This lecture covers two of the most important episodes of Part II of the Quixote: the descent into Montesinos cave and Master Peter's puppet show. The first one, on the one hand, engages the main literary topics and sources of the novel. Cervantes, by submitting Don Quixote's fantasies to natural law, questions the belief in the authenticity of the romances of chivalry and the reality of what his protagonist sees. The episode also provides a glimpse into the inner workings of Don Quixote's subconscious: his descent is a harsh look onto himself which, while not completely destroying his beliefs, weakens them seriously, and from now on he will act saner. Master Peter's puppet show introduces again Ginés de Pasamonte, the character who represents the figure of the modern author in both parts of the novel. With Ginés now disguised as a master puppeteer, Cervantes criticizes his contemporary playwright Lope de Vega, but most importantly, through the complex trompe-l'oeil that the puppet show constitutes, Cervantes analyzes the act of mimesis.
De Cervantes, "The Pretended Aunt"
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.