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Beneath the Fiction

The Contrary Worlds of Cervantes's "Novelas ejemplares</I>


Wiliam H. Clamurro

Cervantes's Novelas ejemplares rival Don Quijote in complexity and significance. This book analyzes all twelve novelas, seeking to illuminate the inherent tensions between the usually affirmative resolutions and lessons proposed by Cervantes's narrators, on the one hand, and the inescapable socio-cultural dissonances and ironies of story and language, on the other. This reading of the entire collection reveals the richness and complexity of many of the less-studied novelas as well as the striking modernity (or postmodernity) of the final text.


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Chapter Two: The Frontiers of Identity: El amante liberal 41


Chapter Two The Frontiers of Identity El amante liberal In comparison with La gitanilla, El amante liberal has attracted less critical attention. Yet this second novela also explores the trials, losses, and recuperations of identity, though in tellingly different ways. Like La gitanilla and La espm1ola inglesa, El amante liberal exemplifies the genre that Ruth El Saffar and others have called the Cervantine "romance."1 With its exotic settings, its melodramatic and highly improbable twists of plot, and the trials and tribulations of love, El amante also reminds us of Cervantes's Persiles. Similarly, the sea voyages and the juxtaposed cultures and nationalities suggest an affinity with La espanola inglesa, another text notably well grounded in an historically specific moment.2 But there are certain elements unique to this novela that complicate and enrich thematic analysis. In particular, an adequate interpretation requires analysis of the interplay between the love story of Leonisa and Ricardo (along with the problem of Ricardo's tempestuous personality and its putative change at the end) and their encounter with the exotic, foreign, and erotically disturbing world of the Ottoman Turks.3 1 See in particular El Saffar, Novel to Romance, in which she places El amante liberal as, along with La espmiola inglesa, one of the "The Last Written Novelas" (139-49). 2 The business of sea voyages and clashing cultures is, as numerous critics have reiterated, all but indispensable to the romance or novcla bizantina (or novela de peregrinaje); see, for example, de Armas Wilson, Allegories of Love, 3-23....

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