From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America
16.2 (1996): 120-27.
Copyright © 1996, The Cervantes Society of America
Indiana Journal of Hispanic Literatures 5 (Fall 1994): Magical Parts: Approaches to Don Quixote. Eds. Edward H. Friedman (Introduction) and James A. Parr (AFTERWORD / AFTERWARD). 333 pp.
The quijotista / Quixotist hungry for
learning is advised to approach this smörgåsbord leisurely; such
a gourmet can anticipate teasing his palate, but the hurried gourmand will
only traumatize his paunch. Ingest slowly, digest at ease. Read Friedman's
menu, the guide to your plaice in the Quixote or to your currant
interests, and save room for the Parr-fait dessert.
Agreed, despairing reader, enough of this ludic antiphony to serious scholarship (Friedman 12), but I did mean to catch your eyes and to convey the ideas of the bountiful variety here offered and the general satisfaction of consuming it. Don Quixote's birth, life, death. Love, justice foolery. Celestina, Lazarillo, Huckleberry Finn. Sancho, primo, Camacho. Dulcinea, Lady Honoria Dedlock, Molly Bloom. All this and more, with obfuscatory lexemes mostly left by the wayside and the pleasures of rereading and rewriting so many magical parts very much in evidence.
In Cervantes's Rhyming Dictum on Celestina: Vita artis gratia or Ars vitae gratia? (19-36), Anthony J. Cárdenas takes up El Donoso's versos de cabo roto regarding Celestina libro, en mi opinión, divi-, / si encubriera más lo huma- interpreted by two camps: those which maintain that these lines inveigh against the lasciviousness of Celestina and those which maintain that they stress the artistic element of Cervantes's Literaturanschauung (19). Bringing to bear several critical opinions, Cárdenas observes what might be called the contrast between floodlighted reality and the gauzy lens of art, as when, for example, as opposed to Calisto's graphic comment to Melibea (Señora, el que quiere comer el ave, quita primero las plumas), the most delicate of terms reveals Dorotea's capitulation to Fernando (21,22). Considering Quixote's nighttime discovery of Maritornes' beauty, with its potential for the crassness seen in Celestina, emphasis rests in the ironic transformation of the real to the ideal (23). Given the name Donoso, the reader expects his work to be of ingeniosa invención (29); so also is the tale of Don Quixote, a central, conscious theme of which is the power of art to tranform [sic] life (28).
Carmen Vega Carney, in Righting Wrongs:
Don Quixote and the Rhetoric of Justice (37-55), investigates
the principal conceptions of justice that are staged in Don
Quixote [which] are natural law and the law of the state, the two
giving rise to a conflict because each concept, one divinely inspired
and the other worldly, leads to differing outcomes in the administration
of justice (37). Sending felons to the galleys and setting them
free, for example, are two modes of adjudication which simply cannot coexist:
an act of justice by Don Quixote is accompanied by either breaking
the law or by making evident that formal justice is required to correct a
social injustice (41). Natural law holds sway in much of Part I whereas
in Part II it is found only in the episode with Roque Guinart, the
mimetic representation of the motif of righting wrongs [. . .]
accomplished by the bandit Roque, rather than by our hero; distributive law
emerges as a topic for dramatic representation, as well as canon law
(49). Quixote's declining use of archaic language imitates the gradual
disappearance of the primacy of natural law, as when he speaks to the brayers'
squadron: Rather than using the rhetoric of chivalry to settle the
dispute, he proceeds to apply logic and persuasive speech. [. . .]
The hero is becoming more like those who surround him (44). Returning
to Alonso Quixano's prosaic world is Quixote's (thus Cervantes') specific
disavowal of the archaic value system (50).
