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El Conde Lucanor

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Title: El Conde Lucanor  
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Subject: One Thousand and One Nights, Spanish literature, Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena
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El Conde Lucanor

Don Juan Manuel's Tales of Count Lucanor, in Spanish Libro de los ejemplos del conde Lucanor y de Patronio ("Book of the Examples of Count Lucanor and of Patronio"), also commonly known as El Conde Lucanor or Libro de los ejemplos (original Old Castilian: Libro de los enxiemplos del Conde Lucanor et de Patronio), is one of the earliest works of prose in Castilian Spanish. It was first written in 1335.

The book is divided into four parts. The first and most well-known part is a series of 50 short stories (some no more than a page or two) drawn from various sources, such as Aesop and other classical writers, and Arabic folktales. Story 28, "Of what happened to a woman called Truhana", a version of Aesop's The Milkmaid and Her Pail, was claimed by Max Müller to originate in the Hindu cycle Panchatantra.[1]

Tales of Count Lucanor was first printed in 1575 when it was published at Seville under the auspices of Argote de Molina. It was again printed at Madrid in 1642, after which it lay forgotten for nearly two centuries.[2]

Purpose and structure

A didactic, moralistic purpose, which would color so much of the Spanish literature to follow (see Novela picaresca), is the mark of this book. Count Lucanor engages in conversation with his advisor Patronio, putting to him a problem ("Some man has made me a proposition..." or "I fear that such and such person intends to...") and asking for advice. Patronio responds always with the greatest humility, claiming not to wish to offer advice to so illustrious a person as the Count, but offering to tell him a story of which the Count's problem reminds him. (Thus, the stories are "examples" [ejemplos] of wise action.) At the end he advises the Count to do as the protagonist of his story did.

Each chapter ends in more or less the same way, with slight variations on: "And this pleased the Count greatly and he did just so, and found it well. And Don Johán (Juan) saw that this example was very good, and had it written in this book, and composed the following verses." A rhymed couplet closes, giving the moral of the story.

Treatments derived from Tales of Count Lucanor

Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew has the basic elements of Tale 44, "Of what happened to a young Man on his Wedding Day".[3]

Tale 7, "Of that which happened to a King and three Impostors"[4] tells the story that Hans Christian Andersen made popular as The Emperor's New Clothes.

Tale 23, What happened to a good Man and his Son, leading a beast to market is the familiar fable The miller, his son and the donkey.

The stories

The titles in the following list are those given in James York's 1868 translation into English.[5]

The Prologue
1. Relates to what happened to a Moorish king of Cordova
2. Treats of that which happened to Lorenzo Suarez Gallinato, and Garciperez of Vargas, and another knight
3. Treats of that which happened to Don Rodrigo el Franco and his knights
4. Of a Hermit who sought to know whom he should have for his companion in Paradise, and of the leap made by King Richard of England
5. Of that which happened to the Emperor Frederick and Don Alvar Fañez, with their wives
6. Of that which happened to the Count of Provence and Saladin the Sultan of Babylon
7. Of that which happened to a King and three Impostors
8. What happened to a King with a man who called himself an Alchymist
9. Of that which happened to two Cavaliers who were in the service of the Infant Prince Henry
10. Concerning what happened to a Seneschal of Carcasona
11. Of that which happened to a Moor who had a Sister pretending to be alarmed at any ordinary occurrence
12. Of that which happened to a Dean of Santiago, with Don Illan, the Magician, who lived at Toledo
13. What happened to King Ben Abit, of Seville, with Queen Romaquia, his wife
14. Concerining what happened to a Lombardian, in Bologna
15. What Count Fernan Gonzales said to Nuno Lainez
16. Of what happened to Don Rodrigo Melendez de Valdez
17. Concerning that which happened to a great Philosopher and a young King, his pupil
18. Relates what happened to a Moorish King, who had three Sons, and who desired to know which would become the best Man
19. Of that which happened to the Canons of the Cathedral Church of Paris, and to the Friars of Saint Francis, called Minors
20. Of that which happened to a Falcon and a Heron, and, more particularly, to a cunning Falcon, which belonged to the Infant Don Manuel
21. Recounts what happened to Count Fernan Gonzalez, and the Reply which he gave to his Vassals
22. Of that which happened to a King and his Favourite
23. What happened to a good Man and his Son, leading a beast to market
24. Of what a Genovese said to his soul when about to die
25. What happened to the Crow, with the Fox
26. What happened to the Swallow, with the other birds, when he saw the flax sown
27. Relates what happened to a Man who carried a very precious Treasure hung round his neck, and who had to pass a River
28. Of what happened to a woman called Truhana
29. Of that which happened to a Man who was suffering from a malady and whose liver had to be cleansed
30. Of what happened to a man who through poverty and lack of other food, was reduced to eat some peas
31 What happened to a Cock and a Fox
32. What happened to a Man catching Partridges
33. Relates to what happened to a Man with his Friend who had invited him to dinner
34. What happened to the Owls and the Crows
35. The advice which Patronio gave to Count Lucanor, when he said he wished to enjoy himself, illustrated by the example of that which happened to the Ants
36. Of that which happened to a good Man and his Son, who boasted of having many Friends
37. Relates to what happened to the Lion and the Bull
38. Relates to the advice which Patronio gave to Count Lucanor, when he expressed a desire to obtain a good reputation; and the example was what happened to a Philosopher who was suffering from a severe illness
39. Of what happened to a man who was made Governor of a large territory
40. Of that which happened to Good and Evil, illustrated by what occurred to a Man with a Madman
41. Of the association between Truth and Falsehood
42. Of what happened to a Fox who pretended to be dead
43. What happened to two blind Men travelling together
44. Of what happened to a young Man on his Wedding Day
45. Of what happened to a Merchant who went to buy brains
46. What happened to a Man with a grey Sandpiper and a Swallow
47. What happened to the Devil, with a Woman who went on a pilgrimage
48. The advice which Patronio gave to Count Lucanor when informed that a Man had offered to teach him the art of foretelling coming events, which he exemplified by what happened to a good Man who became first rich and afterwards poor by the intervention of the Devil
49. What happened to Don Lorenzo Xuares Gallinato, when he beheaded the renegade Priest
50. Concerning that which happened to Saladin and a Lady, wife of a Knight in his service



