Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

The Hand as Metaphor in the Novelas ejemplares

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2016), 93, (2), 99–112.

Abstract

From the prologue to the final words of the Coloquio de los perros, the Novelas ejemplares abound in corporeal metaphors that reflect Renaissance notions of selfhood. While it is not surprising that the ‘Manco de Lepanto’ wrote insightfully about hands, it is remarkable that hand imagery in the Novelas ejemplares has yet to be sufficiently examined. This article demonstrates the importance of the motif to this collection of short stories and contextualizes Cervantes’s artistic treatment of the hand in early modern thought about the human body. Due to the particular details of Cervantes’s life events, I argue that hand imagery in his literature takes on a more significant role. More specifically, while he undoubtedly incorporates elements of the Renaissance tradition, I contend that hand imagery in the Novelas ejemplares reflects a rich panoply of connotations related to the nascent epistemological preference for empiricism, the hand’s unique capacity to both construct and dissect narrative, and is a fecund metaphor for economic and political systems.

Desde el prólogo hasta las últimas palabras de El coloquio de los perros, las Novelas ejemplares contienen una abundancia de metáforas corporales que reflejan conceptos del ‘yo’ del renacimiento. Aunque no es sorprendente que el ‘Manco de Lepanto’ escribiera de una forma profundamente consciente sobre las manos, es notable que el imaginario de la mano en las Novelas ejemplares todavía no ha sido suficientemente explorada. Este artículo demuestra la importancia del motivo a esta colección de cuentos cortos y contextualiza el trato artístico de Cervantes de la mano al pensamiento sobre el cuerpo humano de la edad moderna. Arguyo que aunque cabe dentro de la tradición del renacimiento que aparece tanto en la comedia española como en las obras de Shakespeare, Petrarca y otros, en las Novelas ejemplares el imaginario de la mano refleja un gran rango de connotaciones relacionadas con el empirismo naciente, la capacidad única de la mano de construir y disecar la narrativa, y como metáfora fértil de sistemas económicos y políticos.

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Schmitz, Ryan