From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 12.2 (1992): 149-50.
Copyright © 1992, The Cervantes Society of America

Eduardo Urbina. El sin par Sancho Panza: parodia y creación. Barcelona: Anthropos, 1991.

     Eduardo Urbina's reading of Sancho Panza augurs well as the first monographic study of the Serie Cervantina within Anthropos's collection titled “Hispanistas. Creación, Pensamiento, Sociedad.” The handsome binding and print is easily surpassed by Urbina's lucid and penetrating analysis of Sancho's role in Don Quijote. More specifically, Urbina's study chooses as its “punto de partida y premisa la intención paródica del Quijote, actualizada en la creación de Sancho como personaje” (17). In addition he proposes that a more fitting genesis for Sancho is the pattern established in the squire-dwarf character in the romance of chivalry.
     He critically examines in the introduction (7-16) other readings of Sancho, opining that it is impossible to trace “un análisis válido y coherente de Sancho saltando de episodio a episodio, de parte en parte, sin hacer caso de la imposición de relaciones intertextuales y paródicas” (8). Although one may want to question his use of the term “valid” in literary analysis, by approaching the character Sancho Panza from an intertextual perspective, with a focus on parodic intent, Urbina certainly offers a satisfying and comprehensive reading.
     Chapter 1, “El escudero en la literatura caballeresca” (17-46) begins the process by considering Partida II, Title 21 of Alfonso X's Siete partidas, Llull's Libro de la Orden de Caballería, don Juan Manuel's Libro del caballero y del escudero, as a theoretical base, and proceeds to the role of Ribaldo in Cifar and Gorvalán in Tristán de Leonís. From these texts he devises a taxonomy of squireship and in Tirante el Blanco he finds that various squires offer specific characteristics which, selectively combined, form Sancho's character.
     In Chapter 2 (47-84) we come to Sancho's closest forerunner, “Gandalín modelo paródico,” as the title indicates. Here Urbina's reader will slap his or her forehead (reader may choose) and exclaim “Of course!” If don Quixote models himself after Amadís, would it not only be natural for Sancho to model himself, at least tacitly, after Amadís' squire? Although major similarities and disparities between both squires exist, a major fountain of parodic waters springs from Sancho's self-interest as compared with Gandalín's essential selflessness as regards Amadís. Urbina skillfully wades in


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these waters when he treats Sancho in the 1605 and the 1615 versions of Don Quijote, chapters 3 (85-134) and 4 (135-90), respectively. A conclusion (191-94), bibliography (195-205), and index (207) round out the contents.
     As regards the Arthurian dwarf, the characteristics that Sancho shares with Ardián of Amadís include 1) a grotesque appearance, 2) a comic function, 3) ignorance, and 4) being mounted on a lesser beast (palafrén/rucio) than is their knight. Ardián, Urbina points out, is as loyal to Amadís as is Gandalín. Sancho is the opposite of Gandalín except in dedication and fidelity to the master. The parodic power invested in the dwarf, however, unleashes a new demythifying esthetic that opens the way to exploration of the paradox that sustains him, that paradox consisting of the dwarf being beyond the confines but still dependent on “‘the support of the social group to which he belongs’ (Welsford, art. cit., 55)” (76). Sancho fits into this mold.
     Earlier Urbina elucidates the common love-honor conflict as central to chivalrous adventures in which a triangular relationship is established between the knight, lady, and squire. Gandalín, for example, waits for Amadís to satisfy his love interest in Oriana so that the chivalrous, the honor adventure can occur. Gandalín becomes superfluous once Oriana is possessed. Herein lies a major difference between the two works, for, since Dulcinea is non-existent, Sancho can never lose his function as squire, with all its ramifications. Urbina ably summarizes the differences synoptically as follows:

Amadís de Gaula revela el siguiente patrón: conocimiento y unión de la pareja; separación; intervención del escudero; disminución del esudero; unión de la pareja. En el Quijote observamos, en cambio: concepción de la dama; intervención del escudero; separación de la pareja; disminución del caballero; unión de la nueva pareja don Quijote-Sancho. (137)

Urbina spends the rest of his study ably explaining and elucidating the various ramifications of this paradigm.
     Although previously published studies by Urbina inform several sections of this inquiry, the entire venture forms an integrated work of considerable scholarly merit in which Urbina reveals himself to be not only a sensitive reader of the Quijote, but also a master of expounding his insights. Urbina's reading has clarified several puzzlements I have had regarding Cervantes' magnum opus. Although I cannot say that Urbina's assessments always persuade (“Don Quijote y Sancho comparten un mismo estado, la locura —simpleza en el escudero—” [92], for example), his readings are more often convincing than not and really merit reading themselves.
     The few typographical errors do not detract from the impact of the author's thesis, a thesis that will offer fertile ground for furthering that bittersweet “différance.”

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