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A POSSIBLE INFLUENCE ON LA VERDAD SOSPECHOSA?' Richard W. Tyler The University of Nebraska In Juan Ruiz de Alarcón's La verdad sospechosa, D. Beltrán welcomes his son, D. García, to Madrid as the young man returns from his student life in Salamanca to assume the place of his deceased elder brother. Not having seen his son for some time, D. Beltrán, sure that by now the youth must have fallen prey to some vice, asks a Letrado who has been Garcia's companion, to tell him the lad's weak spot. In reply, the Letrado utters what must be one of the greatest understatements in world literature. Garcia's only fault, he says, is "No decir siempre verdad." (v. 156).2 D. Beltrán's instant reaction gives a foretaste of longer speeches to come: "¡Jesús, qué cosa tan fea / en hombre de obligación!" (w. 157-158). A few lines later, he makes it clear that he would find almost any other shortcoming more acceptable: Créame que si Garcia mi hacienda, de amores ciego, disipara, o en el juego consumiera noche y día; si fuera de ánimo inquieto y a pendencias inclinado, si mal se hubiera casado, si se muriera en efeto, no lo llevara tan mal como que su falta sea mentir. ¡Qué cosa tan fea!¡Qué opuesta a mi natural! (w. 205-216) A moment later, however, one wonders if all this is so contrary to D. Beltr án's nature, after all; for he decides: Ahora bien: lo que he de hacer es casarle brevemente, antes que este inconveniente conocido venga a ser. (w. 217-220). About a thousand lines later, he reflects that fathers have always suffered the rigors of the Generation Gap, and gives us more of the same: Santo Dios, pues esto permitís vos, esto debe de importar.¿A un hijo solo, a un consuelo que en la tierra le quedó a mi vejez triste, dio tan gran contrapuesto el cielo? Ahora bien, siempre tuvieron los padres disgustos tales: siempre vieron muchos males los que mucha edad vivieron.¡Paciencia! Hoy he de acabar, si puedo, su casamiento; con la brevedad intento este daño remediar, antes que su liviandad, en la corte conocida, los casamientos le impida que pide su calidad, (w. 1266-84). Other vices and bad habits, D. Beltr án reflects, have their compensations; but not lying: Todos los vicios, al fin, o dan gusto o dan provecho; mas de mentir, ¿qué se saca sino infamia y menosprecio? (w. 1460-63). In other words, we are reminded yet again, the honor code has many aspects. All this sounds remarkably like what happens in number 216 of the fifteenthcentury El libro de exenpïos por A.B.C. de Climente Sánchez, Archidiacre de Valderas.3 First, a Latin motto wams us that "Mendacium pessimum est delictum ," from which we pass to the following couplet: "De todo vicio se puede quitar el pecador / E mas del mentir que es mucho peor." The text of the brief ejemplo follows: 6 "Vn doctor pregunto de la vida de un su sobrino, e su maestro [remember the Letrado!] dixole: Vuestro sobrino es luxurioso e goloso e jugador de dados. E dixo el sabio: Todas esas cosas de ligero pueden auer correpçion. E pregunt óle sy costumbraua mentir. E dixole el maestro que era muy mentiroso . E dixo el sabio·" Agora desespero del, ca este pecado, comino sea muy malo, non se puede corregir de ligero. El chantre de Paris, que era vn grand sabio, dixo a vn su seruidor que mas querría que fuesse luxurioso e adultero que fuesse mentiroso. Granting that we have here a nephew instead of a son, and that the teacher attributes three other vices to him, the wise man's reaction still seems clearly to anticipate that of D. Beltrán. Lying, he seems to be telling us, is worse than all the other vices combined; and his French opposite number bears him out. At this late date, it is probably not possible to establish whether or not Ruiz de Alarcón ever read the ejemplo. Thus, our hypothetical...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-0928
Print ISSN
0007-5108
Pages
pp. 6-7
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-08
Open Access
No
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