The Disenchantments of Love

The Disenchantments of Love

The Disenchantments of Love

The Disenchantments of Love

Synopsis

Published in 1647, these ten tales are among the earliest narratives in Western literature to focus on women's experiences and points of view in love relationships.

Excerpt

María de Zayas The Disenchantments of love, published in 1647, is a collection of ten compelling novelas set within a frame that is itself a larger story. Striking is the stated purpose of the Disenchantments to "change the world" by changing the ways women and men think, talk about, and treat women. It will effect such revolutionary change by "disenchanting," or undeceiving, readers through the telling of women's stories, stories that depict women's views and experiences. While all ten fictions appear to conform to Renaissance literary conventions, in fact they subvert these conventions by pointing out that all too often mainstream literary plots derive their power from the suppression of the feminine, either through physical violence or through the exclusion of the woman's point of view. In traditional Golden Age literature, the female character often served as the object of masculine desire rather than being a subject in her own right.

The Disenchantments stresses the need for women's side of the story even as it represents a conscious and systematic attack on men's violence against women in literature and in life, a systemic violence not only condoned but actively promoted by the patriarchal mind-set of Counter- Reformation Spain. Six of the ten disenchantments end in the grisly murder of an innocent female protagonist at the hands of her protector-- her father, her brother, or her husband. The other four stories graphically depict bizarre cases of torture before the protagonist finally manages to find haven in the convent.

More impressive than the exemplary message reiterated throughout the work--that women are safe from masculine brutality only in the sisterhood of the convent--are the vivid recreations of women's hidden reality in the ten artfully crafted stories. Zayas's readers accept her painterly depictions of domestic violence precisely because these scenes appropriate and mimic the Renaissance conventions characteristic of Spanish Golden Age literature written by such great contemporaries as Cervantes . . .

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