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Comic Motifs in Romances of Chivalry of Spanish Golden Age


Romances of chivalry are one of the most representative literary genres of Spanish Golden Age,
which gained great popularity in XVI century. In the last few years, critical studies have stressed the
importance of the uniformity of this corpus, which includes many imitations, sequels, and prequels resuming
the threads of the narration where they were dropped. The main consequence is that the genre involves a
great deal of stereotyping of the same situations, contexts, even episodes, which became common motifs and
recognizable formulas for the readers. The fictitious biography of a knight-errant, a Christian prince who
establishes his heroic credentials, finding love and power, is only the basic thread of a structure which
presents a reiterative pattern where themes and motifs are usually combined in the same fashion. A motif is
the smallest narrative unit of a tale, that shows persistence in the tradition, where it survived with a specific
identity, and can be included in different contexts; it is a recurrent unit with a fixed narrative or descriptive
content; generally, it concerns a specific episode or accident: the main action is consistent in every
manifestation of the motif, but details can (and do) change. The main focus of this proposal is the analysis
and categorisation of comic motifs (jokes and pranks) in the corpus of chivalric novels, starting from its most
famous cycles. The research is also meant to study poetic and literary treatises of XVI-XVII centuries, to
develop a reflection on the value, function and meaning of comic expression at the time. The comic elements
of the genre will be then compared to the parody of the romances of chivalry realised by Cervantes in Don
Quixote. This research will consolidate the general paradigm of the genre, studying its morphology; the
concept of motif will be used as the interpretative key to approach both the formal aspect of the genre and its
ideological background.

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Calle Pedro Cerbuna 12
50009 Zaragoza
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 158 121,60