SPAN 300: Cervantes' Don Quixote

Lecture 20

 - Don Quixote, Part II: Chapters XXXVI-LIII (cont.)


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.

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Cervantes' Don Quixote

SPAN 300 - Lecture 20 - Don Quixote, Part II: Chapters XXXVI-LIII (cont.)

Chapter 1. Revisiting Major Themes in Don Quixote [00:00:00]

Professor Roberto González Echevarría: What is the significance of the real date on Sancho’s letter, one wonders? I don’t have a ready answer for it, but remember that it does have the real date. It is obviously the date when Cervantes is writing this part of the Quixote. It may be a way of emphasizing that the novel is dealing with current history and situating the novel chronology in a specific way. This is why the letter is given a date. It didn’t have to have a date, but I think that that is the reason why. I think that’s the best answer that I can give to the question of why that letter, what the significance — what that date on the letter, and what the significance of it is. But this is the sort of detail that I want you to look for. Remember my mantra: details, details, details. Literature is made of specific concrete details, not of abstractions, like philosophy, and this is why it is important to remember, to notice details, and to base your interpretations on the details.

Now, as we move closer to the end the Quixote I would like to make some general comments and revisit some of the themes that I have touched upon earlier, as a way of summing up our reading of this great classic that we have been reading all semester. In the last lecture I talked about the increasing presence of Virgil and of his Aeneid, and suggested that Cervantes is hinting at the significant responsibility that his protagonist is assuming, which is quite different from that of the ancient hero, but no less important: to conquer himself, to come to grips and control his madness, and to assimilate his new won realization of the vanity of his dreams and the futility of his quest. His task is to bring himself to harmony with the world in which he lives, full of imperfections and disappointments, and to assume a resigned attitude towards it and prepare for his impending death. If at the beginning of the semester I quoted Lukács, George Lukács, the Hungarian critic, to the effect that the Quixote was the epic of a world abandoned by God, Don Quixote’s epic task within the novel is to cope with such a world, to conquer such a world, as it were. His is a very modern condition in that sense, but not necessarily a despairing one. This, I think, is what the novel shows as the hero begins his return home, and this is why I’m asking you to try to finish it.

Don Quixote’s change is gradual and it began with, I think, Dulcinea’s enchantment by Sancho, the shock of seeing this peasant woman as Dulcinea; and it peaked, I think, during the descent to the cave of Montesinos, as we mentioned. I think that he will display, or he is displaying now, a deepened kind of wisdom, nowhere more memorably than in the counsel he gives Sancho, as his squire is prepared to take over the government of the island of Barataria — you remember that episode when Don Quixote takes Sancho aside and, after telling him not to gloat about his great fortune, but to thank God, that this happened to him without his really even trying, evincing, somewhat a little bit of envy, good old Don Quixote. Here he takes him aside to give him some counsel.

This passage of the Quixote is one of the more anthologized ones in the Spanish-speaking world. I know a judge in Puerto Rico who has these pages framed in gold in his office, and he shows them proudly to anyone who happens to be near. They are wonderful — this wonderful advice that Don Quixote gives Sancho, and there are obvious philosophical and literary sources to Don Quixote’s wisdom, and there are also obvious critical statements that refer to the current situation in Spain and its empire, particularly, the counsel regarding the corruption of people in power and in government. These are barbs at the situation, at the Spanish bureaucracy. Don Quixote’s advices have bookish sources, but they also sound deeply felt, and also, as if they were, grounded in experience. This is the knowledge of a mature man, and Don Quixote is more than a mature man; he’s an old man by the standards of the age, so he is in a position to counsel Sancho, who’s younger and, of course, his squire.

