Tirant lo Blanc: An Analysis of its Transitional Styles
The great Catalan Renaissance novel Tirant lo Blanc was first published in Valencia in 1490, over 500 years ago. At that time the printer, Nicolau Spindeler, printed a prologue written by the primary author Joanot Martorell, and a colophon written by the purported second translator Martí Joan de Galba. Both Martorell and Galba died before the first printing of the work was released. In the inven-tory of Galba’s personal possessions notarized the day after his death in 1490, two volumes of a set of twelve of the first printing of Tirant lo Blanc were noted as being part of his estate. Later a nephew of Galba’s documented that the printer, Spindeler, had the other ten volumes of the novel which belonged to Galba’s descendants.
During the twentieth century many literary critics from both Europe and North America have analyzed and argued the intervention of Martí Joan de Galba in the work of Joanot Martorell. The earliest recorded research was documented by Givanel i Mas in 1911 in which he stated that Galba was no more than an editor to the original manuscript written by Martorell. Givanel i Mas felt that his intervention was minimal and that in essence Tirant lo Blanc was written solely by Martorell. Joseph A. Vaeth published his findings corroborating Givanel i Mas’s research in 1918. The most recent publication which agrees with Givanel i Mas and Vaeth is a new book by Martí de Riquer that was released in 1990. In this book Riquer recants his former 1947 conviction that Galba’s intervention in the totality of the novel was progressive, beginning with chapter 349, and almost total after chapter 416. In the latest book Riquer states unequivocally that Martorell is the sole author of the book, and that he feels the colophon, added to the manuscript by the printer after the death of Galba, was an error on the part of the printer.
Other researchers do not agree at all with the idea that Martorell is the sole author of Tirant. They base their deductions on the content of the prologue written by Martorell, on the information presented by Galba in the colophon, and on analyses of various aspects of the novel itself. The earliest critics to publish the opinion that the hand of Galba was more than just an editor in the novel were Josep Maria Capdevila and William J. Entwhistle. Capdevila wrote a prologue to a 1924-1929 edition of Tirant lo Blanc in which he resolved the mystery of the four parts of the novel to which Galba alludes in his colophon. Capdevila’s four parts are the adventures in England, the conquest of Rhodes, the period in Constantinople, and the wars in North Africa. Entwhistle published in 1927 that the adventures of Espércius, which occur in chapters 410 to 413 during the adventures in North Africa, represent the only intervention of Galba in the novel because the episode of Espércius is the only magical occurence in the novel. All the rest is realistic. Francesc B. de Moll published his research in 1934 on the refrains found in the novel. He determined that after chapter 326 there were no refrains in the dialogue, and thus he felt that Galba wrote all of the novel after chapter 326. Among other critics one finds Menéndez y Pelayo who in 1943 published his findings that Galba wrote the section on Tirant in North Africa and inserted it in the middle of the novel. Thus Martorell is the author of the last part of the novel, Tirant’s return to Constantinople and his death. Dámaso Alonso published his agreement with Menéndez y Pelayo in 1951, and in 1961 Nicolau d’Olwer published his agreement with Martí de Riquer’s 1947 edition of Tirant lo Blanc. Joan Corominas published his stylistic study of the language found in Tirant lo Blanc in 1957 in which he determined that the language was very different in the latter part of the novel than in the former. Thus, Corominas feels that Galba wrote the novel after chapter 320. Wolf Goertz completed a stylistic study of Tirant in 1967 in which he determined that Galba intervened in the writing of the novel at chapter 403, in North Africa. Two very recent studies also corroborate the intervention of Galba in the novel and contradict the most recent Riquer opinion. Rafael Bosch published his stylistic study of Tirant in 1987 in which he stated that Martorell was a chivalresque author and Galba was the realistic Renaissance author. Thus Bosch feels that only the first part of Tirant’s adventures in England belongs to Joanot Martorell, and the remainder of the novel was written by Galba. Antoni Ferrando published his study of the language used in Tirant in 1989. In his analysis he finds that the first and second parts of Tirant were written by Martorell, the third part is mixed between the two authors, and chapters 299 to and including 487 were written by Galba.
No one has analyzed Tirant lo Blanc from the point of view of the stylistics of transition among the chapters and parts of the novel. Raymond Willis published such a study of Don Quijote de la Mancha in 1953 in The Phantom Chapters of the Quijote. Willis attempted to rationalize the Quijote’s chapter and part divisions in relation to the criticism that the divisions were not made by Cervantes himself. Through the categories of over-flowing chapter endings, conjunctive chapter openings and pseudo chapter interruptions, Willis determined that each and every narrative break in the novel was indeed planned by Cervantes and was an integral part of the structure of the novel.
