Try arranging pages into your own quarto edition of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha.
We base this example on digital images of the BNE’s copy of the first printed edition of Don Quijote, in Madrid, 1605. One of our goals is to heighten the sense that you are viewing a freshly printed sheet.
Eight pages per sheet of paper
Take a single sheet of paper, print eight pages out of sequence, then with folding, create a readable text in what’s known as a gathering in quarto format. That is what the printers of Don Quijote did. To see how, drag and drop the text of four pages onto one side of a sheet of paper. Note the change in orientation for some of the pages. Then flip the sheet to “print” four additional pages. Fold to create one quarto gathering with the first eight pages of the play.
For Don Quijote, the printers followed this process for eighty-two more sheets, to create eleven more regular gatherings, with eight pages each. To keep these sheets in order, each gathering was given an identifying letter of the alphabet as a “signature” by the printers. The text of Don Quijote started here with the letter A. Unlike England, where texts often started with the signature B, as printers left the A for materials like title pages, which were often printed last. In comparison, Hamlet has 12 sheets
The sequence of regular gatherings in Don Quijote runs from A through Z, then Aa through Az, Bb etc.
After the printing was finished, the sheets were folded and assembled in alphabetic order to be ready for sale.
THE TITLE OF CERVANTES’S Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses nuevos, nunca representados (‘Eight New Plays and Interludes, Never Performed’) provides us with an ironic reminder of his failure as a playwright in his later years.1 In the prologue he elaborates on the reasons for his inability to find an audience for his plays, telling us that, although he had enjoyed some success with the works for the stage that he wrote in the 1580s, his later plays, completed in the early part of the seventeenth century—by which time the new style of theatre championed by Lope de Vega and his followers held sway—did not arouse any interest amongst the autores, the all-powerful actor-managers who determined the repertoire of the theatre companies:
I did not find an actor-manager who wanted them, even though they knew I had them; and so I threw them into a chest, consigning and condemning them to perpetual silence. At the time a bookseller informed me that he would have bought them, had an actor-manager of some note not told him that much could be expected of my prose, but of my verse nothing.2
For much of the period of four hundred years that has passed since their publication, Cervantes’s plays have continued to attract much less attention than his prose fiction, although in recent years there have been signs that the originality of his theatre is gradually becoming more widely acknowledged. Jonathan Thacker, for example, states that Cervantes is ‘a far more important dramatic voice than has habitually been recognized’, and Pedro, The Great Pretender, Phillip Osment’s translation of Pedro de Urdemalas, was included in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Golden Age season of 2004.3 Most critics, however, still consider Cervantes to be a much less significant dramatist than the famous triumvirate of Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Calderón de la Barca, and that opinion is reflected in the fact that many of the full-length plays have yet to be either translated or performed.
The first edition of Ocho comedias, like the plays themselves, has generated little interest, yet the preliminares, or front matter, of this volume reveal a connection with the second part of Don Quijote that is of interest both to students of Cervantes and to bibliographers in general.4 The purpose of this study is to investigate the significance of that connection—a process that has involved looking at the difficult conditions under which Cervantes wrote and his changing attitude to print, and analyzing data relating to books produced at two different Madrid print-shops during a period of four years from the beginning of 1612 to the end of 1615. The results of the research provide new insights into the working practices both of Cervantes and of his printers, challenging assumptions that have been made about modes of production in Spanish printing-houses during the early-modern period, and thereby supplying an answer to a question that has been raised about the length of time it took to print the second part of the Quijote.
