SPAN 300: Cervantes' Don Quixote

Lecture 21

 - Don Quixote, Part II: Chapters LIV-LXX


Three issues related to the impending end of the novel define this lecture. The first one is improvisation, as we see it in the confluence of actual geography with current historical events: the expulsion of the moriscos, and the Turkish and Huguenots menaces. With the story of Ricote, a kind of morisco novel in a nutshell, Cervantes provides a smorgasbord of narrative possibilities, and presents the consequences that political decisions have on common people. The second issue is the international dimension that the novel acquires with the episode of Roque Guinard and the entrance in Barcelona. The third issue is the influence that art or literature has on reality: the prank organized by the duke and duchess makes possible the marriage of dueña Rodríguez’s daughter. Fiction, Cervantes seems to be suggesting, affects reality and improves it. Finally, Sancho’s fall into the pit, a parody of the episode of his master in the cave of Montesinos, makes the squire an equal to Don Quixote as the novel progresses.

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Cervantes' Don Quixote

SPAN 300 - Lecture 21 - Don Quixote, Part II: Chapters LIV-LXX

Chapter 1. Improvisation, International Dimension and Influence of Art on Reality [00:00:00]

Professor Roberto González Echevarría: There are three issues that I want to bring up as I begin today’s lecture that will determine my general themes today: improvisation, the international dimension that the fiction of the novel acquires, and the influence of art or of literature on reality; those are the general topics. As we move to the conclusion of the Quixote, the issue of how to bring the novel to a close must have loomed large in Cervantes’ mind. The plot of the novel is repetitive, more than sequential, with a vague quest of the protagonist to revive the age of chivalry, concretely, to participate in the jousts in Saragossa as goals, but there is no obvious or impending goal to the characters’ wonderings. Although, one could argue, with Williamson, the critic I mentioned in the last lecture, that the disenchantment of Dulcinea is the main purpose of Don Quixote and Sancho set by Merlin’s prophecy and involving the three thousand lashes that Sancho must apply to his bottom, and the interplay between the two about accomplishing that goal of disenchanting Dulcinea.

Yet, even, this is no clear mission whose accomplishment would bring the novel to an end. What if Dulcinea is disenchanted? How could she be disenchanted? What would that mean? Would she and Don Quixote, then, marry? This is not mentioned by the protagonist, nor is marriage normally a desired end to courtly love. Love itself is the purpose of courtly love: the love of love. It is obvious that the only end possible would be the death of Don Quixote, making his life the shape of the fiction, though, which life, would be the question? Is it the life of Alonso Quijano, the hidalgo who went mad and became Don Quixote, but about whose early life and family we know next to nothing? We only know about his niece; then, later, we learn that the niece was the daughter of a sister, but we really don’t know anything about his life. Or is it the life invented by Don Quixote, the would-be knight-errant? Would that be the life that comes to an end, to close the novel? Improvisation, I have been saying all along, seems to rule the plot of the Quixote, the serendipitous actions provoked by chance encounters on the road, and by characters who pop up in the second part, wanting to script the knight’s life, or, at least, episodes of the knight’s life.

What role will improvisation play in the ending of the novel? There is a confluence of — we will be talking about that, or we will be seeing about that in the next few lectures, and as we come to the very end of the novel, and discuss that. There is a confluence of actual geography with current historical events, such as the expulsion of the moriscos, brigandage in Catalonia, and the Turkish and Huguenots menaces in the final episodes of the Quixote. These events return us to the beginning of Part II, and the discussion at Don Quixote’s house about some of them, particularly the Turkish threat. This is a form of closure, too, this return to those discussions in the beginning of Part II. The novel acquires an international dimension announced by Don Quixote, the priest, and Sansón Carrasco, talking about the Turkish threat in the early chapters, as if Don Quixote were going after all to try to resolve that issue.

