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A Companion to Don Quixote

A Companion to Don Quixote

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    A Companion to Don Quixote
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-621-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    My purpose in 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 interconnections between its component parts. I approachDon Quixotefrom the premise that it is essentially a work of comedy, and see no justification for seeing it in any other way, since all Cervantes’s explicit comments on it insist on this aspect, specifically on its gaiety and risibility. It is plainly contradictory to acknowledge, as not a few Cervantine critics do, that Cervantes...

  5. 2 Cervantes’s Life, Times and Literary Career
    (pp. 7-29)

    Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born in Alcalá de Henares, near Madrid, in 1547.¹ His father was a poor surgeon with a large family. Little is known for certain about his education, save that he completed it at the humanist academy of Juan López de Hoyos in Madrid. In 1569, he suddenly left Spain for Italy, possibly in order to escape the legal consequences of having wounded a man in a duel. By 1571, he had enlisted in the allied expeditionary force being assembled by Venice, Spain and the Papacy for a major attack on the Turkish fleet. In that...

  6. 3 The Adventures and Episodes of Don Quixote Part I
    (pp. 30-89)

    The opening chapter ofDon Quixotemakes such a deft and confident beginning of a novel that one might expect it to derive from well-established precedents. Yet to my mind none of those that have been adduced, more or less plausibly, go very far towards explaining its genesis. I refer, first, to the social and domestic setting in which the hero is originally presented to us. It is the tranquil, sheltered life of a fifty-year-old countryhidalgo, a bachelor, who lives with a housekeeper and his niece, consuming, week after week, the same frugal diet, wearing the same clothes, pursuing...

  7. 4 The Personalities of Don Quixote and Sancho: Their Genesis, Interrelationship and Evolution
    (pp. 90-123)

    In the intervals between adventures the knight and his squire talk, and their conversations make up a significant proportion of the novel, representing a radical shift in the development of narrative fiction from incident to dialogue and from action to character. Cervantes’s motive in giving the conversations such prominence is clearly attested by those who overhear them and comment on them (e.g. II, 2; p. 641, and II, 7; p. 684): he comes to see the two central figures as extraordinary characters, whose delusions and mannerisms, including their changing attitude towards each other and the world around, constitute the main...

  8. 5 Wit, Colloquialisms and Narrative Manner
    (pp. 124-172)

    Nowadays, these are unfashionable subjects, seldom touched upon in introductory books onDon Quixote. Yet it has not always been so. Eighteenth-century French and English novelists were fascinated by what I call Cervantes’s manner: his mock-solemn and casually flippant attitude to his story, which he treats as a burlesque blend of epic and history; it inspires a succession of seminally influential imitations, including two of the century’s greatest novels: Fielding’sTom Jones(1749) and Sterne’sTristram Shandy(1759). While modern novelists and critics have continued to be interested in the pseudo-historical and metafi ctional aspects of this,¹ they have been...

  9. 6 The Adventures and Episodes of Don Quixote Part II
    (pp. 173-226)

    The first seven chapters ofDon QuixotePart II are devoted primarily to two things: first, the discussion between Don Quixote, Sancho and Sansón Carrasco about the reception of Benengeli’s chronicle — that is, Part I — and second, the crystallisation of the resolve of the two heroes to embark on a new sally, together with the reactions of their intimate circle to this news. The chapters are a splendid example of the major innovation brought by Cervantes to the genre of the novel: the comic depiction of traits of character displayed in colloquial style and a context of homely familiarity. Like...

  10. 7 Don Quixote and the Modern Novel
    (pp. 227-254)

    In the Introduction to this book, I drew attention to the profound repercussions ofDon Quixoteon modern culture, in spheres ranging from classical music to strip cartoons and from highbrow literature to commercial marketing (Riley, 1988; Canavaggio, 2005). As one might expect, the most important area in which one perceives this infl uence is the modern novel. Cervantes’s masterpiece contributed significantly to the birth of the genre in the first half of the eighteenth century, and ever since then, has been a model for general theories of it as well as an inspiration to novelists. In this final chapter...

    (pp. 255-264)
    (pp. 265-280)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 281-288)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 289-289)