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Beneath the Fiction

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

Series:

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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Conclusion: Closing the Circle 291

Extract

Conclusion: Closing the Circle The conclusion of the Casamiento and Coloquio completes its implicit, ostensible mission: it tells the stories promised-and begged-by the diseased, chastened, but restored, and perhaps redeemed ensign, as well as the stories or portents intimated by the miraculous and absurd possibility of speech-endowed dogs. But, as I have suggested in the previous chapter, the larger implications of what seems to happen in the Casamiento and the Coloquio and, more pointedly, of how language is manipulated in this double text transcend the ostensible narrative purpose. The exploration of identity and the all but surgical analysis of society and its various institutions do take place in this novela. Yet while identity and social order seem necessary, these questions have about them a sense that they are essentially just preliminary concerns. The Casamiento and Coloquio is, more fundamentally, a lesson in the complex, exquisite, and troubling endeavor of narrating and reading.1 To one degree or another, as I would insist, each of the ten previous novelas subtly questions its own illusions of imaginative wholeness or seamless autonomy. The other novelas also provide, each in its own way, peculiar "lessons in reading." But only the concluding text so deeply and obsessively keeps the issues of play, epistemological authority, and the aesthetic and ethical challenges of art so constantly and troublingly at the fore. To the extent that the Casamiento and Coloquio achieves any sort of effective or meaningful reordering of our conception of reading, it is not only the creation...

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