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Jorge de Montemayor’s great pastoral novel La Diana (1559), one of the fountainheads of Spanish Renaissance literature, has often been regarded as a work written merely to amuse an effete courtly world. Bruno M. Damiani argues here that, far from being simply a “pastoral dream,” Diana has profound socio-historical and religious dimensions, and that Montemayor’s intentions in it were largely moral and instructive.
The timeless, idyllic nature which forms the essence of the pastoral is, in the case of Diana, inextricably bound up with the grace and sophistication of urban Spanish culture. Indeed, this study shows, Montemayor’s shepherds and shepherdesses exist not in an imaginary Arcadian land but in the very real Spain and Portugal of their author’s own time, and many of the characters are disguises for actual persons of the Spanish court, including perhaps the author himself.
Similarly, the philosophical and religious concerns of Renaissance Spain are fully explored in the lives of Montemayor’s sorrowing rustics. Symbolically they are sinners who have fallen from grace and must undertake a spiritual pilgrimage, one which ultimately leads them to an understanding of the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity.
Mustering a wealth of classical, biblical, medieval, and Renaissance sources, the author reveals the underlying fabric of Diana, an inter-twining of allegory, symbolism, and imagery intended to instruct Monte-mayor’s readers in the path of virtue. Damiani’s analysis of this important work offers us a clearer view of the intellectual life of Renaissance Spain.
Bruno M. Damiani is professor of romance languages at the Catholic University of America. He is the general editor of Studia Humanitatis and a widely published authority on Spanish literature of the Renaissance.
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
Jorge de Montemayor, La Diana, Spanish Renaissance literature, Renaissance Spain
Damiani, Bruno M., "La Diana of Montemayor as Social and Religious Teaching" (1983). Spanish Literature. 11.