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Reviewed by:
  • Las Mocedades de Rodrigo: The Youthful Deeds of Rodrigo, the Cid
  • Byron Warner
Bailey, Matthew , ed. and trans. Las Mocedades de Rodrigo: The Youthful Deeds of Rodrigo, the Cid. Toronto: U of Toronto P, with the Medieval Academy of America, 2007. 133 pp. ISBN: 978-0-8020-9336-3

This well-conceived and executed bilingual edition of Las Mocedades de Rodrigo consists of three parts. The first section is a concise introduction that guides the reader through a brief literary history of medieval epic narratives and chronicles en route to a presentation of specific issues concerning the work: the date and origin of the manuscript, a synopsis of the story and analysis of the plot, various questions concerning the composition of the Mocedades, and related issues surrounding the epic's narrative, such as the imbued ideologies and political propaganda in the work. The second section is the cantar de gesta in Spanish; the third is a translation into English. There are also notes to the text, commentary, and a table that compares the line numbers from the present edition with the past editions of Leonardo Funes, Alfonso Pinto and Ramón Menéndez Pidal.

The concept of oral composition is essential knowledge for any student of the Middle Ages. The arrangement of any story depended on sundry variables, ranging from the cultural environment seen from a broader perspective, to a crowd's reaction to an individual performance of any given juglar. Ignorance of the overwhelmingly oral nature of medieval society and its incompatibilities with contemporary conceptions of authorship and historiography precludes a richer, fuller experience of writings of the era. Its exploration of this area is one of the more noteworthy advantages of this newest edition of Mocedades.

The careful selection of information for the introduction, the clear explanations in the commentary, the placement of the English language translation relative to the Castilian original, and some of the linguistic choices made in the translation (e.g., the preservation of poetic syntax combined with the abandonment of archaic language) all signal an editorial desire for greater authenticity of reception. It has all the earmarks of a text whose overriding aim is to engage and inform.

The scholar already familiar with Mocedades, the celebrity of Mio Cid, and the tropes of epic poetry should find this edition beneficial, as well. This much-needed translation into English fills a gap that has been overdue for sometime among critical editions. Matthew Bailey's work is influenced by other editions of Mocedades published within the last forty years, but he also takes issue with various aspects of past analyses and "the creative rewriting of the text" by some editors, notably Menéndez Pidal and Juan Victorio (20). He discards the theory of unique authorship, citing grammatical and syntactical distinctions between medieval prose and poetry as evidence. [End Page 218]

With this new critical edition of Las Mocedades de Rodrigo: The Youthful Deeds of Rodrigo, the Cid, Bailey hits the mark of his stated goal of appealing to "a wider audience" (23). The careful balance he achieves between the accessible language of the introduction and the emphasis on authentic reception, and his justification vis à vis past editions and attention to detail in terms of spelling, orthographic, and syntactic standardization, makes this an attractive option as a textbook for a university literature class, as well as a starting point for research.

Byron Warner
University of Georgia


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