Since Don Quijote de la Mancha itself speaks of its relationship to the chivalric novel Tirant lo Blanc those same transitional categories have been applied to Tirant to determine if there is any distinction among the so-called parts of the book which might indicate the intervention of one author instead of another in the creation of the fifteenth century novel.
The colophon to Tirant, written by Martí Joan de Galba or by Nicolau Spindeler, Tirant’s first publisher, makes reference to four parts of the book: “lo llibre . . . fon traduït d’angles en llengua portuguesa, e après en vulgar llengua valenciana, per lo magnífic e virtuós cavaller Mossèn Joanot Martorell, lo qual, per mort sua, no en poguë acabar de traduir sinó les tres parts. La quarta part, que és la fi del llibre, és estada traduïda . . . per lo magnífic cavaller Mossèn Martí Joan de Galba.” Since its first Castilian publication in 1511 the book has been divided into various parts based on the location of the protagonist’s adventures: England, Sicily and Rhodes, the Greek Empire, North Africa, and the return to the Greek Empire. These are five parts. The reference to four parts is non-existent in all the various editions of the novel over the past 500 years, and one must then decide how to divide the book into the four so-called parts.
The most obvious division is a mathematical one. There are a total of 489 chapters in the book, and the first three fourths would include from chapter 1 up to chapter 364, which falls within Tirant’s adventures in North Africa. However, Martí de Riquer points out in his 1990 study of the dual authorship that one cannot simply divide the number of chapters by four. There are many chapters which are lengthy and many other chapters which are no more than one paragraph. Thus, the mathematical division should be made on total number of printed pages. Using Martí de Riquer’s most recent edition of the five hundredth anniversary of Tirant, three fourths of the total number of pages in the novel would include up to chapter 333. The last fourth would include almost all of Tirant’s adventures in North Africa and his return to Constantinople.
The transitional styles among the chapters of Tirant can be classified within three major categories: transition occurring at the end of the chapter, transition occurring at the beginning of a chapter, and self-referential transition. These categories parallel with Willis’s categories of overflowing chapter endings, conjunctive chapter openings and pseudo chapter introductions. The categories of transition from Tirant lo Blanc can be directly correlated with the categories of transition found by Willis in Don Quijote de la Mancha.
Martorell and Galba used four types of transition at the end of chapters to introduce the narrative of the subsequent chapter. The first of these will be categorized as introduction to dialogue. Martorell and Galba employed many variations on the introduction “féu principi a paraules de semblant estil.” A second type of chapter closing which serves as an introduction to the ensuing chapter is one which alludes to a letter between two of the characters in the book. The formula which the authors use for this introduction is “del tenor següent.” Occasionally, but not often in the first three-fourths of the book, the dialogue is cut in media res. It is begun in the previous chapter, and it begins where it ended in the succeeding chapter. The reader continues his reading and is not even aware of the chapter break. Thus the transition is caused by the active participation of the reader. The fourth type of chapter closing which is used in Tirant is the anticlimax. The topic of the chapter is brought to a close which would seem to be the natural ending for the chapter. The author then introduces a whole new topic in the last sentence of the chapter which leaves the reader hanging in the balance. This forces the reader psychologically to continue reading into the next chapter to learn the outcome of the new episode or adventure. Thus by actively involving the reader in the novel, the author creates the necessary transition through an anticlimactic element. In the entire novel 76% of the 489 chapters end with some sort of transition to the succeeding chapter. By far the most popular of the four types is the introduction to ensuing dialogue with an introduction to a letter being the second type most often used. (Please see the appendix for a complete listing of the chapters and their categorized transitional styles.)
Transition occurring at the beginning of a chapter and making reference to a previous chapter is found in 23% of all the chapters in Tirant. The transition takes the form of some word which has its definite antecedent in the previous chapter. As noted earlier, many chapters in Tirant are short ones, some no more than one sentence in length. These shorter chapters are usually parts of lists of rules of chivalry or regulations on the proper comportment of a ruler. It is this type of chapter which uses the antecedent for transition to the previous chapter. Most of these lists are numbered ordinally. The first chapter will refer to the first of the rules, presented at the end of the previous chapter. The next chapter will state the second, and so on until all the chapters are neatly tied together. Another type of reference to an antecedent is accomplished linguistically. Verb past participles and indefinite pronouns make specific reference to their antecedents located in previous chapters by their agreement in gender and number. The use of the past participle far outnumbers the use of the indefinite pronoun, but all form a part of this second type of chapter transition in Tirant.
