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  • Text, Translation, and Critical Interpretation of Joan de Roís de Corella's Tragèdia de Caldesa, a Fifteenth-Century Spanish Tragedy of Gender Reversal by Cocozzella, Peter
  • Christina E. Ivers
Cocozzella, Peter. Text, Translation, and Critical Interpretation of Joan de Roís de Corella's Tragèdia de Caldesa, a Fifteenth-Century Spanish Tragedy of Gender Reversal. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen P, 2012. xvii + 251 pp. 5 plates. ISBN 978-07-73-42625-2

With his Text, Translation, and Critical Interpretation of Joan de Roís de Corella's Tragèdia de Caldesa, a Fifteenth-Century Spanish Tragedy of Gender Reversal, Peter Cocozzella offers English-speaking non-specialists access to a dramatic monologue written in Catalán from fifteenth-century Valencia. Cocozzella, in his treatment of Roís de Corella's Tragèdia de Caldesa (1458), aims to demonstrate that it possesses theatrical qualities which could have found an outlet in late-medieval performance. Moreover, he proposes that Roís de Corella's Tragèdia, a dramatic monologue that could have been simultaneously acted in pantomime, was informed by Isidoro de Sevilla's definition of tragedy, rather than Aristotle's. This reading of Roís de Corella's tragedy enables Cocozzella to introduce a gender studies approach. With recourse to Stephen Greenblatt's Renaissance Self-Fashioning, Cocozzella provides a reading of the male protagonist as a distraught individual who verbally constructs himself as a victim in contrast to the largely silent female character, Caldesa, whose carefully staged interactions with her lovers allow her to control the action. Most criticism, according to Cocozzella, locates Roís de Corella's aesthetic inspiration in Ausiàs March's moralism. Cocozzella suggests, rather, that what Roís de Corella emulates is March's [End Page 309] development of the protagonist's individual subjectivity. It is this exploration of the self that situates Roís de Corella among early Renaissance writers.

Chapters one and two cast the Tragèdia as one of several Iberian texts that draw upon the prison of love as a trope of the dark chamber in which the protagonist witnesses the scene which so distresses him. Cocozzella draws upon diverse sources that let him situate Roís de Corella in a literary community structured around Ausiàs March and interested in exploring "text[s] of loneliness" that spatially construct solitude as a means of enacting individual subjectivity

(2). Cocozzella suggests that such an exploration of psychological, instead of moralistic, themes indicates the Valencian writer's inventiveness. Cocozzella further observes in chapter three that Roís de Corella mingles the narratives of the infierno and of Narcissus in the Tragèdia. Roís de Corella's adaptation of the egocentric youth, Cocozzella argues, represents another way in which the Tragèdia emulates the "psychological and existential tonalities of March's textuality" (67) and anticipates trends of self-fashioning. Roís de Corella's use of Narcissus permits Cocozzella to vindicate Caldesa from accusations of inconstancy. In this productive analysis, Cocozzella reflects these accusations upon the protagonist, whose self-obsession reveals that his true anxiety pertains to his own changeability. Chapter four comprises a psychological study in which Cocozzella interprets Caldesa as a self-fashioner and considers her as an agent shaping and guiding the plot. While the male narrator's monologue presents its readers or hearers with a capricious Caldesa, Cocozzella argues that an actual staging of the piece—a possible, albeit unproven, premise—would locate Caldesa at center stage. Cocozzella avails himself of another aspect of self-fashioning, the blurring of fiction and reality, to explain Caldesa's seeming meekness in her only speech as a sort of "Ovidian ventriloquism" (110) on the part of Roís de Corella. If fiction and autobiography merge in the Tragèdia, the narrator, perhaps speaking with Roís de Corella's voice, might invent a submissive speech for Caldesa in an effort to shape his own identity as a narcissistic lover.

The focus shifts in chapter five to the Tragèdia's dramatic elements. This chapter explains the symbiotic relationship that Cocozzella sees between the rhetorical and visual dimensions of the piece, signaling the close connection between text and image for...


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