Theologies of Transformation in Don Quixote

by Pamela H. Long (Author)
©2019 Monographs XIV, 98 Pages
Series: Ibérica, Volume 45


This text examines the character of Don Quixote, the book describing his fictional exploits, and their implications in the theological realm as well as in the fictive, using Gónzalez and Maldonado’s definition of theology as "la explicación de la realidad cósmica" ["the explanation of cosmic reality"], including the identity and nature of God. The first chapter examines the implications of the basin-helmet in El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha, in context with the historical and theological developments of the end of the sixteenth century. The second chapter looks first at the religious climate of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in Spain and the rest of Europe to tease-out the theological and ecclesiastical preoccupations that undergird much of the content in Don Quixote. The third chapter examines a few details from the life of Miguel de Cervantes in order to place him within the historical and literary context examined in the second chapter, and the fourth chapter examines chivalry as a mode of religious life. The fifth chapter then approaches various other characters, events, and discussions in the novel that carry religious content, and the sixth considers transformation, transubstantiation, and translation, using the topos of the baciyelmo as a metaphor for Cervantes.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1. Reading Don Quixote through a Stained-Glass Window
  • Chapter 2. Christendom in Tatters
  • Chapter 3. The Bones under the Convent
  • Chapter 4. Theology and the Christian Champion
  • Chapter 5. Of Mystical Helmets and Sacred Balms
  • Chapter 6. Translations and Transformations
  • References
  • Index
  • Series Index

← x | xi →


Any author who takes on the quixotic task of writing a scholarly monograph is tempted to write a preface describing the lofty columns and soaring ribbed vaults of his or her work, citing inspiring cultural critics who serve as the mosaic tile beneath, and the grand idea toward which their work faces, as if it were the high altar of a Gothic cathedral. I’d rather take you on a tour of the undercroft, where the saints are buried, and where the prayers of hunchbacks and heroines, knights and knaves have been offered for centuries, and illumine for you the dank and moldy spaces where effigies and engraved marking stones are found. I have loved Don Quixote since graduate school in the 1980s, and there has always been something not only spiritual but prayerful about it. Both Alonso Quixano and Sancho Panza are fully formed spiritual characters, who incense their words with the folk sayings of Spain, as well as with Biblical archetypes and rhetoric. Now as I am completing my third year of seminary, and preparing, God willing, for ordination in a few months, I look at these two differently from how I saw them decades ago when I first met them. More than ever, I think, I’d enjoy meeting them in the undercroft for a zaque de vino y unas bellotas avellanadas to talk about Christian knights and “grave ecclesiastics,” and what love does to transform the heart. ← xi | xii →

← xii | xiii →


The custom of writing acknowledgements at the beginning of a scholarly monograph is not only collegial in nature, but it responds to the best in Christian theology, to thank those whose assistance has helped you achieve your dreams. Iñigo Loyola saw gratitude as key to the spiritual life: “Here it will be to ask for interior knowledge of all the great good I have received, in order that, stirred to profound gratitude, I may become able to love and serve his Divine Majesty in all things.”

I am bound by obligation but also by sincerity to thank Michael Burger, PhD, former dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Auburn University Montgomery for funding the subvention for this work. He is a scholar among scholars with a singular sense of humor. Thanks also to the library staff, especially those in Interlibrary Loan, who patiently sought texts for me and forgave me a few late fees.

My classmates and professors at the Alabama Integrative Ministry School patiently humored my class discussions where there was practically no theological or liturgical topic that I didn’t tiresomely relate to either Don Quixote or seventeenth-century Spain and the Council of Trent. They’re a good-natured lot: Joshua Davis PhD, the Rev. Thomas Joyner, Mark Likos, and Paul Goodman. ← xiii | xiv →

Lastly, I thank my students at Auburn University Montgomery. When they post on Facebook where they’ve found a statue of Don Quixote in a distant land, or when they give me a hand-made Helmet of Mambrino, I know I have “reproduced,” and my love for Alonso Quixano El Bueno will live on in their hearts.

← xiv | 1 →

· 1 ·


In the second part of Don Quixote, the Ingenious Gentleman is informed of the existence of a book recently published, bearing his name, or rather soubriquet, and containing the story of his knightly deeds. Sansón Carrasco, a recent college graduate who has taken minor orders, apprises his neighbor of this amazing volume, assuring him of the book’s success, and commenting on its quality: “Finalmente, la tal historia es del más gustoso y menos perjudicial entretenimiento que hasta agora se haya visto, porque en toda ella no se descubre, ni por semejas, una palabra deshonesta ni un pensamiento menos que católico.”1 Don Quixote’s reaction to Sansón’s evaluation of the work does not hinge on the words “gustoso” nor “entretenimiento” nor even on the word “católico,” but rather on the word “historia.”


XIV, 98
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2019. XIV, 98 pp.

Biographical notes

Pamela H. Long (Author)

Pamela H. Long is Associate Professor and Coordinator of World Languages and Cultures at Auburn University Montgomery, and holds a PhD in Spanish from Tulane University. She is a candidate for the priesthood in the Episcopal Church and serves the Latino community.


Title: Baciyelmo
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
114 pages