The Voice of the Phoenix: Metaphors of Death and Rebirth in Classics of the Iberian Renaissance

The Voice of the Phoenix: Metaphors of Death and Rebirth in Classics of the Iberian Renaissance

The Voice of the Phoenix: Metaphors of Death and Rebirth in Classics of the Iberian Renaissance

The Voice of the Phoenix: Metaphors of Death and Rebirth in Classics of the Iberian Renaissance

Excerpt

This book studies literary works created in a past age primarily from a psychological point of view. Operating from particular premises about the early modern period (listed below), and working in a fashion different from that of most historicist criticism, I emphasize value theory, psychoanalytic insight, and the power of metaphor in discussing these works as they were read at the time and as they may be read today. And I contend that from the interaction of the writer’s state of mind when writing and the reader’s state of mind when receiving the work, a deepening of our interpretive grasp can result.

Naive humanity is relatively defenseless against life’s harsh realities. Lacking experience and one-sided in its own subjective tendency, its vulnerability is such that outward affliction and untimely death are its constant bedfellows. Yet the innocence of the pure in mind is sacred, for by constituting a living example of implicit trust and kind concern for others — the quality of “goodness,” of the loving disposition — it exercises a regenerative, redemptive influence on all who behold it. Without struggling to maintain their purity, human beings would be inferior to animals, which are pure in that they hardly have freedom to choose and so are without guilt. The works examined in the present volume all represent, in one way or another, the plight of naive innocence, that “death” (either painful loss or actual destruction) to which innocence is inevitably subjected by its contact with the real world. Those works are also eloquent testimonies to the high esteem in which goodness was held in the period when they were written and is today . . .

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