A holistic tree image and Plotinus's concept that places man on an ascending ladder between his lower physical roots and his higher godly nature (127) are major considerations in Don Quixote as Lover: A Neoplatonic Paradigm (127-44) by José L. Gallegos who sees this love as more akin to communication than a feeling of affection towards others (133). Thus Quixote's chivalric ideal is limited by the reality of social conventions and is tempered by his genuine concern for Sancho, whereas Marcela displays no sympathy for Grisóstomo, evidence that extreme or unbalanced idealism can stunt psychic growth (135). Inherent in Quixote's career is the transformation [. . .] from a purely Platonic idealist to a more compassionate human (140), leading from the chivalric quest in Part I to a serious discourse on the symbolic meaning of love and knighthood in Part II (141).
Marion F. Freeman looks at The Cave of Montesinos and Camacho's Wedding: Text and Intertext (91-103) not so much interested in what these episodes mean [. . .] as in how they mean (91) and begins with a list of eight common elements though there are significant differences (92). Central is Sancho's body-bound role in the wedding versus the spiritual, interior, and subterranean workings of Don Quixote's mind at a critical moment in his knightly adventures (94); the latter begs more attention here. The conclusion: the Camacho-Quiteria-Basilio encounter is an intertext for the subsequent episode of the Cave, effecting a transposition of the first narrative [. . .] from one mode, one literary realm, into another (100).
On the first page of They Say That . . . You Can Read That . . . (II, 44): On Origins in Don Quixote (237-49), James A. Parr refers to the logocentric world-view in which writing is a supplement to the original form of communication, speech or orality. In the pages to follow he traces a sort of which-came-first sequence, the chicken or the egg?, the written or the spoken word?, as he digs
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down to the opening of Part II, chapter 44, to find that What is being
highlighted [. . .] is the misguided search for a center for
origins, or sources, part of a larger pattern of parodying the
fruitless search for sources, origins, beginnings, and firsts (243,
244). There are moments in this essay, however, when Parr appears to denegrate
the primacy of orality: This analeptic prolepsis of epistemological
excess travesties the impossible dream of hermeneutic grounding, insinuating
the prospect of a mise en abyme or infinite regress, enhancing
exponentially the instability of the text discussed so perceptively by
Jay Farness differentiates Clown and Jester in Don Quixote (57-80), the first preeminent in Part I, the second in Part II, principally due to the intervention of the duques: the lowlife festival [in Part I, akin to the Saturnalia] has crossed into its imitation in courtly entertainment; a more immediate presentation of festive motives has become their elaborate representation according to the carefully calculated but inexplicit motives of official art and power (62). There's no love lost for the self-indulgent aristocrats: their masques feel overdone and overworked, just as, inversely, the hospitality of the great house seems at time mean, illiberal, and cost-conscious, literally so for Governor Panza (67). Farness aptly lays bare the attendant humiliation of inferiors: The court, though seemingly oblivious to vulgar affairs, is enthralled by lower interests, not by higher aspirations, by the crash of Clavileño, not by its flight (75).
Yvonne Jehenson introduces the question of the Erasmian humanism of Cervantes in Don Quijote and Sancho: The Wise and the Foolish (181-93) with the guidance of Alban K. Forcione's Cervantes and the Humanist Vision and Antonio Vilanova's 1949 edition of Erasmo y Cervantes (181). She wishes
to show that despite the very real character changes scholars have attributed to the knight and his squire the Quijote ends as it begins. Don Quijote is, at the end, the same zealous reader who [. . .] simply thinks too much and merely changes his reading habits [. . .], and Sancho remains the carefree, shrewd peasant who thinks not at all and is glad to relinquish his temporary Quixotic idealism for the materialistic and profitable life of the Erasmian Fool which he really is (181-182; cf. 191-92).
Of note is her term unreal conditionality in reference to the
repeated avoidance of threatened calamities: Through linguistic expressions
such as if it were not for, had it not been that,
the disaster imminent in the knight's actions is attenuated (185),
thus enabling Don Quijote and Sancho to have time to develop a progressive
regard for each other and to lessen the extreme penchants that characterize
them initially (186).