The items usually included in the preliminares were the privilegio or licencia, the fe de erratas, the tasa, and the aprobación. There might also be a prologue and a dedication to the author’s patron, as was the case with both of Cervantes’s books. A licencia was simply a licence to print the work, whereas the privilegio gave exclusive rights of publication to the author for a limited period—twenty years for the second part of the Quijote and ten years for Ocho comedias. The author could—and usually did—sell the privilegio to a bookseller, who would then make a contract with a printer.5 The fe de erratas was not, as one might perhaps expect, a list of typographical errors, but an official testimony that the printed work was a faithful copy of the original de imprenta, a transcription of the author’s manuscript prepared for the printer by a scribe, which had to be submitted to the censor for approval (the aprobación). The date of the fe de erratas therefore indicates when the printing of the body of the work was finished.6 The process of production was not, however, quite complete, since the fe de erratas was usually followed, in most cases just a few days later, by the tasa— the setting of the selling price of the book—although in some cases the order is reversed and the tasa precedes the fe de erratas. In certain books other material from the front matter may also carry a later date than the tasa. For example, in the second part of Don Quijote the dedication was signed by Cervantes on 31 October, ten days after the tasa and fe de erratas, and the final date in the preliminares is 5 November, when Gutierre de Cetina signed the third aprobación.
Printing normally began only after the privilegio had been granted.7 It would have been in the interests of all parties—author, bookseller, and printer—that this should be as soon as possible, but the precise date on which production began may have depended on other factors, such as the other work that the printer had on hand. Since printing was generally completed—with the possible exception of certain other items in the preliminares—by the date of the fe de erratas, the period between the dates of the privilegio and the fe de erratas can be described as the production window— the period during which production must have occurred. In the case of the second part of Don Quijote almost seven months elapsed from the granting of the privilegio, on 30 March 1615, to the signing of the fe de erratas, on 21 October.8 That was more than twice the length of time it took to produce the first part—a significantly bigger book financed by the same bookseller, Francisco de Robles, and produced at the same print-shop, the one that bore the name of Juan de la Cuesta, but was actually owned by María Rodríguez de Ribalde.9
Returning to the preliminares of Ocho comedias, one finds that the privilegio for that volume was granted on 25 July 1615 and that the fe de erratas is dated 13 September, which means that, while the second part of Don Quijote was in production, the printing of the collection of plays, financed by a different bookseller, Juan de Villarroel, was completed at another print-shop, that of ‘La viuda de Alonso Martín’ (the widow of Alonso Martín), in just two months.10Ocho comedias consists of sixty-five sheets of quarto, five fewer than the second part of Don Quijote, but it would have been a far more complex project for a printer to set the volume of eight plays and interludes, especially since the full-length plays were written in a number of different verse forms.
If the unnamed bookseller mentioned in the prologue to Ocho comedias as having rejected the plays were Robles, that would provide us with a neat rationale for Cervantes’s placing them with another publisher and printer. However, the full explanation, it will be argued here, is more complex, and the key to understanding it, and also the delay in the production of the second part of Don Quijote, is provided by evidence that Spanish printers of this period had in place a system of concurrent production similar to the one described by McKenzie in his famous study of a Cambridge print-shop, operating over eighty years later.11 There is also strong evidence to suggest that Cervantes, who had a keen understanding of the way the printing business worked, had his own system of concurrent production in place, designed to expedite the publication of his late works. However, in order to appreciate fully the significance of the events surrounding the production of Cervantes’s works in Madrid in 1615 it is necessary first to place them in the context of his publishing history, which is characterized by a strangely uneven chronology and an uneasy relationship with print.
Few of Cervantes’s writings were published in the first sixty-five years of his life. His first novel, La Galatea, appeared in 1585, when he was thirty-seven years old.12 This pastoral romance was well received at the time, running to seven editions by 1618.13 In his aprobación to the second part of Don Quijote Francisco Márquez Torres recounts having met some French noblemen, one of whom ‘had almost managed to memorize it’.14 Even Cervantes’s rival Lope de Vega voiced his approval, through a character in La viuda valenciana (‘The Widow of Valencia’), who declares: ‘This is Galatea, if you want a good book then look no further’.15 Despite this success, twenty years passed before the publication of the first part of Don Quijote in 1605, a period that he refers to in the prologue of that work as ‘the silence of oblivion’ (‘el silencio del olvido’), and another eight years followed before the appearance of the Novelas ejemplares (‘Exemplary Stories’) in 1613.16 However, this trickle was followed by a deluge, with four more works printed in the last eighteen months of his life: Viaje del Parnaso (‘Journey to Parnassus’, November 1614), Ocho comedias (September 1615), the second part of Don Quijote (October 1615), and Persiles y Sigismunda, which he finished writing in April 1616, just before he died, and which was published posthumously early in 1617.17 Moreover, according to what Cervantes tells us in the various prol ogues and dedications of these late works, he was preparing three more works for publication when he died: the second part of La Galatea, Semanas del jardín (‘Weeks in the Garden’), and Bernardo. This late flurry of activity becomes even more remarkable when we consider that Cervantes was not only in his mid to late sixties but suffering from chronic ill-health with oedema.
