Orality and Textuality in Medieval Castilian Prose
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This study evaluates several medieval Castilian prose works in light of recent investigations dealing with orality and textuality. As a homage to Father Walter Ong and his monumental scholarly contributions to communication theory during the last three decades, it offers some criteria for improving our knowledge of the creative process with respect to sources, composition, and diffusion. Until very recently, the proponents of this critical perspective have limited themselves to the medieval literature of England and France, and to that of classical antiquity (e.g., Havelock 1963), whereas researchers of Spanish literature have almost completely ignored not only the work of Havelock, but also that of McLuhan (1962), Ong (1958, 1982), and Ferguson (1959); indeed, the concept of diglossia, or "the co-existence of oral and written (i.e., popular and learned) systems of language in a determined environment" described in the last essay is of great importance for the present paper. To my knowledge, the only commentaries dealing with this topic in light of medieval Peninsular literature are those of Burke (1982, 1984), Gurza (1986), Rivers (1983), and Seniff (1984). Not surprisingly, these are North American hispanists, working in quite a different critical environment from that of their European colleagues, many of whom have only just recently been able to consult translations of the aforementioned scholarship of Father Ong and others.--Introduction.
Oral Tradition, 2/1 (1987): 150-71.