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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 Six: Redemption and Identity: La fuerza de la sangre 149


Chapter Six Redemption and Identity La fuerza de la sangre La fuerza de la sangre is the shortest of the collection, and in many ways it is the most unified and focussed of the Novelas ejernplares. 1 But despite its brevity and simplicity of plot, it presents daunting challenges to the reader, though more of an ethical than an intellec- tual sort.2 La fuerza de la sangre is a kind of "Black Hole" of interpre- tation: it absorbs and obliterates any and all readings that seek to explain, justify, or find a rational, meaningful message in the events of the story. The main difficulty stems from the improbability of the motivations and psychological reactions, on the one hand, and the troubling moral implications of the resolution, on the other.3 As we will recall, the insolent, violent, and sexually unbridled Rodolfo, inflamed at first sight by Leocadia's beauty, forcibly abducts her. 1 Concerning the unity of structure, see R. P. Calcraft, "Structure, Symbol and Meaning in Cervantes's Lafuerza de Ia sangre," BHS 58.3 (1981): 197-204. See also Casalduero, Sentido y forma, 150-51. 2 The following reading is especially indebted to Forcione, Cervantes and the Humanist Vision (317-97), whose lengthy chapter on this nove/a gives the most detailed exposition of the cultural and religious context of late sixteenth-century Spain, but whose specific treatment of the text itself, disappointingly, gives us little more than the widely accepted-and convenient-notion that we are dealing with a "secularized miracle." 3 See, for example, Calcraft, who notes...

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