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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 443

Exemplary Novels by Miguel de Cervantes is a collection of twelve novellas written between 1590 and 1612. Paying homage to the Italian novella genre, Cervantes wrote each of these novellas in order to depict the differences between idealism and realism within human nature. Each novella tells a different story of how human relationships develop and change, highlighting for readers the juxtaposition between the ideal of love and the reality of love.

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Ideal love, as Cervantes depicts it, is steadfast, principled, and pure. These motifs emerge in stories like "The Gypsy" and "The Generous Lover." In "The Gypsy," a man runs away with a woman he loves and whom he believes to be a gypsy. When it is discovered that she is actually the governor's daughter, he is imprisoned for pursuing a woman so far above his station. However, their love ultimately is rewarded when his secret is discovered: he descends from nobility. The story ends with their wedding.

The similarly twisty plot of "The Generous Lover" also concedes that love conquers all. Ricardo and his beloved, Leonisa, are separated from one another during a shipwreck. Believing that Leonisa has drowned, Ricardo prepares to live a life plagued by grief. However, he discovers she is not dead, though their happiness still hangs in the balance because she has been enslaved by and is betrothed to another man. Fortunately, their love, because it is steadfast, principled, and pure, is enough to overcome these obstacles. These two stories, and the others in the book that celebrate the triumph of idealistic love, are not entirely devoid of the complications and complexities of real love.

Of the twelve novellas in Exemplary Novels , stories like "The Glass Bachelor" and "Extreme...

(The entire section contains 443 words.)

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Critical Essays