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Reviewed by:
  • Ensueños de Razón: El cuento inserto en tratados de magia (Siglos XVI y XVII)
  • Charles Burnett
María Jesús Zamora Calvo . Ensueños de Razón: El cuento inserto en tratados de magia (Siglos XVI y XVII). Biblioteca Áurea Hispánica 31. Frankfurt: Vervuert, 2005. 252 pp. index. bibl. €36. ISBN: 84–8489–131–3.

The title of this book implies that the main subject matter will be the stories included in books of magic in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. This would have added a valuable new element to the extensive recent literature on Renaissance and early modern magic. One is a little disappointed to find that only forty pages of the book give examples of the stories themselves, and that the majority of these come from only three sources: the works of Martino del Rio, Francesco Maria Guaccio (who is largely dependent on del Rio), and Strozzi Cigogna. Zamora Calvo claims that she has compiled some 2,500 stories that she will catalogue in future publications. This book may turn out to be a kind of introduction to such a catalogue, when it appears.

The book's aim is very laudable: to rescue from oblivion a genre of literature (the stories within texts concerning magic) and to study the contents, structure, and style of this genre. Zamora Calvo wishes to counter the popular view that magic is incompatible with a period that is regarded as an age of reason, but rather sees the transition from Renaissance to Baroque as a period more conducive than any previous period for the cohabitation of magic and reason. This is what makes this age particularly rich in texts on magic. And these texts are full of imaginative illustrative narrations, which are little known to the modern reader.

More than half of the book is devoted to describing these books on magic. Zamora Calvo catalogues them under the categories of general magic, natural [End Page 931] magic, occult philosophy, divinatory magic, love magic, and demonology, which is subdivided into manuals for exorcists, texts on witches, and manuals for inquisitors. Zamora Calvo's perspective embraces the whole of Europe, but there is, as one might expect, a significant Spanish component, which includes the authors Juan Pérez de Moya (1513–96), Martin de Castanega (ca. 1485–1555), Pedro Ciruelo (ca. 1475–ca. 1555), Paulo Grillando (fl. 1525–34), Francisco de Vitoria (ca. 1486–1546), Martin del Rio (1551–1608), Francisco Torreblanca Villalpando (fl. 1618), and Pedro de Valencia (fl. 1610).

The second part of the book is entitled "the stories (cuentos) inserted in the treatises on magic," but before dealing with the stories themselves Zamora Calvo discusses at some length the terminology for story —cuento, fabliella, estoria, novella, and so on —and defines the categories exempla, nova, lai, fabliau, myth, miracle, and novellae. This is interesting in itself, but deals with the subject in a general way rather than through reference to magical texts themselves. These are only brought in for the next section in which stories found in magical texts are quoted to illustrate their subject matter (mysogyny, heresy, the pact with the devil, intercourse with demons), their dramatis personae (the witch, the magician, the devil, demons) and certain characteristics (the world being populated with spirits, the importance of personal testimony). Quotations from the stories are given, with little comment. The reader has been led to expect more discussion of the style, context, and purpose of the stories, and at least some reference to which of the genres (exempla, lai, etc.) that have been previously discussed they fall into. Zamora Calvo cites Huarte de San Juan as a critic of the Latin written by Spanish writers, but does not discuss how the Latin of her sources fails to meet classical standards. It is unclear whether the several errors in the Latin —168, "vistitu" for "vestitu"; 171, "vatiis" for "variis"; 182, "fic" for "sic"; 198, "recuta" for "reducta" (?); 200, "necio" for "nescio," etc. —are due to the unreliability of sixteenth- and seventeenth century editions or are modern misprints.

In conclusion, this book remains more useful for its bibliography on magic in the early modern period (understandably Spanish centered) than...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1935-0236
Print ISSN
0034-4338
Pages
pp. 931-932
Launched on MUSE
2008-10-03
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived 2009
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