Carroll B. Johnson reviews A Gallery of Decadents: Society in Don Quijote, Part II (195-211). The duques, of course, she beautiful on the outside and literally rotten on the inside (202) and he inhibited from playing his social role because he is in debt to his vassal (203), amongst other failings. How many others to whom Don Quixote emerges as morally superior (196)? Roque Guinart: Honor, agravio and venganza are all negatively charged. They oppose chivalry
and enderezar tuertos, as Roque opposes Don Quijote (202). The
grave eclesiástico: the narrator predisposes us to dislike
this man even before he condemns himself out of his own mouth (197).
The primo, Humanist in name only, betrayed by the pedestrian
quality of his mind (198). The translator of Le Bagatelle, as
worthless a compilation as the Ovidio español. Lastly Don Diego
de Miranda whose mode of hunting described in his unremittingly
smug and self-satisfied self-portrait (206) betrays his conscious
renunciation (my phrase) of the expectations of his social rank, a nominal
caballero astride a dappled mare.
In the first paragraph of Character as Caricature: Don Quixote and the Distorted Image (225-36), Doreen M. O'Connor is forthright: Finding an adequate definition of caricature might resemble the search for the leaden box containing parchment records of future adventures alluded to in the final chapter of Part I of Don Quixote. She examines its artistic origin in Italy around 1600; the tendency to emphasize the peculiarities of a subject became an effective vehicle for pictorial satire. In a literary text, as in art, caricature operates by exaggerating and distorting an individual's prominent features and characteristics (226). Amadís, then, is caricatured by Quixote in Part I; in Part II he is himself a living caricature [. . .] and is perceived as such by those who have read of his adventures (227). The duques receive their due here also: the cats episode is not only humiliating and cruel, but extends beyond that to border on the grotesque (231); these decadents and Altisidora are so engaged in seeking their jollies that they have overlooked the chivalric ideals which could be the corrective of their lives were they to see straight. One might memorize O'Connor's last sentence: The distorted image has become a mirror for distortion (233).
Roberto Véguez presents Pedagogy for the Oppressor: The Role of the Grave Ecclesiastic in the Ducal Episodes of Don Quixote, Part II (309-21). The effect of the narrators' initial description of the grave (II, 31) is to predispose the readers towards a negative evaluation of whatever may follow related to the ecclesiastic (309). Our protagonists' experiences in the ducal pleasure dome show that nobility, generosity, and a Christian approach to others are in very short supply, as can be shown by comparing some of the characteristics of court knight itemized by Don Quixote [II, 17] with actual happenings (312). A faithful reader must apply this same retroactive elucidation (317) to come to full grips with Cervantes' intentions. When, for example, Quixote and Sancho leave the palace after the second stay and Benengeli considers the duques very close to looking like fools themselves when they took such pains to make fun of a pair of fools (II, 70), not only must the reader review the elaborate jests and the character of the perpetrators, but also determine whether he or she has failed to see, beyond the laughter, the multiple levels of signification, the layered approach to the story and the main characters (319).
If the reader is undecided as to whether our hero's [terminal] illness is the logical consequence of the exhausting life he has led in pursuit of his adventures, or if, on the contrary, it is attributed exclusively to divine will (81), Juan Fernández Jiménez briefly confronts that indecision in Anticipation and Meaning in Don Quixote's Death (81-90). Cervantes, once decided to end his protagonist's life, provides anticipations thereof, but In reality, and in spite of
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enunciations that might make us believe the contrary, Alonso Quixano does
not repent of his past as Don Quixote (84). Thus it is that
Cervantes achieves a marvelous artistic creation at the end of his
masterpiece, in which he makes his protagonist die so that he can live forever
in the world of literary fiction (87).
For Lee Daniel Snyder in The Non-Processional Procession in Don Quixote (279-289), Quixote's encounter with the four saints' images (II, 58) presents a deeper message than a first reading might suggest. There is a meaningful contrast with the procession of the penitents (I, 52) which suggests Erasmus and his critique of the cult of the saints (282). Whereas Sts. George, Martin, and James are seen as representing the moral characteristics of knighthood, compassion, generosity, and courage (284), the matter of St. Paul is less straightforward; his presence as a sub-text, however, does speak to a number of thematic issues raised by Don Quixote, principal among them freedom (285-86). His conversion may be seen as foreshadowing Quixote's own and, had Avellaneda not impertinently intruded upon Cervantes' plan, Alonso Quixano the Good might well have appeared sooner, following the trampling by the bulls (280).
