| The term anamorphosis, from the Greek ana ("again")
and morphe ("shape"), designates a variety of
perspective experiments that can be traced back to the artistic
developments of the 1500s and early 1600s. Anamorphic devices
challenge viewers to experience different forms of perceptual
oscillation and uncertainty. Images shift in front of the eyes
of the puzzled spectators as they move from the center of the
representation to the margins, or from one side to the other.
This study demonstrates that much of the literature of the Spanish
Golden Age (roughly 1550-1650) is similarly susceptible to a
mode of interpretation that permits, and indeed requires, "oblique
Thus, the perspectivistic tendencies that are characteristic
of the work of Miguel de Cervantes and many of the picaresque
narratives of the period--including the anonymous Lazarillo
de Tormes, Mateo Alemán's Guzmán de Alfarache, and
López de Úbeda's La pícara Justina--invite
the reader to actively participate in a game of displacements
and sudden revelations. As with the optical illusions of anamorphosis,
this reading game may very well result in a questioning of the
fit between reality and perception, perhaps even in a suspension
of commonly held beliefs about the world and our place in it.
"(A)wry Views makes a sophisticated, original, interdisciplinary
contribution to early modern scholarship and to our understanding of
Spanish literature and cultural production in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries. By theorizing the latter as a field of texts susceptible
to a contemporary mode of interpretation that permits 'oblique' readings
(i.e., anamorphosis), the author successfully demonstrates that there
was more than one way to look at works like Lazarillo, Guzmán,
and La pícara Justina and [those of] Cervantes."
E. Michael Gerli, author of Refiguring Authority: Reading, Writing,
and Rewriting in Cervantes
"(A)wry Views is a clearly written, lively, and refreshingly
accessible study [...] Castillo's book not only offers challenging readings
of its own, but will also stimulate new and provocative discussion of
both the canonical works and its own interpretations." William
"Scholars who are interested in a fascinating, innovative approach
that combines modern theories and solid scholarship on literature, painting
and culture, one that stimulates readers to reconsider classical texts,
will delight in this exceptional book." Robert Fiore, Hispania
"[Castillo] enriquece nuestro entendimiento de la literatura y
cultura del Siglo de Oro al introducir en nuestro vocabulario crítico
el término anamorfosis." Daniel Eisenberg, Bulletin
of Hispanic Studies
"It should be noted that Castillo's critical stance has its roots
in the methodologies of art history. What is important to recognize
is that anamorphic studies were already well-known in the sixteenth
century, both in Spain and abroad. Ergo Castillo is not guilty
of applying a current critical fad to writings innocent of what was
at risk.... Castillo's study of anamorphosis has introduced us to a
Pythonesque universe with deep roots in the Spanish Siglo de Oro."
Edward Dudley, Calíope
For the complete reviews from which the above quotations are taken,
Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 22.1
(Spring 2002): 184-88.
Hispania 86 (Dec. 2003): 804-05.
Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 80.4 (Oct. 2003): 588-89.
Calíope 8.2 (2002):104-08.
For other reviews, see
Renaissance Quarterly 56.2 (Summer 2003): 487-89.
(by Barbara E. Kurtz)
Reference & Research Book News 1 Feb. 2002.
David R. Castillo, University of Oregon, sits on the editorial
board of the book series Hispanic Issues and has published articles
on the work of Miguel de Cervantes, Baltasar Gracián,
the picaresque tradition, baroque Spanish theater, the literature
of the early colonial period, questions of nation-building, identity
formation, and cultural theory.
2001. Vol. 23. xiv, 182 pp. Cloth $51.95