Air Travel in Cervantes
B.W. Ife

Cervantes often depicted the craft of writing in his works. In the prologue to Don Quijote, he portrays himself as uninspired, head in hand, staring at the empty page and wondering what to say. In the Novelas ejemplares he invites his readers to a game of billiards. Both images are serious and playful in different ways. In one, he appears to be self-deprecating, but is also underlining the creative control that comes from hard choices about what to write next. In the other, he stresses the ludic dimension of fiction, not to down-play its importance ―‘horas hay de recreación'― but to emphasise that literature is a game of skill for more than one player. When these two images are superimposed, the result is a useful set of tools for understanding what Cervantes is trying to do in his fiction, and why he is so good at it.

The notion of art as play is not new, but the image of the writer wielding his pen as a billiard cue —eyeing up angles, working out geometrical possibilities of character and situation, allowing for the nap of reader expectation— helps us to appreciate the skill, and experience the pleasure it brings. This paper will look at some of the trick shots he plays in Persiles y Sigismunda, discuss how he gets away with them and what they contribute to the rules of the game. Almost everything that follows is inspired by frequent re-readings of E.C. Riley's classic study, Cervantes's Theory of the Novel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962). Few works of criticism stand the test of time as this book has. By looking at some of Cervantes's more playful passages, this paper offers a modest celebration of the life and work of a brilliant and humane reader and critic whom we all miss very much.

At the beginning of chapter 18 of book I of the Persiles, Cervantes holds a roll-call to keep track of the cast. The head-count shows a net gain of thirteen named characters from Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Poland and England. The deceased —for Cervantes regularly culls the cast to keep it to a manageable number— include a Portuguese nobleman and a Norwegian chambermaid. Many more characters —French, Lithuanians, Poles and a Scottish countess— will join before the pilgrims reach their objective. One often suspects that Cervantes has deliberately set himself the challenge of getting as many characters as possible, from as many countries as possible, up to the Arctic Circle and then on to Rome.

This apparently chance convergence of many life-lines, though implausible, can be allowed because it is, in fact, rather commonplace. Ordinary people's lives intersect in a similar way on a daily basis. Everyone we meet comes to us with a pre-history, from which an extraordinary narrative can often be made. What interests Cervantes about these encounters is the hidden logic that lies behind the questions that get asked on these occasions: who are you? where have you come from? how did you get here?

The criteria for an acceptable answer to these questions are set out in a well-known incident in La gitanilla.1 Andrés catches the page-poet Clemente stumbling about in the gypsy encampment, and suspecting that he has been drawn there by Preciosa's beauty, cross-examines him unmercifully: who is he, where is he going, why is he travelling so late and so far from the road? Clemente's reply is rather pathetic: he is on his way to Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia, he is travelling at night to get there sooner, and he has lost his way in the dark. Andrés is deeply sceptical and insists that he can do better: ‘si os conviene mentir en este vuestro viaje, mintáis con más apariencia de verdad...' (112). You say that you are going to the Peña de Francia and it is twenty leagues in the other direction. You say you are travelling at night: through thick woods, without even paths, let alone roads? ‘Amigo, levantaos y aprended a mentir...'

So Clemente tries again, and this time tells a much more elaborate story, and a much less plausible one. This time, he claims to be a fugitive from justice after hiding in a monastery for two weeks because he and a close friend, a Count, had killed two men who had been hanging around the house of the Count's secret lover. He and the Count had decided to split up and make their escape; the Count had gone to Italy and he to Talavera, and, yes, he had only mentioned the Peña de Francia for something to say. Which is the better lie? There is no doubt that ‘I got lost' rings more true, but one cannot help remembering the words of Borges's detective Erik Lönnrot in La muerte y la brújula: ‘posible, pero no interesante'.

The Persiles opens, in medias res, with the lives of Periandro and Auristela at a point of brief convergence. A beautiful youth is brought out from an island dungeon. Who is he? Why is he going to be killed? He is to be transported a short distance to the isla bárbara, where he will be put to death and his heart ground up and made into a potion. The son of the man who can drink this potion without squirming will conquer the world. The barbarians who espouse this belief spend their lives capturing young men to supply the ingredients for the drink, and young women, of whom the most beautiful will be chosen to give birth to the conquerer. It has been Periandro's fate to be included among the ranks of the former and, quite independently, Auristela's to be among the latter.

