From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 10.2 (1990): 95-100.
Copyright © 1990, The Cervantes Society of America

A New First: An Illustration of Don Quixote as “Le Capitaine de Carnaval”, Leipsig, 1614


Notice of an interesting print engraved in 1613 showing Don Quixote and other members of his carnaval entourage has appeared in Johannes Hartau's Don Quijote in der kunst (Berlin, Gebr. Mann verlag, 1987,14, 16-17). The often mentioned engraved titles to the Paris 1618 DQ II translation by François de Rosset and the London 1620 second edition of Shelton's Part I now lose precedence as the “first” and “second” known graphic representations of our knight and squire. A newcomer steps forward into the spotlight to attract our attention. My article “More on the sadness of Don Quixote: the first known Quixote illustration, Paris, 1618 (Cervantes IX, 1 [Spring, 1989] 75-83) must now be amended, which I do readily, but can also be appended, which I do with no little delight, for I find in this illustration another earlier seventeenth century representation which helps bolster the thesis that even at a time when Cervantes's novel was being “received with laughter”, there was still acceptance by some of the idea of Don Quixote himself as sad.
     The German engraving is found in a book by Tobias Hübner entitled Cartel, Auffzuge, Vers and Abrisse . . . published by Henning


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in Leipsig in 1614. The engraving is by Andreas Bretschneider and bears, as noted above, the date 1613. The print, a copy of which appears in two sections in Hartau's book, shows seven rather grotesque figures dressed in exaggerated, festive, carnival costumes and appearing in procession. The group is led by “El enano” who announces the coming of the knight by blowing his horn; next comes “El cura” who carries a windmill; next “El barbero” who carries a barrel (perhaps representing the wine spilling episode in I, 35); then “La sin vor (par) Dulcinea del Toboso” depicted probably as the ugly peasant girl chosen by Sancho to represent Dulcinea; next comes “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, Cavallero de la Triste Figura”, mounted; next Sancho Pança, mounted on his donkey; lastly, “La Linda Maritornes”. These characters are simply clownish figures of fun and derision as seen in scenes of the Italian Commedia dell'Arte, to be laughed at and even taunted by merry onlookers. Don Quixote appears with a huge ruff collar and plumed hat, carrying a lance and shield. The remarkable feature about him is that his head is lowered upon his chest (or onto his huge collar) in gloom, and his face with eyes somewhat closed, once again, as in the image of Paris 1618, bears a look of sadness. So that we may not mistake this look for any other, the artist reminds us that this is “El Cavallero de la Triste Figura” —not with an “ill favoured” or a “beat up” face, but with an unhappy one.
     The appearance of a sad face on Don Quixote in 1613 is all the more notable since Part II has yet to appear, and it is in Part II, especially after chapter 58, as I have pointed out in another article (“The Three Deaths of Don Quixote,” Cervantes, IX, 2, Fall 1989), that Don Quixote's sadness becomes most pronounced. Bretschneider, perhaps without good reason, decided to take literally, as others must have been doing, the expression “El caballero de la Triste Figura”. In doing so he chose to represent Don Quixote with a sad face. This is not necessarily incongruous. The truism that it is human to laugh at the plight of others stands today as it did in the seventeenth century. Yet there are always those —among these we can consider now a witness on the order of the artist Bretschneider— who though they are able to laugh along with the boisterous crowd, through the laughter can still quietly, perhaps regretfully, take notice of the plight of the sufferer, and maybe even share his suffering to some degree. It may not be so much a case of the “burladores burlados” as it is of the “burladores arrepentidos”. Cervantes himself notes this in the

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cat-scratching episode (II, 46) and in Sancho's suffering after the invasion of his “isle” (II, 53). In each case the mockers, having gone a bit too far with their pranks, regret the outcome of their actions. The Romantics who cried for Don Quixote in the nineteenth century are simply to be included among those supersensitive humans who, despite the laughter, preferred to dwell on the sadness noted, and then to sympathize, and even empathize with the suffering knight.
     I shall not reiterate here the objections I have voiced in addressing those who have insisted that Cervantes's novel is simply funny and that it was the author's intention to make it so. One cannot ignore Cervantes's originally expressed intentions (Prologue, I) and his final statement (II, 74) in which he once again attempts to deflate the value of the chivalric romances. However, this final statement I find to be mechanical and unconvincing, with the bitterness expressed directed more at Avellaneda than at the romances. It seems obvious that the author, toward the end of his work, does recognize the true worth of his character —particularly when his character is contrasted to the Don Quixote portrayed by his rival, Avellaneda— and though he keeps up the appearance of parody and satire, allows Don Quixote finally to die of melancholy, an admission —perhaps reluctant or even out of place— I have suggested, of the tacit acceptance of Don Quixote's idealism. Our protagonist, as Don Quixote or Alonso Quixano, though he has accepted the fact that knights errant have never existed, still seems to pine for the Golden Age. His figure, though taken by the carnival crowd as one for derision, even in the seventeenth century, we can now re-declare, was also one that could be and was by some taken as sad. The image which appears in the title-page of the Paris 1618 II reiterates this. From this base of sadness there ultimately and logically developed the figure of the symbolic, praiseworthy knight errant.


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Digitized with the help of Contessa Marion
Fred Jehle Publications of the CSA HCervantes