Academic journal article Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

Authors and Readers in the 1605 Quixote (1)

Academic journal article Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

Authors and Readers in the 1605 Quixote (1)

Article excerpt

In recent years, there have been several shorter studies devoted to the readers in and the reading of Don Quixote. Edward H. Friedman's and Salvador J. Fajardo's commentaries on the reading experience come to mind, and James A. Parr has a piece on readers and narratees in the homage volume for Augustin Redondo. Maria Stoopen is the first to bring forth a book-length study centering around reader response, however. Her Los autores, el texto, los lectores en el Quijote de 1605 might be expected, therefore, to be a pioneering study of its kind.

As the title of her book suggests, Maria Stoopen undertakes here a dense and detailed study of the interplay among authors, narrators, readers, and the text of the 1605 edition of Don Quixote, paying particular attention to the prefatory pages (dedication and prologue) and to the first nine chapters. Basing her study largely on reception theory, Stoopen attempts to decipher the complicated narratological structure of Cervantes' masterpiece. In her view, Don Quixote is more than a single text by a single author, destined to a single reader. Within the preliminary pages of Cervantes' work there is a plethora of authors and readers, all of which the Mexican cervantista attempts to delineate within the pages of her own text.

The first chapter, "Las dedicatorias de Miguel de Cervantes a sus mecenas. Autor y lectores historicos," covers a variety of topics. It commences with an insightful look into the world of book publishing during Cervantes' time, looking particularly at laws established by Felipe II which remained in effect well into the reign of Felipe III. Stoopen notes the required but missing aprobacion, the reason for whose absence is unclear.

From these prefatory pages she delves into the dedication, looking not only at the dedication to Don Quixote but also at all of the dedications that accompany Cervantes' texts. Consistent with her stated purpose, she examines the historical readers of Cervantes, specifically those to whom the works are dedicated. Ascanio Colonna received the honor of the dedication to La Galatea, but when it came to Don Quixote of 1605, that honor was bestowed on the Duke of Bejar, Alonso Diego Lopez de Zuniga y Sotomayor, due to Colonna's abandonment of Aragon in 1604. There is speculation that Cervantes was not friends with either patron, but that he was introduced to each through a common acquaintance. However, the duke does not last long as Cervantes' benefactor. Every subsequent book was dedicated to the Count of Lemos, Pedro Fernandez de Castro, except the Viaje del Parnaso whose dedication was previously promised to the son of Pedro de Tapia, Rodrigo. This change in patrons is most likely attributable to the growing prestige of the Count of Lemos. After he is named viceroy of Naples, several writers dedicate works to him. Stoopen notes that: "El, por su parte, recibe gustoso la preferencia de los escritores por su patrocinio, ya que, ademas de ser poeta y aficionado a las artes, esta deseoso de fortalecer su prestigio publico" (59).

In this opening chapter, the reader is introduced to a pattern that will predominate throughout Stoopen's text: a preponderance of summarization of well-established scholars with comparatively little new insight by the author. While Stoopen's observations about the aprobacion and dedications are informative and vital for a student embarking on her career in Cervantine studies, they add no new information for those who have been in the field for some time. In this particular instance, Stoopen relies heavily on work carried out by the Cervantine biographers Jean Canavaggio and Melveena McKendrick. Work by Luis Astrana Marin, that noteworthy compiler of Cervantine documents, is also cited frequently. While the work of these scholars is laudable without exception, one might expect that an investigation into Cervantes' relationships with his patrons, particularly the one between him and the Count of Lemos, would entail a more in-depth look into the subject than might be available in a biography that necessarily has to explore many other areas. …

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