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Love's Subjects: The Alhambra Ceilings, Sentimental Fiction and Allegory

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This article analyzes the way in which allegorical and narrative motifs work in the fourteenth-century Alhambra ceilings and in fifteenth-century Castilian sentimental fiction. It argues that while the Alhambra ceilings, based on courtly allegory, convey a dignified statement concerning the potential of allegory to structure a political lesson while at the same time registering cultural assimilation and social crisis, allegory in sentimental fiction is problematized from the outset, showing that the genre's evolution renders allegory ineffective to account for love's subjectivity as it was attached to an outmoded courtly subjectivity. In this way, the painted ceilings of the Alhambra can be interpreted as a stage in the use of allegory in courtly context in the Iberian Peninsula within a larger group of works that make use of similar codes.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8204, USA


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