Don Quixote de la Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes
Don Quixote de la Mancha Miguel de Cervantes
Novel published in 1605 (Part I) and 1615 (Part II).
The following entry presents criticism of Cervantes's novel Don Quixote.
Don Quixote de la Mancha is considered one of the masterpieces of world literature. The novel narrates the travels of an insane old man who, believing he is a knight-errant, leaves his village of La Mancha and searches for adventure on the highways and in the villages of seventeenth-century imperial Spain. While the two parts of the novel, published in 1605 and 1615, can be read as a unified whole, they differ considerably in style and approach. The first part is considered by many critics to be a straightforward parody of chivalric romances, while the second part is a more ambitious, self-referential work that involves the reader in an examination of the nature of literature itself. Both parts of the work are rich in humor, social and political commentary, and psychological insight. Some of the major themes that Don Quixote explores are love, imagination, morality, societal norms, class, honor, and the relationship between art and nature. Since its publication, Cervantes's novel has inspired the work of the world's great writers, artists, and composers, including Jorge Luis Borges, William Faulkner, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Henry Purcell, Friedrich Mendelssohn, and Richard Strauss. It remains as popular today as when it first appeared and is admired for its depth and complexity as well as for its appeal as a supremely entertaining story.
Cervantes was born in Alcalá de Henares, a small town near Madrid, in 1547. His father was an itinerant surgeon whose work took his family all over Spain. Despite moving about a great deal, Cervantes received some early formal education in the school of the Spanish humanist Juan Lopez de Hoyos, who taught in Madrid in the 1560s. In 1569, Cervantes traveled to Italy to serve in the household of an Italian nobleman. A year later, he joined the Spanish army. After seeing active duty in Italy and being imprisoned in Algiers for five years, he returned to Spain in 1580. In 1584, when he was thirty-seven, he married a woman twenty years his junior and shortly thereafter obtained a position as a government official in the south of Spain. In 1585, he published his first prose work, La Galatea, a pastoral romance. He then began writing for the theater and composing short stories. By the time the first part of Don Quixote appeared in 1605, Cervantes was a well-known author. The novel was an immediate success, going through six editions in its first year of publication. The work was translated into English and French, bringing Cervantes international recognition. In the years that followed, he published a collection of short stories, a satiric poem, some of his theatrical works, and the second part of Don Quixote. His final prose work, The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda, a Byzantine romance, was completed shortly before he died in 1616.
Plot and Major Characters
Don Quixote tells the story of Alonso Quejana, a Spanish country gentleman who is obsessed by books of chivalry. He spends all his time reading these tales of knights, squires, magicians, and damsels until he goes mad. He convinces himself he is a knight, finds himself a steed (an old nag he calls “Rocinante”), and dubs himself Don Quixote de la Mancha. He also chooses a lady, a country girl named Aldonza Lorenzo who is famed for her skill at salting pork, and gives her the title of Dulcinea del Toboso. He then sets out on his adventures, dreaming of fame and glory. He soon manages to convince a shrewd but illiterate peasant farmer, Sancho Panza, into accompanying him as his squire in return for the promise of a governorship of an island after their brave exploits are over. This story is told in two parts. The first part of the work is a more straightforward narrative that parodies tales of chivalry and romance, as Don Quixote sets out with his squire on a life of glory and chivalric adventures, determined to defend the helpless and destroy the wicked. After his exploits, he is brought home by two of the men from his village who hope to cure him of his madness. The second part of the novel is more complex, as the don learns about the book that has been written about him and his deeds. He and Sancho set out again on a series of adventures, but many of these encounters are staged by characters who know of the pair's previous adventures, and the lines between fiction and reality become increasingly blurred. Once again after his adventures Don Quixote returns home, but his time he renounces the tales of chivalry and is cured of his madness.
