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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 Three: The Carnival of Crime: Rinconete y Cortadillo 71


Chapter Three The Carnival of Crime Rinconete y Cortadillo The transition from El amante liberal to Rinconete y Cortadillo provides one of the most drastic contrasts of continuous reading, from one novela to the next, within the Novelas ejemplares. Not only do we leave the world and conventions of the romance genre, but we also move from a text in which action and conflict share equal importance with the interplay of languages, to one in which discourse takes on primary importance, but in ways quite distinct from the first two novelas. In Rinconete y Cortadillo there is no central problem or challenge, either for the two young boys of the title or for anyone else encountered in the story. Instead, the novela is a series of loosely connected, seemingly minor events. Moreover, in comparison to the other Novelas ejemplares, this text foregrounds and complicates the question of genre more acutely than any of the others. Rinconete y Cortadillo prompts us to ask whether or not it is a novela in any of the ways that the others are.1 Given the lack of any plot in the usual novelistic sense and the importance of dialogue and verbal play, Rinconete y Cortadillo has about it more the character of an entremes than a novela.2 1 On the questions of structure and genre, much has been written about this text; see in particular R. M. Johnston, "Generic Polyphony and the Reader's Exemplary Experience in Cervantes' Rinconete y Cortadillo," Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hisptinicos...

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