Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Cervantes and Della Porta: The Art of Memory in La Numancia, El retablo de las maravillas, El Licenciado Vidriera, and Don Quijote

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2005), 82, (5), 633–648.

Abstract

Although the impact of Italian Renaissance writers on Cervantes has been extensively investigated, his use of Giambattista Della Porta has not been explored. Della Porta published L'Arte del ricordare, only four years before Cervantes' arrival in Naples, a city that viewed the Italian thinker as one of its greatest writers. Della Porta's brief tome is one of the many Renaissance treatises that revives the classical art of memory. This essay develops a series of links between Della Porta's conception of memory and Cervantes' works, starting with La Numancia and including Don Quijote. These texts are peopled by characters whose memories seem to be sites for anxiety: from Chirinos and Chanfalla who awaken anxieties in their public to Scipio's dilemma on how to compose and memorize a moving speech; from Rodaja's refusal to remember his past to Don Quijote's thwarted will to re-enact chivalric remembrances.

Aunque se ha estudiado con detalle el impacto de los escritores renacentistas italianos en las obras de Cervantes, la crítica no ha considerado la importancia de Giambattista Della Porta. Della Porta publicó L'Arte del ricordare, sólo cuatro años antes de la llegada de Cervantes a Nápoles, ciudad que consideraba a Della Porta como uno de sus grandes pensadores. Este ensayo desarrolla la relación entre el concepto de la memoria en la obra de Della Porta y los textos cervantinos, comenzando con La Numancia e incluyendo Don Quijote. Estos textos contienen una serie de personajes que provocan reacciones diferentes en el receptor: Chirinos y Chanfalla despiertan ansiedad en el público, mientras que Scipio se preocupa por desarrollar y memorizar el discurso perfecto. Por otra parte, Rodaja se resiste a recordar su pasado, mientras que el cura y el barbero conspiran para borrar las memorias caballerescas de don Quijote.

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De Armas, Frederick