Ingeniosa Invencion: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature for Geoffrey L. Stagg in Honor of His Eighty-Fifth Birthday

Article excerpt

Geoffrey L. Stagg is duly honored in this latest addition to the handsome "homenajes" series published by Juan de la Cuesta. The collection of essays edited by Ellen M. Anderson and Amy R. Williamsen contains some truly excellent contributions to Golden Age studies across the board. As most readers of this journal probably know, Stagg's research focuses on the Cervantine oeuvre, and he served as an Associate Editor for Cervantes since the journal's inception until the date of publication of this Festschrift in celebration of his eighty-fifth birthday. However, the editors' introduction makes quite clear the fact that Stagg is nothing less than a Renaissance man--trained in both arms and letters--and this diversity is reflected through the fine selection of scholars and articles that make up this academic accolade.

In addition to sketching Stagg's academic career in their introduction to this homage, the editors also bring to light the human touch of this humanitarian. His diplomatic manner with his students, his very special relationship with his wife, and the couple's generous dinner parties with colleagues and students all paint an intimate portrait that gives a sense of wholeness to this academic tribute.

The volume itself is divided into four sections. The first section, titled "Comparative Contexts," contains three essays that "contribute to the understanding of Spanish Renaissance and Baroque works in the light of the classical letters and the Elizabethan literature Stagg knows and loves so well" (xvii). John J. Allen's "The Transformation of Satire in Don Quixote: 'Dine with Us as an Equal' in Juvenal and Cervantes" clearly captures the spirit of a bona fide homage. Allen explains his decision to revisit a case of satire previously explored in his renowned Don Quixote: Hero or Fool: "Geoffrey Stagg's work was a model of rigorous thoroughness for me in those years, as it has been since. It has seemed appropriate, therefore, in this brief note dedicated in gratitude to Stagg, to look again at a specific instance of satire highlighted in Part I of my earlier study, a passage with a clear classical antecedent, for me a likely source, and an interesting case of the transformation of satire along the lines suggested in Sheldon Sacks' study of Fielding" (3). The brief study ends with a sensitive explanation of why we read Don Quixote. Dian Fox's "What Happens in Hamlet and Spanish Golden Age Theater" presents a persuasive theological reading of Hamlet that is interlaced with less convincing comparative notes to Spain's Golden Age theater, which curiously silence contemporary Spanish criticism on the questions she discusses. Finally, Diana de Armas Wilson's "Defending 'Poor Poetry': Sidney, Cervantes, and the Prestige of Epic" analyzes the figure of poetry in Philip Sidney (godson and namesake of Spain's Felipe II) and Cervantes. Through an interesting dialogue with poststructuralist theorists like Barthes, Bakhtin, and Lacan, the author concludes "that Cervantes helped to deracinate Poetry out of an early modern culture of militancy and mimesis--the signifying world of Sidney and his continental subtexts--to relocate her, during her formative years, in a culture of invention and fantasy" (35). Cervantes' craft is een to be more "feminine" than Sidney's, thus anticipating the reflections on literature that mark our postmodernity.

The volume's second section is titled "Golden Age Contexts" and pays homage to Stagg's vast range of intellectual interests and pursuits. The section opens with Edward H. Friedman's perspicacious essay "Enemy Territory: The Frontiers of Gender in Maria de Zayas's 'El traidor contra su sangre' and 'Mal presagio casar lejos,'" which deftly tackles the ambiguities of gender in Zayas's transfiguration of male-dominant language and literary conventions in order to underscore female sensibilities. Although this is one of the longest studies in the volume (26 pages of text), I must confess that I wanted to keep reading Friedman reading Zayas. …