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  • Carajicomedia. Parody and Satire in Early Modern Spain, with an Edition and Translation of the Text by Domínguez, Frank A
  • Eric Woodfin Naylor
Domínguez, Frank A. Carajicomedia. Parody and Satire in Early Modern Spain, with an Edition and Translation of the Text. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Tamesis, 2015. xxiii + 585 pp. ISBN: 978-1-85566-289-6

This admirable and complete study of the Carajicomedia is a magnum opus and represents years of study and work on the part of Frank Domínguez. It consists of a long introduction, a paleographic-style edition of the text with very extensive notes, followed by an appendix with a Modern Spanish version facing an English translation.

The unique copy of Carajicomedia appears in the Cancionero de obras de burlas provocantes a risa (Valencia, 1519) and contains the text of the poem along with extensive glosses which burlesque those of Hernán Nuñez's (aka El Comendador Griego) learned 1499 edition of Juan de Mena's El laberinto de Fortuna (1444). It is one of the few "dirty" poems that survives from pre-counter-reformation Europe since the papal Index (1559) forbad the creation and preservation of all works of this sort.

Carajicomedia is a satirical poem of 117 stanzas in arte mayor, which parallels and parodies Juan de Mena's El laberinto and is divided into two parts. In the first Luxuria (Lust) appears to the impotent Diego Fajardo who is then introduced to an old whore, María de Vellasco (La Buiza) who will be his guide to Spanish whores who might restore his potency. His docent shows him prominent public prostitutes in various Spanish cities with comments on the virtues and professional skills of each. The second part or "continuation" of the poem portrays an assault on a whorehouse by pricks and defended by cunts. Based in El laberinto's famous account of the drowning of the second count of Niebla during an assault on Gibraltar, this part ends with the drowning of the pricks "by (i.e. 'in') the cunts".

Domínguez is convinced, and proposes to show here, that the poem is a cutting political satire of certain magnates and of the Franciscans, reflecting the predominant political preoccupations of many in Castile after the death of Isabel [End Page 305] I. "Behind their names, I contend, we glimpse shadows that represent some of the most prominent people in the realm, among them are King Fernando of Aragón and Cardinal/Regent Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros". In Domínguez' opinion the work reflects the views of "the high nobles and their clerical/letrado allies who were in opposition to the king and his regent and were the most capable of producing and decoding its jest" (p. 209). This group commonly composed cantigas d'escarnho e maldizer, scurrilous burlesque poetry. Domínguez suggests that the 1519 poem and its proposed satirical message reflect the attitudes of many of the upper class shortly before the Comuneros rising of 1520 (p. 225) and was probably composed by men from the cultured aristocratic class who were in the employ of the great nobles, a group that would admire the Laberinto, a type of poetry which was out of style with Italianate writers and others devoted to high literature.

The clergy, and particularly the Franciscans, are satirized in many ways such as in the names of the two putative authors. Fray Bugeo Montesino, parodies the name of Fray Ambrosio Montesino, an author and favorite confessor of Isabel I and resident in the newly built Franciscan convent of San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo. Bugeo is a cutting name and refers to the macaque ape. Fray Juan de Hempudia, is the name of a real friar (1450?-1531/34?) at Valladolid, friend of the Enríquez family and author of treatises written in Castilian to explain the Latin liturgy to aristocratic lay folk.

The two mock Franciscan authors brush very closely to Cardinal Cisneros, one of the magnates Domínguez believes is being criticized and in that turbulent epoch being very clear about who is being satirized was extremely dangerous to one's health; since the authorities did not take lese...


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