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Review Article CELESTINA EXAMINED: A VIEW FROM THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY Joseph T. Snow Michigan State University I was first brought into contact widi this curious, and contemporary , examination oí Celestina about 1968, when shown a microfilm of it by Lloyd Kasten, die long-term director of die Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies at the University of Wisconsin. I was a doctoral student, not dien deeply enmeshed -as I was later to become- in Celestina studies but, nonedieless, I was impressed with what even diis microfilm copy showed me of the rich possibilities for a fresh approach to the work. I was equally impressed widi the many difficulties the Celestina comentada would present to a reader lacking the special skills and training required to read even small units ofa manuscript with such a complex mise en page.1 This Celestina comentada (CC), Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid MS 17631, the work of an unidentified erudite with a medieval cast of mind but endowed with a more modern, or Renaissance, approach to scholarship, was die first truly monumental commentary dedicated to a single work, the Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea, which, more than seventy years after it first circulated as a printed book, had been and continued to be the most reprinted work of sixteenth century Spanish literature. Subsequent publication of Spanish-language editions through 1633 within and outside die peninsula, as well as numerous translations and adaptations, especially in its first half-century (Snow 1 Celestina comentada. Edición de Louise Fothergill-Payne, Enrique Fernández Rivera y Peter Fothergill-Payne. Colección Textos Recuperados XX, Salamanca: Universidad, 2002. xlvii, 508 pp. ISBN 84-7800-857-8. U corónica 33.1 (Fall, 2004): 181-96 182Joseph T. SnowLa corónica 33.1, 2004 2004), confirm Celestina as the first genuine literary best-seller in the first one hundred and fifty years of the printed book in Europe.Louise Fothergill-Payne, Enrique Fernández Rivera and Peter Fothergill-Payne dedicated long years of work to bringing this complex manuscript commentary to print for die first time in more than four centuries, a labor which will inevitably prove to be a watershed event in Celestina studies, much as was forty years earlier Lida de Malkiel's La originalidad artística de 'La Celestina'. The commentary's author was an erudite, possibly from an academic environment, possessed ofvast learning and bodi familiar widi and fascinated by Celestina, both the work and its reception. He eidier chose or had at hand for his base text the 1538 edition published in Toledo by Juan de Ayala -its woodcut illustrating the deadi of Celestina appropriately adorns the dust jacket of the edition—, one of only three or four editions which contain die additional twenty-second Act known as the Auto de Traso, printed as Act 19.3 It is die educated surmise of the editors that die commentator had begun his work at die end of die 1550s or possibly at the beginning of die 1560s, making the choice of diis fairly recent edition unsurprising. That additional editions were also consulted is equally unsurprising, since his commentary on the CC took place over a period of several years. The editors have identified two of diese as Antonio Blado's 1520 edition printed in Rome and an unspecified Italian translation. So widi his 1538 Toledo printing, plus diese odier Italian editions we know he consulted, surrounded by a library which was in a state of constant expansion diroughout die decades oflabor expended on die examination of die Celestina text for his CC, our anonymous commentator began his work, first copying out die full text in relatively short excerpts which he then glossed according to his particular interests, paying especially close attention to die many classical, biblical, patristic, - Celestina was, in the early seventeenth century and in the period ofthe publication ofthe two parts ofDon Quijote, still a best-seller. And it continued to be until 1632 and its full prohibition in the Index librorum, reaffirmed in 1 640. 5 The fust occurrence oftheAuto de Traso is in the edition of 1 526, published in Toledo by Remón de Petras. It is not an addition which prospered among...


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