Genre and type: entremés; Pitch. In this one-act play reminiscent of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’, two swindlers trick the townspeople into. Lope de Vega. ~s L retablo de las maravillas is one of the most Asensio, the entremes produces three valid i He has shown us that the Cervantine entremes . The Governor, and his city officials, Petra. Capacho, Juana Castrada, and Benita. Repollo happen upon Chirinos and. Chanfalla. Chanfalla introduces herself as.

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Though these pages are offered in the present context, in premeditated, grateful homage to a real-life Master Peter, I am bound to confess that they have had their origins in serendipity and their workings out in the interruptions and resumptions of an ongoing meditation In a sense it is only fitting that an essay about chapter 26 of Part Two of Don Reetabloshould have taken shape through a series of stops and starts When he puts on his little play, Maese Pedro unwittingly stages one of the most celebrated acts in the vast wondershow of Cervantes’s fiction.

In this episode, reyablo the pattern of the inn terlude, already well-established in the first Quixotethe author turns his protagonist into an interventionist spectator of the puppet-play-within-a-novel produced by the frame story’s Protean rogue. For me, as for many scholars, the two plays are inextricably linked.

Indeed I have found my way into the present reading of maraviolas Retablo de Maese Pedro through the other wonder-filled interlude, in a manner inflected by chance, as will be seen. The other, purely dramatic retablo hereafter Maravillas condenses a veritable festival of metatheatre If the representational business of metatheatre revolves around the play of intersecting acts, actors, authors in whose number here we must include Golden Age autores de comedias and levels of reality, its power resides in its capacity to give form to the unspoken lines and the unscripted gestures of the separate players, thereby reciprocally illuminating their worlds.

During the unfolding of this most metatheatrical of Cervantes’s entremesesa whole village gets into the act staged by a pair enhremes charlatans who know exactly how to pull the strings of Old Christian superstition and bigotry. Retblo the crafty Chanfalla and Chirinos weave their invisible dramatic web, they find a whole crowd of easy marks among the villagers, who are already caught, as Molho and Wardropper have shown, in the tangle of their own ideologically sanctioned racism and repressed sexuality.

In partnership with maravollas trickster surrogate authors, Cervantes puts the irresistible force of his imagined dance at the service of a scathing, satiric paradox: Getting into the act, maravllas any fictional work, can never be a matter of characters’ desires alone. The interference of one plot or one level of reality with another must always be arranged by authorial contrivance.

Getting into the act defines the character’s side of a coin whose other face invariably shows one or more authors deliberately pulling strings to get him there.

Visor de obras.

With the Retablo de Maese Pedrothat preference is apparently reversed: We have examined the elaborate metafictional and metatheatrical maneuvers of Part Two, chapter 26, largely without asking just what historical and cultural acts its multiple authors are staging and, consequently, what acts Don Quixote compulsively gets himself into. As a result, the possibility of links between the laas of Maese Pedro’s play and that of its fictional spectators and seventeenth-century readers, has retabo received careful scrutiny of the kind accorded Maravillas.

Cervantes presents us not simply with the entertaining interactions of manipulators and dupes and super-manipulators. His authors themselves often turn out to be the targets of string-pulling, as well as its architects: Like Montesinos’s cave in Dunn’s reading, the Retablo de Maese Pedro has an outside as well as an inside, an outside that reaches beyond its fictional spectators into the historical and cultural conditions of seventeenth-century Spain.

This essay proposes to explore some of those conditions and their implications for Cervantes’s agenda in staging the beguiling nested spectacles of Part Two, chapter My growing sense that such a line of inquiry would lead to interesting territory got an unexpected prod during the winter I spent drafting the first version of this essay.

In the course of a week’s interlude in the Caribbean, I found myself one evening listening to a Creole band, who were playing to as staid a family audience as ever challenged Chirinos and Chanfalla. Half an hour of catchy beat had listeners like me rocking in their seats, feet tapping, but not dancing. Yet the empty terrace beckoned. Her move broke the ice: From amid the dancers, I happened to look for a moment in the direction of the musicians.

Their faces were variously lined with bemusement and alienation, either in understandable response to rwtablo assignment of playing for an affluent, foreign resort crowd.

I found myself unable to stop watching them watching us watching them What was going on, on the surface and beneath it, was clearly something more than a tropical evening’s entertainment. As an American taking my leisure in St. Martin, a French territory whose social and economic lines are still disturbingly colonial, Maraviillas had, by so simple an act as stepping onto a dance floor, entered a far more complex world than I bargained for.

As powerful as the music was, I knew that other strings were being pulled, and that far more was at stake than just keeping time. The experience of that night in Marigot helped me to revisit Cervantes’s retablos with new eyes.

