Reading, Writing, and Errant Subjects in Inquisitorial Spain explores the conception and production of early modern Spanish literary texts in the context of the inquisitorial socio-cultural environment of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Author Ryan Prendergast analyzes instances of how the elaborate censorial system and the threat of punishment that both the Inquisition and the Crown deployed did not deter all writers from incorporating, confronting, and critiquing legally sanctioned practices and the exercise of institutional power designed to induce conformity and maintain orthodoxy. The book maps out how texts from different literary genres scrutinize varying facets of inquisitorial discourse and represent the influence of the Inquisition on early modern Spanish subjects, including authors and readers. Because of its incorporation of inquisitorial scenes and practices as well as its integration of numerous literary genres, Don Quixote serves as the book's principal literary resource. The author also examines the Moorish novel/ la novela morisca with special attention to the question of the religious and cultural Others, in particular the Muslim subject; the Picaresque novel/la novela picaresca, focusing on the issues of confession and punishment; and theatrical representations and dramatic texts, which deal with the public performance of ideology. The texts, which had differing levels of contact with censorial processes ranging from complete prohibition to no censorship, incorporate the issues of control, intolerance, and resistance. Through his close readings of Golden Age texts, Prendergast investigates the strategies that literary characters, many of them represented as legally or socially errant subjects, utilize to negotiate the limits that authorities and society attempt to impose on them, and demonstrates the pervasive nature of the inquisitorial specter in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spanish cultural production.
Ryan Prendergast is Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Rochester, USA.
'This book offers insightful readings of subversive forms of resistance operating in a number of early modern Spain’s most seminal authors and texts. It is about social institutions, especially the Inquisition and its relationship to the Church and State, and about the complex nature of culture, race, ethnicity - and their negotiations of identity. The book is rich and nuanced in its understanding of crucial institutions and human realities.' Marina Brownlee, Princeton University, USA 'Ryan Prendergast's arguments and prose are crystal clear. His book offers a fine introduction to excellent texts, many unknown outside the field of Spanish Golden Age studies. It should appeal to a broad spectrum of students and specialists of early modern European culture who wish to explore the fascinating story of political and religious institution that haunted a period of magnificent literary creation.' Renaissance Quarterly 'Prendergast offers in this book an astute reading of literary production in a state in the process of formation, dominated by an inquisitorial environment. The works he studies in the text provide a strong example of the prominence of the Holy Office in the cultural imaginary... Reading, Writing, and Errant Subjects in Inquisitorial Spain excels in the connections it makes between canonical sources otherwise seldom studied together and the foregrounding of the inquisitorial spectre that persists throughout these sources. These readings provide a nuanced understanding of the sociocultural environment in a clearly heterogeneous Spain.' Sixteenth Century Studies 'This authoritative study will be an important source of scholarship for historians and literary scholars of the period, contributing to a wider appreciation of the exercise of institutional power, its force, and its limitations.' Clio