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Three Exemplary Novels by Miguel de…
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Three Exemplary Novels (1613)

by Miguel de Cervantes

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At one point, Cervantes quotes Juvenal and one cannot help considering it Cervantes’ own apologia -- Difficile est satyram non scribere. “It’s hard not to write satire.” In these three novellas, the amiable ironist of Don Quixote is back, albeit with considerably briefer concoctions. The first, “Rinconete and Cortadillo”, tells of a pair of young rogues who fall in with the organized underworld of Seville. The humor here consists primarily in contrasting the villainous activities of the gang (whoring, thieving, battery-for-hire, vandalism of all kinds) with their highly ethical sense of professional rectitude coupled with their habitual piety and self-righteousness. The second tale, “Man of Glass” is, at least to me, the thinnest of the three. A bright, well-educated, and widely-traveled young man is poisoned by a love potion and, in consequence, goes crazy; believing himself to be made of glass, and therefore extremely phobic of being touched or jostled. Everywhere he goes, he speaks home truths, exposing the hypocrisies and other shortcomings of virtually every person or group he encounters. Far from his victims resenting this, however, he becomes very popular, with his audience marveling at how shrewd this nut is about everyone else. When he is cured of his delusion, nobody pays any attention to him. Many of his apothegms rely for their effectiveness on Spanish wordplay, which the translator, Samuel Putnam, is content to explain in footnotes, without making much of an attempt to replicate in English. The final novella, “The Colloquy of the Dogs” is simply a masterpiece, one of the jewels of world literature. Two dogs, Berganza and Cipion, suddenly acquire the power of speech and agree to tell each other their personal histories. Berganza goes first: ultimately, Cipion’s primary contributions are to chide Berganza for his infelicities in telling his tale. These interchanges are delightful, particularly Cipion’s admonitions against digressions and “backbiting”, two of the essential elements of Cervantes’ own style. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the primary theme of this conversation is the duplicity of human nature and the contrast between what “should” be and what is. ( )
  jburlinson | Nov 25, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miguel de Cervantesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Appelbaum, StanleyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Putnam, SamuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486451526, Paperback)

From the creator of Don Quixote, the most famous figure in Spanish literature, comes this trio of novellas: "La gitanilla," a gypsy romance; "El coloquio de los perros," a dialogue between two dogs; and "Rinconete y Cortadillo," a day in the underworld of 18th-century Seville. Introduction, new English translation, and notes.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:07 -0400)

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