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The meanings of a name: Antonio Ros de Olano's 'Maese Cornelio Tácito'

Lawless, Geraldine (2010) The meanings of a name: Antonio Ros de Olano's 'Maese Cornelio Tácito'. Hispanic Research Journal, 11 (1). pp. 48-58. ISSN 1468-2737

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Abstract

This article examines Antonio Ros de Olano's 1868 story, 'Maese Cornelio Tácito: origen del apellido de los Palomino de Pan-Corvo' in the context of contemporary historiographical debates. Arguing that the representation of the process of naming in the story hovers between a tale of redemption and an elaborate scatological pun, the article suggests that Ros de Olano deliberately distorts the possible meanings of the main character's transfor- mation from 'Cornelio del Espíritu Santo' to 'Cornelio Tácito' to 'Cornelio de los Palomino de Pan-Corvo'. Through an examination of the terms of contemporary debates about historiography, in particular writings by Campoamor, Moreno Nieto and Menéndez y Pelayo, it is suggested that this distortion undermines grandiose claims to establish categorical truth. In the place of epistemological certainty and indisputable relevance, the trivial and the anecdotal proliferate. This is reinforced by the specific representation of forms of distortion and disproportion found within the text, alongside uncertainty of meaning and the disturbance of linear narrative.