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Studies in Romance Languages

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Aesop's Fables

With a Life of Aesop

John E. Keller and L. Clark Keating

In 1489 Johan Hurus printed the first collection of fables in Spain, Lavida del Ysopetconsusfabulas hystoriadas. Illustrated with nearly 200 woodcuts, this work quickly became the most-read book in Spain, beloved of both children and adults. Reprinted many times in the next three centuries and carried to the New World, it brought to Spanish letters a cornucopia of Aesopic fables, oriental apologues, and folktales that were borrowed by such writers as Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and especially the fabulists Iriarte and Samaniego. John Keller and Clark Keating now present the first English translation of this important literary work.

The Latin and German lineage of La vida was significant, for it placed Spain in the mainstream of European fable lore. The highly fictitious life of Aesop, the misshapen Greek slave who reached the highest social level, contributed to the development of medieval romance and the picaresque novel. The book is thus important to students of comparative literature, literary history, and the development of the Spanish language.

Of equal value are the woodcuts, which depict the daily life of medieval Europe and contribute to a better understanding of fifteenth-century art history, bookmaking, natural history, and the visualization of narrative. La vida del Ysopet thus constitutes one of the finest concordances of text and illustration in European literary history.

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Amadis of Gaul, Books I and II

Garci R. de Montalvo. translated by Edwin Place and Herbert Behm, foreward by John E. Keller. introduction by John E. Keller

In the long history of European prose fiction, few works have been more influential and more popular than the romance of chivalry Amadis of Gaul. Although its original author is unknown, it was probably written during the early fourteenth century. The first great bestseller of the age of printing, Amadis of Gaul was translated into dozens of languages and spawned sequels and imitators over the centuries. A handsome, valiant, and undefeatable knight, Amadis is perhaps best known today as Don Quixote's favorite knight-errant and model. This exquisite English translation restores a masterpiece to print.

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Amadis of Gaul, Books III and IV

Garci R. de Montalvo. translated by Edwin Place and Herbert Behm

In the long history of European prose, few works have been more influential and popular than Amadis of Gaul. It is a landmark work among the knight-errantry tales and probably derives from an oral tradition. Although its original author is unknown, it was likely written during the early fourteenth century, with the first known version of this work, dating from 1508, written in Spanish by Garci Ordóñez (or Rodríguez) de Montalvo. An early bestseller of the age of printing, Amadis of Gaul was translated into dozens of languages and spawned sequels and imitators over the centuries. A handsome, valiant, and undefeatable knight, Amadis is best known today as Don Quixote's favorite knight-errant and role model. Readers for centuries have delighted in his tales of adventure.

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Beyond the Metafictional Mode

Directions in the Modern Spanish Novel

Robert C. Spires

The term metafiction invaded the vocabulary of literary criticism around 1970, yet the textual strategies involved in turning fiction back onto itself can be traced through several centuries. In this theoretical/critical study Robert C. Spires examines the nature of metafiction and chronicles its evolution in Spain from the time of Cervantes to the 1970s, when the obsession with novelistic self-commentary culminated in an important literary movement.

The critical portions of this study focus primarily on twentieth-century works. Included are analyses of Unamuno's Niebla, Jarnés's Locura y muerte de nadie and La novia del viento, Torrente Ballester's Don Juan, Cunquiero's Un hombre que se parecía a Orestes, and three novels from the "self-referential" movement of the 1970s, Juan Goytisolo's Juan sin Tierra, Luis Goytisolo's La colera de Aquiles, and Martín Gaite's El cuarto de atrás.

Seeking a stronger theoretical basis for his critical readings, Spires offers a sharpened definition of the term metafiction. The mode arises, he declares, through an intentional violation of the boundaries that normally separate the worlds of the author, the fiction, and the reader. Building on theoretical foundations laid by Frye, Scholes, Genette, and others, Spires also proposes a literary paradigm that places metafiction in a position intermediate between fiction and literary theory.

These theoretical formulations place Spires's book in the forefront of critical thought. At the same time, his full-scale analyses of Spanish metafictional works will be welcomed by Hispanists and other students of world literature.

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Bonaventure des Périers's Novel Pastimes and Merry Tales

Bonaventure des Périers. translated by Raymond C. La Charité and Virginia A. La Charité

The Nouvelles Récréations et Joyeaux Devis of Bonaventure des Périers are here translated for the first time into modern English. The translators have been successful in retaining the vitality of this important French Renaissance satirist, turning his colloquial sixteenth-century French into equally colloquial and lively American. The translation of the 129 tales is prefaced by a biographical study of des Périers both as man and artist, and a critical bibliography is also included.