El retablo de las maravillas

I realized too that the strange sensation of being lured into the dance was very much akin to what I had recently experienced, as a critical reader, upon reentering the magnetic field of Maese Pedro’s spectacle. Drawn into that field not only by the power of the text itself, but, second-hand, by the strong readings of my scholarly retabll, I found myself faced with a scene which was thoroughly familiar, yet which seemed to spill over the edges of the frames I had been accustomed to bringing to it into a newly visible strangeness.


It was, in any case, one of those moments in which what we think we know about the sacred texts enttemes our tradition is suddenly defamiliarized into mystery.

In and around the mravillas space of Maese Pedro’s puppet play, I found myself hearing resonances from other historical and textual worlds. It maraavillas only fair to warn the reader at this point that, just as Maese Pedro’s story weaves its intricate threads into Cervantes’s grand fictional tapestry, so the same episode inevitably connects in my thinking to a broader inquiry of my own. Beyond the work of recovering direct references to New World people, places and events, I have been seeking to understand how the dramatically new perspective maravi,las by a particular set of historical events and by awareness of a previously unimagined geography alters the agendas, the content and even the forms of literary production in the sixteenth -and seventeenth- maravillaz Hispanic world.

Many may wonder how in the world Maese Pedro will get into my two-hemisphere act. I hope I may succeed in persuading some that the implicit stage of Don Quixote ‘s rogue empresarioand that of his historical author, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, is indeed the newly enlarged global horizon of the early seventeenth-century Hispanic world.

At a minimum, I hope to suggest that Maese Pedro’s act still has a great deal to tell us about the complexity of its author’s literary project and about the other acts beyond fiction that Lass works get into. His new fictional wares as master puppeteer appear less menacing.

Muted and miniaturized into a puppet pantomime, his play draws on an especially well-worn legend from the vast corpus of legends to spring up around retalo historical figure of the Emperor Charlemagne: The seemingly unexceptional cast of this repertory entremew, a number of details hint that exceptions rather than rules will be the episode’s main order of business.

As Cervantes’s rogue author turns to a dramatic genre, the shadow of this theatrical Saint Genesius implicitly promises that life and art will mingle on the puppet stage. Maese Pedro shows up for this new encounter equipped not only with his puppets and the retablo itself, but with a mysterious talking monkey as well.

What is rstablo, the venta where the performance is to take place is the one entemes which Knight and Squire repair after the former’s descent to the Cave of Montesinos and the very first inn in all his travels to date that Quixote recognizes as a commercial establishment open to paying lodgers.

Timing, placement, casting, plotting all promise to hold up one vision to the mirror of another, with dramatic consequences. The knight Gaiferos gives the retablo a foundation that is less than rock-solid. His name alone rings with oxymoronic suggestion, its two parts, gai and ferosseeming to bind love of fun in onomastic tension with manly strength.

Gaiferos, ,aravillas this chapter of his story goes, torn between his affections for Melisendra and his love of gaming, has to be shamed into setting off for Spain to rescue his Christian lady from her Moorish captors. Under Maese Pedro’s entrejes, chivalric legend flirts compulsively with farce. The puppet Gaiferos turns out to be as inept as he is effete, barely managing to extricate his lady from captivity, rescuing her as se dangles in very unladylike fashion by the skirt of her gown snagged on a turret of her prison.

As the fabled pair ride off toward the safety of Christendom, trailing a horde of their Moslem pursuers, suspense reaches the breaking point. When Don Quixote, unable to tolerate more uncertainty, leaps to his feet and does disastrous battle with the puppet Moors, gentle farce plunges into chaos. In an instant the rstablo is interrupted in the radical sense, the stage and most of the marionettes smashed. Yet, in Cervantes’s hands, farce is quick to rise again from the ashes of his tragedy.

Maese Pedro is soon heard haggling with the unlikely avenging angel over the market value of his marionettes, while Don Quixote declines to reimburse him for the figure of Melisendra, who, everyone knows, has escaped with his help to France. As I have been telling it, the episode focuses on the Retablo ‘s ostensible plot. But chapter 26 causes attention to be diverted from its announced subject at every turn by the compulsive interventions of its multiple narrators, who honor in the breach their own rules about linear, unaffected narration II, It appears that virtually xel member of Maese Pedro’s audience is prepared to let the spectacle continue uninterrupted.

By the time Don Quixote literally breaks up the show, it has nearly been done in a half-dozen times by their verbal outbursts. Not only the rambling boy-narrator, but also those irrepressible kibbitzers Maese Pedro and Don Quixote make frequent reference to their persons and to their own activity at the expense of Gaiferos’s. In other words, they call attention to the business of telling at the expense of the told. It is in this sense that George Haley reads the Retablo de Maese Pedro as a striking emblem of Cervantes’s novel as a whole.

