González Echevarría continues from the end of his last lecture by referring to the self invention and self legitimation of Don Quixote, which is the most innovative aspect of the book. The main character is, as it is suggested in the famous first sentence of the book, beyond family and social determinisms, hence literature appears as a realm for wit and a capacity for invention, breaking with the previous literary tradition and with its predecessors. Perspectivism is expressed in the novel through various linguistic fluctuations, regional differences, and spaces such as the inn, which becomes a key place in the novel by providing an archaeology of society. The first episodes of the Quixote, from the first sally to the first adventure with Sancho, show the gap between literature and reality by probing into Don Quixote's very particular madness which refuses to recognize and accept social conventions. Cervantes' literary techniques, such as dialogue, and the presence of his squire blur the differences between fiction and reality, and ultimately question our beliefs and view of the world.
- González Echevarría, Cervantes' Don Quixote: A Casebook, pp. 3-33
- Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, chapter 1
The course facilitates a close reading of Don Quixote in the artistic and historical context of renaissance and baroque Spain. Students are also expected to read four of Cervantes' Exemplary Stories, Cervantes' Don Quixote: A Casebook, and J.H. Elliott's Imperial Spain. Cervantes' work will be discussed in relation to paintings by Velázquez. The question of why Don Quixote is read today will be addressed throughout the course. Students are expected to know the book, the background readings and the materials covered in the lectures and class discussions.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 75 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.