Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

María de Zayas’s ‘Tarde llega el desengaño’ and the Contradictions of Modernity

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2018), 95, (9), 945–958.

Abstract

Through an analysis of María de Zayas’s story, ‘Tarde llega el desengaño’ (1647), this essay argues that Zayas highlights moments when her characters, in failed attempts to categorize other people, experience admiratio, or marvel. These scenes unveil the limits of epistemology in the face of contradictory phenomena. In this way, Zayas’s stories offer us an intriguing use of literature as a tool of philosophy during the Baroque period. Zayas employs the interpolated story to demonstrate to her readers how the attempt to shed illusion (desengañar) and achieve certainty through narrative explanation – which, in this case, comes in the form of an interpolated story that purports to explain the contradictions contained in the frame story – leads only to more uncertainty. By exposing the contradictory claims of different social categories, Zayas’s stories point to the tragic outcome of the competing values of modernity.

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Delehanty, Ann T.