Edited by David T. Gies
Charlottesville: Rookwood Press, 1997, xxii + 272 pp.
[From Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos, vol. 23, no. 2, 1999, pp. 365-367.]
Homages used to be reserved for a professor’s retirement. Javier Herrero has not yet reached that stage in his career, but the present volume was conceived as an appropriate token of esteem and affection by colleagues, friends and pupils for a scholar who has already made a most notable contribution to world Hispanism (five books and fifty-seven articles published since 1962). David Gies opens the volume with a characteristically vibrant presentation of Herrero’s life and work, with the following studies grouped according to the development of Herrero’s own research interests over the years (Spanish Romanticism, Ganivet, Antonio Machado, Lorca, modern Spanish poetry, Celestina, Cervantes, Golden Age literature, and Discovery literature).
In his customary crisp and lucid style, Donald Shaw argues that Rafael Húmara y Salamanca’s originality in Ramiro, conde de Lucena (1823), lies in the transfer of unbridled human passion from the drama to the novel as well as in the reflection of the age’s hesitant shift from the Enlightenment to a Romantic approach to the subject.
With extensive supporting documents, Gregorio C. Martín charts the demise of El Español (which published the best of Larra’s articles) during the years 1836 and 1837, when the founding editor, Borrego, had to face court actions brought by Mendizábal for criticizing his “desamortización” policy. Precise documentary citations also enable Guillermo Carnero to prove that La voz de la naturaleza sobre el origen de los gobiernos (1813) was not written by Ignacio García Malo, but was a translation of an original French work by the Abbé Thorel.
Inman Fox zestfully reviews Unamuno’s and Ganivet’s differing views of Spain’s national identity in En torno al casticismo and Idearium español, respectively.
Geoffrey Ribbans meticulously identifies and analyses the “Ciclo de Leonor” poems in Campos de Castilla (about 14 in total and written in less than a year [1912-13]), concluding that Machado, while still in command of his creative powers, was becoming “very conscious of losing his capacity to recall experiences except in isolated bursts” (86).
Juan Cano Ballesta chooses a somewhat esoteric topic for his contribution: travel in El viaje a Bizancio by the contemporary poet, Luis Antonio de Villena. Like so much modern travel poetry, the collection is less testimonial than the travel books in prose of the forties and fifties and more fantastic, representing a spiritual quest for a hedonistic utopia.
Andrew Anderson painstakingly reconstructs the various stages in the composition (Valencia, October-November, 1935) and publication of Lorca’s Sonetos del amor oscuro, first published as a whole in 1983, with particular attention dedicated to the most frequently-published individual sonnet, “El poeta pide a su amor que le escriba”. Alison P. Weber re-focuses the debate on the relationship of master and servants in the Celestina, by bringing attention to the contents of confessional books and discourses on servitude composed before and after 1499. Her conclusion is that there was “an ideological indecision regarding the nature of the economic bond” (131) (legal debt or charity), which was further complicated by the dangers of the servants’ own sexuality, an obvious reality that Rojas foregrounds in his tragicomedy.
Jean Canavaggio maintains that the characters in La tierra de Jauja, a “paso” by Lope de Rueda, express their stage jokes through verbal inventiveness, while Bruce Wardropper fascinatingly traces the major role played by Calderón in a three-authored “refundición,” El mejor amigo el muerto (1636), of a Lope play, Don Juan de Castro, even producing his own subsequent “refundición” of the “refundición”.
With typically insightful comments, E.C. Riley explains how the dialogue form and the use of animal speakers in the Coloquio de los perros derive from Apuleius’s Golden Ass, the Lucianic dialogues and El crotalón, as well as the picaresque novel.
an uneasy combination of perceptive comments and clichés of literary theory, Edward Dudley closely analyses poems by Juan Rodríguez del Padrón, Lucrezia Borgia, Garcilaso de la Vega, and Lupercio de Argensola. If Lucrezia Borgia is an exception when she directly addresses her beloved, so too is Garcilaso when he shows concern for the emotional needs of the individual woman he addresses. But in the Baroque poetry of Argensola, the centre of attention is not the emotion of love, but the otherworld conceit of “desengaño.”
Barbara Mujica’s very valid thesis —that Borges found in Spanish Golden Age writers models for his own views on subjective reality— could have been presented in an abbreviated and reorganized form.
Diana de Armas Wilson expertly trawls the texts of the early “conquistadores” to show how sixteenth-century Spaniards, like the Greeks of Athens before them, appropriated the myth of amazons for their colonizing project. Taking Montalvo’s Las Sergas de Esplandián as the New World urtext on the subject, Wilson concludes that the amazon legend was invented by men to rationalize their need to invade lands and bodies.
It is entirely appropriate that Victor Ouimette should close the volume, for he is the only contributor no longer alive and his essay was the last piece he wrote before his premature death. Furthermore, its subject matter represented a new direction in his research as it does in Herrero’s. All the hallmarks of Ouimette’s scholarship —precise, accurate use of sources and careful crafting of his argument, for example— are to be found in his discussion of how awareness of the discovery of the New World in the European consciousness of the time “made concrete the abstract concerns of Humanism” (235). Intellectuals like Peter Martyr d’Anghiera and Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo tried to give coherence to the reality of this “otherness.” But it really was Pérez de Oliva, the centre of Ouimette’s attention, who took “a daring step by seeking to convey the grandeur of Columbus’s exploits in prose and in the vernacular” (239). And if he chose to employ a mode of writing more akin to the novel than to the romance of chivalry, it was because he believed that Columbus’s personality explained the exploits of the Discovery.
This volume, with an attractive format somewhat marred by a number of typographical errors, is, by and large, a fascinating miscellany of solidly erudite studies by well-known Hispanists. Besides being an indispensable reference tool for contemporary and future scholars, it constitutes a most worthy tribute to its illustrious dedicatee.
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