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"¿QUE DIZES DE LAS MUGERES?": DONZELLA TEODOR AS THE CONCLUSION TO BOCADOS DE ORO Emily C. Francomano Georgetown University "Que dize el sabio que aunque se tornase la tierra papel, e la mar tinta, e los peçes délia péndolas, que non podrían escrevir las maldades de las mugeres." The concluding rhetorical figure in El libro de los engaños reflects ironically upon the very purpose of the collection of exempla that it brings to a close. Curiously, this proverbial gem of wisdom about women suggests that, despite the encyclopedic nature of sapiential literature, women will always escape, at least in part, the reduction to a finite and masterable category.' The conclusion of four fifteenth-century manuscript versions of Bocados de oro [=Bocados] reveals the same anxiety about woman's ability to confound even the wisest ofmen while ultimately contributing to the compendium's model of mastery ofwoman as both category of knowledge and sexual object. Given the profound concern with sexuality, femininity, and gender relations in medieval Iberian sapiential literature, the frequent appearance ofthe "Capítulo de la Donzella Teodor" [= Donzelh Teodor] 1 Sapiential literature seeks to make all aspects of life masterable by providing its audiences with hard and fast rules, definitions, and codes of prudent behavior, all encapsulated in a variety of brief generic forms generally drawn together by frame narratives and/or in compendia. As Maria Jesus Lacarra observes, the intention of medieval Iberian wisdom literature is to present readers and listeners with the keys to safe passage through this life and into the next (Cuentistica 33). Within the corpus, wisdom itselfis presented as received and unchallengeable knowledge: "El saber se concibe como un sistema acabado, completo [...] algo cerrado, estático, que no necesita acrecentarse, lo cual no implica que pueda acabarse ni deteriorarse con su utilización" (María Jesús Lacarra Cuentistica 100). Barry Taylor offers the following succinct definition of medieval wisdom literature: "Texts which give advice on conduct, expressed in the form of La corónica 30.1 (Fall, 2001): 87-110 88Emily C. FrancomanoLa coránica 30.1, 2001 as the final "bocado" in fifteenth-century manuscripts of the Bocados is most intriguing. Of the five extant medieval manuscript versions of the story, four appear as the concluding chapter oíBocados.2 Bocados is the medieval Castilian translation of the eleventh-century Arabic Mukhtâr al-hikam wa-mahâsin al-kalim [The Choicest Maxims and Best Sayings], translated into Spanish before 1257 and subsequently translated into Latin as the Liber philosophorum moralium antiquorum. Many other European vernacular translations followed. Observing that there is "no generally accepted definition of Bocados", Barry Taylor identifies three basic versions of medieval Castilian translations based on the nine manuscripts described by Mechthild Crombach, labeling them A, B, and C (71-85). A corresponds to the Arabic version, B begins with the narrative about king Bonium and concludes with the "Capítulo délas cosas que escrivio por respuestas el filosofo segundo alas cosas que le pregunto el enperador adriano" [= Segundo], and C concludes with Donzella Teodor. The versions ??Bocados that include Donzella Teodor are otherwise fairly close translations of the original Arabic text.3 The story of Teodor is a popular and long-lived tale that has traveled from Arabic and medieval Spanish manuscript sources to the Golden Age stage, to multiple printed editions that circulated in Spain and Colonial Latin America, shifting languages, genres and intended audiences. Throughout its long journey across continents and centuries , the story's tellers, scribes and editors added and subtracted brief sentences arranged paratactically" (71). Fernando Gómez Redondo remarks that sapiential literature incorporates a "mosaico de géneros" (458). Marta Haro, noting the many genres incorporated in wisdom texts, proposes a definition based solely on intentionality : wisdom literature, in contrast to works composed with only implicit or highly general moral messages, is composed with exclusively moral and didactic intentions and seeks to mold human conduct (Los compendios 15). 2 The fifth manuscript version is a fragment included in MS 6545 ofthe Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, which also contains Libro del conocimiento de todos los rregnosy señoríos, the Historia de los reyes godos, and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 87-110
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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