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In this seminar, however, I would like to focus attention on the role played by the many parodies of Don Juan that were premièred every year in theatres all around Spain during the weeks following All Saints day. As I shall argue, those parodies gave visibility, in a humorous and seemingly unproblematic way, to a series of social and political dilemmas that found a more thorough and preoccupied expression in the writings of the aforementioned intellectuals. In particular, I shall focus on parodies premièred between 1900 and 1910, in order to analyse how they anticipated some of the questions that the aforementioned Marañón would later make widely known and, at the same time, how they echoed the concerns raised by other intellectuals at the turn of the twentieth century. Those questions and concerns have to do with the definition of gender identities and behaviours, in a time when colonial losses and other 'disasters' were being explained as the result of gender confusion and, more particularly, a perceived loss of collective virility.
Through techniques proper to parody, such as transvestism and gender inversion, the works analysed were able to tackle those problematics and reach out to audiences which largely outnumbered the readership of Spanish intellectuals. Such is the case, for example, of Tenorio feminista (1907), in which a female Doña Juana Tenorio substitutes her male counterpart and assumes attributes then considered unfeminine. I shall as well focus on El Trust de los Tenorios (1910), since the attendance of king Alfonso XIII brings into the present discussion historical perceptions of the Spanish monarchy, an institution which, since the reign of Isabel II (1833-1968), had started to be regarded as 'effeminate' and decadent. This paper discusses the nature and effects of parody, which, to some extent, helped to legitimise social donjuanismo by deflecting ongoing debates on the Don Juan myth from their moral focus and drawing them towards questions of gender. This apparent contradiction finds explanation in Linda Hutcheon's description of parody as a genre that performs, at the same time, a subversive and a conservative form of criticism.
About Samuel Llano