Cervantes and Ariosto

Cervantes and Ariosto: Renewing Fiction

Thomas R. Hart
Copyright Date: 1989
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    Cervantes and Ariosto
    Book Description:

    Thomas Hart examines Erich Auerbach's contention that Don Quixote is not a tragedy but a comedy and suggests that Auerbach's view was shaped by his reading of Ariosto's chivalric romance Orlando furioso. At the same time Hart argues that neither Don Quixote nor Orlando furioso is so free from political intention as Auerbach believed they were. He demonstrates that Cervantes shared not only Ariosto's attachment to the moral code of chivalry but also his doubts that it could be practiced effectively in the contemporary world.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6002-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
    (pp. 3-5)

    In his essay “Kafka y sus precursores,” Jorge Luis Borges remarks that “every writercreateshis own precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past just as it will modify the future” (1960, 48). Cervantes has served as a precursor, often a gratefully acknowledged one, for some of the greatest of later novelists. Fielding, Stendhal, Flaubert, Melville, Dostoevski, Joyce, and of course Kafka, as Marthe Robert (1977) has shown in a brilliant juxtaposition ofDon QuixoteandThe Castle, have all contributed to our understanding of Cervantes’ novel. In bringingDon Quixotecloser to us, they have inevitably transformed...

  6. CHAPTER I Erich Auerbach’s Don Quixote
    (pp. 6-15)

    In the first edition ofMimesis, which appeared in German in Switzerland in 1946, Erich Auerbach discussesDon Quixotebriefly in two different chapters. In the chapter on the chivalric romances of Chrétien de Troyes, he compares Don Quixote’s first sally, which leads him to an inn that he takes to be a castle, to Calogrenant’s journey in Chrétien’sYvain. The essential difference between the two journeys is that

    the world which Don Quixote encounters is not one especially prepared for the proving of a knight but is a random, everyday, real world. By his detailed description of the circumstances...

  7. CHAPTER II Cervantes’ Debt to Ariosto: Form
    (pp. 16-38)

    Orlando furiosofirst appeared in print in 1516 in Ferrara, where Ariosto, then forty-two, was in the service of the Duke of Este. He had begun work on the poem at least ten years before. A second version, also in forty cantos but revised to make its language conform more closely to Tuscan usage, appeared in 1521. The definitive third version, which appeared in October 1532, only a few months before Ariosto’s death, added six new cantos and incorporated further stylistic revisions prompted by the appearance in 1525 of Bembo’sProse della volgar lingua. Orlando furiosowas reprinted more than...

  8. CHAPTER III Cervantes’ Debt to Ariosto: Themes
    (pp. 39-54)

    E. C. Riley has speculated that “the artlessness and irresponsibility of many chivalresque novelists, and the contrast between their work and theOrlando furioso, for instance, might well have set [Cervantes] wondering about the principles of literary fiction” (1962, 6). Cervantes’ reading of Ariosto may have done more than suggest some effective ways of telling a story. It may also have suggested the kind of story he wanted to tell inDon Quixote. Harry Levin’s often quoted statement that throughoutDon Quixote“there runs a single pattern: the pattern of art embarrassed by confrontation with nature” (1957, 79) is equally...

  9. CHAPTER IV Imitation in Ariosto and Cervantes
    (pp. 55-72)

    Some books proclaim their relationship to others. They demand that we read them as new answers to old questions, ones posed, perhaps centuries before, in other books. BothDon QuixoteandOrlando furiosoare books of this kind.

    Orlando furiosois full of allusions to earlier writers: Dante, Virgil, and Ovid, to name only the most important. And all three of Ariosto’s models themselves refer to—and reshape—earlier works. TheAeneidconstantly echoes the Homeric poems, though Virgil’s conception of epic is very different from Homer’s, just as Dante’s Christianity transforms his borrowings from Virgil. The Renaissance, in rediscovering...

  10. CHAPTER V Pastoral Interludes
    (pp. 73-95)

    Cervantes’ first published work was a pastoral novel,La Galatea. In the prologue he suggests that it is a youthful exercise designed to prepare him for loftier and more significant undertakings, “empresas más altas y de mayor importancia,” and thus places himself among the many Renaissance writers—Spenser and Milton are the most obvious English examples—who imitated Virgil by trying their hands at pastoral poetry before attempting more ambitious subjects.La Galatea, however, is hardly a juvenile work; Cervantes was thirty-eight when it appeared in 1585. Thirty years later, in the prologue toDon Quixote, part 2, he was...

  11. CHAPTER VI “Disprayse of a Courtly Life”
    (pp. 96-114)

    Cervantes’ treatment of pastoral love in part 1 ofDon Quixoteis only one of a number of pastoral elements in the novel. In part 2 he offers an elaborate treatment of another traditional pastoral theme, the contrast between country life and life at court. As in his treatment of pastoral love in part 1, he returns to a theme he had dealt with before, in the song composed by Lauso, a courtier turned shepherd, and sung by Damón near the beginning of book 4 ofLa Galatea.

    The contrast between court and country found in so many Renaissance pastorals...

  12. CHAPTER VII Don Quixote’s Readers, Don Quixote as Reader
    (pp. 115-130)

    Don Quixotewas an immediate popular success. The first edition, published in Madrid by Juan de la Cuesta in 1605, was followed by nine others, in Madrid, Lisbon, Valencia, Milan, and Brussels, before the appearance of part 2 in Madrid in 1615. The first translation, Thomas Shelton’s English version of part 1, appeared in 1607; part 2 followed in 1620. By 1625 translations of both parts were also available in French and Italian (Riley 1986, 174–75). But this popular success did not mean that Cervantes’ novel was taken seriously as a work of art. It gave rise to no...

    (pp. 131-134)

    More than thirty years ago, Northrop Frye protested against “the sloppy habit of identifying fiction with … the novel” (1957, 303). Ten years later Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg were still complaining that “cour view of narrative literature is almost hopelessly novel-centered” (1966, 8). Today the situation has changed, as Gerald Prince’s usefulDictionary of Narratology(1987) makes clear. Thanks to the work of writers like Vladimir Propp (1968), Mikhail Bakhtin (1981) and Gérard Genette (1980), discussions of narrative no longer deal almost exclusively with the novel, nor even with prose fiction. As Seymour Chatman (1978) and others have noted,...

    (pp. 135-146)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 147-150)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 151-153)