From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
6.2 (1986): 123-40.
Copyright © 1986, The Cervantes Society of America
N THE HISTORY
of illustrations of Don Quijote, a popular subject has been the Catalan
bandit, Roque Guinart, whom Don Quijote and Sancho meet on the way to Barcelona
(Part II, 60-61). The most famous of the Romantic illustrators, Gustave
Doré depicts Roque with a plumed hat, wrapped in a huge black cape
and holding the point of his sword to the neck of a terrified underling.
Don Quijote stands impassively among the crowd of onlookers, while Sancho
cowers behind his master. In many ways, this engraving is emblematic of the
critical attitude toward these chapters. Roque has been treated as an immensely
dramatic figure, larger-than-life, fierce, yet attractive. By contrast, Don
Quijote appears passive, withdrawn, and eclipsed by the outlaw. In addition
to the grand scale of events described in these chapters, the sweep of Roque's
gestures was to be magnified by reverberations from other texts, so that
generations of critics have been particularly vulnerable to Roque's attractions
and resistant to the ironies which qualify his heroic stature. This study
is offered as a case for a corrective reading one which
attempts to resist the seductiveness of the bandit figure. Rather than
reinforcing the myth of Roque Guinart, I believe that the ironic narrative
indicates that all who come in contact with Roque, and the bandit himself,
are the victims of his myth. But since the text does not replace an idealized
illusion with a degraded one, my task is not to negate Roque's attractiveness,
but rather to reveal the ambiguities of the ironic context.
As Theophile Gautier remarked in his Voyage en Espagne (1854)
bandits are easily elevated into
heroes.1 In different societies and
in different periods, their deeds have been translated into narrative through
popular song as well as the written text. In his cross-cultural study of
banditry, British historian Eric Hobsbawn has attempted to define the nature
of popular support for bandits, which extends in some cases to heroic admiration.
Hobsbawn defines social bandits as peasant outlaws who remain within peasant
society and are regarded by their people as men to be admired, helped
and supported. With their dangerous and anti-authoritarian mode of
behavior, bandits frequently provide ideal models upon whom the more constrained
members of society project real dissatisfactions as well as subconscious
rebellions. The social bandit must maintain sufficient sympathy among his
fellow countrymen in order to survive. To the extent that the bandit's hostility
to outside authority evokes a responsive chord in the peasant population,
and to the extent that the bandit does not become an excessively heavy economic
burden on his fellow countrymen, he can count on their active or passive
protection. Although banditry seldom represents a coherent program of social
revolution, it can function as a form of social protest, proving that poor
men need not be passive and meek.2
This historical admixture of solidarity and rebellion, and of violence pragmatically tempered by courtesy, which has always lent itself to poetization, made the bandit a popular figure on the Golden Age stage. The stage bandits, men and women, were frequently passionate and noble characters who had turned to banditry to avenge an affront to their honor. In a now famous article, A. A. Parker analyzes the peculiarly Spanish type of the bandit-saint, a character who incarnated the precept that the greatest sinners make the greatest saints. In plays such as Tirso's El condenado por desconfiado and Mira de Amescua's El esclavo del demonio, the bandits are seen to possess the vitality and heroic energy necessary for sainthood to a greater degree than more timid and passive characters. Their capacity for repentance and salvation is heightened because of their innate courage and intensity. This sentiment is expressed in the lines from Zabaleta's bandit play, Osar morir da la vida: Cierto que aun para ser
by Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the
Age of Philip II, trans. Sian Reynolds (New York: Harper, 1973), I,
2 Bandits (New York: Delacorte, 1969), pp. 13-23, 48 et passim.
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santo / el coraje es provechoso; / que los tibios nunca aciertan / ni a ser
santos ni demonios.3
So well-represented is the bandit during the Romantic period that German literary historians have special terms Rauberromantik and Rauberromane for the phenomenon. Exalting somewhat different characteristics, the Romantics also transformed the outlaw into a transcendental hero. The bandit represented to them the alienated and rebellious idealist whose exceptional sensibility made him ill-suited for ordinary society.
From popular ballad heroes and bandit-saints to Schiller's Karl Moor and Mérimée's José Navarro, the bandit has proved a vivid and highly symbolic image.4 Through a kind of mirage intertextuality, Roque Guinart has kept critical company with these romantic bandits (sensu latu) and has appropriated some of their characteristics.5 The fact is that romantic epithets attributed to Roque are numerous hombre de acción, valiente, noble, justiciero a lo romántico y jefe con excepcionales dotes de mando; tragic and real, not burlesque, and an enlightened ruler of a mini-state, endowed with liberality.6
Perhaps the most far-reaching in his inter-textual reading of Roque was Unamuno, who saw in him not only the precursor of the
Santos y bandoleros en el teatro del Siglo de Oro, Arbor
13 (1949), 395-416. The verses from Zabaleta are cited by Parker, p. 401.
4 See Hobsbawn's chapter, The Bandit as Symbol.
5 Carlos Varo writes, Roque es un caballero. Es el precursor de esas estampas románticas del bandolero galán y del asesino aristócrata. See Génesis y evolución del Quijote (Madrid: Alcalá, 1968), p. 515, emphasis mine.
