Snippets of Spanish Sentimental Novels. Toward la Princesse de Clèves, Bulletin Hispanique, 108, 2, (2006), 389-420.

Snippets of Spanish Sentimental Novels. Toward la Princesse de Clèves, Bulletin Hispanique, 108, 2, (2006), 389-420.
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  «Snippets of Spanish Sentimental Novels. Towards La Princesse de Clèves » Eugenia Fosalba  Universitat de GironaPropaladia -1999 (07)Fecha de recepción: 09/09/2007, Fecha de publicación: 12/10/2007TLC07105<URL:>   Versión ampliada del artículo: "Retazos de novela sentimental castellana. Hacia la Princessede Clèves", Bulletin Hispanique, 108, 2 (2006), 389-420.En este artículo se repasan los precedentes de La Princesse de Clèves (1678) en la novelasentimental española, que a través de múltiples ediciones, a menudo bilingües, y también desimples traducciones, goza de gran éxito en Francia ya desde el mismo siglo XVI y después atodo lo largo del XVII. La autora del artículo va espigando huellas leves, recursos literarios y alguna estrategia narrativa fundamental de aquellas lejanas novelitas que se han idoabriendo paso en el nuevo contexto del siglo XVII francés, para analizar la depuradasofisticación con que ahora se emplean por parte de la condesa de La Fayette. Otrasaportaciones relevantes de este estudio atañen a la investigación de las fuentes históricasdel enamorado de la princesa y la interpretación global y novedosa de la obra maestrafrancesa gracias a los hallazgos relativos a sus fuentes.   PALABRAS CLAVE EN ESPAÑOL: Novela sentimental, Novela morisca, Novela pastoril,Traducciones, Literatura francesa del siglo XVII, Literatura comparadaPALABRAS CLAVE EN INGLÉS: Sentimental Novel, Moorish Novel, Pastoral Novel,Translations, French Literature of the 17th century The title of the novel by Madame de Villedieu, Galanteries grenadines  (1672), brings to mind how the love between Abindarráez and Jarifa wasseen by the authors of heroic and sentimental novels: by Mademoiselle deScudéry in the eight tomes of her  Almahide (1660-1663) and, especially, bynone less than Madame de Lafayette, in her Zaïde, histoire espagnole  (1670), the inaugural work of the skilled author of the exquisite Princessede Clèves (1678). Claudio Guillén In this year devoted to the fourth centennial of  Don Quixote , I propose a brief asidein honour of other Spanish contributions to the universal novel. Here I refer tosentimental narratives whose srcins, like the sources of  Don Quixote , are deeplyrooted in recreational reading at the end of the 15 th and well into the 16 th century,but whose development in Europe has often been eclipsed by the legacy of    2 Cervantes. On the other side of the Pyrenees, compulsory translations of pre-Cervantine novels like the Cárcel de amor  (1492) by Diego de San Pedro, forinstance, quickly left their mark on one of the Heptameron ’s stories, Nouvelle XI  (1559), even though the anecdote is limited to its minimal plot, sacred and profanehyperbole of Leriano’s sacrifice disappears, and one of its courtly scenes of stillrudimentary –though highly subtle- narrative strategy is disregarded because onlythe skilful pen of Mme de La Fayette will long afterwards know how to employ to itsimmense fictional potential, as we shall see. Not to be overlooked either is theinfluence of the 1536 translation by Maurice Scève (a poet from Margaret of Navarre’s circle) of  Grimalte y Gradissa (ca.1495) by Juan de Flores, given that thefirst part of the French sentimental novel, Les angoysses douloreuses qui procedent d’amours by Hélisenne de Crenne, would appear only two years later. The novel, an “epistre dedicative… a toutes honnestes dames”, starts from the beginning of the Elegia di Madonna   Fiammetta (1344) by Boccaccio, whose protagonist was alsorecovered by Juan de Flores as another character from his fiction to be raised up atthe end as an ex contrario example of the Spanish Gradissa . On the other hand,Hélisenne de Crenne made use of it to begin her narration of how a well-marriedwoman 1 grows fond of an ill-reputed young man and to provide an epistolarycontext within which to narrate her own adulterous infatuation. 1 Like Mlle de Chartres, a fatherless child married at eleven years of age: both young girls are broughtup by their mothers, who rush the weddings and soon fail because of the wedding in the case of Hélisenne, and because of the wedding and her almost immediate death in La Princesse . In this way,they each confront the blows of passion from a position of extreme fragility. 