SPAN 300: Cervantes' Don Quixote
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Cervantes' Don Quixote
SPAN 300 - Lecture 10 - Don Quixote, Part I: Chapters XXXVI-LII
Chapter 1. Returns and Repetitions: The Galley Slaves, Andrés, and Postprandial Speech [00:00:00]
Professor Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria: We are moving towards the end of Part I, that is, the 1605 Quixote, and as we move towards the end, I’m sure you will have noticed that there are a number of returns and repetitions which give density to the fiction by being cross-referenced, as it were, within itself, meaning that there are characters who reappear and incidents that are, if not repeated exactly as before, recall previous incidents. There are three such character and/or incidents, one of which I will discuss in detail, and two others that I will just mention briefly here at the beginning of today’s lecture. These are the galley slaves, one; two, is Andrés; and three, is the postprandial speech.
Now, the galley slaves are mentioned again when the priest and the barber bring up the incident to explain their presence at the inn, or the presence in their meeting Don Quixote; they say that they were supposed to be assaulted by these freed prisoners as they were on their way — not the prisoners, but the barber and priest — as they were on their way to collect some money sent from America. They do this to embarrass the knight and to persuade him that what he has done is not right, that in fact, it is a crime. The priest gives a proper legal interpretation to Don Quixote’s actions. He has committed a crime against the Crown, because the galley slaves were under its jurisdiction, being that they were being sent to the galleys, that they were on the road, and that they were being guarded by agents of the Crown, as opposed to other branches of justice, and remember that because of the regional independence in Spain there were various kinds of police, but these galley slaves were under the purview of the Crown, which makes Don Quixote’s crime much worse.
This prepares the second mention of the incident of the freeing of the galley slaves, which is when Don Quixote is, in fact, nabbed by the Holy Brotherhood, precisely for that crime. I will speak about this later, but notice that the characters, who are presumably out to bring Don Quixote to reason and to bring him home, go in and out of his madness participating and expanding with their lies his delusions; notice that there is an elaborate lie here that the priest has come up with.
This is one of larger themes of the Quixote, that, although society cannot cope with his madness because it shows the arbitrariness of laws from outside of them, members of society are themselves toeing a very thin line between their compliance with societal laws and norms, and acting insane themselves. Ultimately, and this may very well be beyond anything that Cervantes intended to do, the figure of Don Quixote being a mad individual questions the very core of the rules and regulations that sustain daily life. Don Quixote’s most original feature as a character of fiction is his being insane. It gives him a transcendence, a certain kind of transcendence. He is truly the first insane protagonist in western literature, and there have been others since, but none with this kind of transcendental form of madness. So that’s the first of the returns.
Two, Andrés. Andrés returns — remember, that Andrés was a young man that was young man that was being flogged by Juan Haldudo, and Don Quixote intervenes, and so forth; I’m sure you remember this episode which took place during Don Quixote’s first sally. Andrés returns and reveals that what Don Quixote did for him made his situation worse. This is parallel to the mention of the galley slaves, because it brings up that Don Quixote’s actions have had the opposite effect of what he intended. In both cases, he defends himself by saying that he was upholding the laws of chivalry, which are superior to the laws and customs of the time in which he lives. But the interesting detail here, the significant detail here, is that Andrés is on his way to Seville, which, as we now know, is the center of picaresque life. Seville is the center of picaresque life, and you will have this reinforced when you read by the next class, I hope, the exemplary story Rinconete and Cortadillo, which takes place precisely in Seville. So the fact is that his return shows or suggests retrospectively that he was a pícaro all along, that he was probably guilty when Haldudo flogged him, so these returns cast light retrospectively on the previous episodes — As I said, they established these kind of inner world of references in the fiction. Sancho has to give Andrés something to get rid of him. The reappearance of characters is a narrative device that Cervantes will use more frequently in Part II, which is a more tightly structured novel. And the return of characters is something that some of Cervantes’s followers in the eighteenth century, like Henry Fielding will use, if you have read, if you remember, your Tom Jones, for instance.