A. J. Close's book The Romantic Approach to Don Quijote, demonstrates in a systematic and thorough fashion the extent to which Romantic concepts have shaped the critical tradition of Don Quijote. In the discussion of these chapters, I feel we could well heed Close's admonition to pay attention to the burlesque aspects of the text, but here I am concerned in addition with the influence of the Romantic conception of banditry as transcendental protest on Cervantes criticism. A related phenomenon is discussed by Antonio Giménez in El mito romántico del bandolero andaluz, CHA 383 (1982), 272-96. Giménez describes the way in which Romantic literary models of bandits shaped the perceptions of nineteenth-century writers in their accounts of travels in Spain. The bandit was an indispensable element in a nineteenth-century travelogue from Spain, so that some writers felt disappointed when they did not actually have a face-to-face encounter with a dashing bandit.
6 Martín de Riquer, Aproximación al Quijote (Barcelona: Teide, 1967), p. 159; Luis Andrés Murillo, The Golden Dial (Oxford: Dolphin, 1975), p. 153; Karl Ludwig Selig, The Ricote Episode in Don Quijote: Observations on Literary Refractions, RHM 38 (1974-75), 75.
Romantic bandit, but also the emblem of the thief who died on the cross next
to Christ. Unamuno hears in Roque's words the echoes of the Pauline lament,
no hago el bien que quiero, sino el mal que no quiero hago, miserable
hombre de mí. In Unamuno's criticism, we see with special clarity
the convergence of the Romantic with the Golden Age tradition of the
bandit-saint. Roque is better than he himself believes, Unamuno writes, since
he possesses the spiritual humility which can bring about his salvation.
Unamuno in fact alludes to Tirso de Molina's bandit-saint Enrico in El
condenado por desconfiado who was saved after a life of crime by his
deathbed contrition (p. 349). In short, the Roque episode provided Unamuno
with the occasion for a meditation on the greater importance of intentions
over acts, of hope over fear of punishment, and of individual salvation over
social order. The bandit thus symbolized the agonized protagonist of Unamuno's
highly individualistic form of Christianity spiritually humble, but
struggling against a sense of
Joaquín Casalduero also reads the Roque Guinart chapters against this dual Romantic and Golden Age tradition. For Casalduero, the bandit is primarily a baroque foil to Don Quijote the deformed image of the ideal Knight. Both characters are similar in their courage, fairness and courtesy, but Don Quijote is motivated by love, and Roque by revenge. But as an expression of the baroque sensibility, Roque also manifests the faith that God will deliver him from life as labyrinth. Although it cannot be said that Casalduero adulates Roque, his interpretation can still be considered romantic in the sense that Roque is seen as the valiant spirit deformed by his passion for revenge. Through Casalduero's zeitgeist approach, Roque is both an anti-hero and theological emblem of the sufficiency of Grace.8
More recently, Karl Ludwig Selig has given a highly favorable interpretation of Roque Guinart of a decidedly romantic cast.9 Selig writes that Roque displays his personal code (his Lebenskodex) and his
de Don Quijote y Sancho según Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Salamanca:
Almáraz, 1905), pp. 340-352. As David Gies has pointed out, the
bandit-saint tradition was very much entwined with Spanish Romanticism. See
José Zorilla and the Betrayal of Spanish Romanticism,
RJ 31 (1980), 339-46.
8 Sentido y forma del Quijote (Madrid: Insula, 1966), pp. 355-56).
9 Don Quijote II/60-61: Some Observations on Roque Guinart, in Medieval, Renaissance and Folklore Studies in Honor of John Esten Keller, ed. Joseph R. Jones (Newark, Delaware: Juan de la Cuesta, 1980), pp. 273-280.
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utopian spirit with an exemplary act of magnanimity toward
the travellers he robs. By his interest in Don Quijote, Roque reveals
a great spirit of humanity and an appreciation of art, a work of art, which
is the representation of an order (p. 278). Selig concludes, Even
if one allows for certain ironies . . . the text . . .
is a statement and plea pertaining to a person, a very special person, and
his condition, his isolation and solitude in a rather unstable and precarious
and distrustful world (p. 279).
Finally, Silvia Lorente-Murphy and Roslyn M. Frank have stressed the theme of political rebellion and social utopianism, seeing Roque as a social bandit who uses highway robbery as a means of redistributing wealth to the most needy. Unlike Don Quijote, Roque is motivated by immediate social issues: Roque está tratando de enmendar entuertos que realmente existen.10
For these representative critics, Roque is associated with various key Romantic concepts. He is seen to possess the generous spirit of the Romantic hero, his transcendental Angst, his desire for justice, and appreciation of art. At the same time, because of his isolation and persecution, and his struggle against despair, he brings to light the alienating imperfection of a society ill-suited to a unique individual. But with this focus on the bandit as a symbolic hero, significant textual ironies have been minimized ironies which revolve around the way Roque perceives himself and is perceived by others.
