SPAN 300: Cervantes' Don Quixote
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Cervantes' Don Quixote
SPAN 300 - Lecture 12 - Don Quixote, Introduction to Part II
Chapter 1. Grand Themes of Criticism Regarding Part I [00:00:00]
Professor Roberto González Echevarría: Today, I’m going to talk about the transition from Part I to Part II of the Quixote; our transition, not Cervantes’s transition. Remember that he didn’t know for sure that he was going to write a second part. Of course, when he wrote the second part, he knew for sure that he had written Part I and it is a transition for us, and also a transition in his life, but not one that was envisioned when Part I was being conceived. I underline that fact; I have said it several times, because the illusion is created that it is one book by the fact that this it is all bound together. You will see today that they are quite different as books, because we will be seeing the title pages of them.
I will begin by reviewing what I call the grand themes of criticism regarding Part I before moving on to Part II. Now, the first of those grand themes, number one, is ambiguity and perspectivism. This is a review session as it were. Leo Spitzer, whom you will be meeting in a week or so when you read his very fine piece in the Casebook called “Linguistic Perspectivism in Don Quixote” says the following — I’m only going to talk about his conclusions, we will talk more about how he comes to those conclusion after you have read his piece; but I need to go over his conclusions. He says:
Spitzer adds: “And we may see in Cervantes’ two-fold treatment of the problem of nicknames [which he studies in great detail in his article] another example of his baroque attitude [we will be talking about the Baroque extensively in the next few lectures] what is true, what is a dream? [this is one of the topics of the baroque] — this time, [continues Spitzer] toward language. Is not human language, also, vanitas vanitatum, the vanity of vanities [he is quoting, of course, scripture.]”
That’s the end of Spitzer, and we saw that Ciriaco Morón Arroyo — whose name you have heard before — what he said about irony. I’m repeating a quote that you heard in a previous lecture. He says: “I agree with Spitzer’s definition of Cervantean perspectivism.”
And now he quotes Spitzer, who says: “In terms of morals Cervantes is no way a perspectivist.”
That’s the end of the Spitzer quote within the Morón Arroyo quote. In a note, Morón Arroyo continues: “He adds: ‘Perhaps we ought to point out here’ — [this is Ciriaco Morón Arroyo] — ‘perhaps we ought to point out here that perspectivism is inherent to Christian thought. Perspectivism is in the sense of a form of modesty that recognizes the limits of all judgment and human knowledge; is indeed a Christian humility and intelligence in the strictest sense, the capacity to perceive the limit of our own creations.”
And then he uses the Greek word for irony, ironea. So perspectivism, this partial view that creates this irony and so forth, Morón Arroyo underlines, is a very Christian perspective. I would add that the self-assurance of the Renaissance is being eroded and the ordered cosmos of the Middle Ages has long disappeared. Now, that is the first of the grand themes: ambiguity, perspectivism and so forth.
The second of the grand themes is that the self can impose its will on reality, but only to a certain extent, and the self is defined — that self is defined — by the agonistic struggle to do so to impose its will on reality. Captain Ahab in Melville’s Moby Dick is the most obvious modern example in fiction; also, of course, an heir of Don Quixote — Melville was a great reader of Cervantes. Remember, in this context of imposing our will on reality, what I said about how we invent our beloveds when in love, that is part of this willful imposition of ourselves on reality. Now, why is doubt such an integral part of what we could call the aesthetics of the Quixote? How can doubt be a positive value? The book gives a substance to the sense of doubt brought about by the scientific discoveries and philosophical ideas of the period. It enacts doubts, the Quixote. It dramatizes it. It is the modern condition.
