Amistades imperfectas: De la tradición a la modernidad con Cervantes

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Amistades imperfectas: del Humanismo a la Ilustración con Cervantes" addresses the relationship between representations of friendship in the work of Cervantes and the discourses of masculine friendship from the fifteenth through the eighteenth centuries, demonstrating that Cervantes' portrayals of friendship are uneven or truncated when studied according to the criteria of traditional models. In Cervantes, friendship does not conform to the Aristotelian requirements of "perfect friendship," the Ciceronian values of vera amicitia, the literary model of the "two friends," or the classical iconography of friendship. The discourse of masculine altruism in friendship disintegrates during the early modern period, while bourgeois and philosophical notions of human nature develop to the point that individual self-interest and the social pacts of the Enlightenment eclipse idealized friendship as models of modernity. Subjectivity, intimacy, individualism, and family come to occupy the place of amicitia, which--despite its brief resuscitation by humanists--undergoes a dramatic decline in the seventeenth century. In the present study, the analysis of Cervantes' representations of friendship is framed within two subsets of friendship theories. First, a series of classical, medieval, and renaissance theories of friendship--including those of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Saint Augustine, Rieval, Alberti, and Ficini--support an analysis of the classical, ecclesiastical, and humanist tradition of amicitia that inform Cervantes' work. Yet Cervantes' representations of friendship are, on occasion, so atypical of the tradition of amicitia that they must be studied through the social models and notions of the individual developed in the writings of Enlightenment philosophers such as Hume, Smith, and Kant. As a result, Cervantes emerges as a key author in analyses of the relationship between models of social solidarity and theories of individualism. This book reveals the intellectual history of amicitia contemporaneous to the inception of the modern nation-state, the emerging logic of the free market and modern theories of the individual, and the family paradigms that now make up a great part of our sociopolitical imaginary. The imperfect, self-interested friendships portrayed by Cervantes in virtually all of his works announce the arrival of a new set of values in which the traditional masculine theory of amicitia no longer has a place. We can reach a deeper understanding of the social meaning of amicitia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by studying the transformations and incomplete imitations of the motif of perfect male friendship introduced by early modern authors. The representations of friendship in the five works studied in Amistades imperfectas (La Galatea, Numancia, Don Quijote de la Mancha, the Novelas Ejemplares and Los trabajos de Persiles y Segismunda) demonstrate that literary genre is a determining factor, and that the literary discourse of friendship is characterized by a general tendency to imitate previous models. While the study of representations of friendship from the perspective of genre may be done synchronically, a diachronic analysis reveals a historical development in which even minimal changes in the portrayal of friendship become strikingly relevant. The evolution and variety of representations of friendship are not the exclusive domain of Cervantes, but they bind his work to the history of theories of friendship, which is the objective of the present study. There exists a dramatic evolution of the conceptualization friendship from the classics until the present day, in each case responding to the social necessities of each historical period.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMadrid
PublisherUniversidad de Navarra-Iberoamericana-Vervuert
EditionBiblioteca Áurea Hispánica
ISBN (Print)978-84-8489-640-1
StatePublished - 2013


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