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.
In addition to his signal achievements as a knight errant, Don Quixote de la Mancha produced a small but noteworthy body of poetry.Samples of this poetry appear at different places in the history that Miguel de Cervantes wrote about the great knight.
My last post, aligning Don Quixote with Descartes and the birth of modern philosophy, elicited some terrific responses, for which I am very grateful. One response, though, claimed that I had to misinterpret both Cervantes and Descartes in order to make my point, and that this proved I was under the sway of postmodernism, much like the Comp Lit department at Stanford, where I received my PhD.
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.