Chapter 2. The Postprandial Speech [00:08:15]
The third repetition is the postprandial speech. This is a word, that I’m sure, you will never forget after this class. It is in Webster’s dictionary, so not it’s as recherché as it may sound to you. It’s an after dinner speech. Now, this is the speech about arms and letters. The speech about arms and letters is the repetition of the near repetition of a similar previous incident, as I’m sure you have noticed. The speech of the Golden Age that Don Quixote delivered to the goatherds right before the Marcela and Grisóstomo episode. The speech on arms and letters harkens back to medieval debates, like those wine against water, clerics against knights, and so forth. These were topics for rhetorical exercises, like those topics for a debate between debating teams nowadays. It was a set topic, arms against letters. This is the reason why Don Quixote delivers the speech, one of the reasons why he delivers the speech is part of his storehouse of topics that he has in his mind, but it’s also true that Cervantes did practice both arms and letters, and that he valued both, as did Don Quixote himself.
The topic in the speech also refers to utopian models of behavior, roles codified by the Renaissance: the courtier, the knight, the poet or man of letters, and in Spain, the saint were models of deportment. Baltasar, I have left an ‘s’ out of his name, Baltasare Castiglione, who wrote a book — you are getting progressively a list of important Renaissance books that you must keep in mind when reading Cervantes — Castiglione is 1478-1529; he published The Book of the Courtier in 1528. It is a book in which these modes of behavior are codified, these ideal modes of behavior. The answer to the debate, I mean the result of the debate, is that the ideal is Don Quixote’s own ideal of a reflective man of action which will then following, will be personified in the captain, who becomes the captive in the next tale. This is the current debate between the politically committed individual and the intellectual in the ivory tower to establish a clear cut distinction–You know, there are these debates about whether you want to be a Che Guevara, or you want to be a great intellectual, o it has sort of a contemporary relevancy, but it is essentially a topic of the times.
Now, again, the focus is on the intersection between literature and current history, between fiction and reality. Américo Castro, whose name — I am going to mention several critics and I have put their names here so that you know how to write it — Américo Castro wrote in a book called El pensamiento de Cervantes, Cervantes’ Thoughts, or Cervantes’ Way of Thinking or Cervantes’ Ideas, published in 1925, it’s a book that I believe that I mentioned before, but if I didn’t it is one of the best books, the most important books about Cervantes ever written, because in that book Américo Castro dispelled the notion that Cervantes was, as the phrase went, an ingenio lego. You remember the word ingenio from one of the earlier classes, ‘wit’ — Examen de ingenios remember the book by Huarte de San Juan, the doctor, and remember, ‘ingenio’ is in the title, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote — Ingenio lego meant that Cervantes was an unlearned wit, a natural. That is, that Cervantes had innate ability as a great narrator and so forth, but that he really lacked culture. This was a romantic idea, the idea of the creator who invents out of nothing his books and stories and all of that. It was also a very nationalistic reading of Cervantes, because those critics say, this is the spirit of Spain expressing itself through Cervantes. Américo Castro demonstrated that this was all hogwash, that Cervantes was steeped in Italian Renaissance literature and thought, and that therefore he was no ingenio lego at all. Well, in that book Américo Castro writes, [I quote]: “The debate between arms and letters is a harbinger of the importance that learning and reason acquire over traditional life. The intellectual arm with theoretical reason is getting ready to intervene in the fate of Europe” [Unquote].
Absorb that, the intellectual arm with theoretical reason is getting ready to intervene in the fate of Europe. In other words, government will not be just left in the hands of kings and aristocrats whose expertise in ruling countries was based on traditional knowledge and practice passed down by tradition, but that the practice of government is becoming the object of serious and sustained reflection. It is the birth of political science as a discipline that we are witnessing in the sixteenth century, and that it is reflected in Don Quixote’s speech. In this regard, the figure to keep in mind is Niccolò Machiavelli, 1469-1527 and his famous treaties called Il principe, The Prince, which was written in 1513 and published in 1532, which is really the founding work of political science.