As a response to the question ‘what are you doing here?' this explanation is far from uninteresting. But it is only the beginning. Up to this point, Cervantes has restricted himself to characters and situations which belong wholly to an exotic, legendary, epic-romance world. Their lives may be extraordinary and wildly romantic, but there is nothing inherently implausible in Icelanders and Norwegians sailing around the northerly latitudes. But the heat of the conflagration on the isla bárbara brings to the surface a group of three characters, a Spaniard, an Italian and a Portuguese, who belong to the Mediterranean world and have no real business being there. They are out of place in that context; explanations are called for, and good ones at that.

The first to explain himself (chapters 5-6) is the Spaniard, Antonio, in whose sea-cave Periandro and Auristela take refuge from the burning island. The son of well-to-do parents, ‘medianamente nobles', he served in the forces of Charles V in Germany, and while home on leave became involved in a brawl following a dispute over forms of address. It is the all-too-familiar story: someone calls him vos, he responds with a sarcastic vuesa señoría, swords are drawn, and blood is spilt. He flees back to Germany, then back to Spain and finally embarks on an English ship taking soldiers home from Lisbon. During the trip he gets involved in another brawl, this time with an English seaman, and as a punishment he is put in a rowing boat with some supplies and told to find his own way home. After a long period at sea, during which he visits an island populated only by wolves and undergoes a prolonged spiritual harrowing, he is washed ashore on the isla bárbara.

While Antonio takes care of the rescue from the main island, Rutilio, the Italian, engineers the release of the prisoners from the dungeon on the prison island. Rutilio also came to be on the isla bárbara as a result of a shipwreck (chapters 8-9). He had been out on a trading expedition from his base in Norway, but how he came to be in Norway is another matter. He begins his story as a dancing master in Siena. He falls in love with one of his pupils, absconds with her and is sentenced to death when her father catches up with them and calls in the authorities. He is rescued from prison by a witch who carries him off on her cloak. Four hours later (the chronological exactness is a nice touch) they land in the half-dark of an unknown country. She turns into a wolf, tries to seduce him and he kills her. As she dies, she regains her human form. He stands looking at the body, wondering what to do, and an Italian-speaking passer-by welcomes him to Norway.2

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The third account (chapter 10) is, if anything, more cryptic still. The Portuguese nobleman, Manuel de Sosa Coitiño appears almost literally from nowhere, from among the crowd of escapees from the fire. He is heard singing in one of the boats in which the group make their escape, and then tells a heart-rending tale of his love back home in Lisbon for the beautiful girl next door, of how he asked for her hand and was told that she was too young to marry, but that he should wait two years and that he should have first refusal. When the two years are up he learns that she has decided to become a nun. In the very act of recounting his heart-break he dies at the feet of his audience, just as a dream had foretold the previous night. Auristela's sadness at his death is deepened by the realisation that, now, she will never know how he came to be on the isla bárbara: 'con este sueño se ha escusado este caballero de contarnos qué le sucedió en la pasada noche, los trances por donde vino a tan desastrado término, y a la prisión de los bárbaros, que sin duda debían de ser casos tan desesperados como peregrinos'.3

By any standards this is a bizarre trilogy of stories. All three accounts clearly have their roots in the novella, the short tale of love, honour and intrigue which Cervantes used so often and to such good effect. Antonio's tale is the most fully worked through, and with the exception of the wolf that sends him away from the uninhabited island, comes closest to Clemente's ideal blend of invention and plausibility. The Portuguese lover's tale, while it causes no problems of plausibility, raises the question of why it is there at all. Whereas Antonio and his family will remain mainstays of the cast until he is reunited with his parents in Spain, and his children will remain with Periandro and Auristela until they reach Rome, Manuel de Sosa Coitiño exists in the narrative only to tell his unfinished story. He comes from nowhere and dies in the act of narration. And as for Rutilio, his aerial flight from Siena to Norway is difficult to reconcile with Cervantes's life-long dedication to the proposition that, however thin the truth might be stretched, it should not be allowed to break ('la verdad adelgaza y no quiebra').

