- Doce cuentos ejemplares y otros documentos cervantinos by Frederick A. de Armas and Antonio Sánchez Jiménez
In the aptly-titled Doce cuentos ejemplares y otros documentos cervantinos, Frederick A. de Armas and Antonio Sánchez Jiménez bring the reader back to a Cervantine universe enriched by this eclectic collection of stories. The authors included in the volume demonstrate an "incurable pasión cervantina" (7) in their mission to craft a literary tribute to Cervantes, reviving the style, aesthetic and creativity of his original works. The book avoids falling into nostalgic prose and instead embraces a "suspensión cervantina" (7) acknowledged in the introduction. The creators of these pieces expertly manage to navigate different categories of Early Modern Spanish style while infusing the collection with a modern twist of the core idiosyncrasies of Cervantes' literature.
The volume is divided in four main sections. The first offers a variety of tales inspired by an alternative take on Cervantes' imaginary realms. From José Manuel Lucía Megías' version of an Alonso Quijano who never resolves to head out toward adventure, to Roberto González Echevarría's brief metafiction on Cide Hamete Benengeli's authorship, and Carlos Gutiérrez's inventive description of Don Quijote's exposure to the effects of the Hiroshima bombing, these tales offer the reader a new universe that envisions how the Cervantine hero would experience alternate realities far removed from the Spanish Golden Age. Especially poignant is the fleeting piece by David Roas on Alonso Quijano's final moments alive after the demise of Don Quijote, reflecting a thought experiment on the hidalgo's journey toward the afterlife. This story gives readers a more satisfying closure than the original ending, which is particularly bittersweet due to Sancho's materialistic solace.
The second section revives the style of the exemplary novels through creative entries that push the boundaries of what would have been publishable in seventeenth century Spain. Enrique Fernandez's opening short story is the most striking example with a plot about conserving the purity of bloodline that was so valued at the time. The solution, based on an "impía estratagema" (28), offers a glimpse into the grotesque frontiers these stories could have explored if published in the present day. With its steampunk aesthetic, this piece manages to both surprise readers thematically and satisfy the requisite moral lesson of exemplary novels. Equally enjoyable are Charles Ganelin's approximation of the concept of Licenciado Vidriera with a man that actually turns into glass, and de Armas' rekindling of Moorish-Christian [End Page 193] love relations intertwined with sea travel misfortunes that were so popular in Early Modern plotlines. The final two exemplary novels in this section make the strongest connections to original Cervantine works: Sánchez Jiménez recounts the events in La fuerza de la sangre from the point of view of the crucifix that witnesses Leocadia's rape. Used by Cervantes as proof to validate her testimony, it is repur-posed here to appease readers unsatisfied by the uncomfortable sense of injustice in the original's ending, a vexation that is endorsed in the sculpted object's final complaint of frustration at its powerlessness as it "contemplamos al violador consumidos por una furia salvaje" (68). The section's final story by José Luis Rodriguez del Corral ends on a far more positive note drawing from El coloquio de los perros to devise an origin story for Cipión and his imagined time as a companion to Cervantes.
The third section, entitled Ensoñaciones, brings an Argentine flair to this fictional narrative. Consisting of only two pieces, Gutiérrez elaborates a near encyclopedic entry precipitated by an encounter with Montesinos in his palace that is delivered in a style reminiscent of a Borgean stream of consciousness. Fernando Sorrentino, in contrast, chooses an erudite convention as his setting for a group of scholars to draw connections between Martín Fierro and the Quijote. This metaliterary drive leads to...