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Literature: The Idle Noble and the Noble Citizen: El periquillo sarniento and the Invention of the Mexican Individual

  • Adam SharmanEmail author
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Abstract

The chapter examines the idea of the individual as the normative subject of modernity, in a reading of Lizardi’s El periquillo sarniento (1816). It traces the novel’s invention of the Mexican individual to Rousseau’s view of the mind and education, but more radically to Christianity and monarchical absolutism. Sharman highlights Lizardi’s picaresque critique of the idle noble as a cypher for the Hispanic world’s failures of political economy. He identifies as the pivotal egalitarian gesture the shift in understanding from nobility as birth to nobility as quality. This permits the novel’s revalorisation of Indians, foreigners, slaves, and the mechanical trades. Sharman shows that, even if individual equality is trumped by the “natural” hierarchies demanded by political economy, the Hispanic Enlightenment’s “moderate” reforms are haunted by “radical” philosophy.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Modern Languages and CulturesUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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