restricted access Two - Sins of Our Fathers (and Spouses): The Preternatural in Baroque Exemplary Tales
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their tombs. Seeing such diabolical things, I began to feel a great deal of horror and fear and to turn my head the other way to avoid looking at them. And wishing to get away from the door, I wanted to escape but did not dare). This fascinating passage is exemplary of the moral ambiguity that permeates the textual world of La silva curiosa. The narrator may be looking to shield himself from the charges of heterodoxy when he expresses his disgust at the sight of the “diabolical things” contained in the necromancer’s chamber , but his show of revulsion is not entirely convincing. Julio had every reason to suspect the sinister nature of the contents of the cave. Also, if he had worked so hard to avoid looking at these dreadful things, how is it that he can describe them in minute detail? Moreover, in a passage that seems inconsistent with his disclaimer, we will later learn that Julio comes to be in possession of the most precious of the necromancer’s relics, the secret book of incantations that holds the key to his fabulous powers. We must keep in mind that the narrator imagines a sympathetic audience of curious readers who should be able to appreciate his taste for macabre rarities and his fascination with occult powers.36 The richness of detail in the description of the necromancer’s gallery of horrors contrasts sharply with the narrator’s perfunctory references to the sacred relics of Santiago de Compostela. His hurried and utterly uninterested comments on the church of Saint James and the relics of the patron saint are utterly devoid of curiosity. This is remarkable when we consider that Julio had presented his autobiographical narrative as a pilgrimage story. The church of Santiago de Compostela that contains the remains of the apostle was (and still is) the point of destination of countless pilgrims, the sacred place where their spiritual desire ought to ‹nd complete satisfaction.37 Remarkably , Santiago de Compostela is not the end of the journey for Julio and his companions; it is not even a particularly signi‹cant or memorable station. In fact, the narrator devotes no more than a short paragraph to their visit of Baroque Horrors 68 36. Alcalá Galán says about Julio’s disclaimers, “Su situación es la de un hombre que quiere protegerse de juicios morales adversos, pero que ante todo pretende que se le reconozca su pertenencia a un ámbito de di‹cil acceso y que lo pone en un umbral de poder y conocimiento susceptible de ser admirado” (35) (His situation is that of a man who wants to protect himself from adverse moral judgments; yet, he wishes to be recognized, ‹rst and foremost, as someone who belongs to a circle of dif‹cult access which grants him admirable knowledge and power). 37. I am paraphrasing here from “El Persiles” (1980) by Alban Forcione and Tilbert Diego Stegmann. The essay focuses on the religious signi‹cance of Persiles’ pilgrimage to Rome in Cervantes’ Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda (1617). Santiago: “Y entrando en Compostella, la primera visita que hizimos fue visitar la Santa Iglesia donde reposa el cuerpo d’el buen Padrón. Estando allí, después de haver hecho nuestra oration con grande consolatión y contento, y visitando la sancta capilla de los Franceses, deliberamos de confessarnos el día siguiente y recibir en ella el Sancto Sacramento, y assí lo hizimos. Y, despu és de haver oído nuestra missa muy devotamente, fuimos como es la costumbre a visitar la iglesia d’el Padrón, y las cosas sanctas y antiguas que se hallan en ella y en la montaña de Buratos. Llegados allí y nuestra devotión cumplida, concertamos de partir al día siguiente” (285) (And as we arrived in Compostela, we ‹rst paid a visit to the Sacred Church in which the body of our Patron rests. Once there, and after we had prayed with much solace and joy, we visited the sacred chapel of the French and decided to confess on the following day and to receive the Sacred Sacrament there, which we did. And having attended mass with much devotion, we went to visit, as it is customary , the patron’s church and other sacred and ancient things, which can be found there and in the mountain of Buratos. Having arrived and complied with our devotions, we agreed to leave on the following day). The entire two-day...


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