Hamete Benengeli. Twice he feeds and cares for his animals; twice his mule-blanket bed is mentioned; he is as horny as the serving girl is randy. But when push comes to shove in the midnight confusion, the muledriver's heroic intervention provides readers a perspectivistic delight: he sees that his struggling consort cannot break free of Don Quixote's grasp and, now called «el bueno del arriero», he intercedes to save her from a singularly unusual date rape. Moments later, seeing Sancho sock Maritornes and then grope her («se abrazó con Maritornes»), the arriero shows his mettle a second time, rushing to rescue her («acudió a dalle el socorro necesario»). At dawn, while Don Quixote, Sancho, the innkeeper, and the cuadrillero are crowning the night's foolishness by uttering hundreds of Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Creeds while crossing themselves fervently, all of it to ensure the efficacy of the healing balm they are concocting, the mule-driver literally tends to his own business, «sosegadamente andaba entendiendo en el beneficio de sus machos». Vidriera's and his crowd's conventional wisdom with respect to «Christian» superiority over Moriscos (and fallen women as well) is turned upside down in the inn of Juan Palomeque.