present study I have proposed to compare primordial aspects of The
Book of Good Love with other, also essential, examples of the
literature produced by Islamic mysticism, specifically Sufi thought,
in order to offer another reading that may well elucidate some of
the most intractable problems presented by this disconcerting book.
fundamental points on which my thesis is based are the double similarity
between the Book and Sufi literature with respect to, on one
hand, the theme of constant searching and repeated failure and, on
the other hand, the use of certain narrative techniques such as constructive
ambiguity, surprise and humor, which have as their aim the expansion
of consciousness on the part of the seeker after knowledge.
first place, I make a brief summary of the presence of Sufi schools
on the peninsula among Arabs and Hebrews, and of other cultural aspects
that may have been a source of inspiration for the author of the book.
of my study is dedicated to the comparison of the Book with
various medieval texts influenced by the so-called "perennial
philosophy". The first group of texts, which I use to compare
Sufi techniques to those of Juan Ruiz, is composed of texts, the characterists
of which are, as in the Book, the plurality of meanings and
intentional ambiguity. Examples of these are the Khalila and Dimna,
the Arabic Maqãmat, the poems of Rumi and other Sufi
texts. The second type of material, which lends itself to the comparative
study of the theme of love and the search, is centered on the feminine
figure of amorous lyric prior to and during the time of the Archpriest
of Hite, of udhri origin, courtly and mystic.
the end I analyze the philosophy of the Archpriest in relation to
the predestination-free will dilemma, which coincides with the posture
of the schools of interior knowledge that flourished within Islam,
the premises of which are intimately linked with the theme of the
search for knowledge.
of the Book from this perspective has led me to the conclusion
that the adventures of its protagonist and his repeated failures are
an allegorical representation of the constant love and restlessness
that the seeker after knowledge experiences during his journey. On
the other hand, the particular didacticism of Juan Ruiz, based on
the plurality of meanings and destined to question mechanical modes
of thought in order to attain such superior knowledge, does not encounter
any parallel in western texts, but only does so in the copious literature
of oriental mysticism. By exploring the intimate connection between
these two aspects, theme and technique, I think I have been able to
indicate a direction for resolving the greatest enigmas that the Book
has presented since its earliest criticism.