Would have Cervantes deserved such recognition, had he not written the Quixote? The answer is no. However, he would probably be remembered for some of his other works. Two of The Exemplary Stories, significantly connected together, are commented in this lecture. "The Deceitful Marriage" deconstructs marriage both as a social institution and as a narrative tool: Cervantes manipulates literary conventions by beginning with what is normally the end of a story, a marriage, and works backwards to undue a union that never took place legitimately. In "The Dogs Colloquy" we skirt the supernatural idea that dogs can talk. The story is a picaresque autobiography in which the pícaro pretends to be a dog. Perhaps Scipio's life, not told here, could have been another Quixote. The author of a story, it is suggested, does not control the text while it is being read. A short comment on Kafka's parable "The Truth about Sancho Panza" and Borges' story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote precede the end of this last lecture that refers to Cervantes' death. Drawing a parallel between Cervantes' death and that of Don Quixote and Alonso Quijano, González Echevarría reads the dedication to Persiles and Cervantes', and also his own, farewell to this course.
- 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.