Don Quixote’s Metafictionality

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Don Quixote is a unique novel because it discusses itself within the pages of itself.  For example, when an old notebook of the history of Don Quixote is found at a bazaar in Toledo a Catholic Cannon reminds us that chivalry books do not follow the rules of Aristotelian writing.  Also, when Cide Hamete El Benengeli, the book’s fictitious narrator, analyzes Don Quixote’s artistic genres he shows a concern for literature and language that signals Don Quixote’s Metafictionality.  Given Don Quixote’s self-reflexive nature the book’s author becomes a character in the story who steps in-and-out of the tale.  More largely, by referring to the author throughout the story, Cervantes does not let readers forget they are reading a fictional work.  For instance, during the Captive Captain’s tale, we are told that Miguel Cervantes was the only man who emerged unscathed from his slavery. Another feature that defines Don Quixote as a work of Metafiction is that it mentions several works of fiction. For example, during the inquisition of Don Quixote’s library, Cervantes’s Galatea is retained for its original style.  Later, when the innkeeper produces Rinconete and Cortadillo, another story by Cervantes, a local priest decides to read The Tale of Inappropriate Curiosity instead.  Finally, since Don Quixote tends to call attention to itself as a literary artifact characters within the story are acutely aware that they are in a work of fiction.  In brief, since Don Quixote self-consciously evaluates itself throughout its’ story-telling it is fiction about fiction, or Metafictional in nature. 

 

Picaros Don Quixote

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The gallery of rogues in Don Quixote shows readers that a strong element of Picaresque realism runs throughout the narrative. While picaresque novels usually feature casteless, amoral, outsiders who feel inwardly unrestrained by societies prevailing mores and only appeal to conform to them when they think it suits their needs, Roque Guinart, a violent highwayman, and Gines de Passamonte, a gypsy thief, are a bit different.  They rob less money then they can, feel situational frustration and even come to regret their crimes.  Unlike Don Quixote, however, whose aim is to do “good to all and harm to none,” these picaros wander about from place to place under the cover of darkness, preying on people to survive. Never soiling their hands with an honest days work, Roque Guinart and Gines de Passamonte murder, deceive, and steal to survive.

In the end, however, Gines de Passamonte, a galley escapee, is chased by the Holy Brotherhood, lest they send him back to jail.  To avoid being captured, first, he assumes a gypsy disguise.  Then, Gines de Passamonte, extracts people’s money as a one-eyed pupeeter named master pedro.  But Don Quixote, mistaking him for a moor, almost lops his head off on stage. Indeed, if Gines de Passamonte he had not ducked and made himself into a ball he would have been decapitated by a swift sword slash.  So he ends up wandering the lawless hinterlands of the Sierra Morena dodging the authorities lest they send him to the galleys. 

Roque Guinart, on the other hand, has to sleep in places his men cannot find out about since the bounty placed on his head by the Viceroy of Catalonia is so large that he is left nervous and apprehensive that his men may either try to turn him into the authorities to reap a large monetary reward, or kill him to usurp his position. 

 

Don Quixote The World’s First Modern Novel

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Don Quixote Worlds First Modern Novel

Don Quixote de La Mancha, written in 1600-1615, is viewed as the world’s first modern novel.  Since the book combines prose and verse, poems and stories, for the first time, it was novel, or new, for its time.  Before Cervantes wrote Don Quixote literature consisted of devotional poems praising God, heroic epic written to honor the Gods, romantic ditties written for one’s lover, or letter writing novels featuring an epistolalry exchange between several different characters. With the advent of Don Quixote, however, this changed.  Now stories were being written about everyday people doing everyday things.

Don Quixote Explained Blog