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Quixotes and Quixotisms in the Hispanic enlightenment.


Early in Part II of Cervantes's novel, don Quijote voices his concern that the book an Arab historian has written about his adventures may have misrepresented him so badly that he would be unrecognizable. The bachiller,, who has read the book, replies:

--Eso no--respondio Sanson--; porque es tan clara, que no hay cosa que dificultar en ella: los ninos la manosean, los mozos la leen, los hombres la entienden y los viejos la celebran; y, finalmente, es tan trillada y tan leida y tan sabida de todo genero de gentes, que apenas han visto algun rocin flaco, cuando dicen: <<Alli va Rocinante>>. Y los que mas se han dado a su lectura son los pajes: no hay antecamara de senor donde no se halle un Don Quijote: unos le toman si otros le dejan; estos le embisten y aquellos le piden. (II, iii)

Cervantes thus reflects in the fictional world of his characters the bond his novel had forged between readers across all lines of age, rank, and gender. Don Quijote's peculiar power to unite its audience in a community that would immediately understand references to the novel allowed its readers and other writers to engage in "imaginative expansion" and produce the "afterlife of character" that was a typical response of eighteenth-century readers, according to David Brewer (2).

While the importance of Don Quijote to the development of the English and American novel has been widely studied by scholars such as Ronald Paulson, Wendy Motooka, Sarah F. Wood, and Scott Paul Gordon, to name only a few, eighteenth-century Hispanic continuations, adaptations, and imitations of Cervantes's novel have not received the same degree of critical attention. The three articles that follow are based on papers presented at the 14th International Congress for Eighteenth-Century Studies in Rotterdam in 2015 to celebrate the four-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Cervantes's Don Quijote Part II. The articles explore the Cervantine influence and the quixotic trope in novels written between 1786 and 1822: Ana Rueda writes about Spanish continuations of Don Quijote based on Sancho Panza; Mark Malin discusses an anticlerical British novel set in Spain; and Catherine Jaffe analyzes a colonial Mexican didactic novel. Looking at the quixotic characters' romps through the "textual commons" opened up by Spain's most famous author, the articles collectively show that the novelists imagine communities of readers that claim Don Quijote as a national treasure while critiquing their own national identity during a period of revolution, war, and social and political transformation (Brewer 1-24).

In Part II of Cervantes's novel, Altisidora describes her vision of devils in hell dressed in Flemish lace collars and cuffs batting around Avellaneda's apocryphal continuation of Don Quijote Part I:

Dijo un diablo a otro: <<--Mirad que libro es ese>>. Y el diablo le respondio: <<--Esta es la segunda parte de la historia de don Quijote de la Mancha, no compuesta por Cide Hamete, su primer autor, sino por un aragones, que el dice ser natural de Tordesillas>>. <<--Quitadmele de ahi--respondio el otro diablo--, y metedle en los abismos del infierno: no le vean mas mis ojos.>>--?Tan malo es?--respondio el otro.>> <<--Tan malo--replico el primero--, que si de proposito yo mismo me pusiera a hacerle peor, no acertara>>. (II, 70)

The following articles attempt to rescue, in part, these late-Enlightenment continuations, imitations, and adaptations of Don Quijote from such a netherworld of neglect by reinserting them into the story of quixotism in the Hispanic world and beyond.


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Author:Jaffe, Catherine M.
Publication:Dieciocho: Hispanic Enlightenment
Date:Mar 22, 2017
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