Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Madrid. Capital of Spain whose secrets are stripped bare by the grateful Asmodeus, the demon of luxury, after Don Cleofas delivers him temporarily from captivity in a phial in an alchemist’s laboratory. While they look down upon the city Asmodeus makes the roofs and walls transparent so that Don Cleofas can see all the mean, lewd and ridiculous activities that people ordinarily conceal from their neighbors. Don Cleofas finds the demon while fleeing four men hired by his lover Donna Thomasa to force him to marry her, but he is somewhat surprised to learn that his own propensity for sin is not merely reflected but exaggerated in the great majority of his fellow citizens. Although Madrid is almost as grandiloquent a center of culture and civilization as Paris, its pretensions amount to little more than an architectural veneer overlaid upon barbarian motives and desires.


*Alcala. Town northeast of Madrid, famed for its university founded by Cardinal Ximenes. Don Cleofas is a student there, as is Don Pedro de Crespides, who is likewise engaged in a romantic excursion to the city.

Don Lewis de Crespides’s house

Don Lewis de Crespides’s house (krehs-PEE-dehs). Primary setting of the first interpolated tale, which offers the back-story of the wedding taking place there. It is one of many houses from which silken ladders are let down from high balconies to enable secret lovers to climb up to the bedrooms of young ladies.

La Chicona’s house


(The entire section is 644 words.)