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Art of Subversion in Inquisitorial Spain

Rojas and Delicado

by Manuel de Costa Fontes

Publication Year: 2005

Rojas's Celestina (1499) is perhaps the second greatest work of Spanish literature, right after Don Quixote, and Delicado sought to surpass it with La Lozana andaluza (1530), an important precedent of the picaresque novel.Both works were written during the height of the Inquisition, when the only relatively safe way for New Christian writers of Jewish extraction like Rojas and Delicado to express what they felt about the discrimination they suffered and their doubts regarding the faith that had been forced upon their ancestors was in a covert, indirect manner. Some scholars have detected this subversive element in Rojas' and Delicado's corrosive view of the Christian societies in which they lived, but this book goes far beyond such impressionism, showing through abundant textual evidence that these two authors used superficial bawdiness and claims regarding the morality of their respective works as cover to encode attacks against the central dogmas of Christianity: the Annunciation, the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, and the Holy Trinity.This book, which will generate controversy among Hispanists, many of whom have refused to examine these works for non-Catholic views, will be of interest not only to students and scholars of Spanish literature, but also to those involved in Jewish studies, Medieval European history, and cultural studies.

Published by: Purdue University Press

Series: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures


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Title Page

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p. iii


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xiii

Unlike other European countries, by the end of the Middle Ages Spain had a large number of conversos, Jews or descendants of Jews who, in most instances, had been forced to embrace Christianity. The problem started in 1391, when numerous pogroms devastated the country. Christian mobs...

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Chapter One: The Converso Problem

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pp. 1-32

According to Islamic tradition, Christians and Jews are "people of the book" because they are mentioned in the Koran, which includes Jewish and Christian figures such as Abraham, Isaac, Mary, and Jesus. Since Muslims believe that the angel Gabriel transported to heaven the founder of Islam...

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Chapter Two: Repression and Artistic Expression

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pp. 33-78

This was the suffocating environment in which Fernando de Rojas and Francisco Delicado had to live. Being conversos, they belonged to a repressed, unwanted minority. Rojas published Celestina anonymously in Burgos, in 1499, seven years after the conquest of Granada, the expulsion of the Jews,...

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Chapter Three: The Idea of "Limpieza" in Celestina, La Lozana andaluza, and Other Literary Works

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pp. 79-100

"Limpieza de sangre" was particularly vexing to learned conversos, who took inordinate pride in their Jewish ancestry, tending to regard themselves as noble. In the Iberian Peninsula, Judaism reached the greatest heights ever achieved in the history of the Diaspora, to such an extent that medieval Spain...

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Chapter Four: Celestina as an Antithesis of the Blessed -Mother

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pp. 101-141

First published anonymously, Celestina was a controversial work from the very beginning. 1 In the preliminary letter to an unnamed friend, Rojas says that he found the equally anonymous first act, which some attributed to Juan de Mena and others to Rodrigo Cota, already written, and that he decided to...

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Chapter Five: Christian Prayer and Dogma in Celestina

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pp. 142-170

In a work entitled The Refutation of Christian Principles (c. 1398), Hasdai ben Judah Crescas (c. 1340-1410 or 1411), chief rabbi of Zaragoza, whose son had been killed in the riots of 1391, listed his philosophical arguments against the principal beliefs of Christianity as follows: "(1) The original,...

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Chapter Six: "Sailing," Renaissance Rome, and Exile in La Lozana andaluza

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pp. 171-201

Written by Francisco Delicado, an Andalusian priest who lived in Rome for many years, La Lozana andaluza (Venice, 1530) opens with a prologue (167-70) where the author dedicates his book to an unidentified "Ilustre Senor" ("Illustrious Lord"),l claiming that he is merely describing what he...

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Chapter Seven: The Holy Trinity and the Annunciation in La Lozana andaluza

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pp. 202-230

By presenting the capital of Christendom as a whore, Delicado coincided with those Christians who also decried the immorality of Rome and sought to reform the Church. Although they disagreed with Rome, their Christianity was not in doubt. Delicado was not one of those reformers. As we will...

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Chapter Eight: Rojas, Delicado, and the Art of Subversion

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pp. 231-257

Delicado's claim,on the very frontispiece of his book, that it contains "munchas mas cosas que la Celestina" ("many more things than Celestina"; 165), may have been an advertising gimmick, for Celestina was an extremely popular, bawdy work with the name of another woman on the title, but it is...


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pp. 259-272


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pp. 273-302


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pp. 303-304

Works Cited

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pp. 305-338


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pp. 339-346

E-ISBN-13: 9781612491141
E-ISBN-10: 1612491146
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557533487
Print-ISBN-10: 1557533482

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: Purdue Studies in Romance Literatures
Series Editor Byline: Patricia Hart See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 62290226
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Art of Subversion in Inquisitorial Spain

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Marranos -- Spain -- Intellectual life.
  • Rojas, Fernando de, d. 1541. Celestina.
  • Christianity in literature.
  • Religion and literature -- Spain.
  • Delicado, Francisco, 16th cent. Retrato de la Loc╠žana andaluza.
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