I know that you may have a vague idea of Machiavelli, mostly centered on the cliché that the ends justify the means and so forth — I’m sure you’ve heard that and attributed that as a Machiavellian idea — but his book is much more than that, it’s very complicated and complex and influential and important. One of Machiavelli’s models, by the way, was Ferdinand of Aragón, whom you have met extensively while reading your Elliott for a cunning ruler, who knew how to apply the rules of government. Castro adds with regards to Don Quixote’s speech — by the way, Castro is a very common last name, it has nothing to do with the Castro; ‘castrum’ in Latin meant a military encampment, so therefore it was very easy for them to be many Castros in Spanish, so that’s why there are so many of them — Castro adds with regards to Don Quixote’s speech, he says the following, and I’m going to quote Américo Castro, again. He says:
[Unquote]. However, Don Quixote does favor arms over letters, as he says, and the fact is that he has just won the battle with the giant, of which the speech is a kind of celebration, so he opts for arms over letters, perhaps with Cervantes himself, who always had a fondness for his life as a soldier, as you, no doubt, noticed in reading the tale of the captive.
So we get back to our speech and dinner’s topic. This is the second, again, I said postprandial speech by Don Quixote, the first was concerned with the Golden Age. The Russian critic and theoretician Mijaíl Bajtín, whom I have mentioned before, and I forgot to put his name, but I’ll put it again. This is all, of course, an approximation, this name from the Russian. Don’t confuse him with these guys. Mijaíl Bajtín, in his book Rabelais gives a great deal of importance to dinners because his metaphor for the novel, what the novel is like is the dialogue and dinners are essentially dialogic. There is a book on Bajtín called Bajtin’s Dialogic Imagination. Now, François Rabelais is yet another Renaissance figure you must keep in mind. He was French for a change, not Italian, and lived between 1492 and 1553. He wrote these outrageous stories about Gargantua and Pantagruel as you may have heard about. Bajtín writes the following, that I cannot resist quoting — Bajtín wrote with a great deal of verve about elements of popular culture that were incorporated into literature — He says — I think he learned a lot from Cervantes, so much so that he doesn’t write about Cervantes because it may have been redundant:
[Unquote]. As you can see, in all of these scenes of eating, of which there will be many more in Part II, in which particularly Sancho is involved in this joyful way, the barrier between me and reality is broken when I incorporate reality into myself, make it part of myself by eating it, and this is what is celebrated in these postprandial speeches. For Bajtín, dinners are the privileged occasion for dialogue; dinners celebrate the end of work and the defeat of the world, which is, in fact, consumed, animals, vegetables, wine, which is like the blood of the earth. Wine loosens the tongue and the truth comes out unguarded — remember the Latin phrase that I taught you before, in vino, veritas. Plato’s Symposium, whom I’m sure you have read, and it’s called really, the Banquet, ‘the last supper,’ all mark ritual occasions where the truth is to be spoken over food or after food. There are, of course, two other functions of the mouth that are not mentioned here, but that do occasionally come into the erotic and the aggressive. The erotic I don’t have to and I won’t go into here, it’s too obvious. The aggressive, of course, is to bite, to spit, and, as we have seen in an earlier episode, to vomit on somebody else, as we saw in that dialogue of vomits after the episode of the sheep. So I am assuming a bajtinean sort of a persona as I make these comments, because he was so interested in these bodily functions. So the truth has prevailed in the resolution of all of the conflicts, and Don Quixote celebrates with his speech, and he, the mad man, has been the vehicle of that resolution.