Rutilio's flight is not the only example of air travel in the Persiles. At the end of Periandro's long flashback in book II, he tells of how he broke a horse of King Cratilus by riding it over a cliff: 'con tan mal grado suyo, como gusto mío, le hice volar por el aire y dar con entrambos en la profundidad del mar' (266). Only after he had taken off did he remember that the sea was frozen. However, heaven ensured that the horse's legs were strong enough to take the strain, horse and rider skidded across the ice a good long way, and no harm was done, although all the onlookers were certain he must be dead.4

Later still, in book III, chapter 14, one of the pilgrims looks up from a picnic to see something about to land on top of them: a beautiful woman has been thrown from a tower, and her voluminous skirts have broken her fall, allowing 'la mujer voladora' to land unscathed. Cervantes comments that this was a 'cosa posible, sin ser milagro.'5 Of course he is right, and we can accept both these incidents (just about) because we understand the physical principles which would, admittedly in exceptional circumstances, make them possible; just as we understand the physical principles which enable the pilgrims to survive in the hull of the capsized ship at the start of book II. Although Cervantes uses the word 'volar' in the case of the flying horse and the flying woman, they are both in fact instances of arrested falling, and although Mauricio says that three or four broken legs would have left Periandro less dependent on his listeners' courtesy (as he puts it), it is not difficult to see how a low angle of trajectory, a high terminal velocity of the horse and a low coefficient of friction might combine to produce a miraculous escape. And we all know how a parachute works.6

In the case of the flying woman, however, close inspection of the text reveals that she is a carefully planted distraction. As soon as she lands, the pilgrims hear shouts from the top of the tower, where the man is preparing to throw another woman to the ground. Periandro sprints to the top of the tower, grapples with the madman and wrests away his knife, but in the struggle both men fall off the tower, the madman run through with his own knife, and Periandro, who did not have loose clothing to break his fall,7 is left suffering badly from cuts and bruises. There can be no better example in fiction of a reader's credulity being so skilfully stretched: the first fall sets us down gently and prepares us without our realising it for the virtual impossibility of the second fall, the one that really is a miracle.

But what about Rutilio's journey by witch's cloak? The incidents of the flying woman and the flying horse remind us how careful Cervantes always is to cover himself against the charge of stretching the truth to breaking point. But Rutilio's flight seems unnuanced in comparison, and comes remarkably early in the novel: if Cervantes were proposing to be unscrupulously deceptive, one might have thought it better left till later. However, there is another example of air travel in Cervantes which may shed some light on Rutilio's case: the Clavileño ride in Don Quijote Part II.

In chapters 40 and 41 of Part II, while they are guests of the Duke and Duchess, Quixote and Sancho undertake a ride on a wooden horse called Clavileño. They are assured that this is the only way that the Countess Trifaldi, the Dueña Dolorida, and her ladies in waiting, can be rid of the beards which they have been given by the wicked giant Malambruno. Clavileño will take them the 3227 leagues (note, again, the spurious exactness) to Candaya, where they will be able to do battle in aid of the bearded women. Knight and squire are blindfolded and climb aboard. By using a variety of theatrical effects, bellows and burning wicks, the Count and Countess persuade Quixote and Sancho that they are flying through wind, fire and ice. Finally the rockets in the horse explode and the two dupes are deposited in a charred heap on the ground.

Sancho's account of the flight highlights the moral significance of the episode: he claims afterwards to have peeked through his blindfold, and to have seen the world as a grain of mustard seed and its inhabitants as hazel-nuts. The episode is a parody of classical and medieval accounts of aerial ascents, as a result of which those who experience them come to learn various moral commonplaces: the pettiness of the earth when seen from space; the chaotic chorus of mankind in the context of universal harmony, and so on. Sancho's experience of his flight is often said to lie behind his disenchantment with earthly power and the loss of ambition to be the governor of an island. To that extent, at least, the episode was not wasted.8

