- The Life and Times of Mother Andrea/Vida y costumbres de la Madre Andrea ed. by Enriqueta Zafra (review)
- Calíope: Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry
- Penn State University Press
- Volume 18, Number 3, 2013
- pp. 161-164
- View Citation
- Additional Information
RESEÑAS 161 principios filológicos, representa una saludable llamada de atención sobre la pertinencia de la erudición en su grado justo y, sobre todo, en su sensata aplicación; junto a ello ofrece una muestra de las aportaciones de una mirada de carácter interdisciplinar y plantea una reivindicación sin ostentaciones del comparatismo, dimensiones todas ellas a las que en ningún caso pueden renunciar los estudios literarios. Góngora planteó y llevó a la práctica la empresa heroica del poeta; esta obra nos lo evidencia y demuestra, de paso, las posibilidades de la crítica para elevarse a una altura heroica. Pedro Ruiz Pérez Universidad de Córdoba The Life and Times of Mother Andrea /Vida y costumbres de la Madre Andrea. Ed. Enriqueta Zafra. Trans. Anne J. Cruz. Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2011. HB. 176 pp. ISBN: 978-1-84615-940-4 Enriqueta Zafra and Anne Cruz have made a welcome contribution to several fields—including Hispanic Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Jewish Studies, and Portuguese Studies—in their SpanishEnglish edition of Vida y costumbres de la Madre Andrea (The Life and Times of Mother Andrea). Theirs is the first edition of this anonymous female picaresque novella from the seventeenth century since Dutch Hispanist Jonas Van Praag published it in 1958 (Vida y costumbres de la madre Andrea. Revista de Literatura. 14 :111-69). The original author offers the scandalous story of the Celestinesque procuressprostitute Andrea. As the genre begs, the protagonist narrates her life, from her unorthodox birth and lineage—both in terms of paternity and purity of blood—to her administration of a brothel in what is most REVIEWS 162 likely Madrid. She eventually retires and converts into a repentant Mary Magdalene figure. Zafra prefaces the source text with an introduction of 23 pages and five sub-sections. She summarizes the novella’s history, detailing Van Praag’s discovery of an eighteenth-century reproduction of the original manuscript. She then recounts her own thorough yet ultimately frustrated search for the copy that had once been in Van Praag’s possession, concluding that, while the original manuscript and its copies remain lost, a modernized, critical edition is a desideratum to the field (Zafra and Cruz 3). Next, Zafra situates the novella within its historical and literary context, drawing on her previous work with the genre, such as her dissertation El papel de la prostitución en la picaresca femenina and her article, “Teaching the Role of Prostitution in the Female Picaresque” (in Approaches to Teaching Lazarillo de Tormes and the Picaresque Tradition. Ed. Anne J. Cruz [New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008]: 108-12), as well as that of other scholars of both the Celestinesque and female picaresque traditions. Zafra’s overall claim is that the female picaresque novella generally functioned as a textual romping ground for men’s sex-capades. Works like La madre Andrea confined their loose protagonists to the page while their real life counterparts roamed the streets and actual brothels threatened clients with venereal disease. In other words, male readers could enjoy the coquettish characters safely and guiltlessly and at the same time gain an education about the dangers of flesh-and-blood pícaras. Zafra asserts that the novella is unprecedented in the genre for Andrea’s multi-faceted character as prostitute, pícara, procuress, and madre de mancebía, as well as the text’s insights into the legal and commercial aspects of brothel management. Zafra also speculates on the author’s origins. While she cautions against labeling him definitely as converso, she fleshes out a convincing argument for his likely Semitic background and relocation from Madrid to the more tolerant Netherlands. Evidence of the author’s identity and trajectory include social criticisms typical of converso writers, frequent Old Testament citations, the use of terms associated with mercantilism, and instances of linguistic colloquialisms common to Madrid. In addition, Zafra considers the function of the work’s anonymous authorship and the censorship that likely prevented the printing of the original manuscript. RESEÑAS 163 Following Zafra’s introduction, Cruz elucidates her approach to translating the novella from the original Spanish into English. As she explains...