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  • Los cigarrales de la privanza y el mecenazgo en Tirso de Molina by Juan Pablo Gil-Osle
  • Jane W. Albrecht
Juan Pablo Gil-Osle.
Los cigarrales de la privanza y el mecenazgo en Tirso de Molina.
U de Navarra / Iberoamericana / Vervuert, 2016. 196 Pp.

THIS STUDY RAISES THE CURTAIN ON AN EPISODE in Tirso de Molina’s life and career and offers it as an example of the patronage system in seventeenth-century Madrid. In 1624 the Mercedarian was in the position of appealing to a man called Luis Suero de Quiñones y Acuña (1586–1648) to underwrite publication of the miscellany Cigarrales de Toledo. Who was this person to whom Tirso turned for support and dedicated his first published work? In the introduction and first three chapters, Gil-Osle approaches the subject from various angles, offering historical and contemporary opinions, textual evidence, and archival information about Suero. The fourth chapter and the conclusion assert that, contrary to standard belief, the prose and drama sections of the Cigarrales are integrated parts of a whole unified by the theme of loyalty, friendship, and service inspired by Suero and his set of connections. The book concludes with a 34-page appendix of the archival material related to Suero and a fold-out genealogical tree and explanatory notes about his roots and relations.

In the introduction, Gil-Osle reviews what is known of Suero, a member of the lower nobility of León who worked as an art dealer. Notwithstanding ties to the Pimentel and Sástago families, he was not particularly wealthy, nor a major benefactor of any other writer or volume, and never the dedicatee of another of Tirso’s works.

In chapter 1 the author examines the dedication to Suero and also the title page. The former reckons Suero a generous, beloved courtly gentleman. The latter includes the figures of Favor (a prince) and Ingenio (an artist). Above them hangs the Quiñones family crest from which flows Fortuna and upon which perches a pelican, symbol of altruism and piety.

In chapter 2 the author relates the image of Suero conjured in the dedication and title page engraving to his brief appearance in the first prose section of Cigarrales in an elaborate description of justas náuticas taking place on the River Tajo. Suero occupies the second boat (possibly associated with bad poets, according to Gil-Osle), and Tirso arrives in a small boat as a poor but talented professional poet. Gil-Osle suggests that Tirso and Suero may [End Page 159] have known each other through poetry gatherings. Gil-Osle’s close reading of the justas náuticas is notable. However, the significance of Suero’s presence in them is not well defined. Additional explanation of or evidence about Suero’s interest in poetry would strengthen Gil-Osle’s claims about the meaning of the boat in which he appears and the type of relationship he had with Tirso.

In chapter 3 Gil-Osle aims to evaluate Tirso’s motive in dedicating his first published work to Suero. He presents the information on Suero and his lineage that he unearthed in many Spanish archives, among them the Sección Nobleza of the Archivo Histórico Nacional in Toledo. Based on his findings about Suero’s family and its links to the Duke of Lerma, he speculates that Suero could have been part of Lerma’s vast patronage network; references to Calderón in his letters could be to Rodrigo Calderón, Lerma’s minister. However, as Gil-Osle correctly notes, since Lerma was in power only until 1618, and Cigarrales bears a publication license of November 1621, pursuing support from Lerma or any of his cronies post-1618 was out of joint with the times. Gil-Osle then summarizes Suero’s career as an art dealer, submitting contradictory opinions: some testimonials paint him favorably, while other comments portray him as an unsavory, money-grubbing art merchant. Gil-Osle’s investigative work on Suero, his family, and his other associations is impressive and provides the premise of the next chapter’s contention.

In chapter 4 and the conclusion, Gil-Osle reflects on the thematic unity of...


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