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El De secretis mulierum en La Celestina y en la biblioteca de Fernando de Rojas

Abstract

Fernando de Rojas’ will contained a list of the books he owned and therefore has helped to determine the sources of La Celestina. Among his books was a copy of De secretis mulierum (of the secrets of women), a late thirteenth-century manual falsely attributed to Albert the Great, which contains a combination of medical knowledge and superstition about conception and sexuality, especially women’s sexuality. Although this book has been presented as a possible source for the scene in act 7 in which Celestina and Areúsa talk about menstrual pain, no specific references have been identified. In this article, the early acquisition of this book by Rojas during his years as a student of law in Salamanca—before or while he wrote La Celestina—is defended. To confirm that this book was in the possession of Rojas when he wrote his masterpiece, two specific sentences in act 7 of La Celestina are identified as borrowings from De secretis mulierum. Finally, the role that this manual of sexuality played in the library of Rojas is explained: his work as a lawyer probably implied dealing with cases, such as wedding contracts, etc., in which establishing the virginal status of a woman was part of the process. For this purpose, De secretis mulierum contained valuable technical information that could be used in the trials.

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Correspondence to Enrique Fernández Rivera.

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Fernández Rivera, E. El De secretis mulierum en La Celestina y en la biblioteca de Fernando de Rojas. Neophilologus 99, 407–418 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11061-014-9427-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11061-014-9427-z

Keywords

  • Fernando de Rojas
  • La Celestina
  • Sources
  • De secretis mulierum