The evolving modern understanding of Cervantic irony implies more than satire or refined ridicule. As Luis Murillo has written, The first step in the recognition of this meaning [of irony] is to perceive that the refinement of [Cervantes'] manner conceals an ulterior aim which is both intellective and humane, critical but also benevolent and amiable toward the objects of his dissimulation.11 In the analysis of textual irony in this episode, I have found D. C. Muecke's definitions particularly useful in describing an ironic style which is both intellective and humane.12 According to Muecke, the object of irony is
p. 109 in Roque Guinard [sic] y la justicia distributiva en el
Quijote AC 20 (1982), 103-11.
11 Cervantic Irony in Don Quijote: The Problem for Literary Criticism, in Homenaje a Rodríguez-Moñino (Madrid:
Castalia, 1966), II, 21-27.
12 The Compass of Irony (London: Methuen, 1969, rpt. 1980). Also see John J. Allen, Don Quixote: Hero or Fool? Part II (Gainesville: University of Florida Humanities Monograph No. 46, 1979) for an extended study of irony in Don Quijote in relation to Muecke's concepts.
the proposition, belief, attitude, person, institution or social system which
is censured or shown to be ludicrously incongruous or inappropriate. The
victims of irony are those who are confidently unaware
of the incongruity in their attitudes or situation (pp. 34-35). Separating
objects from victims allows us to see more clearly how the effects of irony
are achieved without degrading the characters. In this episode, Don Quijote
and Roque appear primarily as ironic victims; Cervantes ridicules their confident
blindness and obstinate innocence, but does not demolish our sense of them
as unique personalities.
The first note of irony is introduced by the narrator as the bandits appear on the scene and begin to strip and search Sancho for valuables: Acudieron los bandoleros a espulgar al rucio, y a no dejarle ninguna cosa de cuantas en las alforjas y la maleta traía; y avínole bien a Sancho que en una ventrera que tenía ceñida venían los escudos del duque y los que había sacado de su tierra, y, con todo eso, aquella buena gente le escardara y le mirara hasta lo que entre el cuero y la carne tuviera escondido, si no llegara en aquella sazón su capitán.13 By referring to the bandits as buena gente, Cervantes is of course using one of the most traditional forms of irony, antiphrasis, here in order to blame with praise. The Cervantean variation on antiphrasis occurs with the substitution of two legitimate albeit lowly activities delousing and weeding for the illegitimate activity they are in fact engaged in committing a robbery. This euphemistic substitution of the legitimate for the illegitimate becomes an ironic leitmotif of the episode. There are no ironic victims in the text at this point. But as the narrator communicates his dissimulated criticism of the bandits to the implied reader, narrator and reader form a cohesive group who understand. The ironic victims therefore exist, hypothetically, as an imperceptive audience. Alternatively, we could say that the narrator, with his pretense that the bandits are engaged in normal and useful work, sets himself up as pseudo-victim.14
Roque first addresses Don Quijote to console and reassure him
Quijote II, 493-94. All citations are to the edition of Luis Andrés
Murillo, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha, 2 vols. (Madrid:
14 Muecke describes the pseudo-victim as follows: the ironist pretends to hold the views he is denying and endeavors to give to his pretence every appearance of plausibility. He presents himself, perhaps, as an earnest simple fellow who says in all innocence what everyone else knows to be absurd (p. 51).
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after his capture: No estéis tan triste, buen hombre, porque
no habéis caído en las manos de algún cruel Osiris,
sino en las de Roque Guinart, que tienen más de compasivas que de
rigurosas (p. 495). With these words Roque does indeed show himself
to be more compassionate than cruel, but he also shows himself to be rather
vague about his mythological references. Roque has confused Osiris with Busiris,
the legendary tyrant of Sicily. The object of irony is Roque's presumption
and his ignorance. Roque, the ironic victim, is confidently unaware that
his expansive self-introduction has been undercut by a malapropism.
Once Roque realizes he is dealing with the famous madman, he is delighted, and like many other characters in Part II, plays with him by imitating him stylistically: Valeroso caballero, no os despachéis ni tengáis a siniestra fortuna esta en que os halláis; que podía ser que en estos tropiezos vuestra torcida suerte se enderezase; que el cielo, por estraños y nunca vistos rodeos, de los hombres no imaginados, suele levantar los caídos y enriquecer los pobres (496). Although the critics have pointed out Roque's compassion in consoling Don Quijote, they have missed the playfulness of his tone and the irony in his variation on the Biblical Magnificat destronó a los poderosos y exaltó a los humildes. The Jehovah of the Psalms does indeed raise up the poor and fallen, but Roque specifies that the poor are enriched. Roque's emphasis is on the economic, and bearing in mind his particular profession, we are prompted to think of the particularly rapid changes in economic fortune which are brought about by the strange and circuitous ways of highway robbery. The ironic object is the proposition that the highwayman's change in fortune is similar to the exaltation of the Biblical downtrodden and poor in spirit. Don Quijote, the ironic victim, is nonetheless consoled, and is about to thank Roque when the arrival of Claudia Jerónima interrupts their conversation.
The story of the young woman who has killed her fiancé, mistakenly believing him to have abandoned her, abruptly changes the tone of the passage. There is an operatic theatricality to the episode, with its compressed plot and sudden disjunctures, its recitatives and cantus interruptus.15 Don Quijote is eclipsed by Roque as the bandit man of action comes forward to protect
Selig's remarks on the rhythm of repeated interruptions during this episode
in his Observations on Roque Guinart.
Claudia Jerónima from the consequences of her tragic mistake. Roque,
furthermore, responds with pathos to the spectacle of human suffering:
Tales y tan tristes eran las quejas de Claudia, que sacaron las
lágrimas de los ojos de Roque, no acostumbrados a verterlas en ninguna
ocasión (p. 499).
Irony is left behind (along with Sancho and Don Quijote) during this operatic interlude. But when Roque returns to camp he finds Don Quijote, mounted on Rocinante, preaching to his men: haciéndoles una plática en que les persuadía dejasen aquel modo de vivir tan peligroso así para el alma como para el cuerpo; pero como los más eran gascones, gente rústica y desbaratada, no les entraba bien la plática de don Quijote (p. 499). The ironic object here is not the substance of Don Quijote's address, but the incompatibility between address and addressee. (Don Quijote's speech before the goatherds on the Golden Age is similarly inappropriate.) The ironic victim here is, of course, Don Quijote, who is confidently unaware that his audience is temperamentally and linguistically incapable of comprehending his message.
Next, Roque orders that all the booty from the most recent robberies be collected and divided up evenly among his men:
Y haciendo brevemente el tanteo, volviendo lo no repartible y reduciéndolo a dineros, lo repartió por toda su compañía, con tanta legalidad y prudencia, que no pasó un punto ni defraudó nada de la justicia distributiva. Hecho esto, con lo cual todos quedaron contentos, satisfechos y pagados, dijo Roque a don Quijote:
Si no se guardase esta puntualidad con éstos, no se podría vivir con ellos.
A lo que dijo Sancho:
Según lo que aquí he visto, es tan buena la justicia que es necesaria que se use aun entre los mesmos ladrones. (P. 500)
The key term in this passage is justicia distributiva. As Silvia Lorente-Murphy and Roslyn Frank have pointed out, the concept of justicia distributiva, Aristotelian in origin, refers to the distribution of goods and rewards by secular authority. But the authors have missed the point that the irony here derives from the incongruity of using a legal term in this context. Whereas it is true that Roque divides the spoils evenly, there is nothing legal or just about the source of this wealth, or Roque's authority in distributing it. Furthermore, as Roque himself confesses to Don Quijote, his impartiality is motivated by expedience rather than any ideal of justice. When Sancho explicitly recovers the irony, Roque's men, who clearly do not appreciate being
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referred to in uneuphemistic terms, express their displeasure by nearly opening
his skull. Sancho resolves to resist any further temptation to ironize.
The ironists in this passage are primarily the narrator, who again creates verbal irony of the euphemistic type, and secondarily Sancho, who perceives and comments on the situational irony. The ironic object is the bandit activity the even if not equitable distribution of booty and the ironic victims the bandits themselves who are at first unaware of, then violently resistant to appreciating the irony of their situation.
The following passage presents a remarkable juxtaposition of pathos and irony. Roque begins by confiding in Don Quijote, stating that in spite of his good inclinations, he feels trapped in a life of outlawry by the cycle of vengeance and feuding: y como un abismo llama a otro y un pecado a otro pecado, hanse eslabonado las venganzas de manera que no sólo las mías, pero las ajenas tomo a mi cargo; pero Dios es servido de que, aunque me veo en la mitad del laberinto de mis confusiones, no pierdo la esperanza de salir dél a puerto seguro (p. 501). Don Quijote is astounded at such well-reasoned arguments: Admirado quedó don Quijote de oír hablar a Roque tan buenas y concertadas razones, porque él se pensaba que entre los de oficios semejantes, de robar, matar y saltear no podía haber alguno que tuviese buen discurso (p. 501, my emphasis). The narrator's attribution of the incongruous phrase oficio de robar to Don Quijote's line of thinking calls to mind the knight's encounter with the galley slaves of I, 22. When he had learned that one of the criminals had been condemned to the galleys for pandering, Don Quijote had proceeded to give a speech in which he described the alcahuete's profession as oficio de discretos y necesarísimo en la república bien ordenada (p. 269). In both cases, there is a peculiar disjuncture in his perception of social delinquency. On the one hand, he seems fully aware of the delinquents' crimes, but on the other hand, he seems willing to see their course of action as an oficio a legitimate office in life. In the case of the galley slaves, Don Quijote's orientation toward the criminals is distorted by his need for them to play a particular role in his own drama. Thus, just as the galley slaves served Don Quijote's desire to find victims in need of succor, Roque serves his desire to find a co-caballero. As his response to Roque makes clear, Don Quijote considers that only a slight adjustment is required to transform Roque from a caballero salteador to a caballero andante. Here, as in the galley slaves episode, Don Quijote's
sympathy toward the criminals is not so much the result of idealism or even
naiveté, as it is of a selective filtering to suit his own needs.
