Analyze the first paragraph of the novel. Who is telling the story and what does he think of Don Quixote?
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saaverdra
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In his essay, "Cervantes as Narrator of Don Quixote, Howard Mancing states that one critic, Parr, attributes the voice of the narration to what he calls a "dramatized author." On the other hand, another critic, John Weiger, calls this narrator a "prologuist," a voice separate from the others of the novel, stating,
Few doubt that the prologuist's friend is a fictional character. Virtually no one doubts that the conversation is fabricated. It follows that the fictitous friend's interlocutor, the prologuist is equally fictitous.
Still, Allen continues, some attribute the narration to the author since some of the historical truths are consistent with those of the author himself. And, since the author fictionalizes himself at time, it is easiest for readers to make this final assumption. Alberto Poqueras Mayo, who has studied the prologue as a literary genre in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain, contends that the prologue is the author's direct link to the reader; so, therefore, it is Cervantes who is the narrator. As further evidence, there are other works by Cervantes when he apparently is the author of the prologues.
Since the main theme of Don Quixote is the conflict between reality and fiction, it follows, Allen continues, that there should be some confusion about who is the narrator of his prologue, the author contends. In the prologue to Part I, Cervantes pretends to discuss with his friend the nature of prologues. He states that he is not the padre, but the padrasto of the book. That he is the editor seems verified by his claim to have search archives of La Mancha for the data in the narrative. But, this may be Cervantes having a bit of fun at the convention of books of chivalry which were purported to be historical documents.
This irony sets the tone for the text: lightly satiric, festive, and "intellectually subtle." Cervantes's voice--whichever it may be--accomplishes what prologues are meant to do: It sets the readers' expectations and gives them a concept of the narrative to follow.
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