The counterparts to Don Quixote’s wisdom are Sancho’s proverbs, which express a folksy kind of astuteness and knowledge of humankind, and, as we have seen, Sancho can spew proverbs at the drop of a hat. Proverbs have been taken to be the accumulated wisdom of the ages, stored in the common memory of mankind, and were of great interest to Renaissance thinkers, Renaissance thinkers, who were keenly attracted by language and the knowledge that it contained, both as a system of communications, that is, language as grammar, and also for the contents of the lore that it stored; not only Latin and Greek, the classics, as the humanists were interested and, of course, as we know, in the classics, and in Latin, and Greek, and Hebrew, but also in the vernacular languages in which they were immersed. They were very, very interested in that.

And, in fact, there is a whole science of the study of proverbs whose name is, in Spanish — I don’t know if the word exists in English — paramiología, the study of proverbs. There seem to be many more in Spanish than in English, anyway; I feel that way, but probably because Spanish is my native language. But I remember summer nights at the square in Salamanca, a beautiful town square in Salamanca, sitting around with professors of language, and seeing who could say more proverbs, and then, also, we invented the game that one would say the first part of a proverb and another one would say the second part of another one that had nothing to do with it, so it was a really great game of proverbs. Try it. It’s fun. So what I’m saying is that proverbs are very much a part of the language, and they are a kind of a storehouse of wisdom. This is the counterpart of Don Quixote’s more bookish kind of knowledge. The interest in grammar, of course, was that it was thought that grammar and rhetoric could reveal the very workings of the human mind, and this is why humanists were interested in it.

So now, in the end, Sancho’s wisdom is not going to be different from that of Don Quixote. And it is certainly not inferior, and in practice proves to be quite effective. Of course, Don Quixote’s advice extends to Sancho’s appearance, mode of dress, to clip his fingernails, and what to wear on different occasions, how to have his wife behave so that she won’t show that she’s just a peasant, and all of that. That is the funny part of the advice. But Sancho’s knowledge, Sancho’s wisdom is up to the task. Sancho’s acumen is sufficient for him to deal with the challenges of government, as it is for him to face the challenges of his own life. Sancho is endowed with natural reason.

This is a medieval concept that I have mentioned before, that courses through the Renaissance and reaches the Enlightenment, where it will be instrumental in the elaboration of modern ideas about democracy, ideas that we all share today. It is, ultimately, as I have said several times, a common Christian doctrine, that we are all endowed by God with enough intelligence to make it in the world, no matter what our station in life or level of education. But at the end of the episode, unsuccessful through no fault of his own, Sancho rues that he was not born to be a governor, he says. He accepts the social order, which was based, in spite of what I’ve just said about natural reason, was based strictly on the ideology that a person’s social station was determined by God, and that it was best, as Sancho says, to stick to what you are and to the condition into which you were born.

This is a conflictive moment in the novel, but the fact is that he has done very well as governor, and only the deceptions of the duke and his minions rob him of his real achievements, real achievements in this fictional world in which he accomplished them, we must remember. Now, in connection to this, remember Auerbach’s theory about the birth of realism and the sermo humilis, that is, the common discourse of Christianity. So you can see that all of this is connected, but the contradiction, of course, is that within the society, which is a society that is crumbling, as I have been saying, this distinction, these social distinctions, are important. They’re crumbling because, look, the most clever fellow in this whole episode is the steward, who, after all, is a servant, and Sancho does very well as a governor. So this is the overall theme of today’s class, has to be, that is, that the social structures are crumbling.

Chapter 2. An Introduction to the Island of Barataria [00:13:13]

So we move to the island of Barataria. Let us begin by talking about the name. In the original, Sancho refers to the island as “ínsula,” let me put it as small so you can see the accent, in lower case, “ínsula.” Now, of course, by this time, the word for “island” in Spanish was already the current word, which is “isla,” from the Latin. In the Latin, when you had two consonants like that, the tendency in the romance language is for the second one to absorb the first one, so therefore, from “ínsula” you get “isla,” and in French you get “île.”

