It has been two years, soon three, since Martha García published her Dialogismo teológico: devotio moderna, “Celestina” & “Quijote” at Academia Editorial del Hispanismo. When I first read the title I was terrified; not in vain my doctoral research at the time dealt with the topic of the relationship between Celestina and the devotio moderna, and I feared someone had reached the same conclusions I had, if not better ones, and turned my research useless and unoriginal -a quite common fear among doctoral candidates. However, García’s work could not be more different to my own dissertation.
In the first place, García’s book is a book on literary theory, and not so much on Celestina, Quijote or the devotio moderna. Its debt to Bakhtin’s interpretation of the genre of the novel in dialogic terms is evident from the title itself, and I have myself never been able to understand why certain scholars are so enthusiastic about this particular approach, but I must admit my dislike for literary theory in general is well-known and, therefore, I am not well-equipped to comment on the bakhtinian background of the study, so that I will not comment on this aspect. However, a bakhtinian reading is (fortunately for me) not everything García’s work is about.
The last time I saw Celestina on stage, in the 2012 adaptation by Eduardo Galán, I had the impression the director had been deeply impressed by Martín de Riquer’s article on the opening scene taking place in a church1. This time I feel it has been Alan Deyermond’s “Hilado > Cordón > Cadena” which has greatly influenced Ricardo Iniesta’s adaptation2, as I think can be clearly seen in the staging of his version of Celestina. The blood-red skein becomes central during Celestina’s spell, who tangles and untangles it with her hands several times, and it is used to wrap and enclose Melibea during her talk with the old go-between. After that, Melibea’s girdle (a handkerchief in this version) is portrayed as a piece of bait Celestina moves in front of Calisto and has the same mesmerising effect as the skein had on Melibea. Finally, Calisto’s extra-long golden chain resembles very much the thread and the girdle, and not only does Celestina tangle it around her hands, but the servants Pármeno and Sempronio find it miraculously directly after her death, just before being executed, as if the sequence described by Alan Deyermond needed the addition of this discovery to be complete.
Filed under Events, Opinion
Twitter has proved an excellent place to meet other people interested in Celestina and it was precisely through Twitter that I came to know Jeniffer Isasi’s blog and to read her entry “Aproximación cuantitativa al sistema de personajes de La Celestina“.
First of all, it must be said that her blog entry is far from being definitive, but it is merely a tentative approach to the possibilities offered by Digital Humanities tools for the study of Celestina. More specifically, the author decided to comment on the results she obtained after applying techniques of data mining to the text and use that to try to ascertain the nature and the importance of the relationships between characters in Celestina. On account of these relations, the author aims to discover if the central role given to the go-between by the title Celestina is justified or not.
As some of you might have noticed, I was recently made aware through Twitter of some articles and notes on Celestina and its possible links to Catalonia:
The first tweet makes reference to a 2010 post by Manel Capdevila, entitled “The lost Catalonian original of Celestina” (“L’original català perdut de la Celestina”), announcing a 2008 conference on the same topic by Jordi Bilbeny, and giving an overview of the main arguments of the speaker, to be amplified at his paper. The second tweet refers to a more recent (2013) article on the urban setting of Celestina by Àlex Sendra, entitled “The city where the action of Celestina takes place” (“La ciutat on es desenvolupa l’acció de La Celestina“), in which Valencia is proposed as the most likely city in which Celestina is set. Both posts are to be found at the official webpage of the Institut Nova Història, which also offers some other writings on the topic, such as the 2013 “A study places the action of Celestina in Sagunt” (“Un estudi situa a Sagunt l’origen i l’acció de La Celestina“) or the 2014 “The solar eclipse of Celestina” (“L’eclipsi de sol de La Celestina“). Apparently, the official website of the Institut Nova Història also hosted the article “Celestina and Catalonian language” (“La Celestina i la llengua catalana”), which I could not find but hosted at the official website of the Cercle Català d’Història, where other articles and notes by Àlex Sendra on Celestina can be read.
Provided that, due to my personal attitude toward the text, I am not particularly interested in the possible references to real settings and events in Celestina, I decided to comment briefly and in an informal manner on Jordi Bilbeny’s arguments in favour of a lost Catalonian original of Celestina; the sources of Celestina and its origin being some of my favourite research topics. These can be more or less summarised as follows: