Dr. Michael Schlig received his doctorate in Spanish literature from the University of Texas at Austin. Aside from earlier publications on the the mirror metaphor, he has also published articles dealing with eighteenth-century author Juan Pablo Forner and early twentieth-century novelist Benjamín Jarnés. He is currently Associate Professor of Spanish at Agnes Scott College.2004 0-7734-6190-6
Mirrors that appear as motifs in the visual arts and literature abound throughout the history of all cultures of the world. Given its universality, the mirror often has served has a metaphor for introspection, self-contemplation and even autobiography, and has symbolized the structuring of works of fiction and drama. This study specifically examines the figurative mirrors that not only call attention to some aspect of the content of the work in which they appear, but also to the aesthetics with which that content is expressed. As such, it follows in the tradition of works such as M.H. Abrams's landmark study of the transition from Neoclassicism to Romanticism in England The Mirror and the Lamp and Marguerite Iknayan's The Concave Mirror: From Imitation to Expression in French Esthetic Theory: 1800–1830, but differs in that it seeks to incorporate theoretical and historical considerations of visual representation to the study of the mirror analogy in writing. Most importantly, and to the best of my knowledge, no such study exists that examines the mirror metaphor of representation in the literary tradition of Spain.
While the mirror metaphor is such a commonplace throughout the centuries of artistic and literary aesthetics, surprisingly little more than the two above-mentioned studies exist that explore the motivations underlying use of the mirror analogy. This study incorporates contemporary theories of semiotics and reader response along with more eclectic and traditional approaches to aesthetics in order to address the theoretical implications raised by the appearance of the metaphor in evolving contexts (i.e., across artistic movements and periods). In light of this, the theoretical and comparative considerations throughout the study could also be of interest to scholars and students of French, English and comparative literatures in spite of the focus on the Spanish tradition.