Perfect Wives’ past lifewas as aYale Universitydissertation, so it seems
only fitting to first mark my debts to the two individuals who advised
the text out of which this one grew and who have played no small part
in its transformation into this book. Since the day I met him, more
than a dozen years ago, Roberto González Echevarría has not stopped
giving me books, both figuratively and literally. It is a privilege, then,
to acknowledge the tremendous role he has played in the making of
this one. Jacques Lezra, who first sent me in search of a definition in
Covarrubias’ Tesoro—of the word murmullo, as I recall it—deserves
more thanks than I can possibly express for his always brilliant and
generous advice. This project has benefited in countless ways from
the ruido manso of his friendship for all these many years. James Fer-
nández has not only read Perfect Wives in all its incarnations but has
patiently nurtured each one. Like the Cervantine amigo, graciosoy bien
entendido, he is always there when I need him most, asking the right
questions and pointing me in the right directions, with extraordinary
warmth and intelligence.
Having Reynolds Smith of Duke University Press as my editor has
been a singular stroke of good fortune; I cannot thank him enough
for his belief in this project and for all he has done in bringing it to
its present form. I am grateful to my anonymous readers at Duke for
elegance and rigorof her purple pencil; and to Sharon ParksTorian and
Rebecca Johns-Danes for their fine work in preparing the manuscript.
This book could not have been completed without the intelligent
and tireless help of John Charles, my research assistant in 1998–99,
who proved not only a formidable sleuth of sources and translations
but a superb translator and meticulous reader and indexer.To Colleen
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