2   3   Boccacio, Juan de Flores, Hélisenne de Crenne  It should not be surprising that the work of Juan de Flores, two centuriesafter it had first been published in Spain, provided an early precedent to theextraordinary decision made at the end of a masterpiece like the Princesse deClèves 2   (1678), when the protagonist, finding herself widowed and in the flower of youth, rejects the man she loves so badly. To understand this self-sacrifice, whichat the time created a stormy controversy published by the magazine Mercuregalant  , one must necessarily retrace the steps in the sentimental education of thisor any other refined woman of the time. The first milestone of this pedagogicalprocess could have been Grimalte ’s failure to convince Pamphilo to return with Fiometa , because Gradissa’s conscience has been shaken by that fact and now shedoes not hesitate to reject the advances of her suitor. No other physical obstaclesto their love remain, only a spiritual one, which is the novel of love created byBoccaccio. Thus, the sentimental genre, through its own example, modifies thebehaviour of its characters and, by reason of a strange paradox that keeps love atbay, substitutes first-hand experience with experience that is vicarious and literary.The path to the analytical novel is thus cleared by casting the feminine consciencedown into the meanderings of relentlessly logical and refined reasoning itself,though guided by the most irrational terror.A noteworthy intermediate link between the reluctance of  Gradissa and thatof Mme de Clèves had to be the unhappy experience of Helissene de Crenne. Inaddition, an important difference between the Spanish model, which blendsBoccaccian characters with its own, and the  Angoysses douloureuses is clearlyrooted in the suitor, inspired in the French novel by a seemingly real model 3 , thatof the young Guenelic, whose moral condition is far unlike that of the braveGrimalte. One morning, looking idly out the window, Hélisenne spotted an elegantgentleman who immediately attracted her attention. He seemed to her to be “detresbelle forme & selon que ie pouoye coniecturer a sa phisonomie, ie l’estimoys,gracieux & amyable, il avoit le visage riant, le cheuelure creppe, ung petit blonde, & sans avoir barbe qui estoit manifeste demonstrance, de sa gentile ieunesse.” This 2 This has already been noted by Caridad Martínez (1992: 18-20). 3 As a result of the discoveries by L. Loviot and by V.-L. Saulnier, critics have agreed to accept the firstpart of the novel as very close to the truth. As can be deduced from a donated document, this initial partis the work of “Margueritte de Briet, femme de Philippe Fournel, escuier, seigneur de Crasnes, [fromwhere she must have taken the surname for her pseudonym], et de luy sepparee quant aux biens,demourant à Saint Germain des Prez lez Paris”, text cited by Paule Demats in his introductory study tothe work (1968: 9). In this prologue it was also discussed whether the first name of the pseudonym wasinspired by the mother of Amadís, which would not be strange at all given the extraordinary success of the novel in France and the uninhibited behaviour of the princess at the beginning of the novel, whichJuan de Valdés did not hesitate to condemn in his Diálogo de la lengua . 3   4 description fits exactly the profile attributed by Gregorio Marañón to the Don Juantype and completely antithetical to a “real man” who, from his point of view, wassmall, short legged, with a strong countenance, rough skin and hairy face: “Not atall similar, therefore, to the slim, elegant Don Juan, with smooth skin, wavy hairand a clean-shaven face …”  4 Guenelic is indeed a seducer, and despite hiselegance, his depravity is of the lowest kind. Blinded by vanity, he is incapable of keeping his advances – although minimal – to himself, despite how they offendHélisenne’s dignity. In fact, these advances only increase her confusion, resulting inan awkward incapacity to hide her desire from him, which he discovers with joy anddoes not hesitate to expose it. The opportune literary examples of destructive loveoccurring to the anguished mind of Hélisenne (Helen, Medea, Euryalus andLucretia 5 , Lancelot du Lac and the royne Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde) are of noimportance, having all been swept away by the “tresdur assault” of “l’appetitsensuel”. To further aggravate the situation and sink the narrator deeper anddeeper into the whirlwind of craziness in which she is immersed, in no time at allthe indiscretions of Guenelic reach the ears of Helissene’s husband and he informsher of his friend’s cheap betrayal. But her husband’s fury does not calm her desireand in those rare moments when he takes pity on her illness he himself recognizesthat her sensual appetite is responsible for her delirium, “par ce que ie cognois lespremiers mouvements n’estre en nostre puissance.”  6 Without needing anywarnings, the Princess of Clèves senses also first movements in herself from thestart, and although unable to conceal her embarrassment, it is precisely thisconscience and the consequent strict constraint of her own passions which givesher a basis to pull herself together and take hold of the reins of her destiny. 7   4 Marañón (1964: 74). 5 Vid. Ravasini (2003). 6 A text by Saint Augustine served as a starting point for doctrinal reflection about first impulses. In DeTrinitate , (XII, 12), a parallel is established between the temptation of earthly paradise and every daytemptations. As soon as the inferior appetite tries to lead reasoning towards a prohibited pleasure,temptation begins. Giving in to this demand is equivalent to tasting the forbidden fruit. If, however,consent does not go beyond illicit thoughts, it must be said that only the woman (the inferior reason)has succumbed. If, on the other hand, the act takes place, then also the man (the superior reason) hasceded to evil and the sin has been consummated. The pleasure had by only thinking about evil is alreadyreprehensible; nevertheless, this lack of inferior reason is less serious than a lack of superior reasonleading to the bad action. For Saint Augustine, then, sin begins with the intervention of reason, inferioror superior. The development of this passage of 12 th century theological thought is aptly summarised byCouture (1962). This concept became so popular that secular literature is full of references to it; see,for example, the similarity between the quote from Crenne with the phrase we find, much later in Don   Quixote (I, 20): “perdona lo pasado, pues eres discreto y sabes que los primeros movimientos no son enmano del hombre”. 