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THE GENDERED TAXONOMY OF SPANISH ROMANCE Barbara E Weissberger Old Dominion University The word is out: the sentimental romance is dead at the tenderyoung age of fourteen.1 Its untimely demise was announced in Joseph Gwara and E. Michael Gerli's long-awaited Studies on die Spanish Sentimental Romance (1440-1550): Redefining a Genre. Many of the essays in the volume belie the optimistic project announced in its subtide, beginning with Gwara's prefatorial lament that "a unified sentimental genre is a chimera" (vii). In the volume's first essay, Michael Gerii persuasively argues that the genre's foundational text, Siervo libre deAmor, traditionally linked to the forms and techniques ofLatin and Italian amatory prose, is most extensively indebted to two fourteenth-century French allegorized journeys of the soul (3-19). The final exemplar of the genre, Processo de cartas de amores, is similarly excised by Marina Brownlee, who states categorically that "despite its traditional attribution, I maintain that Processo, by being exclusively epistolary, could not be further from the novela sentimentalen narratological terms" (23). In like manner, Louise Haywood's study of the verse insertions that have sometimes been considered a distinguishing generic feature concludes that "lyric is not a generic trait" (202) . Finally, in die case ofJuan de Flores, the writer who elicits the most interest in the collection (and in sentimental romance studies as a whole), two of the five essays that exclusively or substantially treat his output focus on works that have often been considered marginal to the genre: Gwára's attribution study ofLa coronación déla señora Gracisla (75-1 10) and Carmen Parrilla García's study of Triunfo de amor (11 1-24) (see Whinnom, The Spanish Sentimental Romance 6) . 1 As I discuss below, Ijudge the sentimental romance genre to have been born in 1983, upon the publication ofKeith Whinnom's critical bibliography The Spanish Sentimental Romance. The Gwara and Gerii volume appeared in 1997. La corónica 29.1 (Fall, 2000): 205-229 206Barbara F WeissbergerLa corónica 29.1, 2000 The demise of the sentimental romance should give pause to those of us who have devoted some time and energy to studying its character and development. Yet we cannot say that its death comes as a complete surprise, given the circumstances attending its conception and its frail constitution.2 This is not the place to give a complete account of the failed effort to define the genre and uphold its integrity. Suffice it to say that virtually every characteristic that has been marshaled in this endeavor -courdy love, autobiographical and self-conscious point of view, incorporation of lyrics, episdes, and debate, metafiction and intertextuality, tragic ending, psychological analysis- has been contested.3 1 will citejust two examples, striking because they occurred in the same year. In 1989, Michael Gerii maintained that the central goal ofthe genre was "to study passion through the medium of a tragic love story in which the subtie and intricate workings of the mind are objectified and take precedence over all else" ("Toward a Poetics" 481), while Pedro Cátedra declared that "el tono de la exposición erótica doctrinal tiene más lugar en el tratadismo amoroso del siglo XV que el mismísimo análisis de las pasiones individuales, que generalmente se ha visto como el fin básico de la novela sentimental española" (Amorypedagogía 157). The very plethora ofarticles and book chapters-more than two dozen over the last quarter century- that seek to uphold the generic integrity of fícción sentimental should alert us to the problematic nature of the undertaking.4 One ofthe most ambitious attempts to date is Vicenta Blay Manzanares's 1992 essay "La conciencia genérica en la ficción sentimental (planteamiento de una problemática)", which confronts again "la 2 Cf. Whinnom in 1974 ("the heterogeneity ofthe tales within this group is such that the term 'genre' is probably misapplied..." [Diego de San Pedro 79] and Lillian von der Walde Moheno over two decades later ("No existe un corpus perfectamente delimitado, hecho que deriva de la misma heterogeneidad del género ... de lo que ha resultado incluso el cuestionamiento sobre...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 205-229
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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