Remember what I mentioned about Copernicus, Galileo, the fact that mankind is no longer at the center of the world; the earth is no longer at the center of the universe, and this has brought about this sense of doubt. There is doubt — continuing with this second grand theme — there is doubt about the veracity of texts, the capacity of texts to convey the truth, including, and most prominently, the Bible, or the Bible as interpreted by the Catholic Church. Such doubt was not only prevalent among protestant thinkers but also among catholic ones, like Erasmus of Rotterdam. Erasmus is one of these great Renaissance figures that I have mentioned as being important for Cervantes’ time. The humanists, and Erasmus was one, were philologists. Philologist means, ‘lover of language,’ ‘philo-logos,’ lover of language, students of language, particularly classical languages, like Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Chairs for the study of these languages were created in Spain at the University of Alcalá, for instance, that town where Cervantes happens to have been born, by the way.
Humanists, like Erasmus, wanted to read scripture in the original Hebrew and Greek, Hebrew, the Old Testament, Greek, the New Testament, and challenge St. Jerome’s official Latin Bible; they wanted to do their own translations of the Bible. The Church didn’t like this at all, and the erasmians in Spain were persecuted, but there is an underlying erasmian subtext in most of Cervantes. The humanists, like Erasmus, wanted to say, the reading of this word in Saint Jerome’s Latin version of the Bible is wrong, it should be this, and, of course, changing that word changes the meaning of the text, so there was doubt about the sacred texts which spills over into doubt about texts in general, and about language, and we certainly have echoes of this throughout Cervantes’s work.
There is also, continuing with the second grand theme of doubt, ontological doubt; doubt about who one is, which is an encouragement to self creation, to self fashioning, to self invention, as Stephen Greenblatt calls it in his book Renaissance Self Fashioning. In the Quixote there are many characters, we have seen, who invent themselves, not just Don Quixote: Ginés de Pasamonte, Marcela, Dorotea as Princess Micomicona, and so forth. Doubt leads to pondering — pondering comes from pondus, in Latin, ‘weigh’; so pondering is to weigh the difference possibilities, the different alternatives to being, to action. Self-doubt is the precondition to inventiveness, to the play of the imagination. It is the gateway to freedom, which is one of the main themes of the Quixote, as I have been pointing out throughout. Doubt leads to vicarious lives lived through literature, as in the cases of Don Quixote and Marcela, for instance and many others that you will meet in Part II. This is, again, I underline, the freedom of the imagination. Why do we want to become others? In the age of myths we wanted to be gods; in the modern age, we want to be heroes, like Don Quixote wanted to be one of the chivalric heroes and like people today want to be James Bond or such a modern hero. Dissatisfaction with the world, the world that is unstable leads to a desire to make it other and to make one self other, and this very much at the core of the Quixote from the very beginning.
Now, the third of the grand themes that I’m reviewing as we conclude Part I; reading. The Quixote is a book about reading, and its protagonist is first and foremost a reader. But there are many readers in the book, like Marcela, Grisóstomo, Cardenio, and even the poor trooper who has trouble reading the order of arrest, as we saw in that hilarious scene. The Quixote, the book, the Quixote, encourages the reader to look for stories not told, or told indirectly by means of other stories, or imbedded in other stories. It is a book, the Quixote, that is a lesson in reading, in interpreting, in the broad sense. There are so many scenes in which interpretations are challenged, interpretations by various characters clash. The pleasure of reading involves the discovery, the teasing out of these sub-textual stories, as we saw when we talked about Cardenio’s story, and as we saw when talked about Princess Micomicona’s story. This is also a lesson for life that one can learn in the Quixote.
The fourth of the grand themes is that characters are relational, not static, that they develop in relation to each other. A given to us today, this was an innovation in the Quixote, an innovation developed from the picaresque, where there is character development in fiction for the first time. In the Celestina there is some of that already, 1499, but this begins to develop with the picaresque, Lazarillo, 1554, the Guzmán, and so forth. Characters influence each other. The mutual influence and transformation take place by virtue of the dialogue, which posits that the self is relational and dependent on the others. This is evident in one of the truly grand themes about the Quixote started by Salvador de Madariaga, which is the theme of the quixotization of Sancho and the sanchification of Don Quixote, meaning that Sancho is influenced by his master, and that Don Quixote is influenced by his squire. The most obvious modern example of this for me is a book and a film called The Kiss of the Spider Woman, by Manuel Puig, the Argentine writer, where there are two fellows in jail in Argentina, one a political activist and the other a homosexual, and the whole story is how the homosexual transforms the political activist by telling him the stories of movies, and it’s a very moving film with a very quixotic structure to it, these two characters talking and so forth. Now, Don Fernando’s transformation, as well as that of Dorotea is a prime example of this evolution of characters. In addition, we have seen that characters can invent themselves, identities, and have adventures in their new roles and within those new fictions, as in the case of Princess Micomicona; we will meet others who do the same in Part II.