But notice the concurrence of real geographical settings. We spoke of the Ebro river, and now we have Barcelona, with historical actions. We have today, Elena Pellús and I, produced a slightly primitive map of Spain, but I think that it is clear enough to give you a notion of what I’m talking about. But, of course, you have a real map of Spain in the website that you can see on your own. I will be alluding to it. So we have seen the Ebro river; Barcelona, we have now, and now we’ll see historical actions involving that region. Now, none of the historical actions that appear in the Quixote — by historical I mean current historical events — none is more current and pressing than the expulsion of the moriscos, which is taking place as Cervantes is writing Part II.

The topic of the expulsion centers on the character of Ricote and his family. He is one of the principal new characters in Part II. The international dimension of the novel allows Cervantes to introduce fresh kinds of characters who are different from those mainly Castilian ones that he has presented so far. Though, as we know — and I’ll talk about it again — not exclusively Castilian. That’s the second of the broad topics, and the third is the one about art-influenced reality. In several of these episodes that I will be discussing, particularly the one involving Tosilos, but also in others, there seems to be a decided influence of art on reality, and a coalescence of the two, by which one could say that reality, or the real, is improved by art, as we have already seen in other episodes before, but we have some today where that seems to be the main topic.

Chapter 2. The Story of Ricote [00:07:33]

Now, let us begin with Ricote. One could say that this story is a rewriting of the captive’s tale from Part I with Ricota, whose name is Ana Félix — I’ll be talking about this name in a minute — Ricota is the name given to his daughter; her name is Ana Félix. She will be the Zoraida of this rewriting, and Pedro Gregorio, her suitor, would be the captive, but I mean this is — these two episodes are very different at the same time. The one of the captive and the one involving Ricote, or, at least, the Ricote episode, is much richer in some respects, although the captive’s episode is quite elaborate. In these last few chapters of the Quixote Cervantes appears to be offering many possible variations of narrative fiction, or some of the narrative modes available to him at that moment. Ricote and his family provide the opportunity for a mini novela morisca, or moorish novel. Anovela morisca is a tale about the love between a Christian young man and a Moorish young woman with all of the predictable obstacles.

The best known of these novelas moriscas is called after its protagonists, Ozmín y Daraja, and this novel is embedded in the Guzmán de Alfarache. I won’t put the name on the board, because you’ve had it many, many times during the semester. The other fictional mode in this kind of smorgasbord of narratives is the byzantine romance, the byzantine romance, which entailed drawn out adventures over vast geographical areas, adventures of lovers seeking to find each other and suffering abductions, shipwrecks and being lost in strange lands, only to find, when they finally meet, that unbeknownst to them, they are brother and sister and cannot marry. This is kind of romance written at the time, very convoluted, hence, byzantine. Now, Cervantes was writing such a romance as he raced to finish the Quixote. It’s called Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda,The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda. We will be revisiting this when we talk about the prologue to that work, which Cervantes thought would be the culmination of his life’s — of his career, but he was wrong. A very interesting idea, that, I don’t know if criticism has taken it up, would be to study the influence of the writing of The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda on Part II of the Quixote, as these were books that Cervantes worked on at the same time.

Towards the end of his life, he’s rushing to finish the Quixote, and rushing to also finish The Trials of Persiles and Sisgismunda, and it would be interesting to see how much one influences the other. But here, as I will mention in a little bit, the influence is obvious. Ana and Pedro’s abduction by the Turks, and their sea-journey and rescue, are like a small-scale byzantine romance that is played out in front of the port of Barcelona. This is like a byzantine romance in a nutshell; they are abducted by the Turks, they are taken away, they finally meet, and there is no ending to it, because she’s a morisca and she cannot come back to Spain, and all of that, but that is kind of a little byzantine romance. A hilarious tidbit, if you have already read this, in this story, is that Ana, eager to protect Pedro from their abductors, and Pedro is a very beautiful young man, dresses him as a woman to make him less attractive to the Turkish captors. It is a comic dig at the Turks, whose alleged sexual proclivities were notorious, and are even mentioned in good old Sebastián de Covarrubias’ Tesoro, in the entry on the Turks, there is a not so veiled allusion to this practice that Cervantes is alluding to in a very, I think, comical way. It is kind of transvestitism to the second power or something like that, it’s unbelievable.

