The production of meaning from the Cid to Cervantes: A study in medieval and modern interpretive codes
Pedro, Sergio M.
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I propose to explore elements that we as modern-day readers may have to consider if we are to appreciate medieval narrative in its genuine context, which is to say, as medieval audiences would. Because at stake are the inherent differences between medieval and modern interpretive codes, I have chosen as narratives for comparison the Cantar de Mío Cid , which I study as a twelfth century epic performance, and Cervantes' Don Quijote , in turn applauded as a prototypically modern work. I operate under the premise that a modern-day reader is not only hampered by lack of familiarity with those medieval interpretive codes that are alien to him, but as well by a lack of conscious awareness of his own interpretive codes and the intellectual tradition that shapes them. Studies in medieval philosophy, culture and uses of magic reveal a medieval view of the cosmos distinct from our own, yet Cid scholars who view the work as part of the oral tradition have not adequately addressed how that view of the cosmos may shape the audience's expectations and the performance of the Cantar de Mío Cid . My contribution here lies in the attention paid to the medieval belief in an otherworldly presence, how that presence shaped the medieval Real and interpretative codes in a medieval performance. After the work of Martin Heidegger, Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht and William Egginton among others, I point out how the subsequent institutionalization of modern interpretive codes served to disguise that language from long decades of Cid scholarship. What follows is a comparison of criteria that construct the production of meaning in (a) the narrative space of a twelfth century oral performance imbued with presence to those of (b) the modern act of reading, for which a separate narrative space is required, a theatrical space.