The fifth of the grand themes of criticism — and this is mostly my own grand theme about the Quixote — is improvisation. I have talked several times about improvisation in the Quixote. My Random House gives two meanings to ‘improvise.’ One: “to prepare or provide offhand or hastily, extemporize [Well, actually, four meanings]; to compose verse, music, on the spur of the moment; [three] to recite, sing extemporaneously; [and four] to compose utter or execute anything extemporaneously.”
The Dictionary of the Spanish Academy says tersely: “hacer una cosa de pronto, sin estudio ni preparación alguna [to make or do something suddenly without study or preparation.]”
Improvisation has something to do with bricoler, a concept that was very popular during the heyday of structuralism, and that means, according to my Robert: “Installer, aménager en amateur et avec ingeniosité… Arranger, réparer tant bien que mal, de façon provisoire… Arranger pour falsifier [To install something, to provide or arrange for something amateurishly and ingeniously… To fix or repair something more or less in a provisional way… To fix something up to falsify it or pass it off for something else.]”
To improvise has, on the one hand, a positive side: it is a boast of skill to be able to do something without a model or plan, but it also has a negative side, because the product of improvisation is usually shoddy, imperfect, fragile and provisional. We have seen that there is a great deal of implicit improvisation in Part I of the Quixote thematically, as it were, meaning that things and actions are described which are improvised. I gave Juan Palomeque’s inn as an example of this because it is made up of patchwork, carried out over time haphazardly, but I also pointed out features of the novel itself that seem to betray their improvised construction. They are notorious cervantine oversights, such as the disappearance of Sancho’s donkey, but there are many others.
For instance, I don’t know if you noticed, that Cervantes pulls out of his hat at the end, that the innkeeper, that Juan Palomeque, was a trooper of the Holy Brotherhood, something that goes unmentioned during the earlier episode in the inn, when Juan Palomeque puts out a candle to prevent a trooper from finding out what is going on in his establishment. How come, if was a trooper himself? Are these lapses on the part of Cervantes or part of the aesthetics of the book? I would like to think that it is part of the aesthetics of the book, and that the air of improvisation is very much inline with the book’s informal tone, with the fact that its origin is presumably a found manuscript whose discovery is episodic, and whose redaction seems to be concomitant with the action, and the reading, most notoriously, the prologue.
The prologue dramatizes the process of improvisation because it tells how it is being laboriously written; the prologue sets the tone for the book, and it is also its defining epilogue, as I said earlier. It is an ode to improvisation, to an imperfection, qualities, to which the author resigns himself. Remember that Menéndez Pidal, in the piece that you read, attributes improvisation to the Spanish character — he says this with resignation; he is a Spaniard, since he was a Spaniard himself; and E.C. Riley, a British Hispanist who loved Spain, admiringly compares the improvisation in the Quixote to bullfighting and to flamenco dancing, which are activities in which improvisation is the order of the day. I believe that it is a theoretical statement on the part of Cervantes which he proposes, again, in chapter V of the 1615 Quixote — the second part — when he has the translator apologize, and you will get to that chapter, for transcribing a text in which Sancho does not sound like himself; he sounds too learned. This is a text that undoes itself as it is being read; it is also a critique of mimesis, of representation; it is an improvisation made from what there is, and that the translator and transcriber passed on resigned its imperfections.
