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11 Remembering Anthony Close and His Work __________________________________________John Jay Allen C ervantistas had been anxiously awaiting Anthony Close’s ground-breaking study of The Romantic Approach to Don Quixote when it appeared in 1978. He had announced it six years earlier, in “Don Quixote and the Intentionalist Fallacy,” and its appearance more than fulfilled the expectations aroused by a series of articles in British journals over those previous years, during which Anthony had established himself as the most perceptive and articulate of the “hard” critics of Don Quixote. I wrote at that time that he had written “a chapter in the history of ideas about Don Quixote which I think will stand, and within which more detailed and specific relationships can now be elaborated. I think it is a very valuable book.” The Cervantes Society organized a special session at the MLA Convention in December 1979, on “Approaches to Don Quijote,” consisting of a series of speakers commenting on his book; it drew a large audience and provoked lively discussion. It was clear at the outset that we were dealing with a landmark contribution to Cervantes studies. Patricia and I toured the wineries of Napa Valley with him during that week, and I visited him at Cambridge three years later and a second time around 2000. The last time we coincided was in Los Angeles in 1996. Always affable and engaging, Anthony was a brilliant close reader of Cervantes. I liked his work better than he liked mine, I’m afraid, and we differed significantly in our interpretation of the post-ducal chapters of the book; the strength of his work was always its solid grounding in the intellectual discourse of Cervantes’s time. When I was asked in 1999 to appraise his candidacy for a personal Readership at Cambridge, I sent the following letter: 12 Cervantes John Jay Allen It must first be said that Anthony Close achieved the international stature described in your letter as requisite for a personal Readership twenty years ago with the publication of The Romantic Approach to Don Quixote. The appearance of the book prompted an invitation to Close to participate in a special session dedicated entirely to his controversial work the next year at the annual convention of the Modern Language Association of America. That book and Close’s subsequent publications are obligatory references for anyone working with Cervantes’s thought and the interpretation of Don Quijote. Close is the most outstanding of the students who have studied with E. C. Riley, the pre-eminent Cervantes scholar of the second half of the 20th century, and the Romantic Approach is perhaps second only to Riley’s own Cervantes’s Theory of the Novel in the extent of its influence over subsequent critical comment on Cervantes’s masterpiece. The originality of his work on the history of the interpretation of Cervantes’s work lies in the persuasive account of the often subtle and indirect relationships among dozens of critics in various lines of criticism over more than a century, and in the sheer scope of the work he undertook. Close has convincingly suggested filiations among critics that had previously not been noted, thus changing the way we look at this vast body of interpretive criticism. His selection by Francisco Rico for the assignments referred to in his Personal Statement [two sections of the introduction to Rico’s classic edition] is clear testimony to his current international standing. As it happens, I have just sent to press a review of the Rico Don Quijote. Allow me to quote relevant portions of my text: “The second piece of the prologue is the first of two in this sequence by Anthony Close[.] ‘Cervantes: Pensamiento, personalidad, cultura ’ is an excellent evocation of the cultural heritage evidenced in Cervantes’s work and a complete and balanced summary of critical contributions to this aspect. The sixth section of the prologue, and one of the most difficult to write, certainly, is ‘Las interpretaciones del Quijote.’ Close has given in his post-1925 review a full and sensible account of an enormous body of criticism. I have looked Volume 31.1 (2011) 13 Remembering Anthony Close and His Work through the ‘Lecturas...


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