Composed throughout Cervantes's writing life and mentioned in Don Quixote, his Exemplary Stories are among the first and finest Spanish short stories: ranging from traditional tales of love to incisive moral fables. In The Little Gipsy Girl, an Italianate romance, the nomadic life is idealised through a love affair between the beautiful Preciosa and a nobleman who agrees to live as a gipsy to win her heart. Elsewhere, the intricacies of love are further explored in tales such as The Jealous Extremaduran, while the picaresque Rinconette and Cortadillo, depicting the friendship between a card-sharper and a pickpocket, presents a very different insight into the lower classes of seventeenth-century Spain. Widely regarded as one of Cervantes's greatest stories, The Dogs' Colloquy brilliantly captures Spanish conversation and society in its depiction of a discussion between two dogs mysteriously granted the gift of speech.
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