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Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 520

The author’s “exemplary” works are 12 novellas which he believes have important moral lessons. In the Author’s Preface, Miguel de Cervantes offers his reasons for writing the such exemplary fictions. He intends them to be instructive, as they offer the reader many a “useful example” of proper conduct; he intends them to be provide “wholesome fruit.” At the same time, passing the time in harmless pursuits also has its uses, so he offers them to provide opportunities to enjoy suitable “hours of recreation.”

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I have called them exemplary, because if you rightly consider them, there is not one of them from which you may not draw some useful example; and were I not afraid of being too prolix, I might show you what savoury and wholesome fruit might be extracted from them, collectively and severally . . . . One cannot be always at church, or always saying one's prayers, or always engaged in one's business, however important it may be; there are hours for recreation when the wearied mind should take repose.

In “The Two Damsels,” a young woman sets out to right a wrong that has been afflicted on her. Well aware of her vulnerability in traveling alone in female dress, she decides to assume a male disguise. However, when she speaks in her natural voice while staying at an inn, a fellow guest overhears her and guesses that this young man is not what he seems to be. She admits as much to him, and tells him her reason for disguising herself.

You must know, señor, that although I entered this inn, as they have doubtless told you, in the dress of a man, I am an unhappy maiden, or at least I was one not eight days ago, and ceased to be so, because I had the folly to believe the delusive words of a perjured man. My name is Teodosia . . . .

In “Rinconete and Cortadillo,” Cervantes offers a tale of two young men who join forces in becoming friends and accomplices—not for any laudable goals, but rather to fleece and...

(The entire section contains 520 words.)

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