Now, why Cervantes wanted to provide this smorgasbord of narrative possibilities at the end is a mystery to me. One answer is that other than just a boast of artistic mastery is that he is consciously seeking variety in his work, and he is aware and has been since Part I that for all of the possibilities of his newly found hero, Don Quixote’s adventures could become monotonous and decided to include this technical extravaganza as a kind of overture or something. This accumulation of narratives is also a sort of closure by accumulation, one could say. But let us get back to Ricote. First, let us consider the name: Ricote; “rico” means “rich” in Spanish; being rich, one is “rico.” “Ric-ote” is an augmentative ending, an ending that increases something. Remember that I mentioned this at the beginning of the course: “gordote” is a big fatso, no?; so “Ricote” is — means that he’s very rich, which he is, though some claim, some critics claim that his name derives from his being from the Valley of Ricote, a valley with that name, but I don’t buy that, that is, I think, a little bit too tangential. It’s obvious that he’s “ricote,” because he is very rich, and we know about that because he talks about the treasure that he has buried. Now, with Ricote, Cervantes passes judgment on a current event, one that is taking place as he writes the book.

The moriscos were expelled in 1609, the Edict of Expulsion, but the whole process lasted several years, so remember, these are the years when he is writing this book. If you read your Elliott you will know that a long debate preceded the expulsion, as there were many people against it, mostly for economic reasons. The moriscos were an integral part of the economy of several regions of Spain and had some clout in the government. Their expulsion, as you have learned in Elliott, caused ruin in some areas of Spain, as the expulsion of the Jews, in 1492, had also brought about all kinds of dire consequences to Spain. There is a confluence, a coalescence of the text, of the fiction with current history that we had not seen before in Part I or even Part II, nor in any other fiction anywhere, with the possible exception of the Guzmán de Alfarache, but there it is not explicit, and the events mentioned are not as dramatic and as current as the expulsion of the moriscos.

Now, the fact that the story will eventually remain unfinished — remember, they have to petition to Madrid to have Ana Félix pardoned for returning to the peninsula. She faces the possibility of being sent back or even of being executed. Now, the fact that the story remains unfinished leads me to think that Cervantes is considering here how closure can be brought about in a story that blends with ongoing time. How can you bring closure to a story that deals with something that is in the process of happening? How can fictional time offer closure to something that is happening in real time? If you do that, closure would be a way of fictionalizing what is real, by giving it an artistic shape. So this is a theoretical issue that, I’m sure, was in Cervantes’ mind, and if you remember, in Part I, the very last of the stories is also left unfinished. I will take this up again as I consider the ending of the novel.

But what is the meaning of all of this business of current events in terms of Cervantes’ opinion about the expulsion of the moriscos? This has been, as you can imagine, a hotly debated issue with presentism playing a heavy role in the debate. Presentism is a way of alluding to a form of criticism, be it of literature, or an interpretation of history that favors the present. You interpret the past in terms of the present; or you project the present onto the past. Of course, the issue is whether one can completely avoid this ever, but there are some critics and some historians who exercise this to the point where it is obvious that it’s not right, and a lot of presentism has played a role in this debate about whether Cervantes really favored or not the expulsion of the moriscos. All of this colored by all of the twentieth century — particularly — debates about minorities, and their roles, and so forth. In other words, some critics want to make Cervantes into a contemporary and have him espouse views of a modern liberal thinker.

Cervantes is obviously appalled at the expulsion of those moriscos who were obviously part of the fabric of the country, those who had truly converted, but I think he tries to give a balanced view of the whole thing, obviously, worried about an internal enemy to the state, given the international situation. It is possible, and it has been mentioned, that he was also worried about himself, if he expressed an opinion obviously opposed to that of the crown. But think of this: Morocco is barely across the Straight of Gibraltar. Here. I’m sure that most of you know that area of the world if you have seen Casablanca, which is not there but near enough, but I don’t know young people like you have seen that classic. But in any way, you know this.