In it he finds condensed, in brilliant miniature, the narrative themes and techniques we can see at work throughout the Quixote: Most of these narratological techniques and thematics, Haley asserts, Cervantes imports from the romances of chivalry in his parodic imitation. But his playful borrowings have a sober point, namely, to discredit the novels of chivalry and to make the reader proof against their sham veracity: These various workings exhibit in maravillaas the stamp of unreliability.


Haley’s ideal reader finds his every fresh inclination toward belief frustrated by a new encounter with artifice: He witnesses the illusion of life-like history alternately created and se down before his very eyes. Haley’s essay keeps distinguished critical company with a number of readings which insist that the central, overriding concern of Cervantes’s most celebrated novel is a concern with the nature and the making of fictions cf.

Each one of these justly celebrated readings is, in one way or another, bound up with post-Romantic proposals to re-allegorize Cervantes’s masterpiece, not as a exemplary story of moral or political idealism, but as a fable of the retabo, fictional, linguistic adventures of human writers and speakers.

In pages which are among the most graceful of Les mots et les chosesFoucault turns Cervantes’s novel into a new kind of theoretical allegory for the emergence of modern Representation from the ruins of medieval practices of signification.

The allegorical energy behind Mikhail Bakhtin’s reading of Don Quixote as founding text of modern heteroglossia in The Dialogic Imagination is less obvious, but no less real. The quasi-historical form both of Cervantes’s masterpiece and of the modern novel as a genre has also been explored extensively. Historians and theorists of fiction 96 attribute to the modern novel deep roots in historiography and discover its construction to be supported by precisely the same techniques that underpin non-fiction historical writing.

Yet, curiously, to the extent that these distinguished readers of Don Quixote show its author shedding light on techniques of historical writing, they would have it that the historigraphic gestures in question come not from history itself, but rather from the pseudo-history of chivalric romance.

In Cervantes’s hands, fiction-masquerading-as-history paradoxically relies for its effectiveness on flaunting artifice at the same time that it cultivates verisimilitude by means of a set of quasi-documentary tricks.

Wardropper rightly notes that this is a dangerous game.

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But where he sees, in the author’s alleged desire to distinguish true from entreemes history, while relishing the overlap of the two orders, a fictional paradox, I find a more serious contradiction 98 Why would Cervantes choose to give serious lessons about history if he had only maravillaz play in mind? I review these seminal essays here not in order to set myself apart from habits of thinking which I, in company with many other twentieth-century readers of Don Quixotehave long shared.

I do so, rather, in order to bring into sharper relief the fact that, for many decades, we have gone about our business assuming that Cervantes’s literary metalanguage is focused, primarily and reflexively, on fiction and its creators.

It may in fact be so focused. Foucault’s Don Quixote pinpoints the paradox. Although the French philosopher’s allegory is placed at the service of an argument about moments of dramatic pas change in ways of understanding the world, he makes his case by reference not to history, but instead to laz language talking about literary language, to fiction reflecting on fiction.

It is perhaps just as strange that, in their attention to the parody of pseudo-histories and to the transcendence of Truth, cervantistas regularly pass maravlllas the possibility that Cervantes might be engaging, in serious fictional dialogue, not only with the phonies but with the earnest historians of his day Why, it is time for us to ask, should fictional representation not be deeply engaged with History?

Bygenerations of moralists and authors of poetics had beaten that subject to death. Nor is it likely that Cervantes would have expended such effort, lad its historiographic operation in such exquisite detail, merely to castigate the pulp fiction writers of his time.

I believe that, in his great novel generally and with the Maese Pedro episode and its textual frames in particular, Cervantes takes on a very real, and often very serious national and cultural historiographic project that had been carried forward with special intensity since the end of the fifteenth century and continued to occupy the Spanish historical imagination into the seventeenth.

Though its texts are extremely diverse, in subject, in mode and in argument, the broad aims of the project are clear: In short, whether through panegyric or polemic, many of those who wrote History proper or improper during this period were participating in the collective work of fashioning some sense of Spanish achievements and identity out of a variety of materials In chapter 26 of Part Two, the projects of Maese Pedro, his boy narrator, and Don Quixote all are made to intersect in conspicuous ways with a larger cultural work that reaches both beyond history and beyond fiction.

The author sets their stories in a narrative frame that makes the puppet play part of Don Quixote’s fictional history and at the same time part of the implied historical moment understood here as both event and discourse or text that serves as backdrop for the narrated time of the novel.

Barging into the puppet show and thereby, he and we may think, into a fixed moment of Reconquest history, Don Quixote actually gets into a much vaster act than even his prodigious ingenio could easily imagine. And as his fellow characters, not to mention the text’s narrators and the author himself, pull on strings meant to guide the Retablo ‘s protagonists, they and we discover that the strings they are tugging on extend beyond the world of the puppets