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The participants summarise their talks

  • The authority of the letter. Captive practices of writing and orality in the 16th and 17th century
    Pedro M. Cátedra

    At the beginning, without doubt, we have the literary practice, the intelectual practice, in any of its manifestations and media: visual and text-based, spoken or written. But only few intermediations, which we can now perceive, allow us to put individuals or entire collectives in social or cultural situations limiting enough to foster the apparition of common and representative practice and use of texts, which can gain a place in history, and at the same time, gain their own historiographic definition.

    We could consider that during the 16th and 17th century, censorship was one of those privileged intermediations, maybe not cultural, but definitively material and executive. Both, the practice of auto-censorship as well as the censorship applied by civil or religious institutions, produce the concentration of agents and patients of the control in the most common aspects of literary writing and reading practices, the use of books, and the relation between spoken and written texts. These aspects, which are the most real and extended ones in regards to the relation and use of texts, are not always the focus of the observations we could do from a literary, more than sociologic, perspective.

    The Inquisition applied their attention to promote orthodoxy in all social classes and thanks to the processes we conserve, it is possible to design a history of the reading, or of the relationship with the spoken and written texts, that many times are invisible to the eyes of modern historiography. It is true that today we know that any heterodoxy has high chances of being an artificial and theoretical construction of those in hold of power, and are defined on the basis of a detailed casuistry applied automatically, which is easily recognizable in the collective or individual patients like if it followed some kind of script -the case of most modern heresies or witchcraft-. We also need to add the weight  imposed by a judicial inquiry in line with protocols so strict and perfectly regulated as any other procedural rules, or even more. Nevertheless, in Inquisitorial procedures; not only those directly related to what is read, or those of direct control over texts like the censorships or recommendations from the authority (written or preached); we learn quite some data that allows us to reconstruct a new history of relationships between texts, and to highlight the sociological changes that occurred in that period of typographic acculturation within this period of history to which we refer on the title of the conference. It also allows us to reconstruct the peculiar, and very different, relationships that current readers have with the texts, regardless of the category they would fit into. To do this, the key is the normative authority which is recognized in the text, manuscript, and especially, handouts, to the point that nowadays it may seem unbelievable due to making the frontier delimiting fiction and reality, history and poetry (in the classic sense), blurry. And this happens at all levels.

    In this conference we will pose this question and propose lines for the reconstruction of this historiographic reality using unpublished sources or documentation from censorship acts, Inquisition procedures, or educative directives. On one hand, we will study the access and use of written and spoken texts deriving from the environment of emerging social classes, particularly what we know as printed popular literature -a concept we will also review-, either in prose or in verse, as well as the contribution of these texts to a personal culture, not only as a reference for fiction and entertainment, but also for the ruling of social and religious behaviors. On the other hand, we will propose the analysis of these, and others, classes and groups that in parallel amalgamate their history. 

  • The court of consciences. Literary censorship in modern Europe
    María José Vega

    By the end of the 15th century, the ecclesiastical bodies granted the printing press an enthusiastic and warm embrace. They greeted it as divine art capable of giving to the entire world treasures of wisdom and teaching, of extending devotion, of fostering spiritual reading and historical and science knowledge. In the words of the Franciscan Bernardino da Feltre, in these new times, with such light and abundance of books, there would be no excuses left for men to remain in ignorance. Nevertheless, soon this fascination for mechanical writing became awareness not only of its benefits, but also its dangers. In the bull of 1487 Inter multiplices, the Pope Innocent VIII praised the utility of the printing presses because it was possible to multiply the good books, but also warned about its risks, because with the same efficiency it could disseminate perverse doctrines and false knowledge. This way, he established the imprimatur institution, and assumed that the pastoral office's role of caring for the souls needed to be extended to the press work and the content of the books. Thus, the intimate relationship in modern Europe between the printing press and the institutions of censorship can be traced to the origins and spans for several centuries. The most visible expression of this is without doubt the vast List of Prohibited Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum) compiled by Roman, Tridentine, and national authorities; but also adopts other less conspicuous, or more capillary, forms but equally effective. This conference aims at highlighting the main milestones of the increasing intervention process over what was read, describing the theoretical justification of censorship over fiction and entertainment books, and proposing a general review of the great relevance that the institutions of censorship had over the cultural and textual exchanges in the great golden literature. The title of the conference holds a homage to the great Italian historian Adriano Prosperi, whom through the expression court of conscience referred to the sum of censorship and confession, understanding that each of them have the power to search the intimacy of the soul, its convictions and desires, and in the silent and private acts of reading and imagining.

