- Del teatro a la novela: el ritual del disfraz en las Novelas ejemplares de Cervantes by Eduardo Olid Guerrero
This new study by Eduardo Olid Guerrero explores the different aspects of disguise in the collection of short stories Novelas ejemplares by Miguel de Cervantes, contributing to the field of Cervantine studies with an innovative approach, providing significant possibilities of interpretation through the analysis of theatrical resources interspersed in Cervantes's narrative, specifically the use of factual and metaphorical disguise and masks, to conceal problematic aspects of Spanish society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the introduction, Olid points out that the experience of audiences in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is the exposure to theater representations rather than to literary texts. Olid's thesis is that it is necessary to contemplate the possibility that when Cervantes writes he has in mind spectators rather than readers (21).
The book is divided into eight parts: introduction, six chapters, and conclusion. The introduction presents a clear theoretical frame and detailed aspects of the analysis to be undertaken. Each subsequent chapter, from 1 to 6, organizes the analysis by pairing two stories according to their parallels concerning the resource of disguise. The pairing of stories in the chapters is related to specific motifs, but undertakes the analysis of each story separately. Chapter 1 explores madness and perversion in El licenciado Vidriera and El celoso extremeño. The first part of the chapter explores the temporary madness of the character Tomás Rodaja as an effective disguise that conceals the different traumatic experiences of his youth, pointing out that the man of glass is not the only or first façade/mask of the protagonist, who [End Page 205] assumes different names and identities –Rodaja, Rueda, Vidriera– to adapt to the difficult social environments in which he must survive. In the second part of Chapter 1, Olid makes a fascinating analysis of the use of real and metaphorical disguise in El celoso extremeño, where characters wear the masks of loyalty and obedience to disguise their contempt for the perversion of a domestic life, devoid of freedom, and imposed upon them. In Olid's view, even the façade of the respectable mansion is a disguise that conceals its true nature as monastery and fortified prison, breached in the end by a true master of deception and disguise. Chapter 2 pairs the stories of La fuerza de la sangre and La ilustre fregona to explore the masquerading roles of the characters surrounding the motif of rape and the long-term social implications of this traumatic event. Chapter 3 addresses the voluntary and imposed masks and disguises worn by the title and ancillary characters in La gitanilla and La española inglesa, as a survival resource for the protagonists, who were kidnapped, removed from their original places of birth, and forced to assume class and national identities not natural to them. Chapter 4 addresses the theme of the woman dressed as man in Las dos doncellas and La señora Cornelia to explore motifs of transvestism related to fear of the harsh consequences for women who have endangered their reputation and the honor of their families. Chapter 5 focuses on the different masks of rogues and captives in Rinconete y cortadillo and El Amante Liberal, where characters temporarily assume different identities and practices, masquerading as criminals or quasi-infidels, in order to survive their predicaments. Chapter 6 explores the motifs of occulting the real self through veiling and transformation in El casamiento engañoso and El coloquio de los perros.
There are numerous captivating ideas in every chapter that concern philosophical, religious, and ethical principles of the Spanish society of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, presented through the analysis of traditional theatrical representations. Throughout the chapters, Olid provides solid support, in the form of in-text commentary and footnotes, that help in the confirmation of his hypothesis that disguise implies the fulfillment of ritualized practices...