Now, that’s a little bit of philology. So Sancho repeats “ínsula,” unaware that it is an archaic word then for island, that Don Quixote uses because he has learned it reading the romances of chivalry. Something that you lose completely in the translation is the fact that Don Quixote, whenever the issue of chivalry arises, or of Dulcinea, lapses into a kind of archaic Spanish; this is not done in the translation. Meaning, he will say, for instance, “fermosa” for “hermosa,” which was by then already the current Spanish word for “beautiful.” “Hermosa,” if you want a little more philology, comes from the Latin from “forma,” “formosa,” “shapely,” in how the island of “Formosa.” Philology is fascinating. So, whenever Don Quixote talks about chivalric things, he uses “fablar” for “hablar” because, by the sixteenth century, the “f” of the Latin had become a silent “h.” So Sancho uses “ínsula,” as the one, he wants to rule an “ínsula,” an island, and he’s using this archaic word. So “ínsula Barataria.” Because of this usage in the Quixote, the word “ínsula” has a currency in Spanish now and there is even a famous journal in Madrid called Ínsula, after this archaic word used by Don Quixote and Sancho.

Now, “Barataria.” Barataria — I can never find the — here it is. “Barataria” comes from “barato,” “barato” means “cheap.” So this would be “cheap-island.” Both because of its low cost and its shoddy fragile construction, it is like a stage set to perform the play that the steward has prepared. It is cheap then also in the sense that the island is not real. I think that a better translation, if we were going to translate everything, would be something like “Chintzy Island” would be the name of it. Of course, Sancho does not pierce through the name, to realize that this is not a very promising name for his kingdom to be ruling “cheap island.” He doesn’t know exactly — he doesn’t know at all what it means, but this is what it means, “Barataria.”

Now, let us begin by pointing out the sources of the steward’s invention, the practice of making someone king for a day was common in carnival celebrations throughout Europe since the Middle Ages, and further back to saturnalias. The joke, that is, the humor, was in seeing how a low class dolt would act out his role as a king, or to have someone play the role of someone from the lower classes trying to act like a king. It could also be just a skit, but part of the carnival practice was to make somebody a king for the day. This involved, in saturnalias, and in these kinds of carnivals, an inversion of roles. We have echoes of that in today’s secret societies here, in fraternities, when they have that day where the pledges are in charge of the brothers, all of those things that I’m sure you have heard about are atavistic retentions of this carnival type of ritual, where you make someone a king for a day.

In fact, in the 1950s there was a TV show called Queen for a Day, I don’t know if you ever heard of it, in which a common housewife was crowned queen for the day in the show, and she got to rule over people, and to have anything she wanted, and so forth. Yes, television incorporated some of these carnivalesque practices. Now, the practice extends to other cultures beyond the western tradition. Besides, the practice of making a stranger king and then deposing him, is one so prevalent that Sir James Frazer — I have mentioned him before but you’ve got to remember his name, Sir James Frazer, F-R-A-Z-E-R — devoted many pages of his classic The Golden Bough to this practice. The idea was to punish the ruler for the perquisites that he enjoyed while being king, and for not having been able to solve problems, such as droughts and other natural catastrophes. We’ll see this later, when I quote Freud.

So the steward is basing his elaborate prank on a traditional routine, though he does take it to an extreme. This not just king for a day, but for several days, and it’s consistent in this expansion, and this exaggeration with the Baroque character of Part II. The point is that the whole thing is supposed to be a joke at Sancho’s expense, and it is part of the merriment at the duke and duchess’s palace. It also part of the merriment for the participants in this whole charade, they are acting it out as if this were a carnival. There are other traditional elements in the episode, traditional acts, traditional scenes, for instance, the one in which Sancho passes judgment on several cases that come up before him.