The speech in which Don Quijote consoles Roque and offers hope for his salvation is an excellent example of what Anthony Close has called Don Quijote's sophistry where eloquent ratio-cination disguises, the more effectively to betray, an irrational thesis.16 Don Quijote begins with a syllogism based on an analogy between physical and spiritual health: Señor Roque, el principio de la salud está en conocer la enfermedad y en querer tomar el enfermo las medicinas que el médico le ordena: vuestra merced está enfermo, conoce su dolencia, y el cielo, o Dios, por mejor decir, que es nuestro médico, le aplicará medicinas que le sanen, las cuales suelen sanar poco a poco y no de repente y por milagro (p. 501). Don Quijote continues with what may well be an allusion to the de auxiliis, the debate between the Dominicans and Molinists over predestination and free will. Don Quijote first appears to be taking the side of the Molinists, who argued that all human beings are endowed with equal and sufficient grace, and emphasized the importance of will in attaining salvation. He holds out to Roque the hope for gradual recovery if the bandit will only apply his intelligence and good courage toward his spiritual redemption. But having successfully executed the syllogism, the mad knight appends to it an absurd coda which quickly diffuses the seriousness of a sensitive controversy: y si vuestra merced quiere ahorrar camino y ponerse con facilidad en el de su salvación, véngase conmigo, que yo le enseñaré a ser caballero andante, donde se pasan tantos trabajos y desventuras, que, tomándolas por penitencia, en dos paletas le pondrán en el cielo (p. 502). Again, in identifying the ironic object, we must be careful not to confuse what Don Quijote says with how he says it. I don't believe we can say with any degree of certainty whether Cervantes is being ironic at the expense of the Molinists or the Dominicans he was bold enough in alluding to the controversy at all, since Pope Paul V had officially silenced the debate in 1607. The ironic objects are Don Quijote's logical inconsistency and the proposition that knight errantry is a viable profession, much less a short-cut to heaven. The ironic victim, once more, is Don Quijote, who fails to see the irrelevance of the conclusion to his arguments. Cervantes treats the issue of spiritual conversion here in a realistically inconclusive manner. Roque's fate is problematic; his
Quixote's Sophistry and Wisdom, BHS 55 (1978), 111.
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capacity for heroism, for controlling his violence, for repentance and salvation
are absolutely of the moment unknowable and
The philosophical discussion is interrupted once again as Roque is informed that his men have captured more travellers two infantry soldiers from Naples, two pilgrims, a Regent's wife and her retinue of servants. Roque treats the travellers courteously and takes only part of the money from the Regent's wife, and from the infantry captains. Having collected 140 escudos, he gives two each to his sixty men, and divides the remaining 20 between the pilgrims and Sancho. The relieved travellers are effusive in their praise of the bandit leader: Infinitas y bien dichas fueron las razones con que los capitanes agradecieron a Roque su cortesía y liberalidad que por tal la tuvieron, en
dejarles su mismo dinero. La señora doña Guiomar de Quiñones se quiso arrojar del coche para besar los pies y las manos del gran Roque (p. 503, emphasis mine). And when Roque gives them a letter of safe-conduct addressed to his bandit chiefs, the travellers are overwhelmed: admirados de su nobleza, de su gallarda disposición y estraño proceder, teniéndole más por un Alejandro Magno que por ladrón conocido (pp. 503-04).
It is interesting that this section has produced some of the most extravagant claims for Roque as the Utopian champion of the redistribution of wealth. For example, Lorente-Murphy and Frank write, recauda bienes de entre los que más tienen y los reparte entre los más necesitados. En este sentido, Roque Guinart está invirtiendo [el proceso legal establecido] de manera que sea más proporcional en cuanto al trabajo y necesidades de cada individuo y no en cuanto a su rango social (p. 110).18 It should be observed, however, that Roque's redistribution of wealth is
accomplished here more with an eye for drama than for social justice. Sancho is the fortunate recipient of his ten escudos, porque pueda decir bien de esta aventura. Furthermore, Roque collects 13% of the Regenta's money, and 20% of the infantry captains' funds scarcely a progressive taxation policy, much less a revolutionary one. Once again, the ironic victims have been obscured by a romanticized vision of the generous bandit, in
an indication of the irresolution of this issue, contrast Unamuno's and
Casalduero's interpretations of Roque's
spirituality for Unamuno, Roque is handicapped by his fatalism; for Casalduero Roque's most positive quality is his
trust in God's benevolence.
18 Francisco Olmos García in Cervantes en su época (Madrid: Aguilera, 1968) also holds this view of Roque.
spite of the fact that the irony is explicitly recovered by the narrator,
who emphasizes his divergence from the perception of the travelers with the
words, que por tal la tuvieron. The mention of Alexander the
Great echoes back to the previous burlesque mythological reference to
Busiris, and to the very beginning of the chapter, where Don
Quijote had compared himself, in a similarly grandiose fashion, to Alexander
the Great. The mythological phrase is not meant to elevate Roque, but to
point out the naiveté of those who would do so.
The incident ends on a jarringly violent note. When one of his men complains that Roque's charitable behavior toward the travellers has been purchased at their expense, Roque responds by drawing his sword and nearly splitting the fellow's head in two. His explanation: Desta manera castigo yo a los deslenguados y atrevidos (p. 504). This is the incident illustrated in the Doré engraving discussed at the beginning of this article.
