Don Quijote of La Mancha

Don Quijote of La Mancha. Don Quixote is Cervantes’ masterpiece and one of the most admirable creations of the human spirit. It is a perfect caricature of chivalric literature , and its two main characters , Don Quixote and Sancho Panza , embody the two types of the Spanish soul , the idealist and dreamer, who forgets the needs of material life to run after inaccessible chimeras, and the positivist and practical, although quite fatalistic. This appreciated jewel of Castilian literature has managed to conquer the entire world , and it is perhaps, with The Bible, the work that has been translated into more languages , becoming its characters, true archetypes of universal category.


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  • 1 Synopsis of the masterpiece
  • 2 Theory of the novel
  • 3 Genesis and continuations
  • 4 The two parts
  • 5 Author data
  • 6 Sources

Synopsis of the summit work

Don Quixote represents the highest peak of Cervantes’ literary creation and is located light years from his poetry , his theater and even from the other long novels , La Galatea and Persiles included. Although he liked to offer it to us as “the story of a dry and countersunk son”, perhaps conceived in ” prison “, it is considered, for sure, as the first universal novel of all time .

Novel theory

This magnificent conception of the literary or the narrative does not depend at all on rhetorical precepts, as it happened in the theater , nor on the fashions of the moment, as can be seen in “La Galatea”, since the ” novel ” was not encoded in the poetics of the moment and there is nothing previous comparable to the history of the old gentleman:

” full of various thoughts and never imagined of any other ”

(I, “Prologue”)

On the contrary, the design emerges from life itself: the approaches are basically the result of the musings of the old commissioner of supplies, experienced, disappointed, tired, unsuccessful …, with the right forces to bet on a dream world but well aware that ” dreams , dreams are”. For this reason, the Cervantes theory of the novel – there is no better explanation for Don Quixote – is scattered throughout his works and does not go beyond an unsystematic series of loose appraisals.

Summarizing a lot, Cervantes conceives the novel as a poetic story: it is not necessary to strictly adhere to the truth of the facts:

” The feigned stories are as good and delightful as they come to the truth or the likeness of it, and the true stories are better the truer they are ”

[Quixote, II, 57]

But the plausibility can never be exceeded; just refer “what could be”, as crazy as it may seem

” That then the lie satisfies / when it seems true and is written / with grace, that to the discreet and simple postpone “,

[Journey of Parnassus, IV]

And it must be partially absurd, since admiration is the second indispensable requirement, always respecting the sacrosanct Horace precept of the prodesse et delectare:

” Let the lying fables be married to the understanding of those who read them, writing in such a way that, facilitating the impossible, paving the greatness, suspending spirits, admire, suspend, exhilarate and entertain, so that the admiration and joy together, and all these things cannot be done by the one who runs away from verisimilitude and imitation, in whom the perfection of what is written consists ”

(Quixote, I, 47)

In addition, the organicity of the whole will have to be safeguarded, although subject to the baroque principle of unity in variety:

” I have not seen any book of chivalry that makes a whole fable body with all its members, so that the means corresponds to the beginning, and the end to the beginning and the middle; but they compose them with so many members, that it seems more than they intend to form a chimera or a monster than to make a proportionate figure ”

(Q1, 47)

In short, linguistic decorum will crown this commitment between life and literature , providing a polyphony never reached until the beginning of the 17th century .

In any case, then, the starting point is epic, even chivalrous, since no other genre would have endured the breadth of pursued sights.

” because the unleashed writing of these books makes it possible for the author to be epic, lyrical, tragic, comic, with all those parts that contain in themselves the most sweet and pleasant sciences of poetry and oratory , that the epic can also be written in prose as in verse “,

Quixote, I, 47

But the conception is radically different, even parodic:

” it seems to me, this genre of writing and composition falls below that of the fables they call milesias, which are crazy tales ”

(Quixote, I, 47)

Now it was a matter of inventing a new epic, augmented in the most daily reality and marinated with the imagination of an “old madman”, who was destined to become, simply, the pattern of the “modern novel”.

Genesis and continuations

Considered as a whole, Don Quixote offers a rather simple, unitary and well-tied anecdote: a La Mancha nobleman, maddened by chivalrous readings , thinks he is a knight-errant and leaves his village three times in search of adventure, always authentic nonsense, up to who returns home sick and regains his mind.