7 “Quelque application qu’elle aût à éviter ses regards et à lui parler moins qu’à un autre, il lui échappaitde certaines choses qui partaient d’un premier mouvement, qui faisaient juger à ce prince qu’il ne luiétait pas indifférent.” And a few pages further on, “…elle fit réflexion à la violence de l’inclination quil’entraînait vers M. de Nemours; elle trouva qu’elle n’était plus maîtresse de ses paroles et son visage…”,quoted from the edition by Émile Magne (1939: 298 y 303). In his notes to L a Quinta de Florencia , 4   5 Deciding one’s own destiny. 8 That could be one of the main reasons why anintimate novel such as La Princesse is written in the third person : the narrator looksdown on the pathetic ‘I’ of the Heroidian epistle, that femenine lament to which the Lettres portugaises (1669) had lent more validity in the years spaning the firstdrafts of the Princesse. 9 Therefore according to the elegiac tone of the genre inwhich the first part – the most authentic and autobiographical – of the  Angoyssesdouloureuses is written  , 10   it is not within Hélisenne’s power to rein in heroutrageous desire, nor to stop herself from sinking further and further into themoral and physical misery of her obsession, interrupted only by failed attempts tokill herself. She ends up secluding herself in her chambers to convalesce from herdeliria, and afterwards, on the orders of her jealous spouse, is imprisoned in Cabasus , one of the châteaux  , where she decides to write her autobiography. Heraim – contradictory and yet credible – is to warn other ladies of the suffering thataccompanies love, in the hope that her writings will reach the hands of Guenelicand that he will come to her rescue. Hélisenne made such a brutta figura , herundisguised desire being subjected to public humiliation by the dandy, that it couldhave become an excellent example for other feminine consciences, such as that of the Princesse, created purposefully by another woman, this time a real one, towhom love seemed “une chose incommode”  11 and in perfect coherence with thatdesire for serenity, she lived entrenched in a peaceful marriage of convenience. 12   Morros (1998: Parte II, n.1266) recalls a passage from la Cárcel de amor  : the “primeros movimientosno se pueden en los hombres escusar” and another more significant passage from Celestina , VII, 1,where the option of controlling this first impulse is made plain: “Verdad es, pero del pecado lo peor es laperseverancia, que assi como el primer movimiento no es en mano del hombre, assí el primer yerro.” Recall that in the oldest version of the love between Abindarráez and Jarifa it is explained that “no huboprimeros movimientos que escusar porque el principio de nuestros amores fue un gusto y deleitefundado sobre L bien querer simplemente y sin cautela. Mas después no vino el mal poco a poco sino degolpe y todo junto.”  8 Craveri reminds us of something similar from a different point of view: “Adelantándose a la Princessede Clèves , el amable y escéptico Guilleragues enseñaba a las mujeres a usar la sinceridad como un armay adueñarse de su propio destino. Sin embargo, a diferencia de la heroína de Madame de La Fayette, lamonja portuguesa no renuncia a vivir el amor por miedo al desengaño...” (2003: 157). 9 On March 16, 1671 Mme de Sévigné writes to her daughter: “Je suis au désespoir que vous ayez euBajazet par d’autres que par moi. C’est ce chien de Barbin qui me hait parce que je ne fais pas desPrincesses de Clèves et de Montpensier.” This comment, plus a privilege document found by ÉmileMagne, confirms that shortly after the publication of  Zaïde Mme de La Fayette worked on a new text (thefirst draft of the Princesse de Clèves ) for which Barbin had secured, in advance, the profits frompublication. Vid. the introduction of Magne (1939: 24). 10 Gustave Reynier offers a summary analysis of each part in his classic study (1971). 11 For the more psychological rather than strictly literary reasons behind the rejection of the princess,see “Le refus de la Princesse” by Jean Cordelier (1975: 43-57). I have not, however, been able toconsult Claude Vigée (1960: 723-754). 12 Regarding her relationship with the sarcastic La Rochefoucauld, so fruitful from a literary point of viewand progressing towards a deep intimacy maintained within the realm of friendship, Bernard Pingaudcomments, among other things: “L’important est que cette liaison entre deux êtres qui ont beaucoup degôuts communs, beaucoup de dégoûts aussi, qui portent, à quelques nuances près, le même jugement 5
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