This is the Straight of Gibraltar; here’s Spain, and Morocco is here. So Morocco was in the hands of enemies of Spain, of the same race and religion as the moriscos. In other words, as opposed to the Jews, who had been expelled in 1492, the moriscos had an international projection, a potential international projection. They could be allied with foreign enemies and become a fifth column within Spain. A fifth column is where you say about a group of individuals who are against a government but living within the state, within the nation. The moriscos, as the episode of the captive in Part I, allude, with their presence, to one of the central myths for the constitution of modern Spain after the unification of the country under Ferdinand and Isabella: the re-conquest; meaning the recovery of Spanish territory from Moorish control, which culminated with the fall of Granada in 1492.

What I mean by this is that the moriscos were a — with their very presence, recalled the presence of the Moors in Spain until 1492, and the Reconquista, the re-conquest, had become sort of a central patriotic myth that held Spain together. So the moriscos are expelled in 1609 appealing to people’s fears that the re-conquest could be undone, and hence that the whole country would collapse. This is ridiculous, of course, but governments due tend to motivate the populace with such fears, particularly totalitarian governments do that. Hitler did that; in Cuba, Fidel Castro has been announcing the impending invasion of the Yankees for fifty years — it has never come — to keep the people aroused, and this is what is happening in the Spain of this moment, the moriscos could somehow unleash a counter re-conquest and bring the whole country down.

Now, in terms of our protagonists, Don Quixote and Sancho the relevant thing is that, here, we observe Sancho making a difficult and delicate moral decision with respect to Ricote; that decision is, whether to help him, and he is in need, and Ricote also offers him a very substantial material reward, or, for Sancho, to be loyal to the king by obeying his edicts. Sancho’s memories, by the way, play a part in the episode. He recalls crying when Ricote’s family left his town, and reveals that Ana Félix has Pedro Gregorio, amayorazgo, as his suitor. A mayorazgo is a word you already know. Pedro Gregorio is not only a Christian young man, but a very well-to-do Christian young man. Sancho chooses a middle ground: he will not help Ricote dig up the treasure, but he will keep silent about Ricote’s illegal return to Spain and his plan to take the money out of the country, which is also illegal. There were heavy sanctions against taking money out of the country, because, with the expulsion, as always happens when certain people are expelled from a country and they take the riches, this affects the economy of country tremendously. So there were laws against the moriscos taking their wealth with them, too. So Ricote is guilty of two crimes; having returned, and also planning to take money out of the country. Sancho makes a very difficult decision, because he himself is taking a risk; if it is learned that he has not reported Ricote’s return, he could be also held responsible.

Now, Ricote himself is a complex character and is one of the few figures not mocked at all in any way in the book. By complex, I mean that he’s caught in conflicting dilemmas, and he’s able to weigh different points of view. He is comparable to Hagi Morato, Zoraida’s father in Part I, but here this is more — this is expanded, because his wife has converted to Christianity, his daughter was born into Christianity, he has not quite converted, he is in a very difficult situation. Ricote says that he’s not against the Edict of Banishment, of expulsion; he understands the reason of state behind it, but laments that even those moriscos who have joined the mainstream of society, even converting to Christianity, are paying for the actions of those who are seditious and with whom he does not agree. Sancho confesses to his neighbor in passing, in this marvelous postprandial exchange they have, after he and the German beggars and all of that get drunk with their wine and eat and so forth, Sancho confesses his travails as a governor and unsuitability for the position, and Ricote, who is clearly better educated than Sancho, and can tell that the whole thing had to be a hoax, does not press the matter. In this, Ricote displays a deep human understanding and forbearance for the shortcomings of another human being; Sancho’s ignorance. It is a very subtle touch on the part of Cervantes.