All of this is connected to the themes that I mentioned before about doubt, self doubt and linguistic uncertainty. How can my poor self create something perfect and enduring in language given what I have said about doubt, self doubt and the instability of language as conceived by the humanists? The whole thing also opens the question of temporality, about this text that says, well, it doesn’t sound like Sancho, I transcribe it because it is my duty to do so and so forth. In what moment, or at what moment, does the text exist in relation to the originals in which it is based? One solution, perhaps the only solution is to say that the text exists only at the moment of reading, of each reading, and that is a very modern current conception of textuality that is already present in Cervantes. So these are the grand themes that I wanted to review with you about Part I.
Chapter 2. Cervantes in a Cultural Context [00:22:01]
And now, we move to Part II. 1615, ten years, a whole decade has elapsed. Cervantes was an instant success with Don Quixote, and he moved to Madrid in 1616. Publishers become interested in his work and he brings out the Novelas ejemplares, The Exemplary Stories that you have in 1613, and Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses, Eight Plays and Eight Interludes in 1615, the same year that the second Quixote appears, and I have a page here that you have read, but I want to read again, from Durán’s book Cervantes, and from the little biographical chapter at the beginning that I reproduced in my Casebook so that we have a synoptic view.
And he adds, quoting Ángel del Río, a great Hispanist who was a professor at Columbia University for many years, and who in the forties published a great history of Spanish literature. Durán goes:
So this moment, where the beginning of the decline of the Spanish empire begins, and so to also have a very clear vision of this moment, I want to read a text that presumably you have also ready from Imperial Spain, Elliott’s marvelous book which I do, do hope that you read, and he goes as follows on page — this is 319, 320 of your Penguin Classics edition — He has been talking about how the writers could find sponsors for their work, and so forth:
Arbitristas, you will meet in the first chapters of Part II — from arbitrio, which was an opinion — Arbitristas were people who offered advice to the government on matters of the economy, on military matters; some of their advice was really outlandish. These are the people who developed into today’s economists, the ones who have brought us to the present crisis-is what I always think of when I think of the arbitristas. You will be meeting them, as I said, at the beginning of Part II, when the characters discuss them and discus some of this advice to the — and Don Quixote himself act as an arbitrista by giving some advice on how to take care of the threat of the Turks, coming down again after the defeat in Lepanto. So we are not responsible for answering the question of what happened in Spain, why was it different, but we are responsible for seeing the effects of this crisis as reflected in Cervantes’s work, and I wanted you to have a clear view of these two ages of empire, one of triumph and one of defeat.
Chapter 3. Explanation of Titles [00:31:09]
Now, the second part, let us look at the various titles, the title page that we saw of the 1605 Quixote, the title page of the 1615 Quixote, and the title page of the Avellaneda Quixote. He’s known by his second last name, as some people are, and you have to remember his name; you will see it complete now on the screen… Avellaneda. Because the two things that have happened to Cervantes since the publication of 1605, the most important things is the success of the Quixote, and in 1614 the appearance of an apocryphal Quixote published by Avellaneda. Now, this is the title page of the 1605 Quixote, the one we have just finished; Part I, as is known: “El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha.”
Remember we went over each one of those words in one of my first classes. Now, we go to the title page of the 1615 Quixote, and you see: “Segunda parte del ingenioso caballero don Quixote de la Mancha.”
There has been a major change; he’s no longer an hidalgo, now he is a caballero: “Por Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, autor de la primera parte” [By Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of the first part.]
It is being underlined because Avellaneda, in 1614, there had appeared an apocryphal Quixote: “Segundo tomo del ingensio hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha que contiene la tercera salida [the third sally, it will be the third sally] y es la quinta [the fifth part, because, remember, the first part is divided in four, so this is the fifth part, and so forth, by: “Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda, natural de la villa de Tordesillas [born in the village of Tordesillas.] Tordesillas is a very famous little town near Valladolid. Why? Does anyone remember why? No one remembers why.