But the Clavileño episode also has other lessons to teach, on more traditional and theoretical issues concerning plausibility in fiction. The Clavileño adventure itself presents no problem of plausibility, since the whole thing is a set-up.9 Quixote and Sancho do not go anywhere, and we know that the horse never leaves the ground because the narrator says so. But the discussion of Sancho's reactions, and what he says he saw, throw interesting light on the kinds of arguments one might be inclined to use about Rutilio's flight: 'Como estos tales sucesos van fuera del orden natural', comments Quixote, 'no es mucho que Sancho diga lo que dice.'10 Sancho himself says, rather petulantly, in reply to a nit-picking observation from the Countess: 'pues volábamos por encantamento, por encantamento podía ver yo toda la tierra' [my italics].

What we have here is not just a satire on aerial ascent, but a satire on the kinds of arguments that might be invoked to explain away an aerial ascent in fiction: what Cervantes is showing is that it is not enough to say 'I know carpets don't fly; this is a magic carpet.' An appeal to the supernatural does not help. As Quixote says, leave aside the supernatural: 'o Sancho miente, o Sancho sueña' ―it is as simple as that. He does not believe Sancho, and the price of his silence is for Sancho to believe what he said happened in the Cave of Montesinos.

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If we turn back to our trilogy of Mediterranean stories in the Persiles, we see that they also have a set of moral and theoretical issues attached to them. The moral issues are clear; all these men have something to atone for or some passion which they have to overcome. Antonio's period of fifteen years in the cave has taught him to subdue his petulance and to learn the joys of Christian marriage and family life. His role in the rescue of Periandro and Auristela and their escape to the southern lands is part of the process of rehabilitation he has undergone. Rutilio and Manuel de Sosa have also had to learn to subdue their lustful passions in the frozen north and to do penance for, or learn to overcome, the excesses of the libido. For the Portuguese lover the experience of re-living his past misery through the act of narration is so powerful that he is completely overcome and dies. Rutilio is able to live through his experience and join the pilgrims at their final destination in Rome. To that extent there is a parallel with the learning experience which Sancho undergoes on his flight. For all three men, the north is a place of penance where passion is expunged so that Christian virtue can grow back in its place.

But, as with the Clavileño episode, each of the three 'mediterranean' narratives also has a bearing on the technique and theory of narrative in general. In Antonio's story the issue is length. Excessive length seems to be the cardinal sin in the Persiles: it is a constant topic of comment in Periandro's long narration in book II, and it is there at the outset when Antonio, uninvited (72), begins his attempt to answer the key questions posed earlier by Transila: '¿quién sois, a qué venís y qué es lo que buscáis?' (62). Antonio's narration has therefore to be broken into three episodes. The first ends when the nurse Cloelia expires at the back of the cave and he has to break off while they bury her (a poor reflection on his skill as a story-teller); and the second ends when his barbarian wife Ricla suggests that he is tiring both himself and his audience, and finishes the tale herself.

Manuel de Sosa's story shines a different light on life as a narrative and the way that life is bodied forth in narrative. Here is a man who does not exist outside his own life story, and one thinks immediately of the way in which Don Quixote dictates his own biography to himself as he rides out across the plains of Montiel. But the technical and theoretical issues behind Rutilio's aerial adventure are on an altogether different plane, and they bring together the moral issues with the technical in an extremely interesting way.

A man tells us he flew from Siena to Norway in four hours on a witch's cloak. Do we believe him or not? As Ted Riley has shown, contemporary theory on the question is clear.11 Failure to keep control of the fantasy shows disregard for the reader's intelligence (181) and there can be no pleasure in fiction without verisimilitude. So 'the most pleasing fiction is that which contains most of what is so strange as to inspire doubt and yet is possible' (183, my italics). But what if the fiction contains things which are not possible, things such as witches, lycanthropy and aerial journeys on cloaks? Here too the theory is fairly clear, and more spectacular forms of the marvellous may be accommodated in a number of ways: impossible fiction may be allegorical or symbolical in purpose (186-7); supernatural occurrences may be located in far-away places (189-91); they may be presented as consistent with popular belief or the intellectual context of the age (191-2); or they may be attributed to an intermediate narrator whom we may choose to believe or not (192).

