Tales of Count Lucanor

Tales of Count Lucanor

by Juan Manuel

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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 published 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 folk tales. 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.

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.

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.

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

Tale 7, "Of that which happened to a King and three Impostors" 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.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940015689501
Publisher: Balefire Publishing
Publication date: 09/15/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 260
Sales rank: 763,925
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena (5 May 1282 – 13 June 1348) was a Spanish medieval writer, nephew of Alfonso X of Castile, son of Juan Manuel, Lord of Villena and Beatrice of Savoy. He inherited from his father the great Seigneury of Villena, receiving the titles of Lord, Duke and lastly Prince of Villena.

Juan Manuel was born in the Castle of Escalona, in what is now the province of Toledo, and was a politician and very active soldier. He was son of Juan Manuel of Villena (the son of Ferdinand III of Castile) and his second wife Beatrice of Savoy. With the death of his mother Beatrice in 1292, Juan Manuel became duke of Peñafiel. Juan Manuel was trained in arts such as equestrianism, hunting, and fencing, and in addition learned Latin, history, law, and theology. At the age of twelve, he fought to repel the attack of the Moors from Granada to Murcia. He married three times, choosing his wives for political and economic convenience, and worked to match his children with partners associated with royalty. Juan Manuel became one of the richest and most powerful men of his time, coining his own currency as the kings did. During his life, he was criticized for choosing literature as his vocation, an activity thought below a nobleman of such prestige.

Juan Manuel had constant confrontations with his king. At the time, the throne of Castile was occupied by two monarchs, Ferdinand IV and Alfonso XI. Juan Manuel's loyalty was with Alfonso, to whom Juan Manuel gave the hand of his daughter Constance. The wedding was postponed several times, until finally Alfonso XI jailed Constance in the Castle of Toro for unclear reasons. This incident angered Juan Manuel, who decided to turn against Alfonso. He declared war on Alfonso, beginning a confrontation that lasted five years.
Finally the Pope brought about reconciliation between Juan Manuel and Alfonso XI. This reconciliation was not complete until 1340, when Juan Manuel and Alfonso allied against the Muslims in the Battle of Río Salado, taking the city of Algeciras. After these events, Juan Manuel left political life and retired to Murcia, where he spent his last years focused on literature.

Throughout his life, he wrote approximately thirteen books, of which only eight are preserved today. These works are predominantly didactic.

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