It’s a traditional one that goes back even to the Bible — King Solomon — and also in folk traditions, the traditions of riddles that rulers, or wise men, are supposed to solve. The tradition of oracles, back to the Greeks, and so Sancho solves several complicated cases, every single one of them coming from folk tradition, but hilarious at the same time, probably because of it they are hilarious. For instance, Sancho solves a case involving an alleged rape. This is the very funny episode where the man is accused of having raped this woman; the man, furthermore, is the lowest of the lowest; presumably these are all people acting out. He’s a hog herder, a pig keeper. I mean, this is the lowest; remember, in the first part, when the keeper of pigs arrives, and even the mention of the word “puerco” in Spanish has to be followed by “excuse me,” “puerco” for pig, and he’s supposed to have forced himself on this woman, and Sancho has to decide, and he asks if the man gave her a bag of money, and when she’s leaving, he says, take it from her, and she fights like an animal so as not to give up the money, and then, he says, well if you had defended like yourself like that there would have been no rape.

But this is a case, remember, that I mentioned this in — when I talked about the prisoner of sex: this is a case of “fornicatio simplex,” a case of simple fornication. The Inquisition and Spanish law had classified fornication. The Inquisition and its laws, and all of that, followed scholastic practice of classifications very Aristotelic, so there was simple fornication, and then qualified fornication, of which there were several kinds depending on whether — simple fornication is sex between two people who are unmarried and of different sex, and then complex fornication comes when the people are of the same sex; one is married, both are married but to other people, and so forth. So this is a case of fornicatio simplex that Sancho, the judge, is passing his sentence on; it is one of the traditional stories.

Chapter 3. Sancho’s Good Government [00:24:58]

Now, then he has to — he is presented with a very complicated case about Clara Perlerina, “Clara,” clear, “Perlerina” derived from “pearl,” “clear pearl”; she’s quite a pearl. Remember, this is the young woman, presumably, in this completely made up story within the made up story, the usual receding sequence in Cervantes who is half beautiful and half horrible. If you turn to your page 769:

“ ‘I say then’ quoth the countryman, ‘that this son of mine, who is to be the bachelor, fell in love, in the same village with a damsel called Clara Perlerina, daughter of Andrés Perlerino, a very rich farmer; and this name of Perlerino came not to them by lineal, or any other descent, but because all of that race are subject to the palsy; and to mend the name, they call them Perlerines; though to say the truth, the damsel is like any oriental pearl, and, looked at on the right side, seems a very flower of the field; but, on the left, she is not quite so fair; for, on that side, she wants an eye, which she lost by the small-pox; and, though the pits in her face are many and deep, her admirers say, they are not pits, but sepulchres, wherein the hearts of her lovers are buried. She is so cleanly, that, to prevent defiling her face, she carries her nose so crooked up, that it seems to be flying from her mouth: and for all of that she looks extremely well; for she has a large mouth; and, did she not lack half a score or a dozen teeth and grinders, she might pass, and make a figure, among ladies of the best fashion. I say nothing of her lips…’”

And so on… Sancho sees through all of this, as something made up, and refuses to grant this, but this is a very interesting figure, because, I have mentioned in the last class, the figure of the monster who’s made up of contrasting features, of opposing features. In the case of Trifaldín it was the black robe and the white beard, black and white, and here, it is extreme beauty on one half, and on the other, this horrendous face, pockmark, and lacking an eye, and all of that; the two very opposites clashing in one figure. This is in reference to this Baroqueness of Part II, but also, to show Sancho’s sharp wit to see through this prank that they are trying to play on him within the prank that he is already undergoing. If you compare Clara to Maritornes you see that Maritornes is not that symmetrical. Maritornes is ugly from the top down, and — whereas here, we have a perfect symmetry, as it were. Now, you have to remember, always, and I keep insisting on this, this is all made up by the steward who is the author of this whole charade. Now, the gist of the episode is given by the steward himself, when he says, in page 798, 781, when he says:

“ ‘My lord governor,’ quoth the steward, ‘speaks so well, that I wonder to hear a man, so void of learning as your worship, who, I believe, cannot so much as read, say such and so many things, and all so sententious and instructive, and so far beyond all that could be expected from your worship’s former understanding by those who sent us, and by us, who are come hither. But every day produces new things; jests turn into earnest, and jokers are joked upon.’”