Student: The treaties of Tordesillas
Professor Roberto González Echevarría: The Treaties of Tordesillas, you’re all very learned Yalies, the Treaties of Tordesillas, whereby the Pope in 1494 divided up the New World between Portugal and Spain. Francois I, Francis the First of France later complained in the sixteenth century, he says he wanted to see Adam’s will, where Adam had bequeathed all of this world to the Spanish. So Tordesillas, so you remember Tordesillas. Now, so he is a caballero, not only an hidalgo. Is it because Cervantes felt that his “deeds” [quote/unquote] in the first part elevated him to knight? Some believe that the change was made at the printers, and not by Cervantes. In part, to distinguish this book from Avellaneda’s which still called it hidalgo, so you call it caballero, knight, to distinguish it from the apocryphal. Also, some have said that the printers felt — you see the Quixote, as you have learned, was immediately translated into several languages, English, French and so forth, and the printers felt that caballero, knight, was easier to translate into other languages than hidalgo. Editors tend to make such changes in the interest of profits, but we don’t know exactly, but the fact is that the title has been changed, and this is a good way of remembering that this is a different book.
Chapter 4. A Book in a Hurry; Avellaneda’s Apocryphal Quixote [00:35:51]
Now, the second part was finished in a hurry by Cervantes due, in large measure, to the publication of the 1614 Avellaneda spurious second part. Second parts had appeared of Lazarillo, of Guzmán, of La Celestina, not to mention those of romances of chivalry as we saw in the episode of the scrutiny of the books; there were whole cycles, second, third, fourth parts. Why? William Henricks has recently finished a doctoral dissertation about sequels, and demonstrated that sequels dominated the sixteenth century in Spain; were among the most popular of books and that the whole poetics of the sequel emerged. It’s not the same thing to write a book from scratch than to write a book that is the continuation of a previous book. Why did this happen? Well, it happened because with the advent of printing it was easier to produce these books and to disseminate them and to make a profit from them, so second parts proliferated.
So in writing a second part of the Quixote, Cervantes is following this trend most recently, the second part of the Guzmán de Alfarache, which had been published right before the first part of the Quixote. Now, why was he so upset at the appearance of the Avellaneda Quixote? Because these novels and these characters were becoming commodities over which people would quarrel. Remember that we’re talking about authors, as I have mentioned in earlier classes, who are the first professional authors, who are trying to make a living from their writing, so the Quixote was a commodity for Cervantes particularly because this was not a character derived from classical mythology to which anyone had a right, or from one of those cycles of chivalric romances which had been used and reused, this is a character that he invented so he felt it was his own.
Of course, the character would become a literary myth and then taken up by others, but at this juncture Cervantes was very jealously guarding his creation. He is very much aware of the value of his invention because it brought him fame, and also because it brought him a profit. In fact, you will get to an episode in Part II that is a brilliant satire of the relationship between money and literary creation, something that we take for granted now, and it is the episode when Don Quixote smashes a puppet show that was brought by none other than Ginés de Pasamonte disguised as Maese Pedro, and he breaks up all of the figurines, and after the episode Don Quixote has to pay for each one of those figurines, each one of those characters depending on the importance of the character in the story. So you can see that it is a satire of the value of literary invention. It is as if Ian Fleming said my James Bond is worth so much and Pussy Galore, this woman who appears in one of his movies, outrageously named Pussy Galore, is worth so much, and so forth and so on. So the second part was written in a hurry, and let me show in how much of a hurry in detail by quoting one Henry Sullivan, who in a book called Grotesque Purgatory writes the following, and I’m quoting — and follow this closely. He says:
[Unquote] I will return to this by using a quote from Manual Durán, but you can see — how does Sullivan know this? From evidence and documents and statements by Cervantes and others and so forth about how the novel was developed; you will see that Part II is quite long. Now, one of the best critics of Avellaneda’s Quixote was Stephen Gilman, who was for many years a professor at Harvard, and he wrote an essay called The Apocryphal Quixote, very much worth reading, in which he has a memorable phrase. Gilman says that Cervantes, rather than confront Avellaneda, which he does to a certain extent [quote]: “prefers to encompass him in a web of irony.”
