Mianda Cioba, Adolfo Rodriguez Posada, Melania Stancu, and Silvia Alexandra Stefan, eds. El retablo de la libertad: La actualidad del QUIJOTE.
Occasioned by the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the second volume of Don Quixote, the volume El retablo de la libertad: La actualidad del Quijote is the outcome of a colloquium organized by the Spanish Department of the University of Bucharest in November of 2015. As the volume's subtitle suggests, the heterogeneous collection of essays zeroes in on the topical interest in the prodigious legacy left by Cervantes's masterpiece. Master Peter's retablo sets the tone for a body of research that enables scholars of Cervantes, Spanish studies, and comparative literature from Spain and Eastern Europe to make compelling contributions to the multifaceted question of freedom. Thus, the wide array of issues addressed ranges from the impact of previous writers and literary genres on the theme and structural design of the first modern novel to semiotic interpretations, narratological insights, philosophical investigations, and the reception of Cervantes in other cultures.
The volume comprises five sections and is preceded by an introduction in which Francisco Javier Diez de Revenga highlights the major analytical foci and textual richness of Don Quixote, which is also indicative of its inexhaustible potential to open up new vistas. In the second part of the introduction Diez de Revenga avers that the goal of the colloquium was to interpret Don Quixote as a "retablo de la libertad" and, consequently, he expounds on the love for freedom epitomized by Don Quixote and upheld by Cervantes's humanism "en una escritura que alcanzo a la excelsitud" (11-12).
The first section, titled "El universo novelesco: Ante rem et in re" considers the "excelsitud" of Don Quixote built on previous generic categories cannibalized by the novel in order to create a modern narrative discourse. Cristina Castillo Martinez analyses the insertion of pastoral literature in Don Quixote and shows how the genre cast in a new mould in the first modern novel resembles the picaresque "en la medida en que Cervantes descompone el genero en sus caracteristicas mas representativas para darle la vuelta y mostrarnos las costuras" (35). Angel Garcia Galiano provides a convincing account of Master Peter's puppet show, an episode intertwined with the events that occurred in the cave of Montesinos where Don Quixote saw Dulcinea transformed into a peasant girl. The captivity of Melisendra and Don Quixote's own identification with Don Gaiferos revive Don Quixote's feeling of anguish at what happened in the cave and is conducive to the destruction of the puppets perceived as an ultimate form of catharsis able to disenchant "los fantasmas mas oscuros de su alma" (49). Silvia-Alexandra Stefan proposes an exciting and most welcome reading of the prologues to both volumes of Don Quixote, which are examined in liaison with Fernando de Herreras Anotaciones a la poesia de Garcilaso. Supported by judicious literary facts and comparative quotations from primary texts, Stefan offers a new insight into the well-known mid-sixteenth-century Herrerian and Gongorian polemics poetically represented in the two madmen's accounts in the second prologue. The presence of Tirant lo Blanc in Don Quixote urges Jiri Pesek to explore the former as a serious literary model reflected in Cervantes's novel structurally and ideologically, unlike Amadis and other chivalry romances, which only serve as a Cervantine satirical butt. However, the question in the title, " Donde comienza el canon de la novela europea?," remains to be answered more convincingly from the point of view of genre theory. Much in the vein of Castillo Martinez's article, Pavlina Jurackovas intervention focuses on Cervantes's appropriation and revision of the bucolic tradition and demonstrates that the pastoral genre was a relevant literary medium to the emergence of the first modern novel.
The second section, "Procesos intersemioticos," opens with Anca Crivat's essay delving into the medieval bestiary and its multiple meanings in Don Quixote. She argues that Cervantes creates an argumentative context which, attuned to rhetorical norms, includes an introduction based on an authority, the natural characteristic of the animal and a moralizing interpretation which transcends the allegorical and anagogical reading of the bestiary. The interesting, yet slightly speculative, article of Adrian J. Saez discusses the intertextual relationship between the episode which portrays the wounded Sancho as a "galapago" at the end of his government of Barataria and the emblem of la tortuga through the lens of Teofilo Folengo's macaronic poem Baldo. Patricia Lucas Alonso shows how "la ecfrasis cervantina" works in the description of the tomb of Durandarte seen in the cave of Montesinos and during Master Peter's puppet show and foregrounds Cervantes's contribution to the rhetorical debate augured by the Horatian ut pictura poesis. Adolfo Rodriguez Posada's elaborated and well-documented essay, the last in this section, tackles the issue of "frias digesiones" in Don Quixote and questions whether "the silence imposed by the traductor' and the literary will of the autor arabigo'" is apt to reflect "the dialectic between license and censorship of the creative freedom in post-Tridentine Spain" (151).