There is a certain neighborly complicity by which the figures of Sancho and Ricote are rounded out, filled out. The squire is growing intellectually and spiritually as the novel progresses, and Ricote, as I said, is a very complex and well-rounded character who goes through a very dramatic process here. My friend, the distinguished Puerto Rican scholar Luce López-Baralt, Professor at the University of Puerto Rico, has written eloquently — she’s an arabist — has written eloquently about the moriscos and the literature they produced, learning about it may help us understand better Ricote’s plight, as depicted by Cervantes in the Quixote. I’m referring to a study by Lopéz-Baralt entitled “What Image Did the Moriscos Have of Themselves?” She writes:

“If I were to symbolize the fundamental image of themselves that the Spanish moriscos had, I believe that the epithet used by Mancebo [a morisco she’s writing about] would be the most appropriate, ‘criers,’ ‘or weepers.’ When the moriscos, being deposed [by the authorities] cried. Instead of rewriting elegant passages from their literature, they were determined to preserve for posterity a faithful image of themselves and how they reacted before the historical crisis that was coming upon them. [Then she adds] And this is precisely what morisco literature is about [because there was a morisco literature]. It constitutes a literary monument to the collective effort to preserve at all costs Islamic identity, mortally wounded in the Spain of the Golden Age. It was an enormous effort, because the basic elements of Islamic culture, the language, proper names, distinctive dress, religious ceremonies, even the zambradance had been strictly forbidden by numerous official decrees issued all along the sixteenth century.”

[Unquote]. She adds, finally:

“But these very same moriscos, divided in the deepest recesses of their souls, found themselves before a new dilemma when Philip III decreed against them the Order of Expulsion in 1609. They had not been allowed to become bona fide Spaniards in their country of origin, but they did not have time either to become authentic Muslims during the first decades of their exile in berberie. The morisco community went through two different processes of assimilation, their Islamic identity had been torn from them forcibly in the Spain of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and when they finally immersed in the process of assimilating themselves to official Spanishness, they were forced by circumstances to begin another process, now the opposite one, of cultural assimilation.”

[Unquote]. In other words, as you have read here, when they went back to their countries of origin — What countries of origin? They were from Spain — they found that they were not accepted in the Muslim communities where they thought that they would be welcomed, and where they would be able to blend themselves into the mainstream. No! They were exiles, again, within their own people; they were in a no-man’s land culturally speaking. This is the drama that Ricote and his family is living through, and that Cervantes is mentioning here.

In short, what Cervantes accomplishes in the episodes involving Ricote is to provide a view, a vision of the effects of political decisions made, with concern for the nation as a whole, on the people that are affected by those decisions. The novel is not a treatise on political philosophy, nor is it a commentary on government policies, it is a medium through which the particular can be perceived in the lives of specific people. Of course, what Cervantes is dealing with here, is an issue that has affected humanity since time immemorial, and that would continue to affect it until the present, until today, until the issues that we are facing in this country, today. It is the presence of minorities within a body politics and how a state can deal with them without endangering its own existence.

More broadly speaking, the issue is how nations and states define themselves negatively, as that which they are not, and try to wage wars against real or perceived enemies, and cleanse their own population of potential internal enemies that may be accomplices of external ones. This seems to be a constant in human history, and one can see its manifestations in the Bible and classical literature. The modern history of abuses provoked by these tendencies is long and shameful from the expulsion of the Jews, from Spain in 1492, to the extermination of millions of them by the Nazi regime in Germany. In the Spain that we are studying, it was not only the moriscos that did not fit within the homogenous body of the nation: gypsies, conversos, and the people in regions, such as Catalonia and Galicia who were out of sorts with the Castilian driven state. Catalonia, Galicia up here.

We have seen through the Quixote characters from other provinces, like the Basque, the Galicians, the Asturians. Spain is a country divided against itself, and continues to be so, if not, google “ETA,” the Basque terrorist group, the Basque terrorist group whose activities are centered all over, but I mean, they are in both Spain and France, because that’s where Basque people live, and have lived there since the beginning of time. They have no idea where the Basque came from; their language is not Indo-European, they have no idea where it came from, so they are separatists, and the extreme group, the terrorist group ETA is fearsome to both the Spanish and the French state. Cervantes’Quixote is the first substantial work of fiction that dramatizes this conflict, and the Ricote story is the most dramatic. From the point of view of literature, the thing to keep in mind is that the conflict involving the expulsion of the moriscos is seen in its particulars, not in general terms, and that its poignancy is due to the believability of the characters, especially Ricote, but also in the tenderness, the neighborly solidarity that he and Sancho display. These are human qualities and emotions that are beyond political policies, and the novel will from now on always be about them, these particulars, not the general themes. So, so much for Ricote and Ana Felix for the time being. We may have to return to them. But now let us fall into the pit with Sancho.

