The fact that the second part of the Quixote is the first political novel is manifested in several ways. The second part adds (taken from the picaresque novel) geographic concreteness to its realistic portrayal of Spanish life and sociopolitical background to the novel: the episode of the boat shows the contrast between Don Quixote's Ptolemaic obsolete notions of geography and the new Copernican conception of an infinite universe. The duke and duchess represent the Spanish idle upper classes in debt and kept financially afloat through loans, like the Spanish Crown. Don Quixote's debate with the ecclesiastic is a critique of the Church, not of religion. The hunt in the wood was a reproduction of a leisure activity, a sport. The pageant in the forest is a baroque perversion of Dante's Purgatorio (XXVIII-XXX). Dulcinea as a transvestite seems to represent a burlesque manifestation of Don Quixote's repressed inner desire.
Reading assignment: 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.
Course Structure: This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 75 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.