The third general category of transition found in Tirant is that of self-referentiality. This type of transition is only found in the last part of the book, in the sections on North Africa and the return to the Greek Empire. The transition is called self-referential because the narrator makes a patent reference to the book Tirant lo Blanc. The first occurrence of this type of transition is found at the end of chapter 350: “Ací fa lo libre un incident per narrar los fet de Plaerdemavida” (952). Another self-referential formula, which is the most common, first appears at the end of chapter 393: “Ací es lleixa lo llibre parlar de l’Emperador e torna a Tirant” (1016). A third type of self-referentiality is the following from chapter 465: “que le llibre no menciona; que le libre no recita per no tenir prolixitat” (1143). Even the very last sentence of the very last chapter of this lengthy novel ends on a self-referential note: “dels quals lo present llibre no recita” (1187). The self-referential transition is definitely the least utilized method of transition in the whole novel; it is found in only 2.2% of the chapters. However, it is interesting to note that this type of transition is only found in the last two parts of the book, in Tirant’s adventures in North Africa and in his return to the Greek Empire, or in other words in the mathematical last fourth of the book.
From this analysis of the styles of transition used to unite the 489 chapters in Tirant lo Blanc four overt changes in transitional style take place. All these changes occur in the mathematical fourth part of the book, after chapter 334. They all manifest themselves for the first time in the section referred to as the adventures of Tirant in North Africa, and they are employed throughout the last section, Tirant’s return to the Greek Empire.
The first of these changes is the reduction in use of the introductory formula “féu principi a les paraules següents,” or a variation thereof, to end a preceding chapter and create a link to an ensuing chapter. The average usage of this introductory formula throughout the entire text is 76%. This transitional style is used only 45% of the time in the last section on Tirant’s return to Constantinople. Likewise the second change is the dramatic increase in the use of a referent antecedent to unite the current chapter to the previous one. The average usage of the referent antecedent throughout the whole text is 23%, but the antecedent is used in 57% of the chapters in the last section on Tirant’s return to Constantinople.
There is another interesting change involving the use of the referent antecedent in the last fourth of the book. Throughout the first three fourths of the novel the referent antecedent is always found in the chapter immediately preceeding the chapter containing the referential word. In the last fourth of the book the antecedent is not necessarily found in the immediately preceeding chapter. In the beginning of eight different chapters in the last fourth of the book, referential words are used that have their direct antecedents located in no fewer than two and no more than six chapters prior to the corresponding chapter containing the referential word. The chain of transition is more loosely connected in the last fourth of the book than it is in the first three fourths of the novel.
The last, and most telling, change in transitional style in the novel is that of the self‑ referentiality. Nowhere is there mention of the book Tirant lo Blanc in the first three fourths of the text. Mention is only made of the text itself in the last fourth. This self-referential element involves the incursion of the voice of the narrator in the narration of the adventures of Tirant. There is a narratorial incursion present in the first three-fourths of the novel, but the narrator’s voice is such that it alludes to the story being told verbally. The reader is led to believe that the narrator is a minstrel, telling the tale of the great Tirant lo Blanc to a listening audience. The dramatic change in narrator’s voice occurs in chapter 349 when the narrator refers directly to the “book” rather than alluding to the act of storytelling previously mentioned.
These changes are dramatic, and they point out that stylistic changes occurred in the narration of the life of Tirant. They lead to the conclusion that Galba intervened in the writing of the last fourth of the book. As Bosch pointed out in 1987 Galba was more of a Renaissance man than Martorell because he outlived him by some 20 years. Galba created different techniques to connect the story line among the chapters. The self-referential aspects are nowhere to be found in the first three-fourths of the book which is attributed to Martorell, and they begin suddenly in the middle of Tirant’s adventures in North Africa, with no explanation to the reader as to why the reference is being made. The obvious conclusion drawn from this evidence is that Martí Joan de Galba did in fact intervene in the writing of the novel Tirant lo Blanc in the last fourth of the book, exactly as stated in the colophon published in the first Catalan edition.
Chapters which end with an introduction to dialogue found in the subsequent chapter are the following: 3-9, 14-16, 18-21, 23, 24, 26, 28-30, 33-40, 53-56, 58, 59, 63-66, 73-75, 80-82, 84, 85, 98-104, 106, 107a, 107b, 108-10, 112, 113, 115, 116, 118-25, 128-42, 144, 145, 148, 153-55, 161-66, 169, 171-84, 189-91, 193-205, 207-20, 222-41, 244, 248-54, 256-327, 329-48, 350-80, 389, 399, 401, 402, 405, 410, 411, 425, 431, 434, 435, 440-44, 446, 450, 456, 458, 459, 467, 471, 475, 477, 481, and 482.