Even when he is dealing with the supernatural, Cervantes is careful to surround his fiction with safeguards (Riley, 198): 'that's what it says in this Arabic manuscript', and so on. In Rutilio's case, there is certainly hedging of this sort. When Rutilio is asked to tell his story he agrees, 'aunque temo que por ser mis desgracias tantas, tan nuevas y tan extraordinarias, no me habéis de dar crédito alguno.' That's all right, replies Periandro: our own experiences have taught us to believe anything, 'puesto que tengan más de lo imposible que de lo verdadero.' Does that give Rutilio licence to lie? Possibly, but he certainly got to Norway somehow, and there is no hint of any other mode of transport.

For Riley, the matter is simple. Rutilio's past behaviour is an indicator of his unreliability: 'Cervantes takes care to show that the character of the narrator was not such as to inspire confidence…the doubt that surrounds the integrity of Rutilio…the possibility that he was a liar is left wide open' (193). But this is hardly damning evidence. Rutilio's seduction of his dancing pupil, though reprehensible, has been atoned for by his exile and his selfless rescue of others from the isla bárbara.12 Antonio's youthful behaviour was at least as bad, yet there is no suggestion that this makes him unreliable; prolix, perhaps, but not unreliable. What is more, it is difficult to see how Cervantes has 'taken care' to undermine confidence in Rutilio in the way he does with other unreliable narrators such as Campuzano or Cide Hamete Benengeli.

What, then, of popular belief? Does this help to accommodate the more extreme forms of the marvelous represented in Rutilio's account? There are three difficulties to overcome: lycanthropy, witchcraft and aerial flight. The first of these is also a feature of Antonio's account (I.5, p. 77), at least to the extent that the wolf who advises him to seek another landfall might be 'rationalised' as a human being who has been changed into a wolf.13 Witchcraft and its associated tradition of aerial flight were also commonplace in the popular mind. But it is important to note the prominent disavowals which Cervantes puts in the text. After Rutilio kills the wolf/witch, his compatriot guide dismisses the whole thing as the work of the Devil:

'destas maléficas hechiceras hay mucha abundancia en estas septentrionales partes ... cuéntase dellas que se convierten en lobos ... cómo esto pueda ser yo lo ignoro, y como cristiano que soy católico no lo creo. Pero la esperiencia me muestra lo contrario ... todas estas transformaciones son ilusiones del demonio, y permisión de Dios y castigo de los abominables pecados deste maldito género de gente.' (92)

A more comprehensive dismissal one could not wish to hear, even though popular belief in lycanthropy and witchcraft is admitted. But he carefully restricts himself to estas septentrionales partes, and has nothing to say about the aerial journey. Mention of the northerly latitudes is significant because it reminds us that marvels occurring in distant places might be dismissed as falling outside the civilized frame of reference; but at the same time it underlines the principal difficulty with Rutilio's tale, which is that the more substantive implausibility takes place here and now in Italy.

It is possible, therefore, that Rutilio's story, like the case of the mujer voladora, is a clever sleight of hand which uses a lesser implausibility to mask a greater one. In practice, the three implausibilities are subtly divided into two groups: the lycanthropy and the witchcraft are located in the realm of the exotic,14 but the aerial journey is put in a class of its own. In Cervantes's own terms (Persiles, 163-4), he wraps a miracle within a mystery, and hopes that by providing some rationalisation of the latter, he will be able to get away with the former.15

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Forcione has drawn attention to similarities in structure between miracle narratives and romance.16 Both have cyclical plots, but the miracle is distinct in that the emphasis is less on the heroes, who are 'usually helpless, quite unheroic, and frequently even fallen', and more on divine intervention. 'The protagonists of miracles are victims rather than combatants, their deliverance is a celebration of the power of grace rather than a vindication of any particular virtue they possess, and the meaning of the situation in which they are involved is to be sought in the significance of the single central event rather than in the exemplary nature of their acts.' Forcione concludes that, 'with the possible exception of El coloquio de los perros, the Persiles is Cervantes's most powerful expression of the mentality implicit in the traditional miracle' (331), although he does not include Rutilio's narrative in his discussion.

