All of this suggests that the modern imbalance in the popularity of Silva's and Montalvo's works did not exist in the sixteenth century, nor even later, to judge from the adaptations made of Silva's works , and from the fact that, like Homer or Ovid, he was such a famous author as to have attributed to him works that were not his There are a number of factors one can point to in order to explain why this was so. Montalvo was also an author of limited output. Furthermore, Montalvo was a writer of a distinctly moralist outlook.
Montalvo criticized the characters of his source, such as Oriana, and tried to de-emphasize the role of personal combat In contrast with Montalvo, Silva was a voluminous writer, the only author of romances of chivalry to achieve renown from his fiction. The fact that he was a moderately well-known writer in his own day, so much so as to offer a target for parody , has led in part to the conservation of considerable biographical material. The collector of curiosities Luis Zapata records his strange ability to predict the winners of battles and oposiciones The love element in his life was an important one, as we shall see shortly, but once married, he led a calm family life.
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Despite his abundant literary production, Silva was far from wealthy at his death, his printer Portonariis owing him a sizeable quantity of money Nevertheless, he is reported to have been helpful to those in need, though whether this was financially or otherwise is not specified The plots of his romances are more complicated than those of his predecessors, with more characters and as a result more narrative threads and subplots, to the point where it is virtually impossible to make an intelligible summary of the plot of any of them But even when the adventures are the same as those found in the works of Montalvo, the difference between the two authors is clear.
In this castle a group of the protagonists is enchanted, to remain there a hundred years. A final point in the comparison of the works of Montalvo and those of Feliciano de Silva is the contrasting treatment of love. Place, I, In the works of Silva love is just as present, but it is of a different sort, less idealized and more sensual. His grandson, Rogel de Grecia, is even more licentious. This change in focus may perhaps be explained by examining the personality of Silva. Of the love element in Montalvo's life we know nothing. Silva was certainly a person who married for love not unknown in that period, but not so common either -since he married, against the strong opposition of his family, a girl, Gracia Fe, of Jewish descent Her last name was concealed and is unknown.
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Mendoza did not know how many illegitimate children he had These comments clearly suggest a man in whose life love has played an important role, and whose experiences are reflected in his fiction. It is not surprising, then, that Silva differs in two ways from his predecessors in his portrait of love. His portrayal of the courtly lover, the one who suffers from his love for an idealized woman, is more developed than anything found in any earlier Spanish text. At the same time, in different sections of his works, we find a physical element to the love among men and women which had also been missing from the romances of chivalry.
We should not forget that Silva was the author of the Segunda Celestina , much less moralistic than the work of Rojas.
If Darinel is a versifying courtly shepherd, Florisel seeks physical rather than spiritual love Cravens, pp. This is the only way he can sleep in the chamber of the beautiful Niquea; the results are predictable. It is difficult to imagine how, within the framework of the Spanish romance, an author could produce works which differed more from the chaste and simple novels of Montalvo.
If Silva's works were attractive for all the above reasons to sixteenth-century readers, and the modern literary public has shown that it can appreciate some of the romances of chivalry, could it not, also, recapture some of the pleasure that contemporaries found in the works of Silva? The romances of chivalry offer great possibilities of research for the young as well as the mature scholar.
We still need to make the bulk of the romances accessible through modern, critical, published editions Lepolemo, o el Caballero de la Cruz , different from the other romances in its North African setting and almost complete lack of supernatural elements, would be an ideal candidate. There are a number of analytical or stylistic studies that could properly be made by scholars with an inclination to this type of investigation.
A comparison of Platir with Florambel de Lucea could determine whether they are by one author, as one might suspect from the dedications A study of a theme in various romances would be useful -the giant in the Spanish romances of chivalry, the architecture, the flora and fauna of the romances of chivalry. An index of the motifs or themes of the romances of chivalry, a task too large to be carried out comprehensively at present, would be a very useful research tool. One versed in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century history might well study allusions to contemporary events in the romances.
Is the Greece found so often in the romances of chivalry exclusively the ancient Greece of Homer and Alexander the Great, or does it reflect something of the medieval Greece with which the Catalans, at least, had contact? Such an investigation could perhaps help scholars such as O'Connor, who prefer to work with the translations, and would help us see how France, England, and Germany saw Spain at that time. Particularly valuable for comparatists would be a study of the interest in the romances of chivalry during the romantic period, when Southey and Rose translated romances into English, when Hispanophiles such as Sir Walter Scott were inspired by them in their portrayal of remote times, when even a poet such as John Keats was influenced by them.
A study of the influence of the romances on the learned Spanish epic has yet to be undertaken. Even more important, however, is the fact that by no means have all the chivalric allusions in the Quijote been discovered.
It is true that because of the similarity of many of the romances, it is difficult to be sure that a parallel indicates a borrowing, but by the same token, some of the parallels already discovered may be coincidental and it may be for some new scholar to find the true sources. It would be valuable even to go through any one romance, identifying all the potential parallels with the work of Cervantes; with a series of such analyses one would then be in a position to begin a serious study of the chivalric sources of the Quijote.
The romances of chivalry which are the subject of the present discussion are those which were written in Castilian in the sixteenth century They are scarcely mentioned in the Quijote. In any event, they do not form part of Spanish literature The accepted opinion concerning the Spanish romances of chivalry during their heyday, the sixteenth century, is that they were works which were read by all classes of society, from the highest to the lowest, but with a considerable predominance of the more numerous lower classes.
