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The Utopian Nexus in Don Quixote

Myriam Yvonne Jehenson and Peter N. Dunn

Publication Year: 2006

Jehenson and Dunn explore the mythic utopian desires that drive Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in Don Quixote. By tracing the discourses surrounding what they identify as a myth of abundance and a myth of "simple wants" throughout Spain and the rest of Europe at the time, Jehenson and Dunn are able to contextualize some of the stranger incidents in Don Quixote, including Camacho's wedding. They bring to the forefront three aspects of the novel: the cultural and juridical background of Don Quixote's utopian program for reviving the original property-less condition of the Age of Gold; the importance for Sancho Panza of the myths of Cockaigne and Jauja; and the author's progressive skepticism about utopian programs.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

In the course of the years that it has taken us to write this book, many friends and colleagues have asked us to explain what we were doing. As we strove to present our project in brief terms, they enabled us to clarify our ideas, to note lacunae, and to sharpen our arguments. ...

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pp. ix-xv

The idea for this book came about after many readings of Don Quixote, in the course of which we were always fascinated and intrigued by one particular episode: Camacho’s wedding in Part II, chapter 20. The source of our fascination was not the course of events that take place there, ...

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1. Discursive Hybridity: Don Quixote’s and Sancho Panza’s Utopias

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pp. 1-20

It is a given of social theory that no discursive field is homogeneous. It produces different meanings and subjectivities, exposes conflicts and contradictions, and thereby enables new forms of knowledge and practice to emerge. Nowhere does this truism become more apparent than in the sixteenth century, ...

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2. Utopia as Cultural Construct

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pp. 21-38

Theorists have long grappled with definitions and processes of utopianism. Lewis Mumford, for example, distinguishes between what he terms utopias of escape and utopias of reconstruction. “Utopias of escape,” he asserts, “are less interesting than those of reconstruction . . . If the first utopia leads backwards into the utopian’s ego, the second leads outward—outward into the world” (21). ...

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3. Parallel Worlds: Myth into History and Performance

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pp. 39-48

How did the concept of “utopianism,” as we have used it, develop? The notion of a primitive age of equality among ancient Greek and Latin writers has been extensively documented by Arthur O. Lovejoy and George Boas and, more recently, by Jean Delumeau. ...

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4. The Pan European Land of Cockaigne

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pp. 49-76

Like Don Quixote, Sancho Panza is also the cultural product of his age. The legend of Prester John’s inexhaustible wealth, probably enhanced by descriptions of the Earthly Paradise which Saint Jerome had translated as an hortus voluptatis and an hortus deliciarum, was ripe, then, for yet another appropriation. ...

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5. Sancho Panza and the Material World

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pp. 77-88

The source of Don Quixote’s utopian vision has been seen to lie in the cultural imaginary of a privileged minority. In contrast to Don Quixote’s myth of a past golden age of austerity, the myth we associate with Sancho Panza, that of Cockaigne/Jauja (or Xauxa), has been seen instead to be projective, open to everyone, ...

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6. Discursive Formations in Sixteenth-Century Spain

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pp. 89-112

We have been discussing the hybridity and relative arbitrariness of supposedly separate cultural constructs such as the Age of Gold or Cockaigne/Jauja, and how they expose “the limits of any claim to a singular or autonomous sign of difference” (Bhabha). In this chapter we commence the second level of our inquiry, ...

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7. The ius naturale and "The Indian Question"

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pp. 113-130

We turn from the professional legists and theologians of the century to continue our interrogation of the historical record and the discursive formations of the period that produced Don Quixote. What we might now refer to as the Quixotic view of human institutional history was widely disseminated and discussed in Cervantes’s time. ...

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8. Sancho Panza's Utopia

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pp. 131-146

Laurent Gervereau argues that books, “by virtue of [their] basal function of interpreting signs and transposing them into an imaginary construct,” constitute “the ultimate utopian instrument” (357b). Even if this is applicable, with reservations, to the stylized and rural setting of Part I, it cannot be said of Part II. ...

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9. Don Quixote's Utopia

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pp. 147-166

Just as the ducal pair shape the ínsula according to Sancho’s desires after they have read Don Quixote Part I, so they will implement the fantasies of Don Quixote. The knight arrives at their country palace at the moment of deepest dejection. From the beginning of Part II, with his failure to pay homage to his lady Dulcinea ...

Works Cited and Consulted

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pp. 167-184


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pp. 185-191

E-ISBN-13: 9780826592095
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826515179
Print-ISBN-10: 0826515177

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de, 1547-1616. Don Quixote.
  • Utopias in literature.
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