Transatlantic Figures In Early Modern Spain (1550-1650)

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This dissertation examines the strategies developed by three interconnected transatlantic literary figures to approach the new context of power relations, in the Iberian Peninsula, and how their literary production reflects these strategies. I study specifically the works of the chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, and playwrights Juan Ruiz de Alarcón and Tirso de Molina. I propose to focus on their strategies to navigate the agitated waters of the Spanish court, and to interact with the members of the illustrious peninsular circles. Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, the son of a Castilian conquistador named Sebastián Garcilaso de la Vega and of an Inca princess named Chimpu Ocllo, represents the figure of the mestizo. Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, born in Mexico to a family that exploited mines, personifies the figure of the criollo. Tirso de Molina, pseudonym of the friar of the order of Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy Gabriel Tellez, embodies the figure of the Spaniard who returned from the New World. Each of these figures is associated with a distinct region of the vast Spanish empire: the Inca Garcilaso comes from the viceroyalty of Peru, while Juan Ruiz de Alarcón was born in New Spain, and friar Gabriel Téllez visited the island of La Española between 1616 and 1618, before coming back to the Peninsula. Through this study, the atlantic space is conceived as a means of communication that connects everything. Through it, the European kingdoms and ! their colonies on both sides become intertwined in a network of connexions. The traffic of the routes crossing the Atlantic Ocean thus forges a subjectivity, the identity of which is dependant on this circuit. Born from this traffic, the subject who comes and goes is named the transatlantic subject. A witness of the modes of structuration of social relationships both in the metropolis of the Empire and in the colonies themselves, the transatlantic subject will determine their transformation. The historical period this study covers begins with the year of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega's birth, 1539, only seven years after the first encounter between Francisco Pizarro and the Inca Emperor Atahualpa in Cajamarca, in 1532. It ends with the death of playwright Tirso de Molina in 1648. Spreading across a century, it also encompasses the reign of four Spanish monarchs: Charles V, Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV. During this period, the figure of the indiano was affected by the growing dependence of the Iberian Peninsula on the transatlantic traffic and commerce with the colonies. During the reign of Philip II, the expansion of the administrative apparatus of the state, which extended its tentacles into the transatlantic trade in order to take advantages of its newly conquered territory, reached its climax. During the reign of his successor, Philip III, and of his favorite the duke of Lerma, the social advance experienced by the officials of the state, who begin to conceive of their administrative mandate as a material possession that might be acquired by money, animates other classes to find new means of achieving a higher social standing. This behavior was imitated by powerful indianos, who looked to acquire titles of nobility through purchase or marriages with noble families in want of money. The first chapter, "A mestizo Courtisan: the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega", studies the Peruvian chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, one of the earliest figures to engage in the transatlantic voyage and develop his literary production in the Iberian Peninsula. ! In it, I analyze how the mestizo chronicler conceived of and composed a public image of himself as a transatlantic subject in determined moments of his literary production, most notably in his introduction to the Diálogos de Amor by León Hebreo (Madrid, 1598) and his chronicles, the Comentarios reales de los Incas (Lisboa, 1609) and the Historia general del Perú (Córdoba, 1617). Unlike other authors such as Juan Ruiz de Alarcón who resist discourses that, in the Iberian peninsula, impose a particular vision of transatlantic identity upon the subjects who participate into the transatlantic circuit, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega succeeded, I argue, in forming his own subjectivity outside of the coordinates of the emerging stereotypical image of the indiano. The key to his success in preventing his identity as a transatlantic subject from being defined by these discourses, I argue, resides in his ability to fashion himself to the noble discourses of the Peninsula. His family background - he was a descendant of the Castillian hidalgo Sebastián Garcilaso de la Vega and of the Inca emperor Túpac Yapanqui - allowed him to present himself as a mediator between the Spanish and the Inca cultures. At the same time, he presented himself as a courtisan, an image that distanced him from that of a plebeian who made his fortune in the Indies and who claimed to be part of the noble