Chapters which end with an introduction to a letter found in the subsequent chapter are: 2-12, 57, 61, 67, 69, 70, 71a, 76, 78, 114, 134, 146, 149, 151, 157, 159, 167, 186, 242, 245, 246, 388, 391, 395, 397, 418, 420, 454, 455, 460, 463, 468, 469, and 476.
Chapters which end in media res are the following: 32, 41, 42, 43, 60, 71b, 126, 127, and 170.
Chapters which have an anticlimactic ending are: 1, 31, 72, 105, 188, 349, 387, 393, 406, 408, 409, 413, 415, and 416.
Chapters which employ antecedents referring to the previous chapter are as follows: 5, 11, 12, 14, 23, 26, 28, 63, 69, 78, 80, 84, 112, 118, 144, 148, 151, 153, 157, 161, 169, 189, 193, 207, 222, 244, 248, 256, 329, 383-86, 388, 391, 393, 395, 397, 399, 401, 404, 408, 413, 415, 418, 420, 422-25, 427-31, 433, 434, 438-40, 446, 448-50, 452, 454, 458, 462, 463, 465, 466, 467, 471, 475, 479-81, and 484-87.
Chapters which are parts of lists and whose antecedent references are classified as ordinals are chapters 44 through and including 53, and chapters 87 through and including 97.
Chapters which contain self-referential comments to the act of verbally telling the story of Tirant lo Blanc are 72, 154, 169, 189, 281, 282, 286, 288, 299, 327, 337, 344, and 402.
Chapters which patently refer to the book Tirant lo Blanc are 349, 393, 397, 406, 408, 409, 413, 415, 416, 465, and 487.
The information on Martí Joan de Galba’s estate was documented by Constantin Marinesco in an article entitled “Nouvelles recherches sur Tirant lo Blanc,” Miscel-lània Aramon i Serra, vol. 2 (Barcelona: Curial, 1980) 402-24.
Joan Givanel i Mas, “Estudio crítico de la novela caballeresca Tirant lo Blanch,” Archivo de Investigaciones Históricas 1 (1911): 213-48; 319-48; and 2 (1912): 392-445; 447-513.
Joseph A. Vaeth, Tirant lo Blanc: A Study of its Authorship, Principal Sources and Historical Setting (New York: 1918) 69-96.
The original opinions of Martí de Riquer were published in the 1947 edition of Tirant lo Blanc, published in Barcelona by Editorial Selecta. Martí de Riquer’s most recent conclusions are found in Aproximació al Tirant lo Blanc (Quaderns Crema, Assaig, 1990) 296-97.
Joanot Martorell, Tirant lo Blanc, ed. Josep Maria Capdevila (Barcelona: Edicions el Nostres Clàssics, 1924-1929).
William J. Entwhistle, “Observacions sobre la dedicatòria i primera part del Tirant lo Blanch.” Revista de Catalunya 7 (1927): 381-98.
Francesc B. de Moll, “Els refranys del Tirant lo Blanch,” Bolletí del Diccionari de la Lengua Catalana 15 (1933): 169-72.
Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo, Orígenes de la novela, (Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1945) 406-08.
Dámaso Alonso, “Tirant lo Blanc, novela moderna,” Revista Valenciana de Filología I (1951): 179-215.
Nicolau d’Olwer, “Tirant lo Blanc: Examen de algunas cuestiones,” Nueva Revista de Filología Hispánica 15 (1961): 131-54.
Joan Corominas, “Sobre l’estil i manera de Martí J. de Galba i el de Joanot Martorell,” Homenatge a Carles Riba Fèlix Capella et al., eds. (Barcelona: Janés, 1954) 168-83.
Wolf Goertz, “Zu Frage der Einheit des Tirant lo Blanc,” Romanistisches Jahrbuch 18 (1967): 249-67.
Rafael Bosch, “Dos llenguatges i dos autors del Tirant,” Daina 11 (1987): 23-34.
Antoni Ferrando, “Entorn de la llengua del Tirant lo Blanc,” Saó (Valencia: 1989) 24-26.
Raymond Willis, The Phantom Chapters of the Quijote (New York: Hispanic Institute in the United States, 1953).
Joanot Martorell, Tirant lo Blanc, ed. Martí de Riquer (Barcelona: Ariel, 1990).
All quotations taken from the text of Tirant lo Blanc are from the 1990 Ariel edition.