Guzmán sentenciado: El nacimiento de la picaresca y la retórica legal en tiempos de Felipe II
Guerrero Ayala, Leon
My dissertation addresses the legal, philosophical, theological, social, intellectual, and literary framework around Mateo Alemán’s Guzmán de Alfarache (1599, 1604), which heavily influenced a large number of writers in and out of Spain. I demonstrate that political events caused a series of extreme governmental measures that impacted Spanish society and questioned everyday conceptions of the role of the individual in society. The ontological and legal conflicts that Mateo Aleman recreated in Guzmán de Alfarache are the driving force of the narrative action. Mateo Alemán´s recreation of the topic of Fortune launches the protagonist through a series of adventures that thrust him into a life sentence in the galleys. The whims of fortune set in motion the constant social and economic turmoil represented in the novel. This chaos creates the social imbalance that surrounds and consequently marginalizes Guzmán and numerous other characters. A persistent questioning of legitimacy of state power is in dialog with the fragile standing of the individual in premodern Spanish society. A scenery of fear, persecution, and punishment emerges from the conflict between the picaro and the malfunctioning society. I reconstruct the legal and judicial landscape that prevailed during the last years of the sixteenth century in Spain. I emphasize the parallel between the sociopolitical turbulence during the reign of Philip II and that in Mateo Alemán's masterpiece.