Muses and Masks: Some Classical Genres of Spanish Poetry

By Elias L. Rivers | Go to book overview

1
Versification and Genre in Spanish Renaissance Poetry

In a given society, the recurrence of certain discursive properties is institutionalized, and individual texts are produced and perceived in relation to the norm constituted by that codification. T. TODOROV

IT IS PROBLEMATIC WHETHER one can establish in an altogether systematic way formal distinctions among the different genres of discourse.1 Perhaps the least problematic distinction, however, is that marked by versification, which separates the field of poetry in general from that of prose. This distinction has deep historic roots: before the invention of writing, the practice of versification, or phonetic patterning, which clearly separated a literary performance from unrehearsed conversation, had a crucial mnemotechnic function; prose, in contrast, seems to have

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1
See T. Todorov, Les Genres du discours, Paris: Seuil, 1978. The American translation ( Genres in Discourse, Cambridge University Press, 1990) omits several essays, including "Autour de la poésie," which is relevant to my argument.

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