Discourses of Poverty: Social Reform and the Picaresque Novel in Early Modern Spain by Anne J. Cruz (review)
- Calíope: Journal of the Society for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry
- Penn State University Press
- Volume 7, Number 1, 2001
- pp. 138-142
- View Citation
- Additional Information
138 «5 REVIEWS fives like "altas, graves, llenas, alegres, severas, grandes, i sonantes" (quoted by Cuevas, 162)? Do these words each have specific and distinctive meanings? Macrf attempted to define some of these terms, but a thorough discussion, perhaps grounded in a new linguistic paradigm, is necessary , particularly as so many of Herrera's critical terms are metaphorical . A second topic not directly addressed in this collection is the function of the realia annotations, perhaps connecting the Anotaciones to other Renaissance works of excessive erudition, or in the encyclopedic tradition. Several essays used the term "mannerist" in reference to Herrera; I had not encountered this term in a long time, and it would be marvelous if there were a revival of interest in this stylistic category, or indeed in any kind of stylistics at all. Finally, given how many of the essays emphasize the important role of imitation in Herrera's critical theory and in the composition of both the Anotaciones and the poetry, I think a reconsideration of his theory of authorship is in order; in particular, it seems difficult to reconcile the almost total effacement of author-as-subject, and the supreme ego (and super-ego) of the poetry. A new theory of authorship might even help resolve the textual perplexity of the poems; perhaps a degree of "thinking outside the box" akin to the "New Philology" will provide a paradigm for a new approach to this problem. This said, perhaps the major accomplishment of this collection of essays is that after reading the twelve studies of the Anotaciones, one is left wanting to work on them even more. Ignacio Navarrete University of California, Berkeley Cruz, Anne J. Discourses of Poverty: Social Reform and the Picaresque Novel in Early Modem Spain. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2000.320 pp. HB. ISBN 0802044395. The relationship between literature and history has challenged scholars for centuries. Can the formal and aesthetic qualities of written discourse be separated from historical reality? To what extent is the literary text a reflection of history, the product of individual imagination, or an infinitely mediated refraction of both the social and the personal? In the late 1980s, anglophone literary criticism came tobe dominated by the "New Historicism," an eclectic methodology that drew from the work of Michel Foucault, contemporary anthropology, and gender studies . Early modern studies in particular was where the New Historicists flourished. Stephen Greenblatt was the most successful practitioner of the method which in the U.S. context was a depoliticized critical alterna- REVIEWS iff 139 five to the more openly Marxist-inflected work of British early modernists gathered under the rubric of "cultural materialism." Anne J. Cruz's study of the picaresque genre, Discourses ofPoverty, is clearly influenced by New Historicism, yet her approach is historically richer than that that of her critical models and less given to a reliance on stylistic flourish and anecdote than was Greenblatt's work. Cruz succeeds in addressing the complex issue of history and writing in a fascinating and innovative way. The results are impressive and contribute significantly to our understanding not only of the picaresque form, which was so central to the genealogy of Western narrative, but also to the debates on history and literature that have engaged thinkers from the time of Aristotle to the present. According to Cruz: "If . .. we consider that literary genres intersect not only with each other, but with contemporary non-literary discourses, and are affected by the material changes that occur at their inception, we gain a more profound understanding of generic change and development" (164-65). Critics in the Marxian tradition such as Georg Lukacs, Lucien Goldmann, and Fredric Jameson are the intellectual architects of such a method. More than any other thinker, however, it is Michel Foucault who hovers over Discourses ofPoverty as its major influence. Cruz's thesis is that the social and economic crisis of sixteenth-century Europe produced a new literary figure—the picaro—whojoined other marginalized characters such as criminals,,gypsies, prostitutes, and moriscos under the rubric of the Other. The alterity of each group consisted of elaborate processes of scapegoating, gender stereotyping, and in some cases racialization. In Spain, where the construction of...