It is good to remember here, and I’m going to repeat a quote from that American hispanist, Ruth El-Saffar, that is very appropriate at this point, and I’ll repeat it. She wrote:

“All of Part II is based on the mistaken assumption on the part of the would-be, all-controlling character authors that they can deal with the fictional character and maintain at the same time a distance which allows them never to slip into that fictional world with which they plan to entertain themselves. Like Sansón, they are trapped from two directions, they are controlled to some extent from within their play by the very characters whom they intend to manipulate, and from without by an author of whom they are unaware but whose will and whose hand all that they do is contrived.”

And this is the case here, of course, of the steward who is himself acknowledging that the things have turned out not quite the way that he had planned it, that he and the duke and duchess had planned it, which was, of course, to have fun at the expense of Sancho, but Sancho turns out, on the contrary, to be quite a good governor, and so the tables are turned. This is another one of these inversions that are happening regularly in Part II of the Quixote. It is also good to notice that the steward is aware of both of his construction of this whole episode and of its sort of collapse.

Now, in a larger sense, Barataria has to do with the breakdown of aristocratic authority and the emergence of the common man as potential ruler. Sancho proves to be wise, beyond all expectations, and in spite of all of the pranks that he and his master endure. As with Clavileño, the episode that we discussed in the last class, his dignity remains untouched, and the mockers are the ones who are mocked. Sancho became a good governor; this is this the ironic result, a counter intuitive resolution that thwarts the designs of the duke and duchess and that undermines the authorial intentions of the steward who obviously wanted Sancho to provide the humor by acting stupid, and this is, in part, and this is something that I have not mentioned before, but that is easy to figure out, these are misreadings of Part I, on the part of characters in Part II. They assume that the characters are going to act in a certain way, by the way they have interpreted Part I, and they have interpreted Part I with Sancho as a buffoon, Sancho as just a comic character, which is the way that Avellaneda interpreted Sancho, if we remember the class on Avellaneda, so it’s good to keep this in mind, that these are misreadings on the part of the steward, on the part of the duke and duchess, who expect Don Quixote and Sancho to act in a certain way, so these are mistakes in the reading.

Chapter 4. The Island of Barataria as a Mock Utopia [00:33:24]

Now, besides the folkloric sources that I have mentioned of Barataria, the background is also literary and philosophical. It is a self contained society, presumably to be well run. This is the humanistic theme of utopia. Going back to Thomas More — remember, I have been mentioning all along the names of important Renaissance figures that you must — that you should remember. Of course, it’s easy for you to just check it out in Wikipedia. More was the author of Utopia, the book of the same name, just published in 1516, also, Tommaso Campanella, 1568-1639, who published City of the Sun in 1602, which was also a utopia. This is the idea that the perfect society can be established on this earth following a rational design. The concept goes back, of course, to Plato’s Republic, and to all of the treatises that begin to appear in the Renaissance about the art of government, including, of course, Machiavelli’s The Prince, that I have mentioned several times here.

The Prince is also in the background here, because Sancho is trying to act like the perfect prince, like the perfect ruler, and hence Machiavelli’s The Prince is in the background of this episode. So see how many important Renaissance thinkers are behind in this episode. But what does it mean? I mean, utopia — these utopias, by the way, are the origin of modern political systems, or the idea that with the political system you can create or improve a society to make it like a utopia. In the eighteenth century, particularly, these ideas will become a reality and they have become, of course, as we know, nightmares in the twentieth century, some of these utopias have turned out to be quite the opposite, to the point that you’ve had to have walls to keep the people inside of them. But — so this is the idea that you can rationally create a perfect society, and so, what is it here in this episode of the Quixote? Is it a parody of these notions of utopia? I mean, Barataria is a mock utopia, of course, with a fake king, and it all ends in a great catastrophe. Is it a parody showing the futility of such attempts? It could be. I think that the episode is important enough and given enough relevance in the book to invite interpretations of this kind.

