Poetry `Bodied Forth` in Time:The Final Ironies of Cervantes’ Viaje del Parnaso

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Abstract

In 1981 Andrés Amorós welcomed modern criticism’s re-evaluation of Cervantes’ poetry as indicative of a new attitude that recognized Cervantine irony in the writer’s assessment of his own poeticperformance. This article will suggest that having belatedly identified the ironic weight of Cervantes’ poetic self-fashioning, we must now attempt to understand it. Cervantes’ final poetic journey, the Viaje del Parnaso (1614), a parodic policing of the borders of the canon, is a significant starting point for further inquiry, and should be understood within a distinctively Cervantine ciclo de senectute. The critical corpus relating to the Viaje del Parnaso is relatively slight and to date the full import of Cervantes’ shift into the lyric mode at this point in his literary trajectory has not been interrogated. This article seeks to facilitate new thinking about the poem and its complex relationship with its moment of origin by analysing it within Edward Said’s paradigm of ‘late style’. Such an approach has several advantages: it accommodates the polyfaceted nature of the text; it allows for a fuller appreciation of the intersection of the individual voice (subjectively embodied) and the epochal (the collectively contingent socio-political body politic); and, in accordance with the characteristics of late works, identifies and investigates the supremacy of irony. As a rhetorical tool that prompts perceptual dissonance, irony demands, and depends upon, a contrast of appearance and reality; as a slippery discursive strategy, it has paradoxical implications for Baroque socio-cultural and political ideologies. For, as this study will demonstrate, what is at stake in the Viaje’s frustration of synthesis, is the construction of a cultural subject and the leveraging of a political ontology. This is most intensely felt in the ‘un-making’ of authorial selfhood that is doubly ‘made up’ in the ‘catastrophic’ commentary of the narrator-persona and in the aging body of the protagonist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages29
JournalBulletin of Spanish Studies: Hispanic Studies and Researches on Spain, Portugal and Latin America
Volume2018
Early online date07 Jun 2018
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 07 Jun 2018

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