Are there limits to the pursuit of realism in fiction? For Cervantes, at least, those limits are to be found somewhere in between three hundred goats and the bodily needs of Sancho Panza. 


I should put my cards on the table and confess that I am not a cervantista, a specialist in Cervantes.  To some extent, this has to do with my own suspicion that critical commentary on certain texts, like Don Quixote, has become saturated.


As I teach Don Quixote once again, I am struck by how difficult it is to
avoid converting the book into either a tragedy or a satire.  Auerbach should
provide a remedy, but his discussion of the novel's "gay wisdom" does not seem
to speak to students.

Ricardo Padrón's picture
Ricardo Padrón
Ricardo Padrón is an Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of Virginia. He is interested in the literature and culture of the early modern Hispanic world, particularly in the various expressions of the Hispanic imperial imagination. His first book, The Spacious Word: Cartography, Literature and Empire in Early Modern Spain, was published in 2004 by the University of Chicago Press. Inspired by the work of Henri Lefebvre, J. Brian Harley, Paul Carter and other contributors to contemporary critical geography, the book examines both maps and literary works from sixteenth-century Spain in the light of the changing conceptualizations of space and rationalizations of empire. His interests also include the formation of early modern masculinity, especially as it occurs in the poetry of Alonso de Ercilla and Garcilaso de la Vega. His most recent work, however, explores Spanish interest in the Pacific and Asia, as well as the poetry of Luis de Góngora.