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"NO ESPERA FRUTO DELLA'9: MARITAL DISCORD IN THE INVENCIONES OF QUESTIONDEAMOR Matthew T. Bentley Wabash College The title page of a 1539 edition of the anonymous Question de amor, printed in Zamora by Pedro Touans, displays the date ofprinting in Roman numerals below the title and subtide, which promises a newly printed edition with "algunas cosas añadidas" (fig. 1). None of this is surprising; however, the printer has chosen a font different from that of the rest of the page, so that what should clearly read MDXXXIX now seems to read Morrrir. This appears to be deliberate: the emblem at the top ofthe page reads "Fortuna deva me lavida, Pues que muerte me convida", and is accompanied by monstrous beings, both ofwhich are stepping on what appear to be human skulls. The bottom of the page shows a battle scene with several soldiers in various positions of struggle and combat. The ambiguity at play here demonstrates that readers of the sentimental romance approached texts like Question de amor with a horizon of cultural expectations highly attuned to visual culture, wordplay and polysemy. At the same time, the printer's decision to juxtapose the levity of a clever semiotic game with the gravity of its message of death and finality reflects a cultural tendency to shroud profound, personal, and often bitter statements under the veil of linguistic puns and visual ambiguity. This phenomenon is particularly evident in the more than one hundred invenciones found within the pages of Question de amor.1 Unlike the game played in this tide page, which treats the universal, general concept ofdeath, the invención often 1 Vicenta Blay Manzanera compiled all oîQuestion de amor s verses in "Prosa y verso en la ficción sentimental del siglo XVI". La corónica 35.1 (Fall, 2006): 47-66 48Matthew T. BentleyLa coránica 35.1, 2006 Figure 1: Title page, Question de amor, 1539 edition, Zamora. "No espera fruto della"49 makes ambiguous reference to the specific private lives and relationships ofreal women and men. The focus ofthis essay is a series oíinvenciones whose layers of meaning reveal a story of marital discord, adultery, and sexual dysfunction in the Aragonese Court of Naples. The invención is a brief, enigmatic conceit that has only been preserved through cancioneros, crónicas and a few sentimental romances, including Question de amor, which was first published in Valencia in 1513.2 The textual component (letra) of the invención refers the spectator to a visual component (divisa,), which is often the cimera worn on the knight's helmet at ajousting tournament, but can also take the form of the color scheme of the courtìy garment or an image found on the shield or within the pattern of the fabric. The majority of the invenciones cannot be fully understood without the corresponding visual image, nor the divisa understood without its letra. Francisco Rico emphasizes the interrelationship of these components, defining the invención as "[una] equilibrada conjunción de cuerpo visual (divisa) y alma literaria (mote, letra)" (190). Part text and part visual conceit, the invención provided the court with an especially effective vehicle for the display and examination of crucial issues ofthe late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, including the power of the visual image and the role ofthe eyes inphilocaptio, the function oflanguage and clothing in acts ofrepresentation, and the rising awareness ofwords -especially written- as material objects that are susceptible to decay, corruption, ownership and exploitation. In Question de amor, the letras of the invenciones appear without any images to aid the readers' interpretations of the conceits. Unlike the characters in the work, who have access to the visual triggers that motivate and frame these texts, we are left to our own devices, depending only on our imaginations and on the descriptions of the clothing upon which the verses appear. The freedom of the reader to scan these descriptive passages quickly, or to skip over them entirely, seems to have led scholars of Question de amor to treat the work's invenciones as mere adornment to the work's simple plot.3 This is 2 Nicolás Nunez's continuation ofC...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 47-66
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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