Published in Journal of Hispanic Philology 1.3 (Spring, 1977 [1978]), 245-248.


Diego Ortúñez de Calahorra. Espejo de príncipes y cavalleros [El Cavallero del Febo]. Edition, introduction and notes by Daniel Eisenberg. Clásicos Castellanos, Vols. 193-198. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1975.


      The appearance of Daniel Eisenberg’s edition of Diego Ortúñez de Calahorra’s Espejo de príncipes y cavalleros is a major event in chivalric studies. One of the most difficult problems facing Hispanists interested in libros de caballerías has been the lack of modern editions of the sixteenth-century originals. It is true that Amadís de Gaula and the Sergas de Esplandián have been available in Gayangos’ BAE text (vol. XL), and translations of several foreign romances were published by Bonilla in the NBAE. More recently, Edwin B. Place prepared a definitive edition of the Amadís, while Felicidad Buendía published an unreliable text of the Amadís in the Aguilar volume of Libros de caballerías. Yet these works, with the exception of the Sergas, are not Castilian romances of chivalry by Eisenberg’s definition, for they were not “escritos en castellano en el siglo XVI” (“Prefacio,” vol. I, ix, n. 1). Of the sixteenth-century romances, only Palmerín de Olivia was available in a modern critical edition, that of Giuseppe de Stefano (Pisa, 1966), until the publication of Eisenberg’s edition of the Espejo de príncipes in one of the most widely circulated series of classical Spanish texts, Espasa-Calpe’s “Clásicos Castellanos.” Other editions have been prepared as doctoral dissertations, e.g., Lidamarte de Armenia, edited by Mary Lee Cozad (see DAI, 37 [1976], 350-60-A), and Cirongilio de Tracia, edited by the present reviewer (see DAI, 36 [1976], 6735-A); as a matter of act, Eisenberg’s [p. 246] edition was originally his dissertation, directed by A. David Kossoff at Brown University. The increasing availability of modern texts will certainly give rise to renewed critical interest in the romances of chivalry, long the most unjustly neglected literary texts of sixteenth-century Spanish literature. One can only hope that future editions of libros de caballerías will be as carefully prepared and annotated as is this edition of the Espejo de príncipes y cavalleros.
      Before commenting on the edition itself, it seems pertinent to consider the importance of the text which has been edited. The Espejo de príncipes y cavalleros, first published in Zaragoza in 1555, recounts in three books (two volumes per book in this edition) the adventures of the Greek emperor Trebacio and his illustrious twin sons, Rosicler and the Cavallero del Febo. Their peripatetic efforts to preserve Trebacio’s sovereignty and protect the faith take them to various sectors of eastern Europe, to England, and occasionally to an enchanted kingdom. Most of the plot elements are standard fare in the chivalric mode: the hero’s separation from parents and an eventual reunion, secret marriages, enchantments, prodigious battles, “open” ending, and so forth. Moral digressions, many of them drawing heavily on Petrarch’s De los remedios contra próspera y adversa fortuna, sporadically interrupt the narration; but fortunately the author does not abuse the reader’s patience as does Montalvo in Books III and IV of the Amadís. Ortúñez presents a unified story in a style that remains readable despite intermittent grandiloquent flourishes. Readers of the time must have found the Espejo de príncipes engaging, for of the romances published after 1550, it was one of the few to be reprinted. Considering its length and necessarily high price, this romance had to be very popular to merit six printings between 1555 and 1617. moreover, it inspired three continuations, all of them lamentably inferior to their progenitor, as well as several romances and a comedia or two. Cervantes makes references to the Espejo de príncipes in the Quijote (.e.g., the preliminary sonnet “A vuestra espada no igualó la mía, / Febo español…”); and several characters from Ortúñez’ work are mentioned in the Avellaneda Quijote.
      The Espejo de príncipes y cavalleros is, then, one of the most influential of the Castilian romances; and Eisenberg has done Hispanic scholarship an admirable service by producing a careful critical text of it.