It is difficult to believe that this incident supports the idea of Roque as the enlightened ruler of a mini-state (Selig, The Ricote Episode, p. 75). Rather, it undercuts Roque's own assertion that he is by nature merciful and well-meaning. Roque was the product and exemplar of the endemic violence of seventeenth-century Catalonia. He may have been less brutal than the norm, but neither his self-dramatizing gallantry nor his victims' misplaced admiration for him can disguise the fact that violence is an intrinsic part of his personality. In short, the killing of the impertinent bandit is not a final romantic flourish to the portrait of Roque the justiciero, but rather a stunning and sobering moment of disillusionment. As if to strengthen his point, Cervantes begins the next chapter by recapitulating the danger and anxieties of the bandit's life he trusts no one, and lives in constant fear of the authorities as well as of his own men.
In short, these chapters offer us an extended example of Cervantean euphemistic irony. Here, the narrator substitutes a softened term with positive or inoffensive connotations for a negatively marked explicit term. But he does so not in order to spare the delicate sensibilities of his reader, but rather to exploit, for the delectation of his audience, the incongruity between the two terms. To be an ironic victim in these chapters is to accept the eupheme, be it caballero, capitán, limosnero, or Alejandro Magno, and to forget the cacopheme ladrón conocido. Roque's theatrical gestures and rhetoric by and large succeed in eliciting the desired euphemistic substitution
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from his victim-audience, Don Quijote being his most inspired interpreter.
On the other hand, bandit headquarters is a dangerous place for stubborn
literalists like Sancho and the impertinent bandit.
The Roque chapters belong to that part of the text which was written with Cervantes' knowledge of Avellaneda's spurious continuation. Avellaneda's appropriation of Don Quijote may well have reinforced Cervantes' determination to produce a historically verisimilar text. Roque Guinart is one of the figures of Part II who are representative of the historical moment of 1614. Therefore, the textual and extra-textual are inevitably linked, and the question of an ironic interpretation must be addressed at both levels.
Modern historians have provided us with extensive studies of the political and economic crisis of Catalonia during the Filipine period.19 But in spite of the wealth of primary and secondary sources, it is by no means obvious which extra-textual evidence is relevant. The chapters have been read in the light of a non-conformist Cervantes who, by sympathizing with the rebellious bandits, implies his disaffection with the status quo.20 But if we take Cervantes' portrayal of Roque as problematic, what then becomes of our reading of the political implications of the text?
Perhaps it is presumptuous to expect from Cervantes a coherent political stance on banditry. Even with the benefit of 400 years of hindsight, modern historians admit that the phenomenon was extremely complex. Catalan banditry, it appears, was caused by endemic clan rivalry as much as by the current crisis, which added the destablizing factors of inflation, under-employment, and an influx of refugees from Southern France. Nor did bandits form a coherent social group, since they drew from adventurers and nobles, ex-soldiers, and refugees, as well as the rural and urban poor.21 To the
J. H. Elliott, The Revolt of the Catalans: A Study in the Decline of
Spain (1598-1640) (London: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1963); Pierre Vilar,
La Catalogne dans l'Espagne moderne: Recherches sur les fondements
économiques des structures nationales, Bibliothéque
générale de l'école pratique des hautes études
(Paris: SEVPEN, 1962), I, 579-84; 621-25.
20 Cf. Murillo, who notes, El bandolerismo . . . había adquirido un matiz de rebeldía política y era asunto que preocupaba a muchos, por lo que interesa la actitud tan favorable con que Cervantes retrata al más famoso de los bandoleros (Don Quijote II, 505, note 27).
21 For Catalan banditry see Juan Reglá Campistol, Bandolers, pirates i hugonots a la Catalunya del segle XVI (Barcelona: Ed Selecta, 1969) and El [p. 136] bandolerisme catala, Vol. I: La Historia (Barcelona: Ediciones Ayma, 1962); Vilar, La catalogne, pp. 581-84; Victoria Sau, El Catalán: un bandolerismo espagol (Barcelona: Aura, 1973); and Elliott, pp. 49-112, et passim.
extent that the text offers any interpretation of banditry, I
believe it is more ethnic than socio-political. The Catalans, in a way consistent
with contemporary descriptions, are presented as prone to feuding and obsessed
by jealousy and the desire for revenge. For example, Francisco Manuel de
Melo in his Historia de los movimientos, separación y guerra de
Cataluña en tiempos de Felipe IV (1645) writes that the Catalans
are por la mayor parte hombres de durísimo natural and
en las injurias muestran gran sentimiento y por eso son inclinados
The novel depicts the Gascons still more unfavorably, as coarse, violent and treacherous. Again, this corresponds to contemporary description. In 1614, Fray José Serrano wrote to the King: De las cuatro partes de los bandoleros que perturban la paz pública deste Principado, las tres son de gascones y gente fronteriza de Francia. De manera que atajándose estas invasiones de gascones, queda remediada la mayor y más principal parte de nuestro daño; así porque los bandoleros de la tierra serán muchos menos, como también porque las atrocidades más inhumanas que de ordinario se hacen son hechuras de los gascones.23 Furthermore, the presence of Gascons in Roque's band may indirectly relate the phenomenon of banditry to a religious issue. Many of the Gascons who swelled the ranks of the bandits were refugees of religious wars, who, it was feared, posed a spiritual as well as a physical threat to Catholic Catalonia. By 1615, the Bishop of Vic, writing to the vice-chancellor of Aragon, described Catalonia as on the brink of heresy and revolt: Among [the bandits] are many heretics from France who go round disseminating their errors, and we are afraid that a new sect will arise, and rebellion follow in its wake. If you think this exaggerated, remember the beginnings of Mahomet and Tamburlane, of the Turks and many others.24 Although, through the character of Ricote, Cervantes does directly confront the issue of the expulsion of the Moriscos, he is reticent in
by Unamuno, p. 351.
