Spatial Frameworks in Los siete libros de La Diana by Jorge de Montemayor
Pastoral novels like Los siete libros de La Diana (1559) flourished in Renaissance Spain as expressions of a literary tradition which sought to represent the relationship of love, nature and art. Jorge de Montemayor's work, considered the first example of this genre, has been the subject of scholarly studies that have dealt primarily with the novel's literary and cultural considerations, but have not analyzed the spatial frameworks in the novel. This investigation proposes an approach to La Diana that considers sixteenth-century cultural realities, and offers access to new insights on the theme of human transformation through a consideration of the active functionality of space. This research studies the urban, bucolic, and preternatural spaces in La Diana as cultural and dramatic settings. Urban space is discussed in its ability to create a relationship with its inhabitants. The tendency of Renaissance literature to portray court life as both opulent and corrupt motivates an analysis of the extent to which Montemayor reflects this conflictive attitude in his portrayal of this environment, with its propensity to unsettle its inhabitants, often resulting in their displacement to the bucolic scene. Bucolic space is explored as a totality that exceeds the individual significances of its components; the disruptive reflexivity of events is scrutinized as an element which reinforces the spatial dynamism of this framework. The chapter on preternatural space includes a discussion of allegory and supernatural intervention in daily life. The investigation of the preternatural space derives from the hypothesis that the extraordinary elements in this framework activate within the protagonists an embryonic process of self-transformation. Ultimately, the three environments are integrated by analyzing the interaction generated as a result of the dynamic reciprocity of each environment with its inhabitants. The study concludes that by his dramatic portrayal of Renaissance humanistic philosophy and through his literary style of deliberately alternating prose and verse and skillfully employing rhetorical devices, Montemayor has created a novel in which the three settings or spaces have protagonic roles that influence characterization, advance the plot, and support the representation of social and ideological philosophies.
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