Spanish Humanism on the Verge of the Picaresque: Juan Maldonado's

By Damiani, Bruno M. | The Catholic Historical Review, January 2011 | Go to article overview

Spanish Humanism on the Verge of the Picaresque: Juan Maldonado's


Damiani, Bruno M., The Catholic Historical Review


Spanish Humanism on the Verge of the Picaresque: Juan Maldonado's Ludus Chartarum, Pastor Bonus, and Bacchanalia. Edited with introduction, translation, and notes by Warren Smith and Clark Colahan. [Supplementa Humanística Lovaniensis, XXTV.] (Leuven: Leuven University Press. Distrib in the United States by Cornell University Press. 2009. Pp. vi, 291. $69.50 paperback. ISBN 978-9-058-67708-2.)

To most aficinados of Spanish literature, the term picaresque evokes images of canonical novels such as the anonymous Lazarillo de Tormes, Mateo Alemán's Guzman de Alfarache, Francisco de Quevedo's Buscón, and Francisco López de Úbeda's La Picara Justina. Few readers would think of finding traces of the picaresque narrative- its mimetic portrayal of low-life and profound social, moral, and didactic intention- in the three works by the Spanish Renaissance humanist Juan Maldonado that are translated, studied, and coedited in the present volume by Warren Smith and Clark Colahan. Originally intended to awaken the reader's consciousness on the sociopolitical and religious corruption of the time, picaresque writings have continued to attract the curiosity of students and scholars alike. And it is precisely the sense of intellectual curiosity that has prompted Smith and Colahan to delve into some of the most engaging, albeit little-known work by Maldonado. A professor of humanities at the University of Burgos, he is best known for the Latin dialogue Somnium (modeled on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis), which tells of being caught in a dream interplanetary space with a vision of recently Christianized America. The merit of this bilingual edition and its accompanying critical study is that it brings to the forefront the importance and relevanee of three of Madldonado's other works, which, in their intrinsic conceptual framework, pave the way to the future picaresque discourse found in the best novels of the genre.

A linkage to the later picaresque prose is suggested by Smith and Colahan first by examining Maldonado's instructional colloquy, the Ludus Chartarum Triumphus (1541, 1549) describing games where luck and skill are at play, not unlike the traits associated with the best rogues found in Spanish literature: the Ludus's portrayal of daily life in a Spanish Renaissance town, the work's dramatic and comic dimensions as well as its pedagogical and edifying purposes are all ingrethents of the picaresque narrative. …

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