Critical Reflections: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature in Honor of James A. Parr

Critical Reflections: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature in Honor of James A. Parr

Critical Reflections: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature in Honor of James A. Parr

Critical Reflections: Essays on Golden Age Spanish Literature in Honor of James A. Parr

Synopsis

This volume seeks to explore developments in the study of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish literature over the past decade through the prism of a homage volume that recognizes the contributions of James A. Parr. In his ground-breaking 1974 essay in Hispania, he challenged Hispanists to take note of developments in the fields of English and Comparative Studies, not to jump on the bandwagon, but to explore the emerging approaches to textual study in order to identify and adapt those aspects that could help to illuminate the field. In his own work, Parr followed that advice, with studies that incorporated new approaches to genre theory, narratology, and canonicity in order to explore dramatic and prose texts, and Don Quixote. The studies in this anthology make use of many of Parr's innovations, indicating that his work has had a long-lasting impact on the field of Golden Age Hispanism.

Excerpt

The forms and definitions of tragedy have been a frequen preoccupation for James Parr over the course of his distinguished career. One of his more influential articles was “El príncipe constante and the Issue of Christian Tragedy,” published in 1986. Parr’s approach was primarily ethical and formalist, dealing with the Aristotelian requirements of tragedy: areté, hubris, catharsis. He countered the long and distinguished scholarship that maintains that Christian tragedy is an impossibility by reconsidering, even redefining, hamartia and anagnorisis, and essentially ignoring peripeteia. Hamartia, in his reading, is much more than a flaw or an error. Instead, relying on the work of Peter Alexander, Parr asserted that hamartia involves the responsibility of the protagonist, who brings his misfortune upon himself. Regarding anagnorisis, that moment when the protagonist realizes what he has done, Parr accepted that a Christian martyr would experience no such moment of insight, and thus made anagnorisis a function of the reader or spectator. By adopting this different model, and by paying much more attention to matters such as suffering and justice, he was able to conclude that, despite its differences from Oedipus and Antigone, Calderón’s martyr play should be considered tragedy.

Parr himself acknowledged that the models he used allowed martyrdom and tragedy to come together: “The play displays all the ingredients necessary for tragedy as that form is defined in the theoretical models adduced here. Other models would yield different results, undeniably” (172). Rather than revisit the vast and familiar literature on tragedy and the debates on whether or not this particular work meets Aristotle’s definition, perhaps it would be more useful to come at the issue from a different perspective—that of psychoanalysis, the insights of which have radically altered the . . .

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