Chapter 3. Sancho’s Fall into the Pit [00:36:40]

I assume that you have read this wonderful chapter, in which Sancho falls into a pit, which is a symmetrical episode to the Montesinos cave, adventure of his master Don Quixote. There is an internal parallel, by means of which Cervantes parodies himself within Part II. I had told you that there are episodes in Part II that are repetitions of episodes within Part II. This episode is a parody of the Montesinos cave, which was itself a parody of several chivalric episodes, as well as others, episodes in Homer, Virgil and Plato. These lifts Sancho to a kind of equality with his master, it is a funny one, but nevertheless, it is an equality with his master. It is to be noted, however, that Sancho falls into the pit cave after losing his island: fall of Troy, Aeneas’ descent, there is a kind of pattern, here. I have a series of quotes, here, that I want to gloss from an excellent article written jointly by Raymond McCurdy and Alfred Rodríguez, and I will quote them and gloss them as I did with the Lopéz Baralt:

“As an internal parallel [they say] the series of actions that we study [meaning the fall into the pit] have exceptional characteristics. It is, in the first place, the most prominent example of the deliberate parallelism that largely structures the Quixote, the parallel in which the obvious resemblance that strikes one is descent, fall, common subterranean stay [he’s talking about the cave of Montesinos in this parallelism, he calls it a parallelism].”

They quote Juan Marasso, who says, M-A-R-A-S-S-O: “ ‘We notice the correspondence, the striking parallelism of cycles in Part II: enchantment of Dulcinea [like the loss of Troy], descent to Montesinos cave [the infernal descent of Aeneas], Sancho Panza loses his island [loss of Troy], falls into a deep and very dark pit [infernal descent].’”

So you can see that they have noticed these parallelisms in great detail. They add:

“The parallel that we’re studying by offering a curious parody of a parody becomes a mirror that reflects Cervantes’ entire creative process [because this is a parody of a parody, a parody of Cervantes himself]. Cervantes [they say] produces with a Sancho Panzean adventure [now you can make Sancho Panza into an adjective] at least for the reader who picks up all of the hints strewn by the novelists and innovative, and at the same time snide re-parody, double parody. By doing this, the great novelist touches on purpose the aesthetic limits of his own artistic procedure, for it would appear to be the limit of parodic creation, a limit insurmountable and innovative, a self parody that is, moreover, a parody of a parody.”

This is reaching deep into that series of images that are repeated deep into that mirror where we see each other in the barber shop, as a little boy, when you’re reflected over and over, and over, and over, and over. Now, we also noticed now, having abandoned McCurdy and Rodríguez, that this episode involves a desengaño, which makes Sancho even more reflective, and he no longer yearns for the island. He values more his service and his attachment to Don Quixote; he yearns for the intimacy of their relationship.

Now, they are — then, because Don Quixote finds Sancho, because he has gone out to practice for this joust, his encounter he’s supposed to have, and, by chance, hears Sancho’s laments, and that encounter is going to be the one to restore Doña Rodríguez’s daughter’s honor by having the young man, who promised to marry her, and compromised her honor, go ahead and marry her. So, here, we have — we go to the third of the topics I had mentioned, an instance of art influencing life. The prank organized by the duke and his minions brings about the possible marriage of the young woman to the young man who plays the role of her estranged fiancé, because it is not longer the real fiancé who’s involved, but it’s someone who’s playing the estranged fiancé.

