Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The Libro de buen amor, a fourteenth century Spanish text by Juan Ruiz, is an extensive and complex poem rich in partially hidden messages. Thirty-five popular medieval tales form an integral part of the body of the work, and convey important information to the reader through the text of the tales and through the storytelling context created by the author. Scholars have studied the tales most often from an historical perspective, and analyzed them separately from the central narrative; or have studied the textual materials with little emphasis on the function of the tales. Although such studies provide valuable information, they do not deal with the interpretation of the folktales in relation to the work as a whole. Significant information that is embedded in the context of the storytelling event created within the literary work may be overlooked by approaches which examine only textual materials. This analysis of the tales uses criteria suggested by folklorists' studies of observable folklore as a means of discovering the complex relationship of the tales to the literary work and their contribution to the Libro de buen amor. The messages communicated through the text and context of folktales are often ambiguous or even contradictory, but examination of the tales using folklore techniques reveals that they are closely related to each other and to the archpriest's story. One fundamental concern expressed in the Libro de buen amor is the many forms of deceit which prevail in situations dealing with love. On one hand, Juan Ruiz uses the wisdom in folktales to suggest prudent measures that one should take to avoid being a victim of deceit. On the other, he illustrates in his description of the storytelling contexts how the same tales can be used by clever storytellers to deceive. The inherent ambiguity of folktales is the characteristic which enables the storyteller to manipulate audience response to achieve the desired end.