This is Cervantes through a net of irony, a web of irony over his rival. You will see how he does that, because actually Avellaneda’s greatest triumph — his book didn’t have much success — was to wind up as a character within Don Quixote’s fiction, and having his characters incorporated into Don Quixote’s fiction, to add to the game of mirrors that the Quixote already was. In fact, a critic — and with enough time in their hands critics and scholars will almost say anything — a critic claimed in 1915 that the apocryphal Quixote had been written by Cervantes himself. That’s absurd, but at some level it makes sense, because if Avellaneda hadn’t existed, Cervantes would have had to invent him in the way that he uses him in Part II of the Quixote.
Now, if you want to read the most outlandish take on all of this, you must read a story by the Argentine master Jorge Luis Borges, who wrote a story called “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” in which a French poet, minor scholar and so forth decides to write the Quixote again, but not a different Quixote, but the same Quixote word-for-word as Cervantes had written it. It is a dizzying theoretical meditation on all of these games of authorship that Cervantes initiates himself in Part I of the Quixote and continues in Part II. In a sense, the appearance of Avellaneda is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If there was a Cide Hamete Benengeli who was supposed to have been the real author of the Quixote — and is, of course, a fictional author — suddenly Cervantes finds himself with a real false author of the Quixote; so this is what the Avellaneda book adds to the Quixote. Now, the Avellaneda book is tremendously boring. It is conceived within scholastic philosophy, the characters instead of engaging dialogue have long monologues that are really obnoxious, Don Quixote is not in love with Dulcinea, he is the “unloving knight,” Sancho is a bit pornographic, it is, in fact, a very dull book that only those of us who are cervantistas and cannot avoid doing so read.
Chapter 5. Part II in Relation to Part I [00:45:12]
So much about Avellaneda, and now let’s move on to Part II. You have a treat in store because, in my view, Part II is better than Part I, if that is possible, although scholars argue back and forth about this, but I think there’s no question Part II is a superior book and is even much more complicated, and complicated by the fact that characters in Part II have read Part I, adding to the game of mirrors, and you will find this in the very early chapters of Part II. I’m going to read you now a few quotes, again, from Durán’s “Cervantes,” because they serve as a good introduction to Part II, because it is kind of a synthesis of what Durán thinks or thought about the Quixote at this point, and you have some general ideas before embarking on reading Part II of the Quixote. These are quotes. He says: “The art of dialogue in Cervantes reaches its peak in the second half of his novel.”
It is true, the second part there is much more dialogue, and not just between Sancho and Don Quixote — those dialogues that we enjoy so much and there are more here — but among many different characters with different points of view, different ways of speaking and so forth. Again, Durán:
[Unquote.] And this is true. You will see that Sancho, in various chapters that I’m not going to anticipate and ruin for you, becomes the protagonist of the novel, and there is a back and forth between Don Quixote and Sancho. Again, Durán:
[Unquote.] To this I might add that the presence of Part I, as a memory, is an important one in Part II, and a device of Part II is that many episodes are in some way a rewriting of episodes of Part I, a rewriting that is usually much more complicated and elaborate, but you can see the kernel of the episode from Part I in the episode in Part II. This raises, of course, philosophical issues about memory and about the repetition of the past, and all of that, that we will be talking about when we reach those episodes. The interaction between the individual and his environment is shown to be unique, it escapes logic and language because logic and language are systems of labels superimposed upon our experience, and Cervantes wants to free us from all labels by showing how much each individual is capable of interpreting his own facet of a multifaceted reality. The presence of reality in its multifaceted ways, and the way of interpreting becomes much more complicated in Part II, because disguises proliferate and a lot more of the action takes place not in the open air, but indoors, where charades can be organized and so forth. Now, the following quote which is a little long, but takes us back to the composition of Part II, and I think will, I hope, round out your knowledge of it as you approach reading it. Durán goes:
The allusion here is to Luigi Pirandello, a great Italian playwright of the twentieth century who wrote a famous play called Six Characters in Search of an Author; so Cervantes’ characters are disputing other characters, their reality or fictionality. In a way, having read Part I yourselves, you are like some of the characters in Part II of the Quixote, and you are in a very similar situation as you go through that second part. Okay. Leave it there.
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