The Humble Story of Don Quixote
reflections on the birth of the modern novel
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Citations expressing similar feelings and opinions to those just quoted could be multiplied.1 Don Quixote is clearly not just another good novel, not even just one among the greatest; it is more than that, if for no other reason than it was the first among the greatest. It did something that no other novel had done before. And that, in itself, was extraordinary. It is therefore generally admitted today that Don Quixote inaugurates the modern novel and becomes its archetype. In some sense, every modern novel worthy of its name ...
I. A Story “Naked and Unadorned”
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The creative process we have just sketched cannot be easily reduced to a subjective experience of self-satisfaction and reassuring feelings of accomplishment. For Cervantes it must have been something rather ambivalent, a mixture of satisfaction at his artistic feat, and a sense of uneasiness, not so much about the fate of his novel after publication, but more deeply about the ...
II. The Picaresque Point of Reference I
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... I think this is a perceptive observation, which may, of course, be extended to all traditional folkloric antiheroes, such as the madman or the fool. But what the critic describes as an automatic and sudden transformation would be more accurately described as an encounter, indeed, as a rather problematic and difficult encounter of the old and laughable folkloric puppet with an ...
III. The Picaresque Point of Reference 2
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Opinions about Quevedo’s Buscon tend to be extreme.1 Michael Holquist, editor of Bakhtin’s The Dialogic Imagination, calls it “one of the most heartlessly cruel books ever written” (Bakhtin, 163, note). On the other hand, Fernando Lázaro Carreter, a leading Quevedo scholar, speaks of Quevedo’s artistic intention as one of sheer linguistic virtuosity and ingenious, clever manipulation ...
IV. Don Quixote’s Madness and Modernity
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The traditional fate of the fool in general, and the madman in particular, was no better than that of the rogue. In fact, it could be argued that it was much worse. Madness has usually been seen as a more radical form of marginal existence (in the sense of differentiation or distance from the social norm) than roguery. ...
V. De te fabula narratur
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That conversation took place in Barcelona, following the defeat of Don Quixote at the hands of the Knight of the White Moon, that is, Bachelor Sampson Carrasco. On his way back from Barcelona, Sampson stops by the Duke’s palace and explains to the court what had happened: ...
VI. Unamuno’s Enthusiastic Quijotismo and the Envy of Cain
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... While Américo Castro appears to be totally impervious to the value of Don Quixote’s innocence, Unamuno was clearly quite sensitive to it. He spoke repeatedly of Don Quixote’s goodness and profound lack of malice. But that only served to make Don Quixote’s madness appear in his eyes even more heroic, because Don Quixote’s innocence—Unamuno thought—made his ...
VII. From Don Quixote’s Penitence to the Episode of the Lion
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... Don Quixote’s model is radiant Amadís, “the pole star, the morning star, the sun of all valiant knights and lovers.” However, his explanation should not fool anybody, nor should we make light of it and charge it all to Cervantine irony without further ado. Don Quixote’s imitation of Amadís clearly goes far beyond the limits of a master-apprentice relationship. In a genuine healthy ...
VIII. Unamuno’s Story of Cain and Abel and the Curioso impertinente
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As we were saying before, as far as Unamuno, creator of Abel Sánchez, is concerned, the heroic sublimity of mad Don Quixote would shine with particular intensity in the eyes of his tragic Cain-like character Joaquín Monegro. Don Quixote is a hero not in the eyes of Abel (who, in Cervantes-like fashion, might even pretend to be sorry that Don Quixote is mad, without ...
IX. The Pastoral Precedent
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... In the Italian passage quoted above from Pietro Bembo’s dialogues Gli Asolani, the character speaking, Perottino, is violently against love because he suffers grievously from it. Some other character will answer him by saying that what he feels is not love because love is rational and temperate. If he really loved, he would ...
X. The Desire of the Obstacle
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We return now to Don Quixote on the road. He is out in search of adventures. An adventure is a challenge, a challenging obstacle in his path. He is looking for challenges. Occasionally he may become impatient if he does not find one as quickly as he would like: ...
XI. Juan Palomeque’s Inn
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... We have already alluded to the functional similarity—first noticed years ago by J. B. Avalle Arce—between the magical solutions that occur at sage Felicia’s palace in the pastoral Dianas, especially Montemayor’s Diana, and the accumulation of providential coincidences that occur in Juan Palomeque’s inn in the Quixote. These coincidences will provide the opportunity for the ...
XII. Tricksters Tricked
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The baciyelmo episode is part of a larger pattern in the novel that becomes especially conspicuous in Part 2. As Don Quixote parades his peculiar kind of madness in the most diverse settings, it becomes increasingly clear that people who are attracted to him not as a person full of good sense in everything unrelated to knight-errantry, but as a madman, become contaminated by his ...
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Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2011