Subjectivity and Hermeneutics in Medieval Iberia

The Example of the Libro De Buen Amor

Authored by: Robert Folger

The Routledge Companion to Iberian Studies

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415722834
eBook ISBN: 9781315709895
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



The Libro de buen amor is a challenge – and a provocative one – for literary critics and modern readers in general, although it exemplifies many of the features deemed typical of medieval literature. 1 The text is framed by the autodiegetic narrator Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita, but we have no definite information on its historical author. Despite this pseudo-autobiographical plot, the book does not construct a clearly identifiable authorial subject, much less a reliable narrator. The archpriest metamorphoses on occasion into a certain Don Melón; at one point the book itself addresses the reader. Another typically medieval feature of the text is its mouvance (Cerquiglini 1989), that is, the instability of a text which has come down to us in three manuscripts which differ significantly from one another. This textual instability contributes to the problem of establishing a date of composition, which may have been 1330, as indicated by the Gayoso manuscript, or 1343, if we consider the colophon of the Salamanca manuscript as evidence for the completion of the work (Lawrance 2004). The text itself does not show the degree of internal cohesion that the modern reader expects. Although the roamings and erotic adventures of the Archpriest provide a feeble overarching plot, the text is, in typical medieval fashion, a patchwork of original passages and set pieces which the poet reworked and parodied, ranging from brief exempla to adaptations of well-known texts, such as the Pamphilus de amore.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.