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Reviewed by:
  • Cervantes y el Cuarto Misterio by Vicente Pérez de León
  • Rosa María Stoops (bio)
Vicente Pérez de León. Cervantes y el Cuarto Misterio. Alcalá de Henares: Centro de Estudios Cervantinos, 2010. 713 pp. ISBN: 788-496-408746.

This new study by Vicente Pérez de León on Miguel de Cervantes’s narrative hopes to contribute to making Cervantes’s work more accessible to readers of the twenty-first century. With this objective in mind, the author first presents a theoretical approach by which to undertake a profound analysis of the entire corpus of Cervantes’s narrative production from philosophical, religious, and scientific points of view. Additionally, Pérez de León concentrates his efforts on identifying the presence, within Cervantes’s narrative, of sophisticated technical details utilized by Renaissance artists in order to produce transcendental effects in the reader:

En este estudio espero haber contribuido a hacer más accesible la obra narrativa de Cervantes en su conjunto, para de esta manera poder ser entendida mejor por el lector del siglo veintiuno. Con este propósito presento primero un aparato teórico, con el fin de demostrar que hay momentos en los que religión, magia vinculante y ciencia se funden en [End Page 184] la novela cervantina para crear el efecto de despertarnos hacia la extraña realidad ordenada por las leyes del sorprendente artificio literario


The book is divided into two sections, Part A and Part B. The first consists of three subsections identified with numbers A1, A2, and A3, which are further separated by lower case letters, from A.1. (Claves epistemológicas de la verisimilitud narrativa en periodo de conciencia acausal); A.2. (Acausalidad y artificio Cervantino), to A.3. (Cervantes, narrador acausal). Each of these subcategories is further divided into smaller categories and more detailed aspects of the analysis. For example, category A.2. includes category A.2.c.9. (Sobre la técnica literaria cervantina, la verosimilitud mágica y la presencia del Cuarto misterio). This first part presents the theoretical frame through which Pérez de León analyzes Cervantes’s literary production. Part B, is much more extensive, undertaking a chronological analysis of the entire corpus of Cervantes’s narrative production, applying the theoretical principles set forth in Part A. Part B is divided into five sections, starting with B.1.a., through B.5.e. Most of the chapters in Section A are brief and concise; however, the categories in Section B are extensive, some of them, such as B.2.d., include more than twenty pages of analysis.

The title is suggestive, but in the end, it is not representative of the many themes addressed in the book. Surprisingly, there is not a precise explanation of what exactly Pérez de Leon identifies as the Cuarto Misterio. There are a great number of compelling ideas in the book concerning deeply philosophical and aesthetic principles, such as the study of pictorial processes to analyze works of literature, and specifically Miguel de Cervantes’s work. Consistent with these ideas, great importance is granted to the analysis of the painting Verona: Visiones agustinas sobre la Sagrada Familia contempladas desde el Monasterio pontificio del Santo Angel Gabriel, which are truly significant from philosophical and artistic points of view. Given this fact, the book could benefit from a better illustration of the work than the one provided on page 82. The illustration should be bigger, of better quality, and presented from different angles in order to be more relevant to the argument of visual analysis.

Another thought-provoking proposition by Pérez de Leon is the identification and analysis of several cultural concerns with magic and the occult that permeate the intellectual and religious environment of the Spanish Golden Age, recognized in the works of Miguel de Cervantes: [End Page 185]

En este contexto, uno de los recursos más llamativos que hemos identificado en la narrativa cervantina es el de la verosimilitud mágica, consistente en alcanzar a inducir la sensación de verosimilitud en el lector mediante un juego de vínculos cruzados”


Although other previous contributions to the field substantiate the ideas...


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pp. 184-187
Launched on MUSE
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