- Luis de Góngora and Lope de Vega, Masters of Parody by Lindsay G. Kerr
Although this book presents a general discussion of the ludic verse of Luis de Góngora and Lope de Vega, it emphasizes the parodic poetry that these two poets wrote at the end their careers. Lindsay G. Kerr argues that Góngora and Lope, often studied in opposition to each other, in fact had parallel trajectories and points of contact in their late parodic poetry. In the book's introduction and in the chapters that follow, Kerr builds a case that Góngora and Lope experienced mounting dissatisfaction with the tired tropes and conventions of standard literary genres such as pastoral and epic, and thus increasingly turned to parody in order to challenge and reshape these genres. In addition to examining specific poems in order to show how Góngora and Lope increasingly embraced complex forms of parody and self-parody, Kerr offers perceptive thoughts on the scope and nature of late parody. As a result, Kerr's study strikes a gentle balance between close, textual analysis and meditative, theoretical reflection.
The first chapter, "Parodic Beginnings," provides crisp analysis of Góngora's "Arrojóse el mancebito" (1589) and "Aunque entiendo poco griego" (1610), though it would benefit from a more developed discussion of Boscán and other important literary antecedents. Kerr also makes an interesting case for a parodic reading of the Fábula de Polifemo y Galatea (1613), showing that Góngora's erudite and hyperbolic style ludically undercuts the seriousness of antecedent models of the Polyphemus myth. Kerr lays the analytical and theoretical groundwork in these studies for her analysis of "La fábula de Píramo y Tisbe" (1618), the focus of the second chapter. She begins the chapter with a brief discussion of Góngora's poetics and the unfinished Píramo y Tisbe from 1604, and suggests that "the active process of parody is used by Góngora in his poetry as an instrument of linguistic and epistemological revolution" (52). Ultimately, Kerr transitions to a complex, subtle, and successful analysis of the 1618 fábula. She examines the poem through the lens of metapoetics, metaphor, and the mundo al revés trope in order to show the depth and richness of the fábula's parodic range. Kerr concludes the chapter—and her analysis of Góngora's parodic trajectory—by stating that Góngora "shows himself to be violently opposed to the dry, contrived (or official) sentiment of courtly love, the romancero tradition and tedious imagery of Petrarchism" (84). [End Page 241]
Kerr next turns her attention to Lope de Vega's Rimas humanas y divinas del licenciado Tomé de Burguillos (1634), "the culminating step in a parodic trajectory" (87) similar to that of Luis de Góngora. Though Kerr's brief profile of Lope's overall parodic trajectory in the third chapter does not match the depth and detail provided in the preceding chapters on Góngora, her focus on Tomé de Burguillos nonetheless yields compelling insights on the forces shaping Lope's late parody. Kerr acknowledges the role of socio-political influences as well as biographical events in Lope's parodic worldview, but emphasizes the textual aspects of Lope's trajectory: "Unlike Góngora, El Fenix was the architect of many of the structures he would later deconstruct in the Burguillos poems" (91). In the third chapter, as she analyzes several sonnets from this collection, she demonstrates their playful reworking of the hackneyed tropes of Petrarchism. She also highlights the multifaceted, shifting nature of the collection's narrator vis-à-vis the "shaky foundations" (118) of the text. In the fourth chapter, Kerr continues to unpack these textual strategies, tensions, and instabilities in her study of La Gatomaquia, one of the lengthier and more distinctive works in the Burguillos collection. Though, as Kerr points out, La Gatomaquia parodies the classical love triangle between Paris, Helen, and Menelaus, she argues that "[t]he depth of the poem…lies not in...