  • Erasmism and censorship. The case of "Lazarillo de Tormes"
    Rosa Navarro Durán

     In 1526 in Alcalá de Henares, a translation of Erasmus' Enchiridion made by the archdeacon of Alcor, came out of the printing press of Miguel Eguía. On the 14th of December 1527, Alfonso Valdés wrote a letter that the Emperor signed where it stated "in its presence, nothing could be determined against Erasmus, whose Christian intention was true indeed". From then on, all the Spanish editions of the Enchiridion would include the letter that acted as a safe conduct until 1559, the date of the inquisitor Valdés' index of forbidden books that included the work of Erasmus. Back in 1536, Colloquia had already been forbidden, first the Spanish editions, and a year later the ones in Latin.

    Towards 1557 a Jewish medic of Llerena, Francisco Peñaranda, would wrap in straw and wall eleven books in his house in the Nuestra Señora square of Bancarrota (Badajoz) in order to protect them, and protect himself: these were very dangerous materials. Among the eleven books there were two of Erasmus' works: Lingua and De vitiosa Verecundia (Lyon, 1538); as well as a specimen of unknown edition from 1554 of La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes, printed in Medina del Campo by the brothers Mateo and Francisco del Canto.

    The 6th of October 1532, Alfonso de Valdés died in Vienna. From this point on, these would become very bad times for the works of Erasmus. The copies of the Emperor's secretary, the great Alfonso de Valdés born in Cuenca and follower of Erasmus, would not ne printed until rather recently with their name. The same was true for his two Dialogues and for the Lazarillo de Tormes.

    This conference will refer to this particular chapter in the passionate history of a way of thinking very critical with the vicious and corrupted members of the church, and to the huge difficulties that its dissemination found. If the pick axe of a bricklayer discovered the hidden books of the 16th century in a house of Bacarrota in 1992 , little by little other secrets hidden in the books will get to be revealed. 

  • Readers, censors and critics. The public life of the Celestina in the 16th and 17th centuries
    Emilio Blanco

    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.

  • Secrets of the heart. Inner truth and construction of subjectivity in the Baroque
    Fernando Rodríguez de la Flor

    The virtue of amicticia rules and chairs in the original Plato tradition the set of programmatic enhancements to which the integral training of Renaissance men of knowledge tend. It is a poignant and persuasive image regarding the value of honesty and audacity against the censoring strategies in the moral design of the "new man", who dressed with his recently acquired dignity -a dignity for which for example Pérez de Oliva plead in his famous Oratio, Diálogo de la dignidad del hombre- shows to everybody the path to his heart while exhibiting his interior openly, and proudly conscious for the first time of the contents that have built his intimacy, all of his soul.

    Around one hundred or one hundred and fifty years later, in the times of the Baroque subject in which Baltasar Gracián and a constellation of Spanish behavior theorists lived, the dialogues around the amicitia, around the proposals to forge a man whose heart remains open and without nooks or crannies, have become outdated and unusable. They have become a set of ideals that the efficient praxis of the world has put in doubt, and finally denied.

    The role of privacy and distrust is now promoted facing the blurred entity of "reality", and with fear towards the aggressive determination with which external causes manifest, due to which each singular potential becomes infinitely overpassed and obstructed by the obtention of the personal goals and self interest. This occurs among a generalized skepticism stemming at the end of the 16th century. The distrustful, following Lope de Vega's description, is now promoted as the new figure getting established in a very complex period from the point of view of politics and psychology. A time were what has been called "friendly policies" have majorly failed. The policies that precisely should help building civic communities and building a harmonic future that could subject the own good ("our own reasons") to the general or common good ("the State's reason"). Or putting it another way, we can consider that the new political situation in Spain in the times of those valid and the construction of a powerful courtier environment, the utopian project of a platonic harmony where the passions and interest of of men are ruled by a republic of reason vested by the wish of serving the common good, is no longer relevant. It is the opposite, the "own interest", the policy of interests, becomes monstrous and unbalanced immersing all courtiers -which from our perspective are all those participating in the simulated production- in a vertigo of intrigues guided by a strategy of concealment. These are at play in the maximum scenario. The political speech, transformed into a political maximum, like the title of M. Pelegrin's work stated, demolishes everything with its determinations and repertories of censorship and restraining orders. In the psychological realm of the new subject, this translates into an exponential grow of universal disgust and disaffection, that leads to disenchantment and, ultimately, disappointment.

Fundación Juan March
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