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IDEOLOGY IN ACTION: THE CONSEQUENCES OF PARADOX IN EL CONDE LUCANOR, PART I Jonathan Burgoyne The Pennsylvania State University In chapter four of the Libro infinido, Juan Manuel explains to his son Fernando the differences between a king and a tyrant, but it is not Juan Manuel's intention to write a treatise on the nature of monarchs. This chapter, like most ofthe book, is designed to help the reader make informed decisions, and put ideas into action, and in this case, the problem is how to act as the subject ofa good or evil lord.Juan Manuel's comments regarding tyrants are of particular interest because of his notoriously turbulent relationship with Alfonso XI, and his words betray not only a concern for his son but a sense of personal frustration as well. One can imagine the discomfort his reader must have feltwhen deliberating on how to apply these cynical words ofwarning to his own life1: "[C]a fasca tan graue cosa es veuir omne en tierra de su sennor e auerse a guardar del, commo meter la mano en el fuego e non se quemar" (33-34). This from a man who knew all too well the tribulations of a rico omne in fourteenth-century Castilla. In this passage, the reader is struck by a powerful simile in which one of the elements of likeness (i.e., placing one's hand in a fire without burning it) is an oxymoronic statement. The entire simile becomes a figure of thought, and more particularly a paradox, when the reader is forced to reconsider the context which the apparently absurd 1 Writing within the literary tradition of educational books for princes, Juan Manuel's implied reader in the Libro infinido is male and aristocratic, but this type of literature was considered beneficial for any reader (Lacarra, Cuentos 58), and there is no reason to assume that the original readers of this type of literature did not include women. For this essay the reader is masculine, in keeping with the implied readerJuan Manuel inscribes in his texts. La corónica 30.1 (Fall, 2001): 37-65 38Jonathan BurgoyneLa coránica 30.1, 2001 statement describes.2 Although this statement is not a semantic antinomy of the Liar paradox type, it qualifies as a paradox because of its capacity to surprise the reader with a comparison of seemingly contradictory ideas that refocuses attention on the context in which it is used.3 In order to search for a possible solution to this quandary, it is worth citing this context from the Libro infinido at greater length. As mentioned above, the passage deals with the problems ofliving with a tyrant, who is also one's sovereign lord: Et si por auentura entendiere que non es de las maneras [e] de las condiciones que deuen seer los buenos reys, e que es de la manera de los tirannos, commo quier que el rey sea tal, pues el rey e[s] señor natural, deuel seruir quanto pudiere. Et deuese guardar quanto pudiere del fazer enojo, et guisar de non darle razón derecha porque deua ser contra el. Et deue[se] guardar quanto pudiere, e non se meta en sospecha que haya recelo del rey, nin que al rey plazeria de la su muerte; pero si el pleito llegare a bagar que una voç diga que ha recelo del su cuerpo, en ninguna manera non se meta en su poder e escuse la su vista. Et non crea que por berse con el rey en canpo, nin con muchas conpannas, que en ninguna guisa puede ser guardado de muerte, si el rey fazerlo quisiere. Otrosí conuiene que se guarde de dia e de noche en las posadas que posare. Otrosí de se poner en poder de villa, nin de omne de [qui] non fie muy conplidamente: ca los más de los omnes mucho fazen por ganarse con los reyes. Et bien cred que para ser el guardado, que es mucho mester que guarde a Dios; ca si el guarda a Dios, guardara Dios a el, ca prouervio antigo es e verdadero, que 'aquel es guardado, que Dios quiere guardar'. Otrosí ha mester para esto...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 37-65
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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