The lecture focuses on the ending of the first part of the Quixote, which for the seventeenth-century reader was, simply, the end because no second part existed yet or was envisioned. Probably because it represents a difficult process (since the Quixote is not an ordinary story with a clear beginning) the end is already contained in the prologue, which also works as an epilogue echoing the characteristics of the meta-novel. With this in mind, González Echevarría comments on episodes that constitute partial endings: the caging of Don Quixote, and the prophecy contrived by the barber foretelling a possible ending for Don Quixote's fantasies. The conversation among Don Quixote, the priest and the canon of Toledo, who ironically is the "idle reader" from the prologue and a critic of chivalric romances, explores the multiple possibilities of the romances of chivalry, which Cervantes follows in his novel, with the Poetics of Aristotle in the background. The episode is also a critique of Lope de Vega and his innovative plays. Here is one of the great ironies in literary history: that Cervantes, while being wildly original in narrative fiction, was exceedingly conservative in the theater. Don Quixote's arrival at his village has made him madder; it is now the space of the uncanny and the unfamiliar.
- Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, chapter 5
- De Cervantes, Exemplary Stories, "Rinconete and Cortadillo"
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.