Now, Barataria, being an island, reflects other things, three of them. For instance, one, the idea of self containment and self sufficiency, of roundness, as is it were, and at one point it is referred to as “redonda,” round, the island is round, and islands tend to be self contained because, of course, they’re surrounded by water. Two, I think, Barataria also reflects the recently discovered islands of the Caribbean, recently, you know, late fifteenth century, early sixteenth century, where the Spaniards attempted to create societies almost from the ground up, in Hispaniola and in Cuba, and also the wished for, but never reached, islands of the classical tradition. These were called, I’m going to put it in English, “ante-islands,” this is where you get the name for “Antilles,” the Antilles, comes from those “before islands,” those islands; these were fugitive islands, that is, islands that you saw in the distance, and you were supposed to arrive at, and like the oasis in the desert, as you came closer, they got further and further away, suggesting that these were islands that you wanted to reach, and that perhaps you would find utopia, or an oasis, or something. Of course, on this level, the island has that quality of elusiveness that one would associate with Atlantis. So, if you can see, the depth of this episode in the Quixote by dint of the many sources, ideas and books that it has behind it.

Chapter 5. Freud’s Interpretation of the Island of Barataria [00:39:35]

Now, Freud mentions this episode in Totem and Taboo, and his take on this episode is very instructive. Now, remember, I mentioned, I think in an earlier class, that Freud was a devoted reader of Cervantes, and that as an adolescent he created a Cervantes club with several friends to read Cervantes and discuss it, and so forth, and they even gave themselves names from characters in some of The Exemplary Stories, and all of that. Now, as you will see, Freud interprets this episode by sort of reducing it to his own system, of course, and thinkers tend to do that. Freud examines the suffering a king must undergo to pay for his exalted position in the traditions that I have already mentioned — in Frazer, remember. To Freud, this is played out chiefly in the hilarious scene where Sancho is denied food. Freud is drawing an analogy between certain neurosis and the behavior of primitives, focusing on the ambivalent attitude towards kings and its analog in their relationships of children to their fathers; people to the king, children to fathers. He says — I quote:

“Here the importance of a particular person is extraordinarily heightened, and his omnipotence is raised to the improbable in order to make it easier to attribute to him the responsibility for everything painful that happens to a patient. Savages really do not act differently towards their rulers when they ascribe to them power over rain and shine, wind and weather, and then dethrone or kill them because nature has disappointed their expectation of a good hunt or a ripe harvest.”

Of course, you can see the figure of the father, the omnipotent father, and hence, all of the theories Freud had about the Oedipal complex, and all of that. He goes on:

“Thus, also the taboo ceremonial of kings is nominally an expression of the highest veneration [because the relation to the father is an ambiguous one, of veneration and hostility] and a means of guarding them. Actually, it is the punishment for their elevation, the revenge which their subjects take upon them. The experiences which Cervantes makes Sancho Panza undergo as governor of his island have evidently made him recognize this interpretation of courtly ceremonial as the only correct one. It is very possible that this point would be corroborated if we could induce kings and rulers of today to express themselves on the point.”

Here, Freud, of course, is being ironic: let’s ask kings and rulers today if they want to undergo this kind of process. Then, he goes on, to make the unavoidable comparison with the Christian myth. He goes:

“Why the emotional attitude towards rulers should contain such a strong unconscious share of hostility is a very interesting problem. We have already referred to the infantile father complex. We may add that an investigation of the early history of kingship would bring the decisive explanations. Frazer, [Sir James Frazer, whom I mentioned] has an impressive discussion of the theory that the first kings were strangers, who, after a short reign, were destined to be sacrificed at solemn festivals as representatives of their deity, but Frazer himself does not consider these facts all together convincing. Christian myths are said to have been still influenced by the after effects of this evolution of kings.”

