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Encyclopedia > Portrait of Lozana: The Lusty Andalusian Woman

The Portrait of Lozana: The Lusty Andalusian Woman (original title in Spanish: Retrato de la Loçana Andaluza) is a book written in Venice by the Spanish editor of the Renaissance Francisco Delicado in 1528, after he escaped from Rome due to the anti-spanish sentiment that uprose after the sack of Rome a year earlier. Published anonimously, the book contains a description of the life in the Rome's underworld during the first third of the 16th century. It is considered a book descendant of Celestina (written some thirty years before by Fernando de Rojas) because of the literary scheme, the dialogued novel, and one of the earliest manifestations of the picaresque novel.



The book begins in Cordoba where the sexually precocius Aldonza lives with her mother. After her mother's death, she moved to her aunt's house from where she escaped with Diomedes, a sea merchant. After travelling to many cities of the Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East and changing her name to Lozana, they came to Marseille to meet the father of Diomedes, who disgusted with his son send him to prison and paid a sailor to make Lozana disappear. However, the sailior disobeyed the order given and took Lozana to Livorno, and continued her journey up to Rome. Without money, Lozana went to the Spanish downtown in Rome to request help; there, the women saw her abilities in cooking, medicine and her beauty (although her face was a little bit difigured by syphillis) After a Napolitan woman gave her a servant called Rampin, Lozana makes an agreement with him so that he became, at a time, his servant and lover. Following advice of a post man, and with the aid of a jew called Trigos who installed her in a house he owned, she began her new life as a prostitute. After few years, she becames the madame of a brothel, and then Lozana and Rampin move to Lipari; the book ends with a little narration about the sack of Rome.


One of the most important characteristics in the book is the didactic-satiric line (as well as other books of the picaresque novel, as Lazarillo de Tormes conceived as a strong critic done by the humanists), because it unveils the moral decadence of Rome, and all the characters displayed — from the bishops to the villains — appear surrounded by a world of corruption, prostitution and violence. This makes the book an eloquent, realistic testimony of the manners and life in the roman underworld from the years 1513 to 1524 and the ulterior attack by the imperial forces of Charles V in 1527 that led to the finalisation of the first period of the Renaissance. While the narration never gets to 1527, there are some clues that prophecize this end, compared to the punish of Babel for the romans'sins: Pues «año de veinte e siete, deja a Roma y vete», says the author (Arrived the year of twenty-seven, leave Rome and go away), as a clear manifestation of the divine punishment for the bad actions (along with the dogma of remuneration in the christian faith).

The literary aspects in this book are the social description of characters as Lozana and Rampin, the defense of the jews (in a historic moment when an intolerant attitude against them, as well as muslims, had begun in Spain; also supported by the theory that makes Francisco Delicado a converso). With the occasional intervention of the author as a character (as in the earlier Cárcel de Amor (Prison of Love) by Diego de San Pedro), its narrative structure (divided in 3 parts and 66 mamotretos) goes on the line begun by Celestina and the narration constructed on the basis of dialogues:

Lozana. Más gana tengo de dormir que de otra cosa

Tía. Sobrino, cená con nosotros, en tanto que vo e la ayudo a desnudar

Rampín. Señora, sí.

(Lozana. I would prefer to sleep rather than anything else

Aunt. Nephew, have dinner with us, while I go and help her to undress

Rampin. Yes, my lady).

The scatological and sexual elements prevail during the narration; there are descriptions of a menage à trois, an episode in which Rampin gets covert from head to feet in excrements after falling in a latrine, and other desinhibited alusions to the reconstruction of hymen, and procuration. It gives one of the testimonies about syphillis as a plague in the first years of the 16th century: Linguistically, it uses different variants of Spanish as germanía, catalan and italian. The book was considered as obscene by Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo who, according with the mexican philologist, Antonio Alatorre, enjoyed the fact that Lozana hadn't had descendence in the spanish literature; a commentary that doesn't apply for the italian literature on which Lozana influence became evident in contemporary works as the Ragionamenti written almost a decade after by the italian humanist Pietro Arentino.


  • Alatorre, Antonio. 2002. Los 1001 años de la lengua espñola (México: FCE) (in spanish).
  • Delicado, Francisco. 1987. Portrait of Lozana: The Lusty Andalusian Woman: ISBN 0916379418
  • Delicado, Francisco. 1969. La Lozana Andaluza. Bruno Damiani, ed. (Madrid: Castalia) (in spanish).
  • Delicado, Francisco. 1985. La Lozana Andaluza. Claude Allaigre, ed. (Madrid: Cátedra) (in spanish).

External links

Facsimilar digital edition of Portrait of Lozana (http://www.cervantesvirtual.com/servlet/SirveObras/01037969841810495098102/index.htm) (in spanish).



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