According to González Echevarría, Don Quixote's epic task within the novel is to control his madness by accepting the vanity of his dreams and the futility of his quest. The protagonist's change started with Sancho's enchantment of Dulcinea, and peaked in the cave of Montesinos. Now, he displays his deepened wisdom in the counsel to his squire on how to govern the island of Barataria. The good government of Sancho, together with the fact that the cleverest character in the second part is the steward, reflects a crumbling society: Barataria is related to the breakdown of aristocratic authority and the emergence of the common man as potential ruler. The island, too, like a mock Utopia, is a laboratory of fiction making, in which the steward, who is the author, ironically gets trapped. In a very baroque like inversion, Sancho and Don Quixote endure all the pranks from the duke and duchess with their dignity untouched, proving that the mockers are the ones finally mocked.
- González Echevarría, Cervantes' Don Quixote: A Casebook, pp. 241-264
- Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469-1716, chapter 9
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.