Look at the idea of the slaying of Jesus Christ, the king of the Jews and so forth. But you can see how this illuminates what is going on in Barataria with Sancho Panza, how Freud’s take on this help us understand better the mechanisms. Now, this is part of the traditional background, but also, of course, the nightmare of finally getting what you crave, and not being able to quite get your hands on it. You know, those wish fulfillment dreams, where you have that cake — let’s put it in those terms and not give it an erotic twist — that pie or something that you want, and that you’re about to get, and you don’t quite get; but also the disappointment of achieving things. Things are never quite that we imagined or desired, but they say, be careful of what you wish, because you may get it, and once you get it, it may turn out to be not exactly what you expected, and there is something of that here, too. This is the strong desengaño element, of these episodes on this island.

Chapter 6. Additional Analysis about the Island of Barataria [00:44:41]

The scene that so fascinated Freud, in which Pedro Recio de Agüero — that’s a name that we might want to also unpack. This is the doctor, the very funny doctor, who keeps saying, “No, no, no, you can’t eat that; that’s the worst you can eat! No, no, no, you cannot eat that.” “Recio” means “hard.” Hard.” “Me llevas recio,” you’re treating me hard, you say in Spanish, “de Agüero.” It can be a last name, but “agüero” means “omen.” “Omen”; “mal aguero,” a bad omen, and he is a “natural de Tirteafuera.” That’s the name of the town he comes from; it means “keep you out”; this is what it means, keep you out.

When I was a kid, and you wanted to get rid of a kid, an adult would tell him, “Go see so-and-so and ask her to give you some tenteallá, keep you there. Tell her to give you some tenteallá, keep you there.” So Tirteafuera is more or less like that. This is quite a remarkable character, this doctor. This is a very Molière-like scene. If you’ve read Molière, in Molière there is always, this hilarious criticism of doctors, who are always going around with a huge enema trying to give an enema to somebody and that sort of thing, or whenever the situation is difficult, they begin declining Latin nouns and verbs, because, of course, the idea is to know Latin well to be able to read the sources, because medicine was at this point still very scholastic, based on all of this on sources, on written sources, more than on experience. Some of it was on experience. See, part of the Baroque is the clash between the scholastic traditional knowledge that does not stand up to actual experience, and this is why the critique of medicine is so important and so relevant. It’s not just funny, because this scene is hilarious, it’s very, very funny, but it’s also very significant because it reflects a condition of the time.

Now, the end of Sancho’s government is catastrophic, as you know, and it’s one episode in which like the fall from the horse, where the horse explodes, he may have been injured. Now, Barataria is also like a laboratory experience on fiction, on fiction making. How does one create a fictional world coherent within itself. All fiction, all novels, or stories, are the creation of a coherent world within itself, one that is round, as it were. The fiction obviously gets out of hand of the steward, and he cannot quite stand outside of it, like a puppeteer, and this is parallel to Master Peter and his puppet show, and perfection, of course, of this fictional world cannot be quite achieved, and this is parallel to, of course, Cervantes’s situation vis-à-vis the Quixote.

One way that I imagine, it is, I mean if this is the world of fiction, the creator, the steward, is here trying to control it, but he winds up here, and once he is inside, he does not have the all encompassing perspective, and he has all of the problems that the characters he has created have. So that is the — this is where the irony comes in and this is where — but on the other hand, this effort to create, this self contained coherent fiction anticipates… What? Macondo! The fictional village in One Hundred Years of Solitidue; Comala, the fictional village in Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo — if you’re not aware of this Rulfo, Juan Rulfo, the great Mexican writer, and his novel that I — Pedro Páramo. So, from the idea of utopia, to also to the idea of creating a fictional world, you see the connection? This is all behind the island of Barataria.

