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Cervantes on «Don Quixote»

Translation from Spanish by Clark Colahan- Foreword by Anthony Close


Emilio Martinez Mata

Commentary on Don Quixote is as universal as affirmations of the novel’s importance, yet until now no study has examined what Cervantes said about it. In the prologue to the first half of the work (1605) the self-conscious author, in a tongue-in-cheek dialogue with the reader and an unconventional friend, makes a good number of comments on his own book. In the opening chapters of Part 2 (1615), the same sort of witty evaluation continues with remarks by Sancho Panza, Sansón Carrasco and Don Quixote in a lively and extended conversation focused on what has been said about Part 1 since its publication and how the characters feel about those readings. The present study carefully examines and compares these and other self-reflective passages to clarify the work’s successes and failures as interpreted by a privileged reader – the author himself.


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Foreword by Anthony Close 9


ANTHONY CLOSE Foreword It is a real pleasure, as well as an honor, to introduce this book by Emilio Martínez Mata, a study that reminds me somewhat of another that was first published in 1960 but later, under a modified title be- ginning in 1967, became a classic of modern Cervantes criticism. I am referring to Aproximación al “Quijote” by Martín de Riquer, a book that modestly introduces itself to the reader in the guise of an intro- duction to chivalric romance, Cervantes’ life and work, the chapters in Don Quixote one after another, and various other matters, but which went on to be widely sold and read due to its clarity, concision and careful organization. As I see it, Cervantes on Don Quixote demon- strates the same virtues while addressing a subject area that, though somewhat restricted in scope, nevertheless is basic to an understand- ing of Cervantes’ masterpiece – the commentaries on it made by the author himself, or by characters who may very plausibly be consid- ered to speak for him, in the prologue to the First Part of Don Quixote and the first chapters of the Second. There the hidalgo from La Man- cha, Sancho and Sansón Carrasco discuss the nature of Cide Hamete Benengeli’s already published chronicle – that is, the 1605 version of Don Quixote – and the reaction it has produced. Although the study focuses on these literary contexts, it also goes farther, connecting them to related ones both in Don Quixote...

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