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SOME THOUGHTS ON THE SENTIMENTALJOURNEY Patricia E. Grieve Columbia University "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." W.B. Veats, "The Second Coming" The Editor of this journal invited brief statements in response to the Forum essay written by Regula Rohland de Langbehn, whose concern is other critics' failure to accept or refute concretely the specific points she makes in her book, La unidadgenérica de la novela sentimental española de los siglos XV y XVI. In particular, she finds the idea that other critics deny the existence of a "genre" frustrating, especially if they have not countered her arguments one by one. On the one hand, framed in this way, the argument is a bit of a non-starter. First of all, what's wrong with disagreement? Most of the articles in La corónica's 2000 Critical Cluster are not at all concerned with framing a debate in generic terms. One that does treat genre, Barbara Weissberger's, argues for a focus on romance in general in late fifteenth-century Spain, rather than on a sentimental genre or sub-genre (or field), which puts forward a rationale that implicitly disagrees with Rohland de Langbehn's approach. Secondly, Rohland de Langbehn's defense that the picaresque canon, as an example of a stable genre, reflects an unproblematic critical concensus strikes me as far too reductive a statement, and even a red herring for the sentimental debate, but the picaresque is not the discussion here. And finally , who among us has not felt that her/his critical work has been dealt with inadequately or even, occasionally and unfortunately, appropriated or subsumed into the debate without due credit? E. Michael Gerli's Speculum review ofRegula Rohland de Langbehn's book puts forward cogent arguments for why her case for generic unity Ea CORo)NICA 31.2 (Spring, 2003): 278-81 The Genre of the "Sentimental Romance": Responses279 is, perhaps, too reductive, although he respects particular critical points made throughout the book. My own 1987 book argues for previously unstudied elements that link a number of these sentimental works, but allows for expansion of a group to include many other texts, depending on the particular points to be critically analyzed. In that regard I find myself more in agreement with Gerli's review than with Rohland de Langbehn's monograph. Rather than rehearse those arguments here, I direct the reader to the review itself. Nevertheless, without specifically naming texts, and in spite of saying that "the sentimental novels seem to have no canon of their own" (629), Gerli's remarks clearly indicate his belief in a group of works that tend to be discussed together not without reason, a group that probably has some stability of appearance (Rodriguez del Padrón, Flores, San Pedro, at the very least). Many of us recognize affinities among works that enable logical discussion of them in the same analysis without believing that we can isolate elements in order to determine a small and distinct canon, nor do we feel the need to do so. For some people, genre studies are limiting and old-fashioned, but that need not be the case. I believe that they can further our knowledge ofhow narrative is created and constituted, and I find them most interesting when they are doing just that. To the extent that genre studies appear to choke forward movement of discussion or fail to enable us to understand better than before the works under consideration , I find the notion of generic unity and the idea of genre studies to be unhelpful. Genre studies, done properly, can enlighten and liberate; they need not box in or stifle our discussions. Deyermond's conclusions (125-28) in Tradiciones y puntos de vista en la ficción sentimental (1993) cite the development over the years of the recognition of various underlying narrative traditions that inform the works we typically call sentimental romances, sentimental fiction or sentimental novels (the designator is far less important to me than the ideas generated in the many rich critical studies that have emerged over the years). Furthermore, Deyermond states that, in his opinion (one I heartily endorse), "nuestro...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 278-281
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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