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Theologies of Transformation in Don Quixote


Pamela H. Long

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.

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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...

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