Besides the works cited in his title Madness and Community: Don Quixote, Huarte de San Juan's Examen de ingenios and Michel Foucault's History of Insanity (213-24) Brian McCrea takes up Teresa Scott Soufas's Melancholy and the Secular Mind in Spanish Golden Age Literature as he corrects visions of Quixote's madness: Huarte's is acceptable (he understands madness to be caused by a preponderance of heat in the individual, a preponderance leading to excessive, if sometimes instructive, imaginativeness ), the others self-contradicting. While Foucault claims that in the Renaissance madness is an undifferentiated experience, Spanish society offers powerful evidence against that generalization (215). Soufas treated melancholy, to be sure, but perhaps unwittingly reinstituted the categories she would discredit: she so blurs the distinction between choler and adust melancholy [Otis H. Green's El Ingenioso Hidalgo was her target] [. . .] that it becomes relatively insignificant (216). McCrea's basic argument is that the knight is not incarcerated; particularly in Part II Cervantes places Quixote in communities which adapt to, even as they enjoy, his madness (219). Thus he is accepted in homes, not asylums, and is free to depart, leaving behind memories of the fun his locura entreverada spawned.
Edward H. Friedman introduces Executing the Will: The End of the Road in Don Quixote (105-25) succinctly: Near death, [Quixote] claims to see the light of reason. The spiritual path replaces the earthly course, the knightly quest, and he returns to God's text (105). But the physical demise has a twist: death becomes the culmination of a progression toward self-knowledge and, at the same time, and somewhat ironically, proof of the superiority of the deluded character over his unimaginative double (107). He diligently retraces Quixote's steps towards his Quixanessence (my word) and, after noting that the key to Part II seems to be the shift from the books of chivalry to Cervantes's book as the primary element of the intertext, he declares that Don Diego de Miranda, the most conspicuous non-reader of the first part, is sound of mind but of only
negligible interest (119). Careful reading and meditation lead to this
perceptive statement: The writer begins by killing his poetic predecessors
and ends by killing his creation. In the middle is an expansive critical
space, the space of art as mirror to nature and to itself (121).
John Incledon's Textual Subversion in Lazarillo de Tormes and Don Quixote (161-80) sees Cervantes' own disillusioning experiences as inspiration for much in the Quixote; it and Lazarillo are alike in being dangerous to the authorities in power and dangerous to the authors who penned them (162). Without the shield of anonymity, Cervantes had to be cleverer, choosing to mask his subversive intent by displacing his indictment of [the] militant, imperial ideology with an indictment of the tamer, literary phenomenon of the romances of chivalry (171). Incledon investigates the Oedipal subtext (164) in Lazarillo and reveals how the author's subversive impulse has a discernibly Oedipal character which ends with a sly denunciation of the Archpriest (167). He applies to the Quixote Freud's displacement theory, the mechanism by which unacceptable ideas [. . .] are turned into acceptable, albeit difficult to understand, dream images (173). Hence the topic of the pernicious libros de caballerías serves to shelter a stinging indictment of Spain's political ideology and its vision of empire, the point of departure for Part I (173).
Mary Power offers Myth and the Absent Heroine: Dulcinea del Toboso and Molly Bloom (251-61), the one a perfect spiritual being whose province is pure love and the ideal, the other terrestrial and humorous and perhaps no better than she should be (251). There are several points of contact, even small ones, like the names Marion / Tweedy (Molly) and Dulcinea / del Toboso giving a mixed message. The first name elevates and the second deflates ironically (255). And finally they triumph as heroines because they have assumed the significance of myth (260). To say, however, that Quixote never visualizes [Dulcinea] at all (256) is to overlook the description (admittedly stereotypical) which he gives señor Vivaldo, including the unseen: what modesty conceals from sight is such, I think and imagine, as rational reflection can only extol but not compare (87, the Ormsby translation Power cites).
