The purpose of this book is to help the English-speaking reader, with an interest in Spanish literature but without specialised knowledge of Cervantes, to understand his long and complex masterpiece: its major themes, its structure, and the inter-connections between its component parts. Beginning from a review of Don Quixote's relation to Cervantes's life, literary career, and its social and cultural context, Anthony Close goes on to examine the structure and distinctive nature of Part I (1605) and Part II (1615), the conception of the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho, Cervantes's word-play and narrative manner, and the historical evolution of posterity's interpretation of the novel, with particular attention to its influence on the theory of the genre. One of the principal questions tackled is the paradoxical incongruity between Cervantes's conception of his novel as a light work of entertainment, without any explicitly acknowledged profundity, and posterity's view of it as a universally symbolic masterpiece, revolutionary in the context of its own time, and capable of meaning something new and different to each succeeding age. ANTHONY CLOSE, now retired, was Reader in Spanish at the University of Cambridge.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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