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Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature examines a neglected yet crucial field: the importance of casuistical thought and discourse in the development of literary genres in early modern Spain. Faced with the momentous changes wrought by discovery, empire, religious schism, expanding print culture, consolidation of legal codes and social transformation, writers sought innovation within existing forms (the novella, the byzantine romance, theatrical drama) and created novel genres (most notably, the picaresque). These essays show how casuistry, with its questioning of example and precept, and meticulous concern with conscience and the particularities of circumstance, is instrumental in cultivating the subjectivity, rhetorical virtuosity and spirit of inquiry that we have come to associate with the modern novel.

Abstract

The anonymous Lazarillo de Tormes (1554), the first of the archetypal Spanish picaresque narratives, is a fictional autobiography in the form of a defense. A figure known as “Your Grace” has asked the adult Lázaro to explain “the case” (el caso), a public scandal. The narrator starts the presentation with his humble birth. The explanation is replete with satire and irony. Its complex rhetorical structure points to the lack of mobility in the hierarchical society of the time and place.

Open Access
In: Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature
In: Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature
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Abstract

Key background to Sancho Panza’s governership of Barataria (Don Quijote II. 42–53) includes the specula principum tradition, treatises on statecraft (Furió Ceriol, Ribadeneira, Castillo de Bobadilla) and other casuistic tratados. Demonstrating the importance of circumstance and narrative economy, of wisdom derived from experience and of properly knowing oneself (nosce te ipsum), Sancho embodies many traits of the ideal ruler, even as he improvises in his own inimical manner.

Open Access
In: Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature
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Abstract

Despite being variously referred to as a romance of love and adventure, the Golden Age novela bizantina is hardly limited to narrating amorous exploits. Rather, it tends to treat of displacement and destitution, thereby confronting its characters with existential cases of conscience. This article explores how the first Spanish novel of this kind, Alonso Núñez de Reinoso’s Los amores de Clareo y Florisea y los trabajos de la sin ventura Isea (1552) engages its readers in moral reflection.

Open Access
In: Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature

Abstract

This article postulates that the publication of the apocryphal Second Part of Guzmán de Alfarache in 1602 constitutes an unprecedented “case.” Within the frame of the fiction, Mateo Alemán explores the different options available for resolving it and determining how to act: Does it constitute a theft or a challenge? Is it possible to mete out a just punishment to the perpetrator, or is revenge the only remedy? Is it an instance of plagiarism or artistic appropriation?

Open Access
In: Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature

Abstract

La Celestina is a breakthrough in the development of Spanish narratives from educational purposes towards multi-layered literary worlds and thus crucial for the interaction between casuistry and imaginative literature. The plot’s casualties are framed by soliloquies referring to legal and ethical questions. On a rhetorical level, law is present in the master trope of blind(folded) justice. Combining a close reading of these soliloquies with contemporaneous casuistical writings and an iconological search for evidences elucidates the intention of this contested masterpiece.

Open Access
In: Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature

Abstract

This contribution examines the relationship between casuistry and narrative literature in the Siglo de Oro with particular attention to legal contexts. In this respect, El pasajero (1617) by Cristóbal Suárez de Figueroa proves to be an ideal object of research, since the author, as a jurist, displays casuistic thinking, argumentation and procedure. The rather pragmatic and didactic character of this hybrid text is contrasted with novellas from the collection Huerta de Valencia (1629) by Alonso de Castillo Solórzano, whose intradiegetic storytellers are likewise characterized by their academic professions, including a lawyer.

Open Access
In: Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature

Abstract

This article addresses the criteria by which Las Casas conceptualized indigenous beliefs in his Apologética historia sumaria. It maintains that the theological and juridical notion of ‘opinion’ undergirds Las Casas’ conceptualization of religious phenomena among native peoples. Las Casas argues that human sacrifice emanates from a search for the true god within the limits of human reason, is protected with all legal considerations granted to formal opinions held in good faith and does not provide grounds to justify colonial intervention.

Open Access
In: Casuistry and Early Modern Spanish Literature