In Don Quixote and Huckleberry Finn: Points of Contact (145-60) Robert V. Graybill lists twenty-four categories of analogies between the two, from mathematical jokes to slapstick, buffoonery, and incremental horseplay (147-48). Perhaps each author should have considered another genre: The preoccupation with dramaturgical devices in Don Quixote suggests that Cervantes should have written a play. The resolution of dilemma through tragic sacrifice in Huckleberry Finn suggests that Mark Twain also should have been writing drama (147). But there are jarring notes which leave one wondering how carefully the Quixote was read. For example, masks are considered disguises for Don Fernando and Luscinda (153), forgetful that the Ormsby translation employed explains at the moment of their arrival at the inn that travelers' masks were worn to protect the face from sunburn and dust (286, n. 2; cf. also 62, n. 3). And how much umbrage would Montemayor, Gil Polo, Cervantes, et al., take at this?: the whole pastoral tradition seems filled with disappointed lovers escaping to the fields to tup sheep behind a bush (156).
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Too much sex in novels? Without it there would
be none, Walter Reed inventively explains in Don Quixote: The
Birth, Rise and Death of the Novel (263-78): The novel is born,
again and again, whenever polite literature, vulgar fiction and true history
forget their proper places and mix it up between the covers, hard covers
or paperback ones (265). Ian Watt suffered from an Anglocentric
vision (266) as he tried to plot the history of the novel; Michael
McKeon gave more time to Cervantes (and Richardson and Fielding), but the
rise of the novel is prefigured in the character and plot of Sancho Panza
(267), to flourish due to the enforced leisure of the middling ranks
of Spanish society in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries
(268). Its death comes at the hands of its readers: The
death which haunts the second part of Don Quixote is the story of
the fate of the genre itself as it pursues an ever wider circle of readers
and thus loses, in the process, its authority to declare the proper meaning,
the proper value, even the proper facts, belonging to its characters, conflicts
and plots (272 and discover p. 275 for yourself).
Robert ter Horst, The Spanish Etymology of the English Novel (291-307), characterizes Siglo de Oro poetry as a collector's item, driven and kept out of the hands of the multitude so that it can express a restricted, potent, and constant standard of value. [. . .] The economy of the novel is, in contradistinction, based on convertibility (291). Thereupon he traces the novel from Lazarillo and Guzmán de Alfarache through to the twentieth century as a genre which owes its existence to the emergence of a new economic personality whose unauthorized and illicit motivations bar her or him from a poetic past that did not choose to grant any kind of validity to the pursuit of profit or gain (294). Defoe. Scott, notably The Fortunes of Nigel. Dickens: at the end [he] came to write the eucharist of finance (303). The course of the novel's derivation [from the Spanish novel] is so unobvious as to be a whole new philology awaiting discovery (304).
Products of an NEH summer institute convoked in 1989 at the Arizona State University, Tempe, the principal instructors Friedman and Parr, these nineteen essays attest to the wide range of interests of some of the academics in attendance, essayists who, as Friedman states in his Introduction (12), here encode themselves into the text; we see them as readers viewing readers, as writers engaged in deciphering a writer's game. The instructors should be heartened by the generally high level of the results of this interactive interplay they prompted.
In Parr's AFTERWORD / AFTERWARD he comments on six monographs which appeared in the period 1990-1992; I have chosen one excerpt from each:
The Indiana Journal of Hispanic Literatures is to be commended for giving us the opportunity to have before us these essays which should prompt the reader to (re)examine his or her approaches to the Quixote. One's own experience at each reading of this book seems always to reveal something new; reading of others' such experiences can of course be equally revealing and instructive. Miren también un nuevo caso que ahora sucede, quizá no visto jamás. said Maese Pedro's muchacho (II, 26), words most appropriate even for inveterate investigators of the magic of Cervantes' masterpiece.
|Robert L. Hathaway|
||Prepared with the help of Sue Dirrim||
|Fred Jehle email@example.com||Publications of the CSA||HCervantes|