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

Present Dogs, Absent Witches: Illustration and Interpretation of "El Coloquio De Los Perros"

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

Present Dogs, Absent Witches: Illustration and Interpretation of "El Coloquio De Los Perros"

Article excerpt

THROUGHOUT EARLY MODERN EUROPE, imagery permeated many fields of discourse. In order to communicate religious and political messages, spiritual and secular authorities made recourse to various types of visual displays, such as statuary and engravings, to appeal to the populace at large. In Spain, as Jose Antonio Maravall explains: "Utilizando los medios plasticos, la cultura del siglo XVII puede llevar a cabo, con la mayor adecuacion, sus fines de propaganda" (501). Emblem literature in Latin and vernacular languages adeptly merged text and image. At the same time, widely promulgated printed matter, such as the pliegos sueltos on the Iberian peninsula and the image" volante" in France, also commingled texts and images. A public whose taste for images had been carefully cultivated by these religious, political and literary circumstrances naturally turned to images to elucidate other types of written texts.

In the context of early modern Iberia, a number of studies analyze the function of illustrations in particular imprints. According to Isidro J. Rivera's research on fifteenth-century editions of the Comedia de Calisto y Melibea, the joining of text and woodcuts in early editions visually reinforces significant moments in the written text for the reader. Later in the era, as Sherry M. Velasco elaborates, engravings combine with typographical elements to play a vital role in the representation of female sanctity in religious literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Amid this penchant to incorporate visual elements into printed texts, illustrations of the Novelas ejemplares and d Quijote "son en cambio muy tardias" as Victor M. Minguez's research has found (255). By the time the eighteenth-century public approached an illustrated edition of the Novelas ejemplares, a lengthy interpretative tradition existed surrounding illustrations. This paper will consider the role the illustration tradition plays in the interpretation of "El coloquio de los perros."

Of eighty editions of the Novelas ejemplares I examined at the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid and the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas, fourteen editions print selected Novelas ejemplares and did not include "El coloquio de los perros." An additional forty-six imprints do not illustrate "El coloquio de los perros." Although the content of the Novelas ejemplares remains rather flexible in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century editions, the majority of these imprints maintain the traditional position of "El coloquio de los perros" at the end of the collection.(1) This placement explains the relatively small number of illustrations. After using expensive images early in the collection to attract readers to the texts, a number of printers did not illustrate the final novella.

Of the twenty illustrated imprints of "El coloquio de los perros" listed in the Appendix, I found only one text prior to the twentieth century that makes any visual reference to witchcraft. This image from 1866, however, represents witches flying to a sabbath, not Canizares herself (Appendix, number 17). Rather than represent the witch, sixteen versions of the Novelas ejemplares in French and Spanish produced between 1731 and 1917 (Appendix, numbers 1-16) depict the dogs, Cipion and Berganza. Six of these editions, two in French and four in Spanish, (Appendix, numbers 1-7) use a version of an engraving by Jacob Folkema, a Dutch engraver. With the important exception of the I788 Defer de Maisonneuve edition which we will examine in detail, thirteen exemplars depict Cipion and Berganza in a hospital milieu. This portrayal of Cipion and Berganza among patients serves a two-fold purpose. First, the visual positioning of the canine speakers as the imaginary products of Campuzano's feverish mind diminishes the social critique of Berganza and Cipions narrative. Secondly, the visual representation of the dogs, as opposed to the witch Canizares, leads the reader to implicitly question her version of events in the narrative. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.