class through the purchasing of titles or marriages of convenience. In my second chapter, entitled "Deformity and Stereotype in Juan Ruiz de Alarcón", I study the playwright from New Spain's resistance to the rejection he endured from the Madrid court, owing to his physical appearance and his American origins. The Council of the Indies refused to appoint him to an administrative position for several years, citing his severe vertebral and thoracic malformation. The most illustrious authors of the Court, from Lope de Vega to Francisco de Quevedo and Luis de ! Góngora, publicly humiliated him for his bodily appearance, as well as for being indiano. The stereotype of the indiano in Golden Age theater was highly marked by physical appearance, and especially the inability to go unnoticed. The indiano was represented in a grotesque fashion on stage, disguised with extravagant outfits and a character with irritating mannerisms. Ruiz de Alarcón showed his repulsion for these constructions around the pretended physical appearance of the indiano in his comedy, Las parades oyen, which develops a poetics of the beauty of the soul. In this play, the character of don Juan, a man who is also a victim of a physical malformation, earns the love of doña Ana through the unfurling of his goodness or the real criteria of beauty - that of the soul. In his most famous play, La verdad sospechosa, the playwright from New Spain undermined the usual mechanisms through which the society of the court constructed the stereotype of the figure of the indiano. Through the character of don García, a compulsive liar who fakes that he is an indiano in order to seduce a woman from Madrid, Ruiz de Alarcón demonstrates how these stereotypes were based upon incorrect premises. In reality, he argues, they were but a series of anxieties, felt by metropolitan Spanish society in the seventeenth century. The third and final chapter of the dissertation, "Mirroring Rebellion: Tirso de Molina's Amazonas en las Indias", considers how playwright Tirso de Molina justified his political opposition to the regime of the count-duke of Olivares through the figure of Gonzalo Pizarro, leader of the rebellion of the encomenderos, which took place in Peru from 1544 to 1548. The contorted reconstruction of the events that is conveyed by the jurisconsult Fernando Pizarro y Orellana, an idealized portrait of the leader of the uprising that formed a whole propagandistic apparatus put into play in order to rehabilitate the image of the Pizarro family from Extremadura, drew the ! attention of friar Gabriel Téllez, exiled from the court and betrayed by his own companions of the order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. In his Amazonas en las Indias, Tirso submits the legitimacy of the rebellious act to a trial when it is accomplished in a search to better the State and the institution of the crown. Both rebellions - the upraising of the encomenderos and the composition of the Amazonas en las Indias - I argue, are ultimately a service to the State. In Tirso's play, Gonzalo Pizarro revolts in order to stop the violence that results from the regime of the viceroy Blasco Núñez Vela and, even, to defend the encomenderos. The playwright pretended, through his play, to instruct the young Philip IV and reveal the mistakes that might occur when an indolent king delegates his authority to an unscrupulous tyrant. The very act of composing the work, which the Junta de Reformación had prohibited in 1625, was itself an act of rebellion. The restoration of the image of Gonzalo Pizarro converted itself, as such, into a mere excuse for criticizing the contemporary political circumstances. In this tragedy set in the New World, whose devastation Tirso witnessed during his two-year stay in the island of La Española, the playwright attacks are manifold. He was most critical of the violence that, in Tirso's opinion, had resulted from the socio-political repressions of the count-duke of Olivares. Tirso would not stop looking back at the failed project of colonization, implicitly considered as catastrophic. Ultimately, the playwright indicted the failure of the regime of encomiendas and the boundless ambition of the encomenderos. It becomes clear that assigning a subaltern role to the transatlantic subject inside of the articulation of social relationships in the metropolis and the colonies invites to consider the existence of transatlantic relations of power. The atlantic space, in Early Modern Spain, is not limited to commercial voyages and cultural exchanges: it is also ! a space of resistance, as concretized by the indiano character in the literature of the time. !

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transatlantic; early modern; INDIANO


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Union Local


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Garces,Maria Antonia

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Lorenz,Philip A

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Romance Studies

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Ph. D., Romance Studies

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Doctor of Philosophy

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