However, the plot as a whole is not designed in one fell swoop, but responds to a long creative process, of about twenty years, somewhat winding and uneven: it is possible that Cervantes did not even imagine at the beginning what the The final result may even be that he first thought of writing a ” short novel “, in the manner of copies, which would grow in time with his literary elaboration:

” Now I say,” said Don Quixote, “that the author of my story has not been wise, but some ignorant talker, who, by touch and without any speech , began to write it, whatever comes out, as Orbaneja did ”

(QII, 3)

If so, the “primitive plan” would not go beyond a short novel, expanded during the course of creation until it ended in the long novel of 1605 , then continued in the second part of 1615 . Therefore, three clearly delimitable creative moments can be distinguished:

  • Exemplary novel. Based on the hors d’oeuvres of the romances (an unhappy farmer, Bartolo, maddened from reading romances, becomes a soldier and, accompanied by his squire Bandurrio, goes out in search of adventure. He tries to defend first a shepherdess, who is being harassed by a shepherd, but the latter takes away his spear and beats him: Bartolo remembers the romance of the Marquis of Mantua (when his family tries to help him, he identifies himself with the Marquis of Mantua), he would understand the first seven chapters of the first part. That would explain the capricious division into chapters, whose titles (especially, 3-4 and 5-6) cut off what seems to be a straight line.
  • The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote of La Mancha. After that start, the incorporation of Sancho, the Arabic manuscript and the invention of Cide Hamete are used to expand the Quixotic follies to fill the fifty-two chapters, divided into two exits (10: 1-7; 20: 8-52) and in four parts: 10 (1-8), 20 (9-14), 30 (15-27) and 40 (28-52). Enlargement serves two basic guidelines: a) new adventures organized in sarta (8-22: mills of wind, viacaíno, flocks, fulling mills, Mambrino’s helmet, galleys, etc.), and b) concentric expansion around the sale (23-47: Cardenio and Luscinda, Don Fernando and Dorotea, The curious impertinent, the captive, etc.) , perfectly set by the stay in Sierra Morena. However, the continuation was hastily restructured, leaving numerous organizational imbalances throughout the first part, as Stagg well studied: some epigraphs do not correspond to the fictional subject matter (10), the story of Grisóstomo and Marcela, first located in the Chapter 25, is interpolated between Chapters 11 and 14, which causes the passages dedicated to the robbery and the discovery of the Sancho dapple to disappear, to be later added – out of place – in the second edition.
  • Second part of the ingenious knight Don Quixote de la Mancha. Although Don Quixote was not conceived as the first part, its success explains this continuation, now perfectly and patiently designed as the third outing, never losing sight of the layout of the first volume: a) new adventures in string (8-29: enchantment of Dulcinea , courts of death , knight of the forest , knight of the green coat, weddings of Camacho, Cueva de Montesinos, Maese Pedro, etc.), and b) stay with the dukes (30-55: owner Dolorida, Altisidora, doña Rodríguez, etc. .). In this case the development has no bankruptcies, but the appearance of the apocryphal Don Quixote (1614) of Avellaneda determines a change of course, towards Barcelona, with which the novel closes (59-74: Roque Guinart, Knight of the White Moon , with the Dukes, Don Álvaro Tarfe, etc.). Hardly, therefore, not without carelessness and slips, Cervantes is expanding the primitive idea to successfully finish off your great romance company. He draws up a previous plan, which already contains the entire Quixotic universe (Sancho, Dulcinea, Cura, Barber, Rocinante, dapple, madness, a chivalrous environment, enchanters, romances, a village in La Mancha, etc.), which allows him to convert it in a long novel with enough propriety and, ten years later, to add a second part in full harmony with the book of 1605 . Only the creative circumstances of its author and the reactions caused by the publication of the first volume, differentiate both Quixotes.

Both parts

Indeed, the Cervantes written by Don Quixote in 1615 has matured vitally and literarily: he is already a very old man , unwilling to play “with the afterlife “, he has triumphed in literature and has seen his great novel criticized and even imitated. The second part of Don Quixote must necessarily be different from the first, especially when it was not even conceived as such, it simply hinted at the possibility of a continuation:

” but the author of this story, since with curiosity and diligence he has searched for the facts that Don Quixote did in his third outing, has not been able to find news of them, at least by authentic writings ; only fame has kept, in the memories of La Mancha, that Don Quixote, the third time he left his house , went to Zaragoza , where he found himself in some famous jousts that they made in that city , and there things happened to him worthy of his value and good understanding. ”

QI, 52

In fact, the differences between the two parts are numerous: the first is made up of several impulses, while the second responds to a unitary design , the former offers several interspersed novels, the latter suppresses them at its roots .

” And so, in this second part, he did not want to eat loose or catchy novels, but rather some episodes that seemed so, born from the same events that the truth offers .”

II, 44

There Don Quixote meets the adventures and usually chivalrously idealizes reality, here are the adventures that come his way and perceives things as they are offered, etc.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of the masterpiece

However, Cervantes strictly abides by the germinal conception of his project, to end up creating a closed and organic universe , thanks to the large number of intertwining motifs, anticipations or retrospections and symmetries that he establishes between both volumes. Among the first, it should be noted, with Hatzfeld, the following: knightly mission, Dulcinea, madness, insula, enchantments, etc.

Author data

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born in Alcalá de Henares, on September 29 , 1547 , Spain . Novelist, poet , playwright, Spanish soldier . He is universally known, especially for having written ” The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha, ” one of the best works in world literature , which many critics have described as the first modern novel and one of the best works in world literature . , in addition to being the most edited and translated book in history , second only to theBible . He dies on April 22 , 1616 .


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