González Echevarría focuses on the end of the Quixote. He starts referring to Cervantes' humor, which allows us to see humanity in contrast to the mad hero and thus appreciate everyone's folly. The novel's plot, with Don Quixote's repeated returns home, suggests that life consists of going and coming back, and this is probably why we approach the end by returning to the beginning. In his last return home Don Quixote has conquered himself. By accepting his defeat by the Knight of the White Moon, who is a reflection of himself, he accepts himself for what he is. In the process of returning, Cervantes has underlined that reality has become fictionalized in Part II independently of Don Quixote. Cervantes is aware that his hero, as we see in Sancho's comments at the last inn, belongs to the great fictions of the ages. The Quixote closes in three ways, corresponding to a three-part conception of the worlds in which Don Quixote lives: Don Quixote is defeated; he regains his sanity; and he dies. Death is necessary in the novel, as it is a form of closure that everyone understands. A reference to Unamuno's, Borges' and Picasso's visions of Don Quixote ends this lecture.
- Borges, Ficciones. New York: Grove Press, 1962, pp. 63-70
- De Cervantes, Persiles and Sigismunda, Prologue
- De Cervantes, Exemplary Stories, "The Deceitful Marriage" and "The Dialogue of the Dogs"
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.