Chapter 3. The Captive’s Tale [00:24:35]
The speech also serves as a transition to the captive’s tale, which will be narrating episodes of war to corroborate Don Quixote’s ideas. In fact, the captive’s tale will narrate that battle, called the Battle of Lepanto, whose anniversary we are celebrating tomorrow. The Battle of Lepanto occurred on October seventh, 1571, so this is what I told you at the end of last lecture to ponder and see if you could come up with what anniversary was being celebrated this week; it is the Battle of Lepanto. The suggestion was that once the various conflicts were resolved Don Quixote celebrated by his speech on arms and letters. Through Bajtín we concluded that this was a moment of truth ironically represented through the scene of the dinner. There seems to be a whole tendency in the Quixote, as we approach the end, towards the truth that culminates in the story of the captive, which is based on Cervantes’ own life and on episodes of recent Spanish history, but more importantly, episodes in which Cervantes was present.
Could Cervantes circling back to himself be a part of this move towards the truth? Is it a shift away from literary stories to stories based on his own life, and what does that mean? As Ciriaco Morón Arroyo has said — this is the second critic I am mentioning; he’s my friend, he was my colleague at Cornell University, and of course Morón doesn’t mean ‘moron’ as it does in English, so it is perfectly okay to have such a last name in Spanish, although for poor Ciriaco, whom I love very much, is in retirement now in Spain, it was the bane of his existence when the students at Cornell said, I’m going to Moron’s class, but what could he do? Well, he mostly went then by Ciriaco M. Arroyo. Arroyo means ‘brook,’ so it’s more — In any case, Ciriaco Morón Arroyo says that Cervantes has moved to create art with the truth, to create art out of lived experienced.
Of course, we might add here that Cervantes’s self as author has been presented as a sort of thin, ambiguous and shifting fiction, and that what stand behind it are these snippets of autobiographical revelation underlined by these self allusions, like those to his pastoral romance La Galatea, in the scrutiny of the boos episode, and to Rinconete and Cortadillo as Don Quixote leaves the inn — This is the story you’re reading for next Thursday, everything is made to be coordinated in this course. The story of Rinconete y Cortadillo, which the innkeeper says is among the papers somebody there left — I wonder who that somebody would be — will be included in The Exemplary Novels, the book that you have, and you will be reading that story for next Thursday — So this is one of those snippets, teasing allusions to himself, the real author of the Quixote.
So the captive’s tale is the culmination of the group of intertwined stories, not quite the last one, but it is the culmination of the group of intertwined stories. It is one in which religious conversion intimates a synthesis of contraries that surpasses not just social barriers, but even transcends the neo-platonic convergence typical of Renaissance plots — I will unpack this — In other words, this story entails not just an unequal marriage, that is, social inequality, a social clash, but a marriage that crosses racial and religious boundaries. So the union at the end is not just a neo-platonic union of Renaissance ideas; there’s union through love — I mean, Zoraida is a Moor and a Muslim, and Ruiz Pérez de Viedma is a Spaniard and a Christian. Their union is more transcendental because it involves the union of these two religions.
The tale, I maintain, could be seen as the counterpart of sixteenth century Spanish mystical poetry in which courtly love, about which I’ve spoken at length here, and Petrarchan conventions are adapted to express religious fervor and union, not merely with the beloved, but with God. In Spanish mystical poetry the desire for union is not just with the beloved, it is the desire for a union with God. I’m alluding here mostly to the poetry of Saint John of the Cross, 1542-1591, a mystic, and one of the greatest poets of the Golden Age and of any age. So, what I’m saying is that this captive’s tale, with this religious fusion is sort of akin to this mystic poetry in the Spain of the sixteenth century, and it is a culmination of all of these stories because it is much more transcendental, what is going to be overcome is much more transcendental. Now, there is, as you will see at the end, a concluding and unfinished story of one Vicente de la Rosa, who’s a kind of minor Don Juan and Leandra, who is a bit of a fool, and it’s unfinished because its resolution would — converges with the end of the novel, and, of course, the current event cannot have an end because it is current and ongoing. So that’s why that story is left unfinished, but that is one that we will probably talk about in the next class, because it’s really very near the very end of the novel. I’m mentioning it just so as not to leave any of these stories unmentioned.