In fact, there is a good deal in Rutilio's liberation from jail which is suggestive of the miraculous, not least the fact that the episode recalls at least three biblical parallels: the safe deliverance of Daniel from the lions' den (Daniel 6:22-3); the release of the apostles by the angel of the Lord who 'by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth' (Acts 5:19); and the release of Peter (Acts 12:7), which resonates with Rutilio's in several ways. Both accounts have in common the setting at night, the warders asleep, the supernatural intervention and the striking off of the chains; the double reference to feet and the cloak are notable, as is the confusion which characterises both prisoners' understanding of what is happening to them.17

Rutilio says that he took his redeemer to be an angel rather than a witch, but once he senses the cloak rise into the air, his resistance kicks in: 'como cristiano bien enseñado, tenía por burla todas estas hechicerías ―como es razón que se tengan'. But his disbelief does not stop him from making the flight. What we have, then, is something which has the form and appearance of a miracle but which is diabolical in origin. The problem is that, although God may allow men to believe in witches as a punishment for their sins (Persiles, p. 92), Cervantes has not provided us with any alternative explanation of how Rutilio got from Siena to Norway. Rutilio's account is all we have to rely on.

By now we will have realised that Cervantes is discussing rather more than a simple mode of travel. He is edging us towards an appreciation of something more fundamental. Rutilio's story is miraculous in form, but it is not a miracle in any religious sense. Because this is the only explanation we are given, we have no choice but to accept it. The miracle lies not in the journey, but in the telling and the listening. Rutilio's account is, in the language of Austin and Searle, a performative speech act, one which brings into being the reality it describes.18 In fact, there are at least three nested speech acts, by the narrator, Rutilio, and the witch, each one creating its own referents and illustrating that truthfulness is the property of an utterance, not a state of affairs, and that literature is a collaborative project in which 'the author needs the compliance of the reader' (Riley, p. 194).

So we come, full circle, to the conclusion that in Rutilio's story, Cervantes has given us another image of the writer and the narrative process; of the author and the listener as collaborators, of the narrative pact that exists between them, and how the narrator carries out his primary task of persuading listeners to believe things which, in the ordinary course of events, they would not. Campuzano and Peralta provide a similar working model of the narrative pact in the interlude between El casamiento engañoso and El coloquio de los perros in which, despite frequent concessions that dogs cannot talk, Campuzano manages to get Peralta to concede that, under certain conditions, they might.19

In a similar way, though we should be properly sceptical about Rutilio's aerial flight, it is his job, and Cervantes's, to help us overcome our disbelief. The witch's coaxing of Rutilio out of jail and onto the cloak has its counterpart in the way Cervantes works his magic on the reader. The witch puts a wand in Rutilio's hand and tells him to follow her. 'Turbéme algún tanto', he says. 'Pero como el interés era tan grande, moví los pies para seguirla, y hallélos sin grillos y sin cadenas, y las puertas de toda la prisión de par en par abiertas, y los prisioneros y guardas en profundísimo sueño sepultados.' (90)

Once in the street she stretches out her cloak and tells him to step on it. He resists, she tells him to forget his 'devociones'; he tries to resist again, but his fear of death overcomes him; he steps right onto the cloak, and the cloak rises into the air. 'En resolución, cerré los ojos y dejéme llevar de los diablos.' Perhaps we too, as readers, wedded to our 'devociones', our certainty about what can or cannot be, have to overcome our fears and put our trust in another kind of witchcraft, practised by a cunning old devil called Cervantes. This old devil seems to be saying, 'trust me, I'll get you from A to B and you'll hardly know you are flying'. And he will set us down as gently as can be, like Rutilio, 'al crepúsculo del día en una tierra no conocida.'

Perhaps this is why Cervantes tries his most daring shot so early in the book: so that, once airborne, we can sit back and enjoy the rest of the flight with Aerolíneas Cervantinas.

