Mateo Alemán Criticism - Essay

Sherman Eoff (essay date 1953)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Eoff, Sherman. “The Picaresque Psychology of Guzmán de Alfarache.” Hispanic Review 21, no. 2 (April 1953): 107-19.

[In the following essay, Eoff examines the psychology of the protagonist of Guzmán de Alfarache, dividing the story into sections which portray the protagonist's increasing shamelessness, deceit, and buffoonery.]

What is the psychology of a pícaro? Can we profit by study the varieties of this literary type as we would individual human beings enmeshed in their environment? There is general agreement that the Spanish picaresque novel of the seventeenth century, more than a special kind of narrative form growing out of literary...

(The entire section is 5502 words.)

J. V. Ricapito (essay date 1968)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Ricapito, J. V. “Love and Marriage in Guzmán de Alfarache: An Essay on Literary and Artistic Unity.” Kentucky Romance Quarterly 15, no. 2 (1968): 123-38.

[In the following essay, Ricapito examines themes of love and marriage in Alemán's Guzmán de Alfarache, concentrating on the affair of Guzmán's mother as a pivotal episode in Guzmán's own unhappy love life.]

Critics, in evaluating the concept of love in the picaresque genre, have uniformly noted its absence or decreased importance as a literary theme. In one of the first modern critical commentaries on the picaresque, F. W. Chandler underscores the absence of sentiment in the picaresque...

(The entire section is 6661 words.)

R. J. Oakley (essay date 1972)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Oakley, R. J. “The Problematic Unity of Guzmán de Alfarache.” In Hispanic Studies in Honour of Joseph Manson, edited by Dorothy M. Atkinson and Anthony H. Clarke, pp. 185-206. Oxford: The Dolphin Book Co. Ltd., 1972.

[In the following essay, Oakley examines themes of honor and necessity in Guzmán de Alfarache, concluding that Alemán's work centers on the moral weakness of humanity and its need for divine help in obtaining salvation.]

In his recent biography of Mateo Alemán, Donald McGrady provided a summary of recent trends in criticism of Guzmán de Alfarache, remarking that although, on the whole, the twentieth century critics...

(The entire section is 9720 words.)

Vivian Folkenflik (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Folkenflik, Vivian. “Vision and Truth: Baroque Art Metaphors in Guzmán de Alfarache.Modern Language Notes 88, no. 2 (March 1973): 347-55.

[In the following essay, Folkenflik discusses Alemán's references to painting in Guzmán de Alfarache, many of which show the author's insistence that the visual world is an illusion.]

Towards the end of his description of his Italian travels, the narrator of Guzmán de Alfarache has occasion to lament that nowadays men judge only according to what they see:

Cuando fueres alquimia, eso que reluciere de ti, eso será venerado. Ya no se juzgan almas ni más de...

(The entire section is 4301 words.)

M. N. Norval (essay date 1974)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Norval, M. N. “Original Sin and the ‘Conversion’ in the Guzmán de Alfarache.Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 51, no. 4 (October 1974): 346-64.

[In the following essay, Norval argues against critics such as Alexander Parker and Moreno Báez who claim that Guzmán's final conversion is real, charging instead that Guzmán de Alfarache is a pessimistic story about man's inability to gain salvation without God's grace.]

The Guzmán de Alfarache is a pseudo-autobiography in which a pícaro tells the story of his evil life and his supposed conversion.1 More critics than not have dismissed the conversion as hypocritical, as...

(The entire section is 9275 words.)

Hilary S. D. Smith (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Smith, Hilary S. D. “The Pícaro Turns Preacher: Guzmán's de Alfarache's Missed Vocation.” Forum for Modern Language Studies 14, no. 4 (October 1978): 387-97.

[In the following essay, Smith examines the sermons in Guzmán de Alfarache, concentrating on Guzmán's role as a preacher.]

It must become apparent to even the most casual reader of Mateo Alemán's picaresque novel Guzmán de Alfarache that the work is full of sermons; that not only the digressive discursos (a favourite term applied to contemporary printed sermons) but also complete chapters are cast in a homiletic mould.1 Whereas Unamuno expressed his dislike for...

(The entire section is 5794 words.)

Carroll Johnson (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Johnson, Carroll. Introduction to Inside Guzmán de Alfarache, pp. 1-9. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1978.