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The Book of Count Lucanor and Patronio

A Translation of Don Juan Manuel's El Conde Lucanor

Don Juan Manuel. translated by John E. Keller and L. Clark Keating

Don Juan Manuel, nephew of King Alfonso X, The Wise, knew well the appeal of exempla (moralized tales), which he believed should entertain if they were to provide ways and means for solving life's problems. His fourteenth-century book, known as El Conde lucanor, is considered by many to be the purest Spanish prose before the immortal Don Quixote of Cervantes written two centuries later. He found inspiration for his tales in classical and eastern literatures, Spanish history, and folklore. His stories are not translations, but are his retelling of some of the best stories in existence. The translation succeeds in making the author speak as clearly to the modern reader as to readers of his own time.

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The Book of the Knight Zifar

A Translation of El Libro del Cavallero Zifar

translated by Charles L. Nelson

The Book of the Knight Zifar (or Cifar), Spain's first novel of chivalry, is the tale of a virtuous but unfortunate knight who has fallen from grace and must seek redemption through suffering and good deeds. Because of a curse that repeatedly deprives him of that most important of knightly accoutrements -- his horse -- Zifar and his family must flee their native India and wander through distant lands seeking to regain their rank and fortune. A series of mishaps divides the family, and the novel follows their separate adventures -- alternatively heroic, comic, and miraculous -- until at length they are reunited and their honor restored.

The anonymous author of Zifar based his early fourteenth-century novel on the medieval story of the life of St. Eustacius, but onto this trunk he grafted a surprising variety of narrative types: Oriental tales of romance and magic, biblical stories, moralizing fables popular since the Middle Ages, including several from Aesop, and instructions in the rules of proper knightly conduct. Humor in the form of puns, jokes, and old proverbs also runs through the novel. In particular, the foolish/wise Knave offers a comic contrast to the heroic Knight, whom he must continually rescue through the application of common sense.

Zifar was to have an important influence on later Spanish literature, and perhaps on Cervantes' great tale of a knight and his squire, Don Quixote. All those with an interest in Spanish literature and medieval life will be grateful for Mr. Nelson's excellent translation, which brings to life this extraordinary early novel.

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Calderón

Three Comedies by Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Pedro Calderón de la Barca. translated by Kenneth Muir and Ann L. Mackenzie

This volume is a sequel to Four Comedies of Calderón (1980), which was hailed by reviewers as superb, faithful, and actable. The three comedies in the present volume are generally counted among Calderón's masterpieces: Casa con dos puertas mala es de guardar (A House with Two Doors Is Difficult to Guard); No hay burlas con el amor (No Trifling with Love); Mañanas de abril y mayo (Mornings of April and May). For the first time theaters will have the opportunity of staging these three masterpieces of the Golden Age drama of Spain in accurate and charming English versions. The verse used is flexible and musical, preserving the atmosphere and much of the poetic quality of the originals. An introduction deals with the characteristics of the plays and with the problems they pose for the translator. Concise explanatory notes clarify Golden Age dramatic practices.

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Christian Allegory in Early Hispanic Poetry

David William Foster

Distinguishing figural or typological allegory -- a method adapted from the Christian exegesis of the Old Testament -- from the broader Hellenistic concept of allegory, this book examines its use in representative poems of early Hispanic literature. The author focuses on the thematic and structural employment of this originally nonliterary device and comments on the literary problems it posed and the artistic effects which were achieved by it. The development of this particular allegorical method in medieval Hispanic literature -- works in Spanish, Portuguese, Galician, and Catalan -- he shows, was fully equal to that found in the medieval Latin, Italian, and English literatures, and an understanding of its use serves to clarify the interpretation of many individual poems.

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Chronicle of Alfonso X

Shelby Thacker and Jose Escobar

Alfonso X (1221--1284) reigned as king of Castile and León from 1252 until his death. Known to history as El Sabio, the Wise, or the Learned, his appreciation for science and the arts led him to sponsor a number of books on the history of Spain since its Roman settlement. Among them were the Cantigas de Santa Maria, a collection of over four hundred poems exalting his favorite patron saint, Mary, and chronicles of all the kings of Castile and León, Navarre, Aragón, and Portugal.

Alfonso X died before his own life could be written. His was a reign fraught with political intrigue and double crosses, almost constant war and equally constant diplomacy, royal largesse and economic instability -- all of which led to open revolt and efforts by Alfonso's own son to depose the king. It would be another sixty-some years before King Alfonso XI would commission Fernán Sánchez de Valladolid to write Cronica de Alfonso X to memorialize his great-grandfather. As Alfonso XI's trusted counselor, ambassador, diplomat, and legist, Fernán was an understandable choice, but in the centuries since, his convoluted prose has proven extremely difficult extremely difficult for scholars.

Chronicle of Alfonso X is the first and only translation of the king's history. The original "clumsy Castilian" of Fernán Sánchez has now been transformed into literate and engaging English.

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