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C H A P T E R VII Topics of the Marvelous THE GARDEN PARADISE ONE OF THE BEST indications of the breadth of Cervantes' literary awareness is to be found in his various treatments of what may be the oldest theme of world literature, the description of the paradisiacal regions of the otherworld. It is undoubtedly one of his favorite topics, appearing at nearly every stage of his literary development , assuming various forms, and evoking a wide variety of the elements of a deep and persistent literary tradition. In its different forms, from the classical landscape that provides a stage for the shepherds' homage to the dead Meliso in the Galatea to the fantastic paradise of Periandro's dream, it affords a convenient means by which we can gauge the changing preoccupations of Cervantes . Indeed a theme of such pronounced topical character is only of interest in the way in which an author selects and fashions it as a vehicle of his own vision of reality. Our principal concern is of course Cervantes' use of the garden paradise in the Persiles. Nevertheless , since one of the commonplaces of Cervantine criticism is the difference between the Persiles and the Quixote and the similarity of the Persiles to the Galatea, it is useful to take advantage of the presence of this topic in each of the works to test the validity of this belief. Moreover, the significance of Periandro's vision of paradise can only come into sharper focus when viewed against the background of the other works. The Garden Paradise as an Expression of World Order: The Galatea In his early work La Galatea Cervantes was cultivating a genre which, following the publication of Sannazaro's Arcadia (1502), had become increasingly popular among the refined social and literary circles during the sixteenth century.1 In attempting to discover the spiritual forces which animated the Renaissance bucolic, 1 A general study of the development of this genre in Italy, Spain, and France can be found in Mia Gerhardt's La Pastorale (Assen, 1950). 212 Persiles y Sigismunda critics and historians have pointed to a variety of factors. E. W. Tayler observes that civilized man's constant yearning for the simple and natural, which he embodies in pastoral fiction, is a psychologically plausible reaction to the refinement and complexity which he finds in his society.2 Others have offered a more historical explanation of the literary phenomenon, relating the Renaissance cult of nature to specific aspects of the humanist movement. The Florentine neo-Platonists celebrated God's creative agent, nature, and its highest creation, man the microcosm, as reflections of divine beauty. They maintained that through contemplation of nature and human perfection, man could ascend to a mystical communion with the creator.3 The absorbing preoccupation of the humanists was not, however, metaphysics but ethics, and in this area of thought too they turned to the natural order, envisaging the possibility of man's moral perfectibility through his discovery of and adherence to the laws of nature.4 Moreover, the importance of the cultivation of the study of classical antiquity and the prestige which the first poet of the idealizing bucolic, Virgil, enjoyed as prince of poets, have been recognized as contributing factors in the self-conscious attempts of the writers of the period to resurrect the spirit of his eclogues.5 It is perhaps best to view the creation and the popularity of the sixteenth-century pastoral romance as a coalescence of these various factors without attempting the impossible task of seeking a single cause. 2 "Buccolic fiction requires before all else a poet and audience sufficiently civilized to appreciate primitive simplicity, to recognize that the gain of Art means the loss of Nature. . . . After all, nostalgia for natural simplicity is a sentiment denied those who have experienced only natural simplicity" (Nature and Art in Renaissance Literature [New York, 1964], p. 5). 3 For the importance of neo-Platonic ideas on nature, "este concepto de la naturaleza, como fuerza codivina, mistica e includible," in the age and in the works of Cervantes, see Castro, El pensamiento de Cervantes, Chap. IV. For neo-Platonic theories of love in the creation of the Galatea and a bibliography on Cervantes' sources, see Otis H. Green, Spain and the Western Tradition, I, 185-191. 4 For the ethical implications of nature in Renaissance thought, see Castro, op.cit.; Jose Antonio Maravall, El humanismo de las armas en Don Quijote (Madrid , 1948), p. 217. 5 Menendez...


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