Jongleuresque Dialogue, Radical Theatricality, And Maese Pedro's Puppet Show. - Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

Jongleuresque Dialogue, Radical Theatricality, And Maese Pedro's Puppet Show.

By Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America

  • Release Date - Published: 2003-03-22
  • Book Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Author: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
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Jongleuresque Dialogue, Radical Theatricality, And Maese Pedro's Puppet Show. Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America read online review & book description:

For many critics, "dialogue" between two or more characters--unmediated by a narrative voice--is the basic marker of theater. (1) Witness the longstanding debate over the "problematic" genre of Celestina. Our theatrical prejudice for literary dialogue can be traced back to the ancient myth of Thespis's "invention" of Western drama, to the very moment when, it is said, he separated himself from the chorus he had previously led in order to engage it in a kind of antiphonal exchange of voices. Yet, despite the twenty-five centuries of critical tradition that have privileged this literary exchange, the "dialogue" responsible for producing "theater," at its most basic level, does not occur between several characters (and certainly not between several actors), but between the performer and the spectator themselves who, as Richard Schechner argues, "co-create" (202) an interdependent relationship that plays itself out within the confines of what Hollis Huston calls an interactive performative contract: "I will watch, says the viewer, as long as you do something that is worth watching. I will do something that is worth watching, says the actor, as long as you watch" (76). (2) It is this "dialogue" that is universal to all performance traditions whether ancient or modern, Eastern or Western; it is this "dialogue" that remains even when the "dramatic text" has been reduced to an act of juggling. As "literature" became increasingly complex, and thus went from being an essentially oral phenomenon directed toward "hearers" to being an essentially written and then typeset entity disseminated to "readers," this performative exchange slowly evolved into the dialogic relationship between "narrator" and "narratee." Along the way, however, especially while the boundaries between oral and written literature were still extremely fluid (that is, before the arrival of what Marshall McLuhan [11] has famously called the "Gutenberg Galaxy"), residual traces of this aboriginal performative dialogue continued to appear in various texts and in various ways. We find it visualized in a thirteenth-century illuminated manuscript in which a fool grimaces directly at the reader (see illustration); it recurs in the oft-repeated formula of the romancero viejo, "bien oireis lo que dira" (Diaz Roig 137); and it re-exerts itself on the modern, complex stage whenever a character breaks the illusion of the "fourth wall" in order to explicitly engage the audience in an aside or soliloquy. More importantly, it surfaces ever so briefly in the final paragraph of Don Quixote II, 25, as the narrator is about to introduce Maese Pedro's puppet show: "Puestos, pues, todos cuantos habia en la venta, y algunos en pie, frontero del retablo, y acomodados don Quijote, Sancho, el paje y el primo en los mejores lugares, el trujaman comenzo a decir lo que oira y vera el que le oyere o viere el capitulo siguiente" (II, 25; 239).

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