'Lector Ludens': The Representation of Games & Play in Cervantes

'Lector Ludens': The Representation of Games & Play in Cervantes

by Michael Scham

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In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain, debating the acceptability of games and recreation was serious business. With Lector Ludens, Michael Scham uses Cervantes’s Don Quijote and Novelas ejemplares as the basis for a wide-ranging exploration of early modern Spanish views on recreations ranging from cards and dice to hunting, attending the theater, and reading fiction.

Shifting fluidly between modern theories of play, little-known Spanish treatises on leisure and games, and the evidence in Cervantes’s own works, Scham illuminates Cervantes’s intense fascination with games, play, and leisure, as well as the tensions in early modern Spain between the stern moralizing of the Counter-Reformation and the playfulness of Renaissance humanism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442617407
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 09/17/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Michael Scham is an associate professor of Spanish at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1. Leisure and Recreation in Early Modern Spain

  • Theoretical Contexts
  • Prerational and Rational Play in the Epic, the Picaresque, and the Quixotic
  • The Space and Function of Eutrapelia
  • Cristóbal Méndez, Rodrigo Caro, Fray Alonso Remon: Therapeutic Exercise
  • Human Divinity and Depravity: Vives, Erasmus, Montaigne
  • Play types in Golden Age Spain
  • Chess
  • Games of Chance
  • Physical activity and competition
  • Mimesis
  • Ilinx
  • Regulating play in the Indias

2. Solitary, Collaborative and Complicit Play in Don Quijote

  • Cervantes and the Ambivalent Freedom of Play
  • Players and Games in Don Quijote
  • Play and Laughter in Don Quijote
  • Laughing At, Laughing With
  • Comic Doubt and Delusion in Don Quijote
  • Ludic Scepticism in Don Quijote II

3. The Novelas ejemplares: Ocio, Exemplarity, and Community

  • Agonistic and Restrictive Play in El licenciado Vidriera
  • The Agonistic Intellect: Cruel Comedy and Vidriera’s Humourless Vision
  • The Picaresque and Play in El coloquio de los perros
  • Play and the Liminal Underworld Experience
  • Dialogue and the Digressive Quest for Meaning in El coloquio de los perros
  • Play and the Exemplarity of Process
  • Picaresque Freedom and Festive Play
  • The Festive Mode of the Picaresque
  • Monipodio’s Criminal and Ludic Community in Rinconete y Cortadillo
  • Distance, Morality, and the Allure of the Aesthetic Experience
  • Generic Interplay in La ilustre fregona
  • Interrogation and Validation of the Fictional World




What People are Saying About This

Edward H. Friedman

“Well over a half-century has passed since the publication of Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens. In that time, not only have the games people play changed and reflected new technologies, but the boom in theory – including the development of game theory per se –has invited scholars to reexamine early modern art and society. The writings of Cervantes offer a superb bouncing-off place, given, among other things, the leisure activities of Alonso Quijano and the place of the ‘idle reader’ in Don Quijote. Michael Scham presents a broad approach to the topic of productive and unproductive play, with emphasis on Cervantes and his predecessors, contemporaries, and followers. The study will provide special satisfaction to those who find pleasure in ‘working on’ Cervantes.”

Rachel Schmidt

Lector Ludens is an important contribution to what is known about recreation and play in the early-modern Hispanic world. Not only has Michael Scham drawn on many primary sources, both printed and archival, but he has also contextualized them within Aristotelian, scholastic, Medieval, neo-Scholastic, Erasmian, and Italian Renaissance thought. This will prove to be an invaluable tool for scholars of the period.”

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