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Emilio Blanco

Readers, censors and critics. The public life of the Celestina in the 16th and 17th centuries URL:

We could say that La Celestina was the first best-seller of the Spanish literature. Shortly after being published, the Renaissance contemplates how new editions and translations (even to Latin although it was the 17th century) multiply, and how the book becomes an inexcusable specimen for the librarians of the time, who do not cease to offer it in their catalogues. Its success went beyond this and today we can document multiple owners along the Renaissance, in the Iberian Peninsula, in Europe, and even in America, a destination to were it frequently travelled even though a prohibition to export works of fiction to the New Continent was in place.

And if we are aware of owners, we do not know any less from its readers: from both, literature itself and from technical texts of different depth, a considerable part of the Golden Age authors spoke about La Celestina. It is also curious that the first critical reader of the book was Rojas himself, who "found" the "first act" of the text, and decides to finalize it, but not before building a number of judgements over the text and its author. Prior to being published, the printers introduced summaries at the beginning of each act, taking the role of interpreters. Once the book was out on the streets, it gained an unexpected popularity: everybody exposed their opinions, from simple declarations basically acknowledging the work, to technical judgements of different depth regarding the authorship, the value of style, the language, the genre, or the intention behind the story of the procuress and the lovers.

It is not strange that this was so: the book and its circumstances needed for clarifications. Its quality endorsed the fact of being a theme of discussion, from the humanists (initially worried about the technical questions) to the moralists (more interested in its exemplary or anti-exemplary value); but is is the authors of all kinds of literatures (with Cervantes, Lope de Vega, and Gracián leading) who focus for more time on the book, fascinated by the quality of the text and the power of the trio of protagonists.

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