"Lecciones cervantinas: La posteridad del modelo" is the subject matter of the third part of the collection. Some of the essays included here would have deserved their place in the first section due to their analysis of various generic categories reworked by Cervantes. Apart from this minor fault, this section emphasizes the influence of Don Quixote on twentieth-century Spanish poets and on eighteenth-century British novelists as well. Francisco Javier Diez de Revenga speaks about Don Quixote as a mythicized figure, as a symbol of Spain in the work of the twentieth-century Spanish novelist and Cervantes scholar Francisco Ayala, as well as in the essays of the poet Luis Rosales who regards freedom as a frame of mind in Cervantes's oeuvre. Mihaela Irimia's astute use of archival research reveals how Don Quixote was transplanted on English soil and acculturated by the reputed novelist Henry Fielding, "our English Cervantes," as Francis Coventry calls him in his 1751 Essay on the New Species of Writing founded by Mr. Fielding. The masks of Cervantes as triggers of a crisis of certainties and truths maintained by means of the alleged verisimilar effect produced by the apocrypha in the first part of the novel and by the real apocrypha published by "Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda" in the second volume is a topic Melania Stancu discusses by recourse to structuralist and poststructuralist theory. Jaroslava Maresova deals with the classic Cervantine topos of writing and creating fiction by concentrating on the voice of the narrator of the story, the fictitious author Cide Hamete, and the translator. Sketchy as it is, the investigation of the transformation of Don Quixote's carnivalesque elements into theatrical concepts is a subject that allows Anna Durisikova to establish connections with several theatrical adaptations of the novel in Slovakia. Last but not least, Hanibal Stanciulescu's contribution, the only one written in Italian, places Don Quixote between parody and antiparody and surveys the new literary genre instituted by Cervantes, la irrisiada, supported by Sanchos farces deemed as "lectura enganosa" patterned after the rhetoric of the ritualized behavior dictated by chivalry books (241).
Part four, "Paradigmas filosoficos y filosofia vivida," begins with George Ardeleanu's essay, which underscores the ethically and politically subversive dimension of Cervantes's protagonist unveiled by the prison literature written in communist Romania between 1945 and 1989. One of the highlights of the volume, this original essay takes Nicolae Steinhardts The Diary of Happiness as a starting point so as to prove that the imprisoned authors did not label Don Quixote as a mad hero, but "the expression of a 'redeeming madness,' a paragon of normality that has become an exception in an abnormal world; he is, above all, a form of imitatio Christi in Unamuno's interpretation" (260). Alexandrina-Victoria Lip?-Garboviceanu and Carmen Burcea direct our attention to the potential connection between the Platonic dialogues and Don Quixote in terms of historical and fictional truth, showing how Cervantes reconstructs the past and unravels the intricate mechanism of writing history. In a rigorous way, Jasmina Arsenovic addresses the issue of religious symbolism found particularly in Don Quixote's speeches on the Christian values of chivalry and links it with a humorous and ironic vision expressed by the Pauline concept of the Fool in Christ given in the Epistles to the Corinthians. A less explored topic comes from Alfredo Rodriguez Lopez-Vazquez, who gives a brief overview of the impact of the Sevillian low life upon Cervantes and Aleman. Premised on a careful close reading of primary texts, the essay concludes that in sonnets, exemplary novels or entremes, "se nos muestra siempre el mismo espiritu cervantino, agudo y mordaz critico de la sociedad de su tiempo, a traves de marginales, heterodoxos y malvivientes" (308).
The last section, "Geografias alternativas y dinamicas temporales de la recepcion," provides further discussion of both the reworking of Don Quixote at the level of character and theme and of the novel's prefiguration of future literary currents. Renata Bojnicanova elaborates on "spiritual neoquixotism" (313), though the prefix "neo-" fails to turn the concept into something distinct from quixotic imitations or adaptations produced in the previous centuries. She chooses two related twentieth-century quixotic characters, one taking center stage in the Slovak writer Gejza Vamos's novel The Atoms of God, the other in the Spanish writer's novel The Tree of Knowledge. Jasna Stojanovic identifies characters, motifs and scenes from Don Quixote in the collection of children's poems written by the Serbian poet Dobrica Eric whereas Eva Palkovicova writes about adaptations and special editions of quixotesque adventures for children and young readers inspired by Jozef Felix's first unabridged Slovak translation of Cervantes's novel in 1950. Finally, Lavinia Similaru looks at the first modern novel in relation to the literature of Cervantes's time, on the one hand, and to the development of the novel after Don Quixote on the other. Regrettably, the contributor performs a perfunctory analysis of Cervantes's remarkable intuitions that prepared the ground for literary currents like romanticism, realism, naturalism, as well as other genres like science fiction and contemporary critical theories like feminism--the last two wrongly subsumed to literary currents.
The breadth of topics covered shows that Don Quixote is a rich text that continues to stimulate the ferment of interpretation in multiple fields of the humanities. This multi-author collection of essays is likely to be of interest to academics, critics and researchers dealing with Don Quixote in particular, and with Cervantes's work in general, and has the potential to generate further critical debates.
University of Bucharest
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|Publication:||Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2018|
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