This adventure will turn out like the love conflicts of Part I that Don Quixote solves, except that here the fiction is turning to reality, whereas, in the Dorotea, Fernando, Pandafilando affair, the giant is only symbolically slain. Fiction and reality are no longer separate in Part II. They are part and parcel of each other. Fiction dose not simply reflect reality, it affects it; it affects it. Fiction and reality appear to be one and the same. Or in other words, reality is nature improved by art. In the episode, we have, again, a marriage where social mobility is involved. Dueña Rodríguez’s daughter was going to marry up economically, because this young man was aloft, but the groom proxy, Tosilos, is a mere servant, a lackey.

She, however, concludes that it is better to marry than not at all, and accepts him in a gesture of pragmatism that is completely at odds and funny, but is completely at odds with all of the notions of idealized love that we have here. She sees that it’s better to get married than not to be married at all, in the situation in which she is in, and the context in which she finds herself. There is an echo here, I find, a very funny one, suddenly about — the fight is about to begin, and this proxy groom looks at the woman, huh!, and falls in love with her, and says, I don’t want to fight, I surrender, I’ll marry her; and in the end she says, okay, I’ll marry him, better him than nobody, and this is what is funny, so the fiction becomes the reality, that is, the fiction — well, it’s very obvious.

There is an echo here of Camacho’s wedding, so in a sense this episode is also repetition of an episode in Part I, like Sancho’s fall in the cave of Montesinos adventure. But the point is that fiction has improved reality, and this is a theme that is repeated in the next two episodes that I’ll discussed very briefly, but they are very significant. The first and most commented about is when they find these images of chivalric saints covered with sheets on the road. This episode is remindful of the one towards the end of Part I, when the penitents carry an image of the virgin — remember, in the procession — and Don Quixote takes her to be a lady in distress. Here, as with the actors in the wagon of death episode, Don Quixote makes no mistakes.

Actually, he does quite an erudite study of the image of Saint George. Don Quixote knows that these are representations. Critics have seen in this episode echoes of the debates involving erasmians, and those whose Protestant leanings about images and other devout representations in this episode. If you’ve read, in the Elliott, and you know, there was a whole debate about whether there should be religious images in the churches or not. Of course, the faction in favor of religious images obviously won in Spain, but there was a debate. It involved Erasmus, too. But the point is that reality, here, appears to have turned into art; what he finds on the road are already representations of these saints, are artistic images of the saints. They’re there, out there.

The second episode, which I find most charming, is when Don Quixote is caught in a net, in a green net that was set there among the trees to capture birds, by these young ladies playing at being shepherdesses, and getting ready to perform an eclogue by Garcilaso, that poet I have mentioned so man times in the semester, that I hope you remember his name — eclogue, these pastoral poems. They are about to stage one of them. They have learned the lines, and all of that, she says, and Don Quixote vows to stand in the middle of the road and defend him for however long it takes, and — so reality again appears as art: young women dressed as shepherdesses about to stage an eclogue by the great Garcilaso. Notice that Garcilaso’s poetry has become a part of common discourse; it has improved common every day discourse. These young ladies want to represent his poetry. Garcilaso — remember, 1501-1536, only thirty-five years he lived, but when his poetry was published in 1543, posthumously, it changed poetry written in the Spanish language forever, until today. That’s how important he was. But notice that his poetry has been incorporated into every day life, by these.

Chapter 4. The Episode of Roque Guinard [00:47:07]

So we conclude by talking about Roque Guinart. Roque Guinart is a Catalán bandit, who really existed, and like the moriscos he brings out an international dimension to the novel. Brigandage of this kind was common on Catalonia, there were bands of brigands like this, which the crown felt that it had to put down, not only because they were outlaws, but because they could become accomplices of the French Huguenots. Now, notice, again, the map that we have here. Now, in the case of the moriscos, we had the threat of Muslims across the Straight of Gibraltar.

Here, Catalonia is right next to France, and in some ways is more French than Spanish. Certainly, more French than Castilian, and the language and all of that, and has been very secessionist, like the Basques. To today, the Catalans think that they have their own culture, they should have their own nation, many of them do, and so forth, and so on, and these bandits, like Roque Guinart, could be in cahoots with the French Huguenots — Huguenots were the French Protestants, Huguenots were the French Protestants with a Calvinist background, who believed in the — that they could attain salvation without the intervention of the Church, who believed in reading and interpreting scripture directly, typically the things that the Catholic Church rejected violently, especially from Spain; so Huguenots were dangerous.