Now, the captive’s tale follows a traditional formula. It has like a biblical resonance; the prodigal son, the father who sets his son off to life. And remember, here we encounter that “Iglesia, mar or casa real” saying that I mentioned that the young man should, particularly if he’s not an aristocrat, he should join the church, go out to see to seek adventure, or join the retinue of a great aristocrat or, if possible, the king. The story illuminates retrospectively that of Don Fernando; it has provoked controversy among critics because of his religious background. Francisco Márquez Villanueva, who was a professor at Harvard for many years and is retired now in Seville, and was also my friend, but he was no friend of Ciriaco Morón Arroyo — as you will see, they debated over this story — Márquez Villanueva claims, for instance, according to Ciriaco Morón Arroyo, that Zoraida, a typically Cervantean character, like Marcela and Dorotea, exercises her desire for freedom within a religious context, but is not motivated by religion per se.
Religion, i.e., becoming a Christian, merely allows her to be free, even at the expense of bringing grief to her father Agi Morato — which I noticed that in your translation is conflated as Agimorato, but in the Spanish it’s Agi Morato. Morón Arroyo claims, on the contrary, that the whole tale takes place within very precise theological guidelines, which he presents by quoting mostly from Saint Thomas Aquinas. His point is that the issue of baptism is dealt with in a very strict theological way. Zoraida has not been baptized, as the captive says, because she has not been in mortal danger, and the baptism of adults in the Catholic Church should take place after their learning about the faith, except if faced by a life-threatening danger. So Ciriaco observes that this has been very closely followed in the book. The same is true, he maintains, regarding Zoraida’s use of her father’s wealth and her leaving him behind in grief; conversion to the Christian faith justified doing violence to nature; that is to say, to relatives I quote Ciriaco Morón Arroyo: “Conversion to Christianity justified any break with natural relations of kinship if this came into conflict with the duty to convert that anyone who had learned of Christian doctrine had.”
[Unquote]. All of this sounds plausible, but it is hard to imagine Cervantes as a theologian — I’m going to mediate between these two Spaniards — It is difficult to imagine Cervantes as theologian, and much less as a scholastic theologian. What he is reflecting here, I think, it just simply the morays of the time which were, of course, Catholic. Now, Morón Arroyo is much more persuasive, it seems to me, when he compares Agi Morato to Othello, after the latter, first threatens Zoraida, and later pleads with her in that very dramatic scene when they leave him behind. He says: “The scene in which all of this develops is one of the great achievements of world literature, in the impulse both to curse, insult and also to cry and plead, Cervantes has portrayed a real man.”
[Unquote] — meaning — he’s referring to that very scene, that very dramatic scene. It’s the most dramatic scene in the whole of Part I. Morón Arroyo is also good when he says [quote]: “I agree with Spitzer’s definition of Cervantean perspectivism [if you haven’t gotten there you will when you get to the Spitzer piece which is, I think, the best and most important in my Casebook]. In terms of morals, however, Cervantes is in no way a perspectivist”
He says, and in a note he adds — Ciriaco Morón Arroyo: “Perhaps we ought to point out here that perspectivism is inherent in Christian thought. Perspectivism in the sense of a form of modesty that recognizes the limits of all judgment and human knowledge is indeed Christian humility and intelligence in its strictest sense. The capacity to perceive the limit of our own creations, i.e., ‘ironea’ [then he puts in the word in the Greek, the original word for irony].”
But Morón Arroyo is at his best when he points out referring to one critic called González López: “I find magnificent his observation that the marriage between the captive and Zoraida, the new Christian is accepted by the audience at the inn by the oidor [the judge] who has no allusion to the impurity of blood that could result from it.”