      Working from microfilms, Eisenberg has based his text on the 1555 Zaragoza edition, of which there are two extant copies. In an introduction section, “El Texto” (I, lxvi), he points out that “las diferencias entre estos dos ejemplares son poco importantes.” Judging from the examples which he annotates, one would assume that the differences are indeed inconsequential. Eisenberg provides a bibliographical description of the six known editions of the text and demonstrates the relationships among them (I, lxiii-lxxix). He cogently defends his modernization of capitalization, accentuation, and some orthography (e.g, use of u and v). Less convincing, however, is his decision so preserve contractions such as quel, ques, or questuviessen (lxxx-lxxxi). Such forms, while possibly interesting form a purely linguistic point of view, only serve to distract the reader’s attention and should, in this reviewer’s opinion, [p. 247] be modernized. The same argument that Eisenberg uses to justify his modernization of punctuation (see lxxxi) could be applied to contractions. Yet this is a relatively minor detail, and the decision to honor the original’s contractions in no way mars the thorough precision with which the text has been prepared.
      To complement the careful editorial job, intelligent explanatory notes are provided. Drawing on his own — and occasionally on Clemencín’s — reading of the romances of chivalry, Eisenberg traces influences, draws comparisons, and highlights many chivalric conventions. He points out certain lexicographical phenomena peculiar to libros de caballerías, such as the use of the word bondad in the sense of “destreza en el empleo de las armas” (see I, 23, n. 3). Man notes are bibliographical treasure mines, e.g. the commentary on basiliscos (V, 39, n. 28) or the discussion of dreams in Spanish literature (II, 272, n. 12), to which one might add Georgia Sábat Mercadé, “A propósito de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Tradición poética del tema ‘Sueño’ en España,” MLN, 84 (1969), 171-95. One wonders why the note on the archaic use of the conjunction ca appears in II, 164 rather than in I, 34 (I, 19) where the word first appears in the text; but happily such oversights are infrequent.
      Further enhancing the utility of this edition are the reference materials contained in the final volume. These include an appendix, a table of emendations, an index of words annotated, an index of characters, and a bibliography. The appendix is Dialogue XCIII, “De la tristeza y miseria” from Francisco de Madrid’s translation of Petrarch’s De los remedios, a work to which Eisenberg repeatedly refers throughout the edition. The table of emendations will be interesting to anyone who has edited Renaissance texts, and the index of words annotated will be particularly useful to lexicographers (for whom, incidentally, the romances of chivalry will doubtless prove to be surprisingly fecund). In a six-volume edition which comprises almost 1,500 pages, an index of characters is a must, and Eisenberg has prepared an unusually handy one in which the most important events in each character¡s life are listed along with the corresponding book and chapter numbers. The “Elenco de obras citadas” does not pretend to be exhaustive, but it reflects a comfortable familiarity with Renaissance bibliography. One might mention a recent note by Eisenberg himself, which is relevant to the discussion of the term libros de caballerías in I, lxxxvi, n. 110: “Un barbarismo: ‘libros de caballería,’” Thesaurus 30 (1975), 340-341.
      Finally, a few words about the “Introducción” are in order. Divided into seven parts, “Autor y mecenas,” “Sumario,” “Título,” “Fuentes,” “Lenguaje y estilo,” “Continuaciones,” and “Popularidad e influjo”), it more than adequately prepares the reader to confront the text itself. Neither slavishly mechanical nor boringly redundant, the introduction reflects the editor’s obvious enthusiasm for the Espejo de príncipes and for the romances of chivalry in general. Cervantes scholars will be interested in the parallels suggested between the cueva de Artidón and the cueva de Montesinos. All students of Golden Age literature will find illuminating comments on the relationships between the romances of chivalry and other works of the period. [p. 248]
      Following the introduction and the material on the text itself, there is a brief “Bibliografía” (lxxxii-lxxxviii), in which Eisenberg makes some provocative observations on chivalric bibliography. He correctly laments the lack of studies based on close readings of the texts themselves and the prejudice of critics against the romances, inspired perhaps by Cervantes himself. Ironically enough, Cervantes is the very author whose work will probably be more fully understood once a careful study of the influence of the libros de caballerías on Don Quijote is completed. Such a study will require a thoughtful reading of sixteenth-century romances like the Espejo de príncipes y cavalleros, and this reading can be more easily accomplished once the texts are available in modern editions. Eisenberg has brought us one step closer to that goal. Let us hope that those who continue the quest will model their editions on this one, a paragon of editorial scholarship.


James Ray Green, Jr.  
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201 (USA)

 


URL: http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/deisenbe/reviews/green_reviews_Ortunez.htm
Home: http://users.ipfw.edu/jehle/deisenbe/index.htm