Also Spain and France had been at odds throughout the sixteenth century, so the French were no friends of the Spaniards, and so the Spanish crowd feared these Catalan bandits, because they could be agents of the French Huguenots. Remember what I said about states defining themselves negatively, as what they are not. What the Spanish crown was not was Protestant for sure, and not French, and not Muslim. But Roque Guinart is a compelling attractive figure. Cervantes was fascinated by the autonomous world of the bandit and by his chivalry. A bandit like Roque invents himself on the margins of the law. There is something romantic avant la lettre, in Roque; he anticipates the bandit figures who are heroes in nineteenth-century novels, Jean Valjean, and all of the others.

Guinart is a kind of Catalan Robin Hood, who robs the rich and helps those in need. He’s lawless, except within the very strict laws of his band. You saw how strict they are. One of his associates questions the division of the booty, and he beheads him. In this respect Roque is like Monipodio and his brotherhood in Riconete y Cortadillo; his band is an anti-utopia, a counter society, a self enclosed world built from within itself. Is goodness possible within an outlaw society? Goodness always appears possible in Cervantes. Remember Maritornes who is good to others. She’s kind to Sancho, and also reliable within the practices of her profession, perhaps not a bad trade, even if her profession is being a prostitute, but she delivers. Is Guinart a new exemplar of the heroic that Cervantes can never stop dreaming about? Is he an exemplary man of arms as opposed to a man of letters? Is Guinart Don Quixote’s counterpart? Is he not a modern knight-errant of sorts? Isn’t this what makes him attractive to Don Quixote?

Notice that they treat each with respect, that Don Quixote knows about the existence of Roque Guinart, and Roque Guinart seems to have read or heard about Part I of theQuixote, because he also knows about Don Quixote, so there is a kind of self recognition parallel to the one we find in the episode with Cardenio, when Don Quixote finds Cardenio and they have that meeting, where they looked at each other having the uncanny feeling that they know each other, and here, when Don Quixote meets Roque Guinart, we have the same kind of recognition, of mutual recognition, and, I know you because I know myself, kind of.

So that is Roque Guinart, who makes possible Don Quixote’s entry to Barcelona, because this bandit is in touch, and has influence, with the important people in the city of Barcelona, so Don Quixote gets a kind of safe conduct from the bandit to enter the great city of Barcelona, but not before — we cannot conclude without mentioning an episode within the episodes of Roque Guinart, and it’s that about Claudia Jerónima. In Claudia Jeronima we have yet another story, another love story, with a lady in distress, because her lover seems to not be willing to marry her, because there is a class disparity or something, but Claudia Jerónima takes drastic action by killing her fiancé, Don Vicente, who’s a potential Don Fernando, who in his death throws swears that he has been the victim of rumors, that he has not been unfaithful to Claudia Jerónima. Too late, Claudia Jerónima took care of him.

This is one of the cervantean women characters who wants to take her destiny into her own hands; she goes a little too far, here; perhaps it is a reprise of the bodas de Camacho, because of the scene, but with a different and very tragic ending. Here, uncharacteristically, tragedy occurs before marriage, which is unusual. Tragedies in the Golden Age Spanish literature tend to happen after marriage, and we don’t know if it is just another instance of Cervantes taking episodes from Part I, or even within Part II, and taking them one step further. In the next class we will be talking about our protagonist’s arrival in Barcelona, also about Avellaneda’s spurious Quixote, which, by now has appeared, and Cervantes knows about it, and which resurfaces in the scene of their visit to the printing shop, and also we will talk about Don Quixote’s final defeat. But I want you to pay special attention to Altisidora’s dream; Altisidora is this very active young lady with an active imagination and proclivity to acting, and all of that, who has a marvelous dream in one of the episodes, when Don Quixote and Sancho go back to the duke and duchess’s palace, and it’s an episode her dream in which the whole issue of books will resurface again.

[end of transcript]

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