And this is true, once she converts to Christianity there is no impediment for them to marry, and there is no stigma attached to their issue; although, of course, there were, in the Spain of the time, stigmas attached to having Moorish or Jewish blood, but here there is no inkling of it at all. And he’s also very good, I think, when he points out: “The Lingua franca of berberie is the most beautiful expression of the efforts to communicate in that confused world. The story of the captive demonstrates without any doubt that primeval state of communication in which hman beings create a language if there is none. Algiers is an experiment with secular communication; the renegade love and language are its fundamental forms of expression,” meaning the renegade and all of these characters who speak this “mongrel” [quote/unquote] language made up of all of the languages, and that he says is a form of the expression of this human overcoming of linguistic barriers, because of their love and their desire to communicate with each other.
In terms of the captive’s tale, I would emphasize that Zoraida is a woman of action, that she is indeed very much like Dorotea. I mean, she’s the one who orchestrates the whole thing, who gets the money for the escape and so forth. She is like Dorotea, who chooses her destiny, in her are combined figures of the renegade, the saint, and the seductress, and Agi Morato is perhaps the most dramatic and well-rounded secondary character of Part I. His despair at losing his daughter, his plea to her woving, to accept her and his vowing, to accept her back on her own terms is full of pathos and of tragic death, in this I agree with Ciriaco Morón Arroyo and underline the fact that this is a very important character in Part I, perhaps as I said, the most important second character, the most dramatic perhaps of the whole book parts one and two included.
Chapter 4. A Very Strange Episode [00:40:05]
Now, we move to a very strange episode, I want to move to a very strange episode, Don Quixote hanging from the window. That its a very strange episode for which I have an explanation of sorts; I have never been able to explain to myself this episode, which is, of course, Maritornes and the innkeeper’s daughter having fun at the expense of Don Quixote — remember? That Don Quixote had been aroused by the innkeeper’s daughter, and that he had actually grabbed Maritornes and pulled her into bed, bad smell and all, and all of that. So they are, in a sense, getting back at him here with this rather cruel joke of having him hanging from the window — This seems to be a distorted version, a perversion on the part of Maritornes and the innkeeper’s daughter of scenes in the captive’s tale, as if every important episode had to be projected in a different register. Follow me in this, if you will, I don’t have to persuade you.
At the baño — remember, that’s what they call the area where the captives are kept — the captive sees a hand through a window–Remember? He sees the hand of Zoraida, it turns out — and there is an exchange of messages with that hand through that high window. The window and the hand reappear in this episode. The relationship has no connection in the action, in the plot, it is just simply a remembered image. To me it’s like a symphonic motif, a motif repeated and expanded upon in a different key. I don’t know if I can convince you of this, but it’s the only way that I can explain this episode, that there are echoes and remembrances of this window and this hand, and all of that, that they appear here, and again, it’s like a musical motif in a symphony that is repeated. Otherwise, it’s simply another act of cruelty against Don Quixote of which there quite a few throughout the book. And you could make all kinds of symbolic and allegorical readings of it; that he’s hanging from the window and his feet are just barely touching the ground, he can’t quite touch it, and in a way you can say that that is Don Quixote’s state in the world, that he’s in midair, just barely touching the ground with his feet and all of that; it’s possible. But I’d propose this reading of it, as bizarre as it may be an interpretation.
Chapter 5. Remarks about the End of Part I [00:43:03]
Now, I said at the end of my last lecture, and I repeat it today, that we are coming to the end of Part I. Don’t forget that Cervantes had no idea at this point that he would write a Part II, so this would be the conclusion of the novel that he began to write, probably, as we saw, he began to write the novel after Don Quixote’s second sally, after the scrutiny of the books and his having engaged Sancho as his squire. Because the two parts are bound together, you may not have the sense that you are coming to an end because you have another big chunk of book to read, but this is the end of Part I that we’re coming to, and it was the end of the novel Cervantes set out to write or wound up writing. Now, the sense of endings in fiction is crucial, as Frank Kermode established in his wonderful book The Sense of an Ending, that I recommend to everyone. Frank Kermode, k-e-r-m-o-d-e, Sir Frank Kermode by now. The ending invites us to read retrospectively into the story that precedes it and suggests an author’s conception of history and of the loop of life, as it were, as his characters meet benign or violent deaths, as conflicts are resolved, and as a feeling of completion is felt by the reader.
