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Title: The magic of Zayas : slippery sourcery, Baroque games with the devil and uncanny miracles in the novellas of María de Zayas
Author: Berg, Sander
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 8053
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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The seventeenth century saw an epistemological shift, which resulted in indeterminacy with regards to the supernatural. This indeterminacy is exploited by María de Zayas, albeit not necessarily consciously. In twelve out of her twenty novellas something happens that falls within the remit of the supernatural sensu lato – in the early modern period a crucial distinction was made between the supernatural sensu stricto (the miraculous) and the preternatural (the marvellous). Sometimes she treats magic as real, sometimes as false, now as a prank, then as a harrowing experience. But even when magic is described as efficacious, her discourse is permeated by indeterminacy. Her stories of the Devil may seem traditional at a first glance, but closer inspection reveals that the author plays a clever game with the reader. The Devil’s purported good deed in one of the tales is nothing but subterfuge, fooling protagonists and modern critics alike. Her miracles share much with classical hagiography, except that in some instances she imbues her tales with an almost Gothic sense of the uncanny. This also applies to other episodes, including premonitory dreams, disembodied voices and the undead. There is no doubt that Zayas uses the supernatural as a means to shock and titillate her audience. As such it ties in with other transgressive aspects of her work. But if she courted the vulgo with her sensationalist stories, some of which were recycled as relaciones de sucesos, she also aimed to impress the culto with her baroque narrative labyrinth where nothing is what it seems. Not only are women innocent victims of irrational male violence, they are subjected to evil spells and the influence of malignant stars more powerful than free will. There really is no way out for them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available