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.