The main concern of the first part of Don Quixote is to parody the popular idea of chivalry and romance. Cervantes points out the often comical relationships between chivalry and everyday life, and Don Quixote in his madness serves to illustrate how misguided indeed these romantic notions are. His encounters with other characters also satirize the society in which these characters exist and comment on the codes of behavior reflected by their actions. The character of Don Quixote also reinforces the idea that the old system of morality, the chivalric code, is in disrepair, as nobody except Sancho Panza understands him or his values. Although love is sometimes celebrated in the novel, Don Quixote's devotion to Dulcinea mocks romantic ideals, as the object of his adulation is a woman he has never even seen. A related theme to that of chivalry, and one that was not much written about in Cervantes's day, is that of equating social class with personal worth. Cervantes attacks the conventional idea that aristocrats are respectable and noble. In the second part of the novel, for example, he contrasts the Duke and Duchess's malice with Sancho's compassion, showing the peasant to be wise despite his low social status. Similarly, goatherds and shepherds in the novel exhibit a philosophical cast of mind while aristocratic characters are often intellectually shallow. Among the many recurring symbols in Don Quixote are those that take the form of books and manuscripts. These underscore the importance and influence of literature in everyday life. They also point to the larger theme of the relationship between art and reality. In the second part of the novel, for example, the question of authorship and storytelling is a preoccupation of the characters as well as the narrator. This idea is especially associated with Don Quixote's madness.
Don Quixote was an instant success when it was first published in Spanish, and Cervantes achieved international fame after the novel was translated into English and French in 1606. The work remained popular throughout Europe in the seventeenth century and early eighteenth century, but it was viewed generally as a light entertainment. In England during the mid-eighteenth century, what had previously been regarded as a burlesque tale began to be taken seriously as a more complex work. During the Romantic era of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the figure of Don Quixote was regarded by many as a Romantic hero. Due to the relative neglect Cervantes's novel had been receiving in Spain during the same time, in 1780 a new edition of Don Quixote was commissioned, and with the novel's reissue Cervantes's protagonist was elevated in his homeland to the status of cultural icon. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, critics became interested in the character of Don Quixote as a psychological study. In the later twentieth century, critical attention began to shift away from the figure of the protagonist to the structure of the novel. Many recent critics have been interested in the work's narrative structure, seeing the novel as a prototypical example of a work composed by a highly self-conscious writer, as Cervantes playfully subverts the authority of the text and calls into question the enterprise of literature itself.
El cerco de Numancia (play) 1585
La Galatea (romance) 1585
*El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha (novel) 1605
Novelas exemplares [Exemplary Novels,] (short stories) 1613
Viage del Parnaso [adaptor, from "Viaggio in Parnasso" by Cesare Caporali di Perugia] (poetry) 1614
Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses (plays) 1615
*Segunda parte del ingenioso cavallero don Quixote (novel) 1615
Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda [The Travels of Persiles and Sigismunda] (romance) 1617
El trato de Argel [The Commerce of Algiers] (drama) c. 1580
Galatea: A Pastoral Romance (romance) 1791
Obras completas de Cervantes. 12 vols. (novels, short stories, romances, dramas, and poetry) 1863-64
Don Quixote of la Mancha [translated by John Ormsby] (novel) 1883?
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha [translated by Samuel Putnam] (novel) 1949
Adventures of Don Quixote [translated by J. M. Cohen] (novel) 1968
Interludes of Cervantes, [edited by S. Griswold Morley] (plays) 1969
Don Quixote: The Ormsby Translation Revised [edited by Joseph R. Jones and Kenneth Douglas]...
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SOURCE: Church, Margaret. Introduction to Don Quixote: The Knight of La Mancha, pp. xiii-xxxvi. New York: New York University Press, 1971.
[In the following essay, Church notes the thematic and structural connections between Don Quixote and other works of fiction, suggests a psychological basis of the novel's structure, and discusses the difference between the 1605 and 1615 portions of the work.]
That Don Quixote, one of the most loved and widely read books ever written, should need to be “explained” suggests the paradox of all criticism. The critic interprets a book that has already been interpreted and understood by many, and yet, if the book has any worth at all, it will have been only partially understood or “misunderstood” in parts by any particular reader. The critic himself adds his own understandings and “misunderstandings,” for who is to say from what perspective a true judgment may be made (the lesson, incidentally, of Don Quixote itself). Criticism (and teaching) of literature at its best, then, only suggests further ways of looking at a work, ways that may add to the reader's understanding and in some instances may contradict it. Either end is a useful end, the critic as foil, as abrasive, or the critic as an abettor of the reader's own insights. For the essential function of the critic is re-creation, building upon a past work which he thereby helps to...
