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Cervante's Exemplary Stories resist facile classification. All the stories are exemplary in the literary sense, with their exquisite delineation of character, smooth flow of narrative and richness of dialogue. Yet they range from tales of adventure and amorous intrigue, like "The Little Gypsy Girl", where vice is tolerated with remarkable ease, to studies of low life, full of social and moral observation, like "A Dog's Colloquy". Published in 1613, the Exemplary Stories were the first of their kind in Spain. In this masterful translation, C.A. Jones manages to capture the fine balance between the colloquial and the majestic which characterizes the stories and makes them such a delight to read.
Composed throughout Cervantes's writing life and mentioned in Don Quixote, his Exemplary Stories are among the first and finest Spanish short stories: ranging from traditional tales of love to incisive moral fables. In The Little Gipsy Girl, an Italianate romance, the nomadic life is idealised through a love affair between the beautiful Preciosa and a nobleman who agrees to live as a gipsy to win her heart. Elsewhere, the intricacies of love are further explored in tales such as The Jealous Extremaduran, while the picaresque Rinconette and Cortadillo, depicting the friendship between a card-sharper and a pickpocket, presents a very different insight into the lower classes of seventeenth-century Spain. Widely regarded as one of Cervantes's greatest stories, The Dogs' Colloquy brilliantly captures Spanish conversation and society in its depiction of a discussion between two dogs mysteriously granted the gift of speech.
Miguel de Cervantes Saaverda's (1547-1616) life was occupied with a struggle to earn a livelihood from literature and humble government employment. As well as Don Quixote, he wrote a number of plays and a collection of highly accomplished short stories, Exemplary Tales (1613). Translated with an introduction by C. A. Jones