Don Quixote in the Archives

Don Quixote in the Archives: Madness and Literature in Early Modern Spain

Dale Shuger
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Don Quixote in the Archives
    Book Description:

    A new reading of madness in Don Quixote based on archival accounts of insanityFrom the records of the Spanish Inquisition, Dale Shuger presents a social corpus of early modern madness that differs radically from the 'literary' madness previously studied. Drawing on over 100 accounts of insanity defences, many of which contain statements from a wide social spectrum - housekeepers, nieces, doctors, and barbers - as well as the testimonies of the alleged madmen and women themselves, Shuger argues that Cervantes' exploration of madness as experience is intimately linked to the questions about ethics, reason, will and selfhood that unreason presented for early modern Spaniards. In adapting, challenging and transforming these discourses, Don Quixote investigates spaces of interiority, confronts the limitations of knowledge - of the self and the world - and reflects on the social strategies for diagnosing and dealing with those we cannot understand. Shuger discovers an intimate connection between Cervantes's integration of this discourse of madness and his part in forging the new genre of the European novel.Key FeaturesChallenges the Foucauldian narrative of repression and the Bakhtinian narrative of liberationUses a historicist approach to show how Don Quixote engages, transforms and transcends the historicalProposes a new reading of the development of the novel that comes from the unreasonable Baroque subject as opposed to the rational Enlightenment subject

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4464-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Note concerning the Translation
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Series Editor’s Preface
    (pp. x-xii)
    Lorna Hutson
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    Had Miguel de Cervantes, while doing research for his book, been able to google the word ‘madness’, he would in all likelihood have crashed his server. Early modern Spain saw an increased preoccupation with madness in almost every sector of society; for different reasons and in different ways, jurists, theologians, artists, advisors and the royal court all found themselves debating, exploring or dealing with madness and madmen. Yet the madnesses spoken of in elite literature, festivals, legal codes and medical manuals were not always the same, just as the madness spoken of in sixteenth-century Spain does not necessarily refer to...

  7. Chapter 1 Many Madnesses
    (pp. 12-40)

    What did madness mean – what did it mean to be mad – in early modern Spain? Individual works of literature, or particular institutional discourses, often have clear answers to that question. However, institutional discourses and works of literature coexist in a broader social setting, and in the social setting of Baroque Spain there were many confusing and conflicting ‘meanings’ – including a reluctance or inability to find any clear meaning at all – of madness. In order to understand what madness ‘means’ in Don Quixote, it is important to present a picture of madness in Baroque Spain.¹ Rather than assume that Don Quixote,...

  8. Chapter 2 The Symptoms of Madness
    (pp. 41-73)

    Within the novel, there is no doubt about the origin and symptoms of Don Quixote’s madness. The narrator unequivocally affirms that the gentleman read so many tales of chivalry that he took them to be real, and then cast himself as a knight errant and his present world as that of the epic. Quixote is not alone in his difficulties in judging the ‘truth value’ of texts; all of the characters in Don Quixote share a confusion between historical truth, poetic or moral truth, entertaining fiction and outright forgeries and lies,¹ yet only Don Quixote is considered mad because of...

  9. Chapter 3 The Madman on the Road
    (pp. 74-107)

    I spent the whole of Chapter 1 mapping out the particularly ambiguous nature of madness in this period and the high stakes of choosing one interpretation over another, because both account for the tentative or multiple reactions of characters to madness. It is no coincidence that, in his creation of Don Quixote and his adventures, Cervantes emphasises exactly what I take to be the defining characteristic of madness at this time: the confusing and contradictory outward signs. In this chapter I will concentrate on how persons from various strata of Spanish society, when presented with persons about whom they had...

  10. Chapter 4 The Madman at Home and among Friends
    (pp. 108-149)

    Ciriaco Morón Arroyo, writing on the development of the novel after Cervantes, remarks that ‘with psychologism truth was lost. There was again one protagonist, or at most two. The people were lost; those thirty harvesters who gave life to Juan Palomeque’s inn; the local judge, the damsel, the pícaro, the charitable young girl.’¹ I would argue that Cervantes gives us both pueblo and, rather than psychologism, an unprecedented insight into psychology. In the previous chapter I examined the role of madness in the actions of the pueblo; in this one, I turn to how Cervantes uses madness in his development...

  11. Chapter 5 Madness, the Mind and the Novel
    (pp. 150-178)

    Most attempts to define the novel make United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography¹ seem scientific.² Yet while the land of the novel is impossible to map with precision, we can make some general observations about the territory. The novel is ‘a prose fiction in which the characters, plot and/or themes develop through the work’³ and through each other.⁴ Acknowledging that any more precise definition inevitably opens itself to counterexamples and exceptions, we can state that as a rule the novel separates itself from its literary forebears (the epic, the romance, the satire) by its realism, complexity...

  12. Chapter 6 Madness, Authority and the Novel
    (pp. 179-200)

    And what to make of the final complete return to sanity? Don Quixote himself presents it as a radical about-face, but the text, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, suggests otherwise; Quixote had been losing faith in his chivalric identity ever since the Cave of Montesinos. There is a sudden reversal here, but it is at the level of form rather than character.¹ Throughout Part II the reader has had to proceed like José Ortega y Gasset’s prototypical reader of the novel, ‘by trial and error . . . work[ing] out as best he can the actual character’...

  13. Epilogue (Second Sally)
    (pp. 201-203)

    I have argued that a ‘novel’ understanding of (or difficulty in understanding) madness in early modern Spain leads to the development of the early modern Spanish novel (or, rather, to the development of a work whose characteristics would come to be associated with the novel). Yet the novel has, as Diana de Armas Wilson notes, ‘risen’ many times and in many places. It is worth asking, then: what, if any, is the connection between novel and madness is in these other times and places? On the one hand, a quick mental journey through the ‘great’ Western novels since Cervantes would...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 204-214)
  15. Index
    (pp. 215-220)