23 Cited by Luis G. Manegat, La Barcelona de Cervantes (Buenos Aires: Plaza y Janes, 1964), p. 137.
24 Cited by Elliot in English translation, p. 117. Also see Juan Reglá who cites a number of documents from the last decades of the 16th century [p. 137] which voice complaints of the religious atrocities committed by Huguenot bandits (Bandolers, pp. 80-84).
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these chapters about the religious problem posed by the Gascons. It is, of
course, possible to find irony in this silence in the implicit comparison
between the two religious policies of the Crown the official
neglect on the Gascon issue stands in contrast to the zealous expulsion of
the Moriscos, which, Cervantes saw, was enormously costly in human terms.
Cervantes may have been implying that the government was fighting the religious
battle on the wrong front.25 In any case,
it is extremely risky to read beyond the text in search of a programmatic
political target. At best we can point to an awareness of situational irony
the spectacle of a patriotic though partially assimilated Christian
like Ricote returning secretly from exile to his homeland, or the incongruity
of a Molinist/Dominican debate between a bandit and a madman which occurs
in the presence of uncomprehending refugees from religious wars.
It is undeniable, however, that significant extra-textual ironies do revolve around the figure of Roque himself, the historical Perot Rocaguinarda (1582-1645?). He had become in his own lifetime a popular and quasi-literary figure literate priests wrote sonnets about him, and, at a time when bandits were known to wreak devastating damage to life and property, Roque was a marvel because of his relative moderation. A contemporary document affirmed, Este Roca Guinart es el bandolero más cortés que ha habido en muchos años; no se prestaba a claudicaciones, ni deshonraba, ni tocaba a las iglesias, y Dios le ayudó.26 One of the stories which circulated tells how, after dining at an inn with his band of twenty-two men, Roque actually paid the bill of sixty reales! On another occasion, although the bandits did not pay for their meal, Roque prevented his men from filling their saddle bags with additional wine.27 We have no way of knowing if such stories inspired the irony of the robbery victims' extravagant
is Juan Reglá's conclusion that the bandit/Huguenot alliance did indeed
represent a fifth column in terms of Phillip II's struggle against
the Protestants (Bandolers, p. 82). He adds: la continua
pressió dels hugonots pel Pirineu, combinada amb la guerra civil que
els bandolers mantienen sempre encesa a Catalunya, eren un sínmptoma
bel elequent de les debilitats del monarca de l'Escorial dins la seva
própia casa (p. 84).
26 Cited by Manegat, p. 139.
27 Cited by Lorenzo Riber, Al margen de un capítulo de Don Quijote, BRAE 27 (1947-8), 87-89.
praise of Roque, but Cervantes did apparently appreciate certain ironies
inherent in the popular admiration of a highwayman who was less brutal than
might be expected.
We also know that Catalan nobles and magistrates were frequently allied with bandits because of long-standing clan loyalties, and because of clashes between their ancient privileges and the authority exerted by the Castilian administration in its attempt to control banditry in the province. This alliance between bandits and noblemen so prejudicial to the efforts of the Crown is alluded to by the friendship between Roque and Don Antonio Moreno Don Quijote's host in Barcelona.28
Also significant is the fact that at the time of the composition of Part Two, Roque had received an official pardon and was serving a term of 10 years as infantry captain in Naples. The Castilian government, unsuccessful in its efforts to control Catalan bandits, had found it much more expedient to pay them a salary and station them in trouble-spots in the Empire.29
Cervantes shows us Roque anachronistically at the height of his bandit career, robbing two infantry captains from Naples. It is here that we can hypothesize a political object for Cervantes' irony: the ineffectiveness of the government in protecting its highways and citizens, and its hypocrisy in promoting former enemies of the state into defenders of the empire. As Unamuno observed in Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho, the state, in order to maintain justice, institutionalizes violence. With characteristic paradox Unamuno writes, La justicia y el orden nacieron en el mundo para mantener la violencia y el desorden. Con razón ha dicho un pensador que de los primeros bandoleros a sueldo surgió la guardia civil (p. 344). Here we see that the Crown, in the particular form of alternative service it provided for Roque, in effect legitimized the de facto institution of Catalan
historical Roca Guinarda was a friend of Don Alexandre d'Alentorn, Diputat
Militar from 1614-17, and perennial thorn in the side of the royal administration
of the Duque de Albuquerque. See Elliott, pp. 76, 120.