(The entire section is 9454 words.)
SOURCE: El Saffar, Ruth S. “The Dynamics of Character-Author-Reader Interaction in Don Quixote.” In Distance and Control in Don Quixote : A Study in Narrative Technique, pp. 15-44. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: North Carolina Studies in Romance Languages and Literatures, 1975.
[In the following essay, El Saffar examines how Don Quixote is built around the tripartite nature of its characters as they function at different points in the roles of character, narrator, and spectator.]
1. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR DON QUIXOTE AS A WHOLE
Don Quixote, in addition to being a novel about a man who made himself a knight in imitation of the books of chivalry on which his imagination had thrived for many years, is a collection of short stories, poems, and literary and heroic discourses. Although Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza receive the greater share of their author's attention, puzzling, seemingly un-integrated episodes in the novel remain to be considered. Criticism of the interpolated stories of Part I began before Part II had even appeared, and Part II shows both implicitly and explicitly Cervantes' awareness of the problem of their relation to the story of Don Quixote. Don Quixote himself, of course, is most indignant when he discovers (II, 3) that many pages of the published history of his deeds fail to deal directly with his thoughts and...
(The entire section is 10728 words.)
SOURCE: Close, Anthony. “Don Quixote as Burlesque Novel.” In The Romantic Approach to Don Quixote: A Critical History of the Romantic Tradition in ‘Quixote’ Criticism, 1-28. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
[In the following excerpt, Close takes issue with the Romantic approach to Don Quixote that was established in the 1800s and views the work rather as a burlesque, a study of character, and a precursor of the modern novel.]
Most criticism of Don Quixote since about 1800 has followed the main lines of the approach to the novel initially adopted by the German Romantics. This I call the Romantic approach to Don Quixote. What follows is a critical history of it. I believe it to be misguided in each of its basic tendencies. These are:
- a) the idealisation of the hero and the denial of the novel's satiric purpose;
- b) the belief that the novel is symbolical and that through this symbolism it expresses ideas about the human spirit's relation to reality or about the nature of Spain's history;
- c) the interpretation of its symbolism, and more generally, of its whole spirit and style, in a way which reflects the ideology, aesthetics, and sensibility of the modern era.
Like any coherent intellectual tradition, it has evolved through time while...
(The entire section is 8974 words.)
SOURCE: Allen, John J. “The Narrators, the Reader, and Don Quixote” and “The Governorship of Sancho Panza and Don Quixote's Chivalric Career.” In Don Quixote: Hero or Fool?, Part II, pp. 3-15; 19-36. Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1979.
[In the following essay, Allen examines the relationship between the reader and narrator in Don Quixote.]
The relationships established at the outset of Don Quixote between the narrator, the reader, and the protagonist are not difficult to characterize. The narrator's humility, openness, and lack of pretensions seem genuine. The ingratiating and flattering invitation to shared irony is very attractive to the reader, and the relationship quickly becomes quite close (“dearest reader,” “gentle reader”).1 We easily and naturally adopt the attitude of ironic detachment held by Don Quixote's “step-father”—a term which suggests just the right mixture of distance and control. But these relationships change significantly in the course of Don Quixote's adventures, and this change profoundly affects the way we interpret the novel.
In Don Quixote: Hero or Fool? (Part I), I attempted to show how Cervantes shifts the reader's attitude toward Don Quixote from one of derision to one of sympathy, respect, and admiration. The shift derives in part from such changes as Don Quixote's increasing cognizance of...
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SOURCE: Johnson, Carroll B. “Psychiatry and Don Quixote.” In Madness and Lust: A Psychoanalytical Approach to Don Quixote, pp. 11-31. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983.
[In the following essay, Johnson comments on Cervantes's knowledge of contemporary medical theories and ideas about psychology and madness and argues that in Don Quixote the novelist anticipates many of the discoveries of modern psychiatry.]
