Three issues related to the impending end of the novel define this lecture. The first one is improvisation, as we see it in the confluence of actual geography with current historical events: the expulsion of the moriscos, and the Turkish and Huguenots menaces. With the story of Ricote, a kind of morisco novel in a nutshell, Cervantes provides a smorgasbord of narrative possibilities, and presents the consequences that political decisions have on common people. The second issue is the international dimension that the novel acquires with the episode of Roque Guinard and the entrance in Barcelona. The third issue is the influence that art or literature has on reality: the prank organized by the duke and duchess makes possible the marriage of dueña Rodríguez's daughter. Fiction, Cervantes seems to be suggesting, affects reality and improves it. Finally, Sancho's fall into the pit, a parody of the episode of his master in the cave of Montesinos, makes the squire an equal to Don Quixote as the novel progresses.
Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, chapter 10
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.