Now, we are going to talk next, in the next class, about Altisidora, this mock Dido that I hope you are reading, and also about Dueña Rodríguez; this is the one whose daughter is impregnated, and whose boyfriend refuses to marry her and they don’t put pressure on him because he’s the son of the peasant who lends money to the duke and duchess. She’s a very interesting character; she’s the one who reveals the physical defects of the duchess and of Altisidora. What are the physical defects of these women? The duchess, who is sort of the beautiful huntress and all of that, apparently has some sores on her legs that — from which some liquid flows, and Altisidora has bad breath. This beautiful Altisidora, who sings, and all of that, Dueña Rodríguez, with great resentment, says she has “un aliento cansado,” a tired breath, so she has that. These are defects that we would not have found in the idealized women of Part I, and so this is significant about Dueña Rodríguez and the things that she reveals.

But I want to finish by talking about Don Quixote and Sancho, the pair, because I came across two recent articles on the two of them as a pair that I want to sort of summarize for you. One is by Antonio Carreño Rodríguez. I emphasize the “rs” and the “eñes.” And Antonio Carreño talks about the influence of Don Quixote and Sancho on modern comedy pairs, such as Abbott and Costello, Oliver and Hardy, and even takes it all the way up to characters in Seinfeld, a show that I have to confess I have never in my life seen, but he has a picture here, of characters from that show, that apparently show a decided influence from Don Quixote and Sancho. He also gives the folkloric background of these pairs, going back to the Middle Ages, and projected then forward on to the present. I mean, Abbott and Costello, one is fat, the straight man, and then the other — you can see, immediately the moment I mentioned it, yes! This is Don Quixote and Sancho in film.

The other is an article by my friend Edwin Williamson, who’s a distinguished Oxford hispanist and it has to do with what it terms the power struggle between Don Quixote and Sancho, which is resolved ultimately in favor of the squire, because Don Quixote is having to beg him to please give himself the lashes necessary to disenchant Dulcinea. He mentions four episodes: the fulling hammers, when Don Quixote hits him over the head; and the enchanted Dulcinea, when there is an inversion of roles, and Sancho is now the one creating the chivalric kind of reality out of normal every day life; Merlin’s prophecy, when he states that it is Sancho who must give himself the lashes on his behind to disenchant Dulcinea, which then makes Don Quixote dependent on Sancho; and finally, a chapter that you — an episode you may not have read yet in chapter LX, the fight between the two of them, when Don Quixote tries to force Sancho to give himself lashes and takes his clothes off to give him the lashes, and Sancho wrestles Don Quixote to the ground, and puts his knee on his chest, and says that he will not do that. Williamson gives and appropriately political reading to this power struggle, with which I agree. I think he’s unduly harsh about the end, when he says that Sancho is being totally cynical, even at Don Quixote’s deathbed. I think that Williamson went a little bit too far there, but I want to, in conclusion, today to read you his conclusion, because it is very much in tune with what I have been saying about Barataria and the rise of the common man to a position of government:

“Cervantes, moreover [says Williamson] was not unaware of the wider political dimension of the power struggle that he had first adumbrated as far back as the fulling mills [fulling hammers] episode in Part I. In the final crisis, when the knight has been forced to the ground by his squire, Sancho’s defiant assertion, ‘Ayúdome a mí, que soy mi señor,’ ‘I help myself because I am my own master,’ inevitably carries political resonances, for it implies a conscious rejection of the traditional basis of authority and status and portends the emergence of a different world, a world that Cervantes himself must have imagined with disquiet, if not with dread. Thus, at the heart of the Quixote there is an intriguing irony. Cervantes may well have started out on his adventure of writing with the purely literary aim of discrediting the máquina mal fundada of the chivalric romances but by a series of logical steps arising from the interaction of master and servant he was lead to undermine the principle hierarchy that was the cornerstone of the ideology of his day.”

We will continue with this and other themes in the next class.

[end of transcript]

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