This book concludes by studying the reasons behind the importance of honor in Mediterranean societies. The objections of anthropologists in the past two decades that the earlier generations of field workers exaggerated honor as they looked for a reason to differentiate southern Europe from the modern world of northern Europe and North America have gone relatively unnoticed by people outside the field of anthropology. Spanish culture is also haunted by the ghost of the honor play genre. No matter how vehemently literary critics debunk the notion that the works of Lope de Vega and Calderon offer accurate depictions of their contemporaries' behavior, each new generation who reads the plays will leave with the impression that Golden Age Spain was a society crippled with anxiety over honor and its bloodthirsty demands. It is argued here that honor is not a rigid code but merely a rhetoric—elements of which could be used, if desirable, and disregarded, if unhelpful.
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