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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 Ten: Confession, Commentary, and the End of Fiction: El casamiento engañoso and El coloquio de los perros 247


Chapter Ten Confession, Commentary, and the End of Fiction El casamiento engafioso and El coloquio de los perros Cervantes concludes his excursion through worlds of reality and imagination with a pair of novelas that constitute in fact a single double-tiered work. With the Casamiento and the Coloquio, the ques- tion of unity versus separability, the relationship of the frame tale to the included dialogue, is not just a curiosity of literary-critical debate. Rather, with these two texts, the ambiguity of textual connection versus independence lies at the heart of the work's theme: the nature of fiction, reading, and narrative form. The text has, however, been dealt with as two separate units. Especially with the Coloquio, one might limit an analysis to just one part of the whole. 1 Either section can be read, superficially, as coherent and sufficiently independent. The Casamiento at first appears to be a subtle but conventional tale of mutual swindling, while the Coloquio begins as the recounting of a quasi-picaresque life by means of the self-conscious, critically filtering medium of dialogue. But the Casamiento and the Coloquio must be read as a unit, not only for the obvious reason that Cervantes implicitly leads us in that direction-having inserted one within the other, with the first serving as the frame tale of the second-but also for larger thematic and conceptual reasons. As El Saffar has argued, neither nove/a quite 1 See for example J. Rodriguez-Luis, Novedad y ejemplo, in which he treats the two parts separately, the...

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