In this part of the Quixote, Cervantes makes a boast of narrative mastery by combining the sequential structure of the chivalric romance with the multiple story design of collections of novellas. The stories invented by the characters, who create meta-characters, lead to the revelation of other stories not being told, or being told obliquely. The relation among all the stories, including the main plot, is predicated on cuts and crisscrossing made possible by traumatic interruptions, which jostle the memory of the tellers and drive them to reveal other stories behind the one they tell, and making them disclose their inner thoughts. Memory is in all cases the key element a repository of recollections from the past and the structuring force of the self in the present. The whole network of stories, itself a superb display of narrative skill and variety, is one of the aims of Renaissance art, announced by the scene in which Dorotea is ogled (in parts) by other characters. As González Echevarría explains, the Quixote leads us again to ask questions that are pertinent and relevant to our lives. Is living the acting out of roles? Are we characters in somebody else's fiction, and if so, are we bound by ethics?
- González Echevarría, Cervantes' Don Quixote: A Casebook, pp. 217-239
- Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, chapter 4
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.