1001 Reads

Regularly updated blog charting the most important novels of the last 2000 and something years

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

8. Fernando de Rojas - The Celestina (La Celestina) (1499)


This is an interesting book, firstly it is a pretty short one, which is always nice in these early ages, it can become incredibly dull (look for the upcoming review of Amadis de Gaula). That is not, however what makes this an interesting book.

Firstly, it is written in the format of a play, but it does not seem to have been intended for performance, but for reading aloud. This is an interesting remnant of orality, but that said it is also the most modern book up to now. The themes, characters and situations are not those of even the racy Tirant Lo Blanc.

The Celestina is not a cavalry romance, it isn't set in some distant past and the characters are better rounded than any book before it. It it the birth of the golden age of Spanish renaissance writing, which would culminate with Quixote. It is not perfect, the plot is overly complicated and almost farcical in a bad way, the tragic ending(s) feel tacked on, and the best character (Celestina) is secondary, but there is enough here to make this work a landmark. Read it, it takes only an hour or so.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Fernando de Rojas liked to create characters in pairs, to help build character development through relationships between complimentary or opposing characters. In the play in general there are two opposite groups of characters, the servants and the nobles, and within each group are characters divided into pairs: Pármeno and Sempronio, Tristán and Sosia, Elicia and Areusa, in the group of servants, and Calisto and Melibea, Pleberio and Alisa, in the group of nobles. Only Celestina and Lucrecia do not have a corresponding character, but this is because they perform opposite roles in the plot: Celestina is the element that catalizes the tragedy, and represents a life lived with wild abandon, while Lucrecia, Melibea’s personal servant, represents the other extreme, total oppression. In this sense, the character of the rascal Centurino added in the second version is an addition with little function, although he has something to do with the disorder that calls the attention of Calisto and causes his death.

Thank the internets... the ending of Celestina in Playmobil... in the original language:


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