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FERNANDO DE LA TORRE'S "JUEGO DE NAIPES", A GAME OF LOVE Nancy F. Marino Michigan State University In the late 1450s Castilian poet Fernando de la Torre sent a collection ofprose and poetic texts to Doña Leonor de Foix, daughter ofKingJuan II ofNavarra and Aragón, who had repeatedly requested it. This compendium, known as El libro de las veynte cartas e quistiones, contains letters written to a variety of correspondents and almost two hundred poems on amorous themes. Among these verse compositions is an elaborate work entitled "El juego de naipes", which the poet dedicated to the Countess ofCastañeda Mencia Enriquez de Mendoza, a noblewoman of die Castilian court. In one of his studies of playing cards in Spanish literature, JeanPierre Etienvre affirms that it is the first literary version of a card game and diat the poet was die first author to use card suit symbolism in his work, which makes the "Juego de naipes" unique in all of early European literature ("Symbolisme" 427-28). But Etienvre finds the work's textual coherence and overall meaning difficult to discern and wonders if, in the end, it is simply an exercise in poetic virtuosity (Márgenes 317). Nicasio Salvador Miguel has also addressed the apparent system of symbols inherent in Fernando de la Torre's association of certain classes of women with card suits, and assumes diat contemporaneous readers familiarwith courdy debates on amorous topics would have understood the underlying meaning even ifwe cannot (219-20). María Jesús Diez Garretas agrees with Salvador Miguel's assessment of the difficulty of fully appreciating the poet's correlation ofcategories ofladies widi suits and colors. She also posits a few possible I would like to thankJosephJ. Gwara for reading an earlier version ofthis article and for his many useful suggestions that have improved it. La corónica 35.1 (Fall, 2006): 209-47 210Nancy F. MarinoLa corónica 35.1, 2006 figurai meanings based on known medieval symbols but is unable to explain what she considers some baffling references (Torre, Obra literaria 58-60). Only Antonio Paz y Melia fails to see any literary merit in the game, finding it amoral for its treatment of the love ofmarried ladies and nuns. He nevertheless admits that die deck itselfmightbe ofinterest from an artistic or historical point ofview (Torre, Cancionero xix).1 The "Juego de naipes" does exhibit Fernando de la Torre's considerable virtuosity as a poet; however, it does not merely parade before his reading public a series ofelements thatflaunthis considerable knowledge of proverbs and symbols of various sorts, references historical, biblical, and mythological. I would like to propose instead diat this poetic deck ofcards is a cohesive system that integrates all of these elements and leads its readers, sometimes playfully, to deduce that loyalty and constancy are the most important concerns in matters of love. One can arrive at this conclusion by paying close attention to the well-chosen signposts: the colors and traditional symbolism ofthe suits, the poetry written for each ofthese suits, and the people that the poet indicates the artist should paint on die cards. But we can gain additional insightby considering this work's inclusion in the Libro de las veynte cartas e quistiones, where it is surrounded by texts that provide information about Mosén Fernando's life, relationships with others, and attitudes towards women in general and love in particular. Some of these works, especially the prose correspondence with friends both male and female, appear to provide a context for the seemingly odd references or associations that he makes in the "Juego de naipes". In addition, several of the apparently obscure allusions or pictorial descriptions of contemporaneous persons can be clarified by looking to external historical accounts. Fernando de la Torre's connection with the Castilian court of both Juan II (1406-1454) and Enrique IV (1454-1474) and his relationship with the rulers of Navarra has been established bodi by evidentiary documentation and by his own words.2 A native of Burgos who studied in Florence and attended the Council of Basel, Mosén Fernando probably entered Juan II's service in the late 1430s and continued to 1...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 209-247
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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