The professor introduces himself and the course. He starts by explaining the reasons why Don Quixote is a masterpiece and its place and relevance in the history of Western literature. He then comments on the proper pronunciation of the word "Quixote" and the reasons for the mispronunciations in French and English. A full explanation of the real title of the work (El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha) follows, along with some key clarifications about the language of the book and a few basic notes on historical and cultural background. González Echevarría then moves on to the present, commenting on Don Quixote's legacy in the Western world, proved by the use of words such as "quixotic," and the success of its myth up to the present. He finishes his lecture by going back to its beginning, referring to the reasons for the endurance of this work, which relies on its deep questioning of the human self. The session ends with an overview of the syllabus.
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.