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15 Anthony Close: A Remembrance ___________________________________________James Iffland L ike all who knew Anthony Close, I was stunned on receiving word of his sudden passing on September 17, 2010. Distinct memories of his vigorous gait and beaming smile contrasted excruciatingly with the thought that he was gone forever. For me, Anthony was not only an admired colleague but a dear friend and neighbor. Like most of this journal’s readers, I first came to know Anthony through his scholarship. In the mid-eighties I was working on an extensive essay that focused on what I called the “social destiny” of Don Quijote, and Anthony’s groundbreaking The Romantic Approach to Don Quixote was proving very useful for me in its clear-eyed assessment of the ideological roots of the dominant readings of Cervantes’s masterpiece over the past two centuries. I did have some serious reservations , however, about what I referred to, in a rather unkind footnote, as the startling “naiveté” of what appeared to be one of his basic premises —that is, that present-day scholars might be able to reconstruct what the actual response to Don Quijote was among readers in early seventeenth-century Spain. Anthony had already begun to emerge as a leading representative of the hard-line “funny book” strand within Cervantes scholarship (Russell, Eisenberg), and while I sympathized with the latter’s historicizing tendency, I also found it to be overly restrictive in many ways. I worked on this piece while summering in Frigiliana, a small mountain village in the eastern part of the province of Málaga, something I had started to do in 1981. Little did I realize that the individual whose work I both admired and (in part) rejected was sitting at the other end of the same town, slightly under a kilometer away. 16 Cervantes James Iffland It was Paul Julian Smith who alerted me to the fact that I was very probably Anthony’s neighbor in Spain. I had invited Paul to speak at Boston University in the mid-eighties, and in one of our exchanges, he said that he thought that Frigiliana was where Anthony co-owned a house with his former wife, Lorna Close, who had been Paul’s dissertation advisor at Cambridge. In the summer of 1988 I went down to the other end of town and met Lorna, who, over drinks, very kindly offered to alert Anthony about the American professor who wanted to meet him. Sure enough, a few weeks later, I heard a knock at the door and on opening it, there stood Anthony, blinking in mid-day sun. He graciously invited me down to his house, where I was introduced to his wife Françoise and their daughter Lucy, along with his stepchildren, Virginia and David. I returned the invitation a few days later, and thus began an enduring friendship—one that could have started some six or seven years earlier had we known that we were neighbors (“Más vale tarde que nunca…”). I was working in Madrid at the time as the resident director of Boston University’s study abroad program there, and Anthony very kindly invited me to give a lecture at Cambridge that fall. I gladly accepted , of course, but did so with a bad conscience. My “social destiny” piece had just come out, and though I knew that Anthony would appreciate the part where I had used so much of his Romantic Approach to prove my point, I dreaded the thought of his coming across my harsh footnote. I decided to act preemptively, providing him with a photocopy of the essay just as we were bidding adieu and finalizing some details about my trip to England. The weeks went by during which I awaited the arrival of a curt missive, perhaps disinviting me. Thankfully it never came, and sure enough, there was Anthony waiting at Gatwick when I stepped off the plane. In the ensuing days at Anthony and Françoise’s delightful home, my host behaved impeccably, generously introducing me at my lecture , driving me around the English countryside with his family, and even arranging for me to dine at “High Table” at Emmanuel College. Although Anthony himself...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1943-3840
Print ISSN
0277-6995
Pages
pp. 15-25
Launched on MUSE
2019-12-27
Open Access
No
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