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THE SENTIMENTAL GENRE: ROMANCE, NOVEL, OR PARODY? Dorothy Sherman Severin University of Liverpool Regula Rohland de Langbehn's position paper on sentimental novel/ romance makes the point that critics like Antonio Cortijo and Barbara Weissberger refer to the genre as the sentimental romance and assume that the category sentimental novel is a dead issue. Regula gives three points which define the genre; that it is about a love affair, that it has a noble (in both senses, morally and socially elite) hero, and has a tragic ending. Although I personally concur that we are looking at a genre which takes us down the road to the novel, I question her basic definition. I think that the only common denominator in most ofthese works is a courtly love affair. Recent reassessments call into question both the nobility of the hero (except in the class sense) and even the tragic ending. (In fairness, Regula does refer to recent work on the ironic aspects of these works by Lillian von der Walde Moheno). My own take on the generic issue is that we seem to be trying to define something which is found in its purest form only in the earliest primitive example of the genre, Juan Rodriguez del Padrón's Siervo libre de amor. What we have thereafter is most frequently parody of the genre. I would argue that even the generic archetype, Diego de San Pedro's Cárcel de amor, has parodie elements. I will restrict my arguments to the early publishing successes of the genre, the two sentimental novels of San Pedro (the Cárcel and the Tratado de amores deArnaltey Lucendo) and two others by Juan de Flores (Grimaltey Gradisa and Grisely Mirabella). Diego de San Pedro's Arnalte y Lucendo,, an earlier work than the Cárcel de amor, is obviously parodie. As Regula herself pointed out in her seminal thesis, the character ofArnalte is a defective courtly lover who embarrasses his would-be lady by grotesque behaviour such as appearing at church in drag in order to talk to her, having her rubbish riffled by a servant, and committing gross rudeness at a masque which La corónica 31.2 (Spring, 2003): 312-15 The Genre of the "Sentimental Romance": Responses313 threatens to reveal her identity as his beloved. Although the denouement is tragic for Ilierso and Lucenda, Arnalte does not even haVe the decency to die of love at the end of the work. His attitude is often contrasted with that of Leriano in the Cárcel, who is said to be the exemplary courtly lover. But is he? The comparisons between Leriano and Christ rather bring to mind San Pedro's parodies: his 'Sermón', and those poems which compare the poet's passion on feast days to the Passion of Christ: Otra suya el Día de Ramos a la misma señora Cuando, señora, entre nos hoy la Passion se dezía, bien podes creerme vos, que lembrando la de Dios nasció el dolor de la mía. (San Pedro 249) Leriano could be accused of displaying as much or more egotism than Arnalte. He puts Laureola's honour and life at risk by his inappropriate behaviour, and after precipitating and winning a war in order to rescue her, he then tries emotional blackmail on her. When this fails he commits a passive suicide by starvation. The comparisons with Christ strike me more as black parody than favourable gloss. If a moral is being drawn, it is that profane love leads to the sort of martyrdom which condemns the soul to Hell. This point is taken up with a vengeance by Juan de Flores, especially in Grimaltey Gradisa. IfDiego de San Pedro's sentimental novels were written for a courtly audience which gave them a sophisticated reading in the context of poetic games and religious impieties and parodies, thenJuan de Flores takes this step further with works initially designed for an all-male Salamancan audience of sophisticated readers of national and international literature (Cátedra 143-59; Severin). Flores's works next entered the sphere of the Isabelline court; later they were published for a wider audience, and finally they...


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pp. 312-315
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