In Aristotle’s Poetics, about which we will be talking soon when we meet the Cannon of Toledo, the Poetics establish how plots should be ordered, linking beginnings with ends and both with middles. Cervantes had that in mind, but also the endings of chivalric romances and picaresque novels, in which the plot essentially followed by the development of the hero’s life from birth to death, or to the point at which the pícaro began to write, which involved the death and resurrection, a conversion. But the Quixote is neither. In fact, it is not a chivalric romance, it is not a picaresque; it was totally new. At best it could be said — sand I repeat this — that it, is the parody of a chivalric romance, hence a deliberately distorted version of it. As such, it is a kind of a meta-chivalric romance, a chivalric romance about chivalric romances. So ending it will be no easy matter for Cervantes as we shall see, at least two strands of the plot are closed in episodes at Juan Palomeque’s inn. This is done by appealing to the judicial or legal cast of the novel which, as we have seen, involves the perpetration of crimes and misdemeanors by the protagonist and by the implied or actual presence of representatives of the state, in this case, the Crown. So the first sort of conclusion, or conclusions, that we have here, have to do with resolutions, restorations and the capture and arrest of Don Quixote.
I pause here to explain why this turn to the legal, which I have explained in further detail in my book called Love and the Law in Cervantes published by Yale Press, and which is in your bibliography, and of which I give you a very brief synopsis here so that you can understand why I read these endings, the endings of these episodes in this fashion. I have maintained in that book that the picaresque and hence Cervantes’s novel reflects the importance of the elaboration of a dense and complicated legal system in sixteenth century Spain. You may have observed some of these while reading Elliott. This increase was part in due to the development of the printing press, which made the issuance and dissemination of laws much easier, and also the development of a modern state organized as a bureaucracy to administer the precariously united peninsula and its vast overseas empire. If you have read Elliott, you understand that Spain was a modern state in the making. Normally, Americans have a sense of Spain as backward, but no, Spain here was at the forefront of history.
This situation brought about the creation and maintenance of state archives in which myriads of cases, both criminal and civil, were kept and classified. The distinction criminal and civil was not quite established as such, although in practice it was. A criminal act is against the state, in this case against the Crown; a civil crime is committed against somebody else, another person. So the archive was a form of state control containing many stories from which the picaresque novel derived or drew its cases, like the one involved in Lazarillo and Guzmán. Lazarillo’s story is like a deposition given to a judge to justify his present predicament. He is the husband of an archpriest’s mistress. Legal discourse made possible the minute description of the real as opposed to Renaissance genres like the pastoral, which gave an ideal description of the world. Legal discourse is, in my theory, the foundation of the novel, a narrative that deals in the beginning, mostly with criminals like Ginés de Pasamonte and Lazarillo, and continues to deal with criminals, and that describes as only legal documents can describe the business of every day life.
The intertwined stories of Part I involving legal issues, mostly focusing on testamentary law read like cases taken out of those archives. Not so The Novel of the Curious Impertinent that is obviously drawn from Renaissance Literature. In its protagonist, who is a fugitive from justice, an outlaw, Cervantes has created the first important novelistic protagonist drawn from the archive, as it were. His is the case of the insane hidalgo who set out to act out chivalric fantasies and in the process committed a series of crimes. He is the first hero-fugitive from justice in the western tradition. In the process, Cervantes uses settings like the despoblado, that I have explained here, drawn from Spanish law, and in the Holy Brotherhood has drawn into the fiction the police of the times, the depiction of a real world for Cervantes involved a world held together precariously by the law, and whose representation could not be accomplished without recourse to legal language and concepts. All of the situations in the Quixote are framed within legal discourse. This is the reason why endings begin with resolutions, restorations and the capture of Don Quixote — to get back to these endings that I’m going to now describe and analyze these partial endings.