[In the following essay, Johnson examines some of the many competing interpretations of Guzmán de Alfarache, himself concentrating on the discrepancies between Guzmán's adventures and Alemán's sermonizing.]

The preeminence of Don Quijote in the history of the modern novel, while demonstrating a facet of the general debt of Western literature to the Hispanic tradition, has been largely responsible for the widespread ignorance or misunderstanding of the other great prose narration that stands together with the...

(The entire section is 3959 words.)

Carroll Johnson (essay date 1983)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Johnson, Carroll. “D. Álvaro de Luna and the Problem of Impotence in Guzmán de Alfarache.Journal of Hispanic Philology 8, no. 1 (Fall 1983): 33-47.

[In the following essay, Johnson discusses themes of impotence in Guzmán de Alfarache.]

It is customary to consider the interpolated novelettes in Guzmán de Alfarache either as more or less light-hearted entertainment and demonstrations of the author's virtuosity in several narrative conventions, or on the other hand as proof of Alemán's inability to free himself from his pessimistic world view, his preoccupation with frustration and deceit. In the first instance the critic finds himself...

(The entire section is 6135 words.)

Linda M. Willem (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Willem, Linda M. “Variations on Engaño and Honra in the Interpolated Novelettes of Guzmán de Alfarache.Hispanic Journal 8, no. 2 (Spring 1987): 7-20.

[In the following essay, Willem discusses how Alemán inserts several novelettes into Guzmán de Alfarache to accentuate his overarching themes concerning honor and deceit.]

In general, critical opinion concerning the role of the interpolated novelettes in Guzmán de Alfarache falls into two camps: those who consider them to be significantly linked to the main narrative; and those who see them as extraneous stories which serve the essentially decorative function of...

(The entire section is 6594 words.)

C. A. Longhurst (essay date 1987)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Longhurst, C. A. “The Problem of Conversion and Repentance in Guzmán de Alfarache.” In A Face Not Turned to the Wall: Essays on Hispanic Themes for Gareth Alban Davies, pp. 85-110. Leeds: University of Leeds, 1987.

[In the following essay, Longhurst surveys critical reactions regarding Guzmán's authentic conversion.]

Interpretations of Guzmán de Alfarache have undergone a drastic change of direction over the last ten years or so, thanks largely to the efforts of American scholars. I am thinking mainly, though not exclusively, of the recent books of Joan Arias, Carroll Johnson and Benito Brancaforte.1

What these...

(The entire section is 12180 words.)

Nina Cox Davis (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Davis, Nina Cox. “Indigestion and Edification in the Guzmán de Alfarache.Modern Language Notes: Hispanic Issue 104, no. 2 (March 1989): 304-14.

[In the following essay, Davis discusses motifs of eating and digestion in Alemán's Guzmán de Alfarache to explore themes of literary deception.]

The tendency of Guzmán criticism in recent decades has been to focus on the conclusion of Part II, the account of the narrator's alleged repentence and religious conversion while serving life sentence as a galley slave.1 By reading the nearly one-thousand page fictive autobiography solely in terms of its closing chapters, as an example...

(The entire section is 4320 words.)

Nina Cox Davis (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Davis, Nina Cox. “Guzmán('s) Swindles.” Symposium 43, no. 3 (Fall 1989): 194-208.

[In the following essay, Davis argues that the stories of how Guzmán swindles a silversmith, a merchant, and his uncle offer clues to the Guzmán's greatest deception of all—deceiving readers into believing his final conversion is authentic.]

Since its publication in 1599, Guzmán de Alfarache has been the subject of controversy, and its critics remain divided today. They debate Alemán's message, agreeing only that the novel is structured on a complex and problematic narrative. The fictive author Guzmán is made to relate his past and comment on it for the readers'...

(The entire section is 7063 words.)

Judith A. Whitenack (essay date 1990)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Whitenack, Judith A. “‘Bonifacio y Dorotea’ and the Merchandising of Love.” Hispanic Review 58, no. 1 (winter 1990): 57-71.

[In the following essay, Whitenack examines the tale Bonifacio y Dorotea in Guzmán de Alfarache, concluding that mercantile interests are of far greater importance to themes in the narration than Guzmán's sexual deviancy.]

It is no news for readers of Guzmán de Alfarache that Guzmán's wife, mother and grandmother were all prostitutes. We also know that Guzmán, following the pattern set by the man who was probably his father, lived for a time on his wife Gracia's earnings and even acted as her...

(The entire section is 5887 words.)