Let us begin on the familiar terrain of English literary history and observe the evolution of twentieth-century scholarly interest in Elizabethan theories of personality and psychology as keys to understanding character and motivation in Elizabethan literature. Two influential studies, an article by Edward Dowden in Atlantic Monthly (1907) and a book by P. Ansell Robin (1911), introduced modern readers to a number of sixteenth-century treatises on the subject of human personality which were widely read in Shakespeare's England. These include Continental works in translation—among them Juan Huarte de San Juan's Examination of Men's Wits, from Spain—and such English studies as Thomas Wright's The Passions of the Mind, Timothy Bright's On Melancholy, and the one best known today, Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy.
The suggestion that Elizabethan dramatists were familiar with these treatises and based...
(The entire section is 7601 words.)
SOURCE: Bleznick, Donald. “Don Quijote as Spanish Myth.” In Studies on Don Quijote and Other Cervantine Works, edited by Donald W. Bleznick, pp. 1-19. York, S. C.: Spanish Literature Publications Company, 1984.
[In the following essay, Bleznick provides an analysis of Don Quixote, suggesting that he is an archetypal hero who captures the essence of the Spanish character and a mythic figure who arose from the Spanish collective unconscious.]
The enduring, universal appeal of Don Quijote springs in large measure from Cervantes' genial creation of a literary figure whose words and deeds are timeless and not bound by geographic limitations. An interpretation of the adventures of Cervantes' protagonist through the perspective of archetypal criticism will reveal that Alonso Quijano-Don Quijote goes through a process of psychological maturation that men have undergone in all kinds of societies from time immemorial. Cervantes' novel, moreover, has had special significance for Spaniards since it captures essential facets of their character. Don Quijote was written during one of those periods in which the Spaniards' national religion, the bedrock of their existence, was being severely tested. In view of this spiritual crisis and considering Cervantes' orthodoxy, I believe that he made his main character inevitably realize that he could arrive at a true understanding of himself only...
(The entire section is 7374 words.)
SOURCE: Parr, James A. “Extrafictional Point of View in Don Quijote.” In Studies on Don Quijote and Other Cervantine Works, edited by Donald W. Bleznick, pp. 20-30. York, S. C.: Spanish Literature Publications Company, 1984.
[In the following essay, Parr discusses narrative point of view in Don Quixote.]
A recent, thoughtful statement about point of view reads as follows: “All too frequently … point of view has been conceived in terms of a single, surface-structure relationship between narrator and narrated event. Such a relationship leaves no room for exploring the relationships of narrator to audience or narrator to authorial voice. Even more reductive are concepts of point of view that restrict themselves to a technical ‘angle of vision’ through which the story is perceived, ignoring the vital but more elusive and often shifting elements of distance, tone, and attitude.”1
With that as a succinct philosophical point of departure, I have chosen to focus on some neglected aspects of point of view in Don Quijote to explore what inferences may be gleaned regarding the decoding of the text from those elements that do not form a part of the fictional world. I deal with tone, distance, and inferred attitude, setting aside the tired terminology of more traditional point of view studies. I do use the traditional vocabulary of “speaker,”...
(The entire section is 3876 words.)
SOURCE: Ihrie, Maureen. “Classical Skepticism and Narrative Authority in Don Quijote de la Mancha.” In Studies on Don Quijote and Other Cervantine Works, edited by Donald W. Bleznick, pp. 31-37. York, S. C.: Spanish Literature Publications Company, 1984.
[In the following essay, Ihrie proposes that the role of the author in Don Quixote should be understood against the background of the Renaissance interpretation of classical Greek skepticism toward authority.]
The ambiguously complex authorial presence in Don Quijote de la Mancha remains one of the most intriguing inventions of the work, partially because the unique assemblage of shifting narrative footprints logically seems to promise the clearest, most direct acquaintance with Cervantes the creator.1 For the reader, the narrative structure functions rather as a series of puzzles, tempting him or her forward in hopes of perceiving, or being granted, some final, “traditional” measure of illumination, if all elements have been judged properly. Excellent studies by John J. Allen, Ruth El Saffar, E. C. Riley, and Ramón Saldívar2 have clarified many enigmatic or contradictory narrative features of the Quijote. I would propose that further light may be shed on the common roots and aim of various components of the authorial role if they are considered with regard to the attitude of classical...