The episodes at the end, towards the end of Part I are the climax of the first Quixote. Don Quixote’s defeat of Pandafilando is the culmination of his adventures, his most resounding feat.
These adventures, for all of their humor and in spite of Don Quixote’s ridiculous behavior, are successful in bringing about peace; Dorotea admits as much. Don Quixote is not an angelic Beatrice, whom the pilgrim meets in the Divine Comedy towards the end of Purgatorio as he readies to enter Paradiso, nor an epic hero, like Aeneas, who winds up founding Rome, but he does bring about peace and justice in the world, that is has been his lot to be thrown into. This is, as I have said earlier, part of the overall irony of the book, that such a preposterous figure is the agent of Providence. Through his intervention, Don Fernando agrees to marry Dorotea and make good, on the promise that he made her the night he stole into her room and deflowered her, swearing to become her husband; Luscinda is returned to Cardenio, who had been wronged both by her and by Don Fernando. Crossed marriage vows bring these conflicts to a happy comedy like ending, but such elevated kind of justice is not the only kind of finale that takes place at the end.
Resolution also takes place at a legal level in the most concrete and minute fashion, as restitution is made to those who have suffered injuries or damages and are owed money as a result. Don Fernando and the priest compensate the second barber and the innkeeper, who had been complaining about all of the destruction to his business, not to mention the consumption by the knight and his squire and their mounts. The second barber had had his basin stolen and dented and his donkey’s harness had been stolen. Financial restitutions such as these are a form of closure drawn from the law. It is what ‘making whole’ means in current legal terminology. An individual is brought back to the state he or she was in before the damage occurred. Restitution is the ending to a story that began with harm and the decrease of one’s property or wealth.
Don Quixote, for his part, is finally apprehended by the Holy Brotherhood. This is part of the all of the encompassing closure of the novel’s plot. Don Quixote and Sancho had been pursued by the Holy Brotherhood with an order of arrest for the knight because of his having freed the galley slaves, as Sancho had feared all along. They had committed other crimes such as killing sheep, breaking a man’s leg and stealing property from him and his companions. The trooper reads the arrest order comparing the description in the arrest order with Don Quixote’s features in one the most hilarious reading scenes in the book. I’m reading from pages 408, 409 of your translation, and I hope you have read this before and laughed as much as I do every time I read it:
[Unquote]. ‘Highway robber,’ that’s how Don Quixote is described and, in fact, literally he is. Why is it hilarious? Because the law should be the ultimate and most reliable institution in the representation of social reality; particularly of individuals entrusted with upholding it! Yet, its agent is a kind of dolt who can barely read; beyond that, because the interpretation of the real is always problematic and difficult as is reading itself, and here those difficulties are minutely reenacted by the trooper. This is expressed brilliantly by the trooper looking at each feature of Don Quixote’s after reading it in this warrant and comparing it with the knight. Like Velázquez, checking to see that what he’s painting corresponds to his models in Las Meninas. It’s a very same act, it’s a very same moment. Here we have authority’s agent experiencing difficulty establishing who a person is, and with writing, experiences with writing, the very vehicle through which the new legislation establishes its power over individuals. One can only imagine how Don Quixote’s description was obtained from the guards, from whom he freed the galley slaves taking down notes as they spoke. That is, the whole take on the trials of representation dramatized in this very, very comical scene.
So, as you can see, all of these restitutions are part of the closure of the book that belonged to the legal cast of the novel. But the most important within that legal cast is the apprehension of Don Quixote himself by the Holy Brotherhood. This sort of loops the plot, as it were. But now we will have to see how and speak about the charade organized to cage Don Quixote and bring him back home, but we will do that in the next class.
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