“Antes pusiera las manos en mí para acabar la vida que en el papel para començar a escrevirte” [I would rather put myself to death by my own hands than put them on paper to begin writing to you] (Cárcel de amor, 40). Cárcel de amor abounds in references to the physical act of writing. While allusions to setting pen to paper and taking pen in hand are familiar conventions in epistolary discourse, in Cárcel the convention focuses readerly attention on the materiality of texts and also upon the power of the material text. Throughout, Leriano, Laureola, Persio, and the Author all write, read, and manipulate handwritten documents in order to express and deny desire, seek justice, and, in Leriano's case, commit suicide. Indeed, the plot turns upon the creation and exchange of handwritten words, culminating with Leriano's final act, the simultaneous destruction of the manuscripts of Laureola's letters and of himself. Moreover, and importantly in Cárcel de amor, the characters' use of the conventions of letter writing is linked not only to desire, but also to physical danger, as the opening quote demonstrates. Letters, in Cárcel de amor, are more than linguistic objects meant to be read, interpreted, and provoke action; they are physical extensions of their writers, talismanic objects, and the material currency of the romance's poetic economy.
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