(The entire section is 2410 words.)
SOURCE: Gervin, Mary A. “Don Quixote as Existential Hero.” CLA Journal 32, no. 2 (1987): 178-88.
[In the following essay, Gervin explores what she perceives as Don Quixote's disaffection with life and his deluded view of reality in the first part of the novel.]
Although Miguel de Cervantes lived and wrote during the period of rebirth and discovery of the Golden Age of Spain, he was doomed by circumstance to be skeptical about the optimistic hopes and dreams of the humanists around him. Having every reason to consider himself an abject failure, Cervantes had had little success at any ventures until Don Quixote was published. Professed by the author to be a parody of the Gilded Age and received by his readers as a satire of the chivalric romances, the novel presents a hero whose beliefs and actions reveal striking similarities to some of the basic tenets of the twentieth-century existentialists: an inward yet oftentimes unfulfilling search for self-realization; the recognition of the duplicity of being; and an acute awareness of one's relationship to the other, the darker side of being.
In essence, the existential hero is in conflict with his self and thereby feels the isolation of experience in a hostile, indifferent world. In his quest for self-reconciliation, he confronts the void, strips away the numbing guise of humanity, and accepts the untoward behavior of...
(The entire section is 3404 words.)
SOURCE: Ziolkowski, Eric J. “Don Quijote's Windmill and Fortune's Wheel.” Modern Language Review 86, no. 4 (October 1991): 885-97
[In the following essay, Ziolkowski considers what the windmill in Don Quixote represents as a symbol.]
The knight's combat with the windmills in Part i, Chapter 8, of Don Quijote de la Mancha (1605) is the most famous episode in what many view as the first and prototypical modern novel, a work that has been the most widely translated, published, read, and discussed text of that genre in literary history. By the time Miguel de Cervantes wrote the Quijote's second part (1615) he was evidently aware that the windmill adventure was the most favoured of all from the first part. Early in the sequel, when Don Quijote asks the bachelor Sansón Carrasco which of his adventures have become the most famous (‘las que más se ponderan’),1 the first one Carrasco mentions is that of the windmills. Later, as the mad knight prepares to do battle with a caged lion, his terrified squire entreats him to abandon that enterprise which seems to dwarf even the windmill adventure (‘en cuya comparación habían sido tortas y pan pintado la de los molinos de viento’ (ii, p. 387)).
Notwithstanding the perennial popularity of the windmill adventure from Cervantes's time to our own, and the conventional definition of quijotismo or...
(The entire section is 8104 words.)
SOURCE: Friedman, Edward. “Reading Inscribed: Don Quixote and the Parameters of Fiction.” In On Cervantes: Essays for L. A. Murillo, edited by James A. Parr, pp. 63-84. Newark, Del.: Juan de la Cuesta, 1991.
[In the following essay, Friedman discusses how in Don Quixote Cervantes explores the relationship between literature and life.]
A blessing on Cide Hamete Benengeli, who has written the history of your great deeds, and a double blessing on that connoisseur who took the trouble of having it translated out of Arabic into our Castilian tongue for the universal entertainment of the people.
(II, 3, 438)
There comes a time in literary history in which those who create and those who partake of texts begin to presuppose the inseparability of literature and life. Writing and reading, two types of word processing, are no longer viewed as fringe activities but as part of the act of perception, as part of reality. Don Quixote is not the first text to acknowledge the interconnection, but it is arguably the most eloquent expression of the relation between the verbal order and other orders. Through a number of recourses, Cervantes articulates the place of the text in the world and the place of the world in the text. When the first part of Don Quixote makes its way into the real world—and when a literary enemy...
(The entire section is 8374 words.)
