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La obra de Mariana de Caravajal, novelista del siglo XVII Ritterbach, Astrid

Abstract

The present study examines the Novelas entretenidas of Mariana de Caravajal y Saavedra, a relatively unknown and underappreciated author. Most critics who deal with seventeenth century short stories either tend to consider her work irrelevant, or insist on comparing her to Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor who was the more popular of the two women authors at that time. However, none of the critics is willing to accept the work of Mariana de Caravajal on its own merits without focussing on the presumed rivalry between the two authors in order to praise one and denigrate the other. Nevertheless, as the present study hopes to demonstrate, Mariana de Caravajal's short stories show originality and a certain artistic maturity. The first chapter deals with the general narrative techniques employed in Mariana de Caravajal's Novelas; the manipulation of time, space and narrative point of view. It examines in particular her development of the narrative framework, the structure of the plots and her method of describing the characters in order to present a complete picture of contemporary family life. The second chapter investigates the numerous detailed descriptions of various aspects of daily life included in the texts. It centers on their contribution as a historical document, not only as an illustration of the concrete environment, but also of the contemporary moral concepts and ways of perceiving life. The third chapter concentrates on the comparison between Mariana de Caravajal and Maria de Zayas. It traces in particular their opposite ideological points of view and how these affect their respective styles. The present analysis is put forth as a defense of Mariana de Caravajal and her work against the critical prejudices of the majority of students of seventeenth century literature. Although her known work is limited to eight short stories, she shows great originality in her methods of interpreting her contemporary reality. For this reason, she deserves more critical attention than she has hitherto received.

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