The Spanish Shahrazad and her Entourage: The Powers of Storytelling Women in Libro de los engañosde las mujeres
Hancock, Zennia Désirée
Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (2004)
The anonymous Libro de los engaños e asayamientos de las mugeres (LEM) is a collection of exempla consisting of a frame tale and twenty-three interpolated tales. It forms part of the Seven Sages/Sindibd cycle, shares source material with the Arabic Alf layla wa layla (A Thousand and One Nights), and was ordered translated from Arabic into Romance by Prince Fadrique of Castile in 1253. In the text, females may be seen as presented according to the traditional archetypes of Eve and the Virgin Mary; however, the ambivalence of the work allows that it be interpreted as both misogynous and not, which complicates the straightforward designation of its female characters as “good” and bad.” Given this, the topos of Eva/Ave as it applies to this text is re-evaluated.
The reassessment is effected by exploring the theme of ambivalence and by considering the female characters as hybrids of both western and eastern tradition. The primary female character of the text, dubbed the “Spanish Shahrazd,” along with other storytelling women in the interpolated tales, are proven to transcend binary paradigms through their intellect, which cannot be said to be inherently either good or evil, and which is expressed through speech acts and performances.