SOURCE: Rodríguez-Luis, Julio. “On Closure and Openendedness in the Two Quijotes.” In On Cervantes: Essays for L. A. Murillo, edited by James A. Parr, pp. 227-40. Newark, Del.: Juan de la Cuesta, 1991.
[In the following essay, Rodríguez-Luis examines the narrative function and implication of the endings of the two parts of Don Quixote to offer insights into the composition of the work as a whole.]
The question of closure in Don Quijote has received minimal attention in spite of its importance for understanding the composition of the work.1 Studying the narrative function and the implications of Don Quijote's ending, or, more appropriately, endings, since the book is composed of two distinct parts separated by a ten year hiatus, not only illuminates the structure of Cervantes' masterpiece, but also its author's intentions.
Narrative endings express our deeply ingrained belief in an order organized through causality toward a certain goal. It has been argued that endings serve to assert the pattern-seeking tendencies of the human mind, which finds in them the appropriate way of making sense of a chaotic world.2 This is why we naturally like fictional works to end in a decisive manner, and why, consequently, endings that do not seem to contain that sought after point capable of making “sense of what had none before”3...
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SOURCE: Flores, R. M. “Don Quixote as a Genre of Genres.” Romance Quarterly 40, no. 4 (fall 1993): 211-25.
[In the following essay, Flores argues that the first sentence of Don Quixote sets the stage for the rest of the novel and that the first chapter explores the major themes and devices of the novel as a whole.]
My intention here is twofold. I propose to show: (1) that the first sentence of Don Quixote is both a record of intention and a promise of things to come, and (2) that the first chapter of the novel is a compendium of the ideas, creative devices, and literary caveats that dominate the entire work.
Cervantes sets us squarely on three totally different genres in his very first sentence, with an economy of words seldom surpassed: “En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco, y galgo corredor.”1 The majority of authors of romances of chivalry who had preceded him had begun their works by telling their readers the general geographical area from which their heroes were originary (England, Tirant lo Blanch; “la pequeña Bretaña,” Amadís de Gaula; “las Indias,” El Caballero Cifar), and so does Cervantes in the opening clause of his novel, but with a twist. He cunningly hints at a specific village by mentioning a...
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SOURCE: Durán, Manuel. “From Fool's Gold to Real Gold: Don Quixote and the Golden Helmet.” In Studies in Honor of Donald W. Bleznick, pp. 17-31. Newark, Del.: Juan de la Cuesta, 1995.
[In the following essay, Durán maintains that chapter twenty-one of the first part of Don Quixote, which deals with the adventure of Mambrino's helmet, is a microcosm of the entire novel.]
Reading Don Quixote is like biting into a plum pudding: some chapters are more rewarding, more full of juicy bits of fruit than others. Chapter XXI of Part I, “which treats of the high and richly rewarded adventure of Mambrino's helmet, together with other things that happened to our invincible knight,”1 can be praised on two scores: it is interesting in and by itself, and moreover it offers the reader a microcosm of the novel as a whole. In it we find action and reflection, psychological fencing and the joyous sharing of experience and hope, social criticism and philosophical insights.
In this chapter, as so often in the novel, Cervantes introduces action not for its own sake but in order to clarify and underline Don Quixote's vision of the world, Sancho's reaction, and the discrepancy between the two viewpoints. Don Quixote's eyes are struck by an image: he sees something moving, far away, and proceeds to interpret what he sees according to the fabulous literary world that has shaped...
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SOURCE: Parr, James A. “Some Narratological Problems in Don Quixote: Five Instances.” In Studies in Honor of Donald W. Bleznick, pp. 127-42. Newark, Del.: Juan de la Cuesta, 1995.
[In the following essay, Parr examines narrative technique in Don Quixote.]
It is no exaggeration to say that the plot, the main characters, the interpolated stories, and the complementarities among main and accessory actions have, together, dominated critical discourse on Don Quixote. It is also fair to say that the telling of the tale has generally taken a subordinate position to what in Anglo-American critical parlance is traditionally called “showing.” In the terms Plato used some centuries ago, mimesis has received more attention than diegesis.