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layout text
1. layout text Miguel de Cervantes, Novelas ejemplares, ed. Harry Seiber. 2 vols (Madrid: Cátedra, 1990), I.111-15.
2. layout text Rutilio's story has attracted comparatively little interest among critics. Alban K. Forcione (Cervantes, Aristotle and the Persiles (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1970)), Julio Baena (El círculo y la flecha: principio y fin, triunfo y fracaso del Persiles (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996)) and Maria Alberta Sacchetti (Cervantes' Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda. A Study of Genre (London: Tamesis, 2001)) are all silent on the specifics of the episode, while Diana de Armas Wilson (Allegories of Love. Cervantes's Persiles and Sigismunda (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991), pp.162-5) concentrates on the lycanthropy of the wolf-woman and Alban K. Forcione (Cervantes's Christian Romance: A study of Persiles y Sigismunda (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972), pp. 112-6) on the 'near-death' experience of the sinner; neither has anything to say about Rutilio's escape from prison and conveyance by magic cloak from Italy to Norway.
3. layout text Miguel de Cervantes, Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, ed. Juan Bautista Avalle-Arce (Madrid: Castalia, 1969), p. 104.
4. layout text For a full discussion of this episode see Forcione, Cervantes, Aristotle and the Persiles, pp. 245-56.
5. layout text In book II, chapter 2, a distinction is drawn between a miracle and a mystery: 'los milagros suceden fuera del orden de la naturaleza, y los misterios son aquellos que parecen milagros y no lo son, sino casos que acontecen raras veces' (163-4).
6. layout text As E.C. Riley notes, 'The Persiles is remarkable for its rationalising' (Cervantes's Theory of the Novel, p. 188)
7. layout text 'que como no tuvo vestidos anchos que le sustentasen…' (p. 373).
8. layout text On this moral tradition see Franklin O. Brantley, 'Sancho's Ascent into the Spheres', Hispania 53 (1970), 37-45.
9. layout text But note that Cervantes nevertheless prepares the episode thoroughly by means of a preceding discussion of flying horses in legend and romance (Part II, chapter 29).
10. layout text Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, ed. Martín de Riquer. 2 vols (Barcelona: Juventud, 1958), II.836.
11. layout text See section 2 'Verisimilitude and the Marvellous' of chapter 5 'The Truth of the Matter' in Riley, Cervantes's Theory of the Novel, pp. 179-99.
12. layout text When imprisoned, Rutilio tells us that he was put with others who were 'condenados…por otros delitos no tan honrados como el mío' (89).
13. layout text Compare the origins of the talking dogs, Cipión y Berganza in El coloquio de los perros. Although belief in lycanthropy was commonplace in early modern Europe, Cervantes may have drawn on accounts in Olaus Magnus, Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (Rome, 1555). See J.B. Avalle-Arce ed., Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda (Madrid: Castalia, 1969), p. 91, n. 53.
14. layout text 'Cervantes's use of the age-old device of remoteness, which he used not for justifying the totally impossible but as an aid to making the extraordinary credible, was recognized epic procedure.' (Riley, Cervantes's Theory of the Novel, p. 190.)
15. layout text It is significant that both Wilson (Allegories, 162-5) and Forcione (Romance, 112-6), while discussing other aspects of the episode, allow the aerial flight to pass without comment (see note 2 above).
16. layout text Alban K. Forcione, Cervantes and the Humanist Vision: a Study of Four Exemplary novels (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982), 329.
17. layout text '…the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains; and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth them unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord…' (Acts 12:6-10) Compare this with the following phrases from Rutilio's account: 'viéndome yo atado…ella rompería las cadenas y los cepos'; 'túvela por ángel que enviaba el cielo para mi remedio'; 'hallélos [pies] sin grillos y sin cadenas, y las puertas de toda la prisión de par en par abiertas, y los prisioneros y guardas en profundísimo sueño sepultados'; 'tendió en el suelo mi guiadora un manto, y mandóme que pusiese los pies en él' (89-90)
18. layout text J.L. Austin, How To Do Things with Words (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), J.R. Searle, Speech Acts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969), Mary Louise Pratt, Toward a Speech-Act Theory of Literary Discourse (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1977). Speech-act theory has somewhat fallen out of fashion since the 1980s, but the notion that fiction is a special form of performativity can still be helpful where issues of credibility in fiction are at stake.
19. layout text B.W. Ife, Reading and Fiction in Golden-Age Spain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 59-61.
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