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Image captured on this morning’s walk.

Offered by Open Yale Courses, Cervantes’ Don Quixote includes twenty-four lectures delivered by Professor Roberto González Echevarría, who was, at the time the course was recorded (2009), the Sterling Professor Emeritus of Hispanic and Comparative Literature at Yale. I have only had time to listen to the introductory lecture and the beginning of the second, but wow! What erudition, insight, and humor! The professor’s Cervantes’ Don Quixote: A Casebook was already on my shelves, but I have also picked up the book that collects the text of the lectures.  

One takeaway from early in Lecture 2: The professor defines a romance as “a story with a linear plot and unchanging characters,” whereas novels “are works in which there is a clash between the protagonists and the settings in which they move […] and in which the characters evolve as a result of the actions in which they are involved.” Have Don Quixote and Sancho Panza evolved? If so, how?


On page 772: “… [H]e was foolish, unpolished, and plump….” My older daughter has recently discovered the charms of Parks and Recreation. As were her sister and I, she is rather outraged by the way otherwise dear characters treat Jerry. Advising that spoilers may prohibit her from reading the entire piece right now, I sent her a 2015 article from The Atlantic, “And the Meek Shall Inherit Pawnee.” From the conclusion: “We are all, basically, Jerry. We are all flawed and farty and meek. Our faces will all, at some point, be symbols of failure. They will all, at some point, be covered in pie.” As we near the conclusion of Don Quixote, I wonder if we are not all, basically, Sancho – flawed, farty, meek, and now keenly aware that a good meal (or pie) and a loyal pet beat a governorship any day.

On page 774: “[D]eceptions become the truth, and deceivers find themselves deceived.” Those of you who speak Spanish already knew this, but according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the name Barataria is derived from the Spanish word meaning “to deceive.” Since this is not an academic paper, I will share that a quick peek at Wikipedia indicated that it is derived from barato, which actually means “cheap.” Deception, cheating – either is apt, right? (And, yes, perhaps a footnote already addressed this, but I finally identified the pun this week.) 

On page 785: The Duchess signs her letter to Teresa, “Your friend who loves you.” I wrote in the margin, “Is this true, kind?” It does seem as if she treats Teresa with less cavalier cruelty than she has treated Sancho.

On page 814: May time be on my side this week because I would really like to give the structure of Part II the same analysis I applied to Part I. When Sancho is reacquainted with the Moor Ricote, I wondered if Cervantes was mirroring characters we met in Part I.

On page 818: Trapped beneath the ground, Sancho laments that his master, while in the enchanted Montesinos, “saw beautiful and peaceable visions….” What does Sancho now believe about Don Quixote’s experience?

On page 836: Don Quixote describes two kinds of beauty and acknowledges that he may not be handsome but that “it is enough for a virtuous man not to be a monster….” Don Quixote is growing old before our readerly eyes, isn’t he?

General observation: Roque Guinart merits his own spin-off.

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