Reconsiderations June 2010
Rojas & the modern novel
A reappraisal of La Celestina.
Fernando de Rojas’s La Celestina (1499) is said to be the first modern novel on the somewhat cavalier assumption that the narrative writings of the Greco-Roman and Alexandrian periods are mere tales. Still, it is permissible, since the sixteenth century is a watershed century, to view the work as the first modern novel, so to speak, certain noteworthy qualifications notwithstanding.
Ultimately divided into twenty-one acts, La Celestina underwent considerable changes during the early lifetime of its author, whose dates are 1475/6 to 1541. The anonymous first edition of 1499 was followed by a second in 1500, which added an acrostic poem spelling out Rojas’s name, as well as a prologue in the form of a letter stating that the lengthy first act, of uncertain authorship, was found by Rojas, who decided to continue it. He was, at the time, a law student in Salamanca. In 1502 he...
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