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Sending Mixed Signals: Gracián And The Didactic Tradition

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Chapter Summary

Before considering Aragonese Jesuit Baltasar Gracián's El Criticón, this chapter examines an assumption that underpins the interpretation of the novel as a didactic text, namely the position of the clergy as unwavering supporters of Spanish Catholicism. Despite the indications that clerics were not always entirely devoted to the goals of Counter Reformation Spain, interpretations of Baltasar Gracián's novel have not taken this new information into account. El Criticón is frequently interpreted as a morally didactic guide. Gracián's novelistic retelling of the Circe episode omits the details that have led to religious interpretations of the scene and replaces them with intellectual capacities. Regarding the purpose of emblem literature, Gracián highlights the satirical possibilities of Alciati's emblem. While Gracián lavishes praise on Alciati, the Spanish emblem writers receive few citations in Agudeza y arte de ingenio.

Keywords: El Criticón ; Agudeza y arte de ingenio; Alciati's emblem; Aragonese Inquisition; Baltasar Gracián; didactic tradition; Spanish Inquisition



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