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  • Barcia, Pedro Luis. Análisis de El Conde Lucanor. Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1968.
  • Biglieri, Aníbal A. Hacia una poética del relato didáctico: Ocho estudios sobre El conde Lucanor. Chapel Hill: UNC Dept. of Romance Languages, 1989.
  • Devoto, Daniel. Introducción al estudio de don Juan Manuel y en particular de El Conde Lucanor: Una bibliografía. Paris: Ediciones hispano-americanas, 1972.
  • Deyermond, Alan. "Introduction." Libro del Conde Lucanor. Ed. Reinaldo Ayerbe-Chaux. Madrid: Alhambra, 1985. 3-49.
  • Don Juan Manuel. El Conde Lucanor. Barcelona: Losada, 1997.
  • Don Juan Manuel. The Book of Count Lucanor and Patronio: A Translation of Don Juan Manuel’s “El Conde Lucanor”. Keller, John E., and L. Clark Keating, trans. New York: Peter Lang, 1993.
  • Flory, David. El Conde Lucanor: Don Juan Manuel en su contexto histórico. Madrid: Pliegos, 1995.
  • Hammer, Michael Floyd. "Framing the Reader: Exemplarity and Ethics in the Manuscripts of the 'Conde Lucanor'." Ph.D. University of California at Los Angeles, 2004.
  • Kaplan, Gregory B. "Innovation and Humor in Three of El Conde Lucanor's Most Amusing Exemplos: A Freudian Approach." Hispanófila 123 (1998): 1-15.
  • Lida de Malkiel, María Rosa. "Tres notas sobre don Juan Manuel." Romance Philology 4.2-3 (1950): 155-94.
  • Menocal, Maria Rosa. "Life Itself: Storytelling as the Tradition of Openness in the Conde Lucanor." Oral Tradition and Hispanic Literature: Essays in Honor of Samuel M. Armistead. Ed. Michael M. Caspi. New York: Garland, 1995. 469-95.
  • Sturm, Harlan.
    • "Author and Authority in El Conde Lucanor." Hispanófila 52 (1974): 1-10.
    • "The Conde Lucanor: The First Exemplo." MLN 84 (1969): 286-92.
  • Vasvari, Louise O. "'Hit the Cat and Tame the Bride': Shrew Taming as Wedding Ritual, East to West." American and British Interactions, Perceptions and Images of North America. Ed. Adel Manai. TSAS Innovation Series: American Center, Tunis, Tunisia, 2000. 122-40.
  • Wacks, David.
    • "Ibn Sahula's Tale of the Egyptian Sorcerer: A Thirteenth Century Don Yllán." eHumanista 4 (2004): 1-12.
    • 65.2 (2005): 413-33.
    • 36.3-4 (2006): 87-103.
  • Madsen, Annette. Count Lucanor by Don Juan Manuel as Inspiration for Hans Christian Andersen and Other European Writers, In Johan de Mylius, Aage Jørgensen and Viggo Hjørnager Pedersen (eds.), Hans Christian Andersen. A Poet in Time. Papers from the Second International Hans Christian Andersen Conference 29 July to 2 August 1996. The Hans Christian Andersen Center, Odense: Odense University Press, 1999.
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