29 There are a number of accounts of situations in which Roque, aided by popular support of an entire town, thwarted and even routed the government troops sent to pursue him. The pardon was signed in 1611, at the beginning of the viceregency of Francisco Hurtado de Mendoza. See Manegat, 131-49. I have been unable to consult the rare biography by Lluís Soler y Teròl, Perot Roca Guinarda, historiá d'aquest bandoler (Manrèsa: Imp. de Sant Josep, 1909.
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banditry. By exposing the disjuncture between humanistic values and the exercise
of arms, Roque Guinart might be called the prime exemplar of the
anti-humanismo de las armas.
In short, I believe that Roque Guinart as a historical figure primarily provided Cervantes with the opportunity to localize his text with an atmosphere of contemporary regional and ethnic color.30 As a focal point for political irony, I do not believe that these chapters exalt the bandits as rebels. It seems more likely that the irony alludes to the administrative inadequacies of the Crown its inconsistent religious policies, its failure to break up the alliance between bandits and a disaffected local nobility, and its cynical solution to endemic banditry. At a more encompassing level, the episode may reflect a general disillusionment with the ideal of military service in a modern state.
The question why Roque Guinart should have inspired such encomia remains. We have seen that the intrinsic romanticism of the bandit reinforced by the images of the Golden Age bandit-saint and transcendental bandit of the 19th century has resulted in an anachronistic intertextuality.
But there are undeniably ways in which the text itself at times predisposes the reader toward Roque. First of all, Roque treats Don Quijote and Sancho well he is indeed courteous and generous toward the protagonists who have already captured the reader's affection. In comparison with the Duke and Duchess, or Don Antonio Moreno, Roque's use of Don Quijote's madness is gentle.
Secondly, Roque has been a sympathetic observer of the tragic story of Doña Claudia. Before the spectacle of the lovers' suffering, Roque sheds tears. Selig has called this an emblematic act indicative of humanity and hope (Don Quijote II, 60, p. 276), and perhaps it
believe that these terms local color and contemporaneity describe
the primary function of the reference to Roque in La cueva de Salamanca,
when the student remarks, robáronme los lacayos o compañeros
de Roque Guinarde, en Cataluña, porque él estaba ausente; que,
a estar allí, no consintiera que se me hicera agravio, porque es muy
cortés y comedido, y además limosnero (Entremeses,
ed. Eugenio Asensio [Madrid: Castalia, 1970], p. 189). As Asensio writes
in his introduction to this edition, Cervantes adapted the folkloric tradition
of his sources, making its situations and characters more contemporary and
hispanic: El nigromante ficticio pertenece al repertorio cómico
internacional. Para darle un barniz castizo, Cervantes le hace salmantino,
supuesto maestro de las artes enseñadas en la mágica cueva,
y le envuelve en una red de referencias contemporáneas: Roque Guinart,
el baile de Escarramán, gesto apicarado (pp. 22-23). Furthermore,
I would argue that an admittedly favorable reference to the bandit made by
a fictional character in this entremés does not preclude Cervantes'
ironic treatment of the same figure in another artistic context.
provides his real link to Don Quijote, or rather to Alonso Quijano el bueno.
Behind the facade of self-dramatization, we are allowed a glimpse of a more
authentic self, compassionate and humane.
Finally, Roque expresses his anxieties and regrets to Don Quijote with engaging honesty. In fact, Roque is sympathetic, not when he is most active, but when he is most reactive when he responds to the plight of others, and when he momentarily contemplates the restlessness of his present life.
But we should be able to recognize all this recognize, as Cervantes did, the attractiveness of this figure without falling into the trap of transforming him into a mythogem. The preceding arguments are sure to have the ring of an attack on the Romantic approach to Don Quijote that continuing critical tendency to exalt the symbolic at the expense of the burlesque elements of the text. But I have tried to proceed with the awareness that the anti-Romantic approach also has its blind spots. What might disparagingly be called a symbolic reading also could be perceived as an attempt to articulate thematic correlations, or to read the microtext as part of the macrotext. If my reading of the Roque episode contributes anything to the ongoing debate between the Romantic and Neoclassical schools of Cervantes criticism, it is that it reminds us that the burlesque is a persistent but by no means consistent element in the composition of Part II. Roque is clearly not the Alejandro Magno of the Regent's wife, nor the potential caballero andante Don Quijote sees in him, nor the tragic hero of the Romantic critics. As a historical and fictional figure, his personality was such that he elicited totally inappropriate projections and idealizations. Attention to textual ironies allows us to see the burlesque in Roque which has been obscured by his Romantic encomiasts.
We should also be aware that although Roque is an ironic figure in the chapters we have been discussing, he is a minor character in a long novel which is drawing to a close. As such, the restless and inconclusive movement of his life stands in contrast to the trajectory of the main character Don Quijote's homeward journey of self-mastery. Like Don Quijote, Roque experiences moments of self-awareness which transcend the limitations of his deforming role. Through these he becomes more than the sum of his ludicrous projections. The sketch of his humanity gains suggestiveness because of his thematic association with Don Quijote. In other words, an ironic reading need not be purchased at the expense of our response to Don Quijote as a novel as a narration of the lives of fictional characters who convince us of their humanity.
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