The immediate sources of these observations need not concern us here. Their ultimate source is undoubtedly the Quijote , since in it the romances of chivalry are discussed in more detail than in any other contemporary work. These passages are important, and we will return to them, but they should not be accepted uncritically as the final word on the subject.
There is, in fact, a considerable quantity of other data which bears on the problem. We may begin by noting that although many moralist writers of the period criticized the romances of chivalry, with varying degrees of justification, we will look in vain among their comments for any indication that the books affected members of the lower classes Other nobles, however, remained interested in them as adults -notably Carlos V and many of his court, which set a model for the country by its interest in romances of chivalry and in chivalric spectacle Were this not a factor, one would expect the books to be dedicated to older patrons, who might be more pleased by the flattery and in any event in a better position to reward the author.
There are a significant number of cases again, see Appendix in which an author dedicated successive books to the same person, or in which one romance was dedicated to a husband, and later a different one to his wife , or to a father and then to his son. Still other romances, as can be seen from the dedications, were written by members of the same household, and there is no doubt that in certain cases the publication of the work was subsidized by the mecenas involved.
It is still true, of course, that the receiver of a dedication might not be pleased by a book, but we can nevertheless safely assume that he would not have felt the dedication to be an insult; works printed expressly for popular consumption, such as the pliegos sueltos and the libros de cordel , had no dedications at all.
The books themselves, as physical objects, offer us considerable information. They are, almost without exception, folio volumes; the exceptions are themselves significant, since they were printed out side of Spain The editions were small. The printing, except for a few reprints of the final quarter of the century, ranges from good to excellent in quality ; some of the editions are illustrated with woodcuts. Their purchasers had them bound in bindings of high quality Some documents provide us with concrete evidence that these books commanded a high price.
An important source for the early part of the century is the well-known catalogue of the library of Fernando Colon, reproduced in facsimile by Archer Huntington in This partial listing of the contents of his library includes for each entry the price paid, as well as the place and date of purchase, information invaluable for a study of contemporary book distribution. He evidently purchased as many romances of chivalry as he could obtain; the prices he paid for them are as follows:.
The romances of chivalry are clearly the most expensive Spanish literary works in his library. We also find evidence of these high prices later in the sixteenth century. Upon examining the printing history of the genre, we can also draw some conclusions. The number of romances of chivalry is itself revealing.
Although the romances began as a genre, like the pastoral novel, with some works which were great commercial successes, and there were several later works which were frequently reprinted, there is an extensive list of works published which were reprinted only once or not at all, indicating a modest sale.
Some of these publications, as stated above, were subsidized; but the majority were treated by their publishers like any other work. Surely it was not the case that publishers brought out, year after year, expensive books which would fail commercially. The figures seem to point instead to a small but consistent demand, which these publications filled, on the part of a limited group of aficionados with the means to indulge this expensive taste It is also revealing to look at the dates of the reprints of the popular works, which are more closely tied to public favor than is the production of new works After the abdication of Carlos V, which marks a cut-off point for the writing of new romances , we find that reprints were not produced uniformly throughout the conclusion of the century as was the case with pliegos sueltos and other popular literature , but instead appeared in groups.
Except for the anomalies mentioned in n. In the truly popular genres, as just mentioned, we find a much more constant production.
Moreover, the dates of the fluctuations, which parallel, though imprecisely, the changes in popularity of the epic poem , themselves suggest an upper-class audience. The second lacuna, from approximately , corresponds well to the military activities directed by Don Juan de Austria -first the morisco rebellion, then the naval activities in the Mediterranean, in which he was accompanied by a significant portion of the Spanish nobility That the final rise and decline were situated around the year of cannot be a coincidence, for whatever the effect of the Armada's defeat on Spain's naval power, there can be no doubt that the expedition aroused interest in chivalric matters, and that in its defeat was lost a considerable sector of the cream of the nobility Taking all the factors mentioned into consideration, is it reasonable to conclude that the romances were read by the upper or noble class, and perhaps by a few particularly well-to-do members of the bourgeoisie Certainly they were not read by, nor to, the peasants We have still, however, to reconcile this with the statements in the Quijote quoted at the outset.
With regard to Don Quijote's remark, we are free to dismiss anything he says, particularly in Part I, as the misconceptions of an insane person, for if he can believe windmills to be giants and sheep to be soldiers, he could just as well fantasize that the romances of chivalry were read with enthusiasm by all; he is not a reliable source. Furthermore, considering the tone of the Prologue to Part I, and the narrow interpretation Cervantes' friend takes of the purpose of the Quijote , the statement there could be merely another ironic note. The comment of the canon from Toledo is not to be so easily dismissed.
Whether or not he speaks for Cervantes , he is presented as a sober and serious man, deeply concerned about the course literature is taking.
He is knowledge able, and he does not make jokes. In the light of this passage, the canon's comment is indeed explicable. The intelligentsia of which the canon would have formed a part was never the class that read the romances of chivalry; they were responsible for the Erasmian and moralist complaints against them. In conclusion, we should note that the evidence deduced from the Quijote about the readers of the romances of chivalry was never as unequivocal as it might have been.