Two chapters of my Don Quixote: An Anatomy of Subversive Discourse were designed to demonstrate how telling traces, and sometimes coopts, the main plot line of the text—from the perspective, that is, of one reasonably competent reader. I realize, however, that narrative technique was not illustrated in those two chapters as fully as it might have been, nor were certain problem areas addressed in the detail they deserved.
Without doubt, the central narratological problem involves the roles of the First Author, the Second Author, Cide Hamete, and the Editor (my “Supernarrator”). I shall not attempt to...
(The entire section is 5423 words.)
SOURCE: De Armas Wilson, Diana. “‘Ocean Chivalry’: Issues of Alterity in Don Quixote.” Colby Quarterly 32, no. 4 (December 1996): 220-35.
[In the following essay, de Armas Wilson explores the relationship between Don Quixote and the “quixotic” Spanish conquerors of the books of chivalry and shows how Cervantes's knight-errant does not aspire to but rather mimics the conquistadors of the Golden Age of Spain.]
Although Don Quixote stridently identifies himself with the fictional figures of his favorite books—chivalric heroes such as Lancelot or Amadís or Renaldo de Montalbán—he has of late been assimilated, in studies of spiraling scholarly confidence, to the historical figures of the conquistadores. One critic claims that it is easy for the twentieth-century reader to see Don Quixote as “a comic incarnation” of “the conquistador mentality of Golden Age Spain” (Skinner 54). Another calls Cervantes's hero an “aspiring” and even “divinely inspired” conqueror, a figure who embodies “what is great and what is insane about Spanish imperialism” (Higuera 1-2). Such New World axes of identity for Don Quixote are an intrepid development from older constructions, which often used assertion as a mode of argument or, as what follows will show, invoked some literally preposterous connections. The aim of this essay is to explore the state of the union between...
(The entire section is 6733 words.)
SOURCE: Young, Howard. “Game of Circles: Conversations Between Don Quixote and Sancho.” Philosophy and Literature 24, no. 2 (2000): 377-86.
[In the following essay, Young explores the complex friendship between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza by analyzing their intimate conversations, which he says express their tenderness, love, respect, anger, frustration, and growing closeness.]
Accolades accumulated during the centuries weigh heavily upon Don Quixote de la Mancha (Part 1, 1605; Part 2, 1615) making it a behemoth of a classic, not only in terms of its size and tendency on occasion to ramble, but also due to the enormous applause it has received from authors and critics the world over. More than a trail-breaking predecessor like the first picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes (1554) or one of its famous imitations Huckleberry Finn (1884), Cervantes's book has earned the unqualified praise of critics and writers alike. To top off the devotion of Fielding, Smollet, Sterne, Diderot, Stendhal, Flaubert, Daudet, there is Milan Kundera's assertion, “The artist need answer to no one except Cervantes.”1 All fiction is a recreation of the theme of Don Quixote, insists Lionel Trilling.
Sainte-Beuve called it “The Bible of Humanity”; one of the world's most translated books, its quick popularity inside and outside of Spain caused Franco Moretti to...
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Allen, John J. Don Quixote: Hero or Fool? Part II. Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1979, 120 p.
Expanded version of an earlier monograph that explores the reader's evolving relationship with the protagonist in Don Quixote.
Anderson, Ellen M. “Dreaming a True Story: The Disenchantment of the Hero in Don Quixote, Part II.” Essays on Life Writing: From Genre to Critical Practice, edited by Marlene Kadar, pp. 171-89. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.
Explores how history, story, dream, and enchantment are used to describe the progress of the protagonist's disillusionment and self-recovery through the meeting of objective and subjective reality.
Axelrod, Mark. “The Poetics of the Quest in Cervantes' Don Quixote.” In The Poetics of Novels: Fiction and its Execution, pp. 1-27. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Discusses the interrelationship between entertainment, self-discovery, and truth in Don Quixote.
Cascardi, Anthony. “History and Modernity in the Spanish Golden Age: Secularization and Literary Self-Assertion in Don Quijote.” In Cultural Authority in Golden Age Spain, edited by Marina S. Brownlee and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, pp. 209-33. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.
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