The story of the printing of Cervantes’s works is, therefore, a curious one: sixty-five years of relative inactivity followed by a frenetic three years in which he seemed determined to publish as much as possible. The long gap between La Galatea and Don Quijote can, at least in part, be explained by the circumstances of his life, for during much of this period, from 1587 until 1597 or later, he was working as a government civil servant in Andalusia, first as a commissary for supplies for the Armada and then as a tax collector. These were demanding and stressful jobs, involving a lot of traveling and a considerable amount of paperwork, which would have left him with less time for writing. The period of eight years between Don Quijote and the Novelas ejemplares is, however, more difficult to account for. Why did Cervantes not seek to build on the extraordinary success of the Quijote, which had made him the most famous writer of prose fiction in Europe? The answer probably lies in the reservations he felt about the medium of print, which he expresses on two different points in the second part of Don Quijote: in the conversation between Don Quixote and Sansón Carrasco in Chapter 3, which I will return to later, and during Don Quixote’s visit to the Barcelona Print-shop in Chapter 62.
Don Quixote’s visit to a Barcelona print-shop in Chapter 62 indicates that Cervantes was very familiar not only with the technical aspect of printing but also with the way the business worked.18 Don Quixote witnesses the key activities that take place—composition of the formes by the typesetters, the operation of the presses, and correction of the proofs—and then strikes up a conversation with a man who is having his translation of an Italian work called Le Bagatele (sic) printed there. The translator, who is determined to have his book printed at his own expense, responds as follows to Don Quixote’s warning that he may end up with a lot of unsold copies on his hands, as a result of the shenanigans of printers: ‘“Well what would you have me do?”, said the author. “Do you want me to sell the rights to a bookseller, who’ll give me three maravedís for them and think he’s doing me a favour?”’19 It is a complaint that is echoed in Chapter 1 of the Fourth Book of Persiles y Sigismunda, by a Spanish pilgrim, whom Periandro and Auristela encounter in an inn near Rome, who is writing a book of aphorisms:
I won’t give up the rights to my book to any bookseller in Madrid even if he pays two thousand ducados for them. There isn’t a single one of them there who doesn’t want the rights for free, or for such a low price that it doesn’t benefit the author of the book.20
The translator’s experience probably reflects that of Cervantes, who had recently financed the printing of Viaje del Parnaso out of his own pocket, and who had ample experience of how little money could be made from writing novels and how the odds were stacked in favour of the bookseller when it came to selling the privilegio. In June 1584 Blas de Robles agreed to pay him 1336 reales for the rights to La Galatea, yet just eighteen months later he was in such dire straits that he needed to borrow more than four times that amount—204,000 maravedís, or 6,000 reales—in order to settle a debt.21 The success of Don Quijote had brought fame, but not riches, for even that bestseller, which ran to two editions in the first year, had earned him very little. He had sold the rights to the bookseller Francisco de Robles for 1500 reales, which, bearing in mind the rampant inflation that the Spanish economy was experiencing at the time, was probably an even worse deal than the one he had struck for Galatea.22 While the fact that he had not published anything for twenty years might explain his failing to profit from selling the privilegio of Don Quijote, it does not account for the similarly unfavourable arrangement regarding the rights to the Novelas ejemplares, which were sold on 9 September 1613 for just 1600 reales, at a time when Cervantes was famous throughout Europe.23 A playwright could make money from having their work performed on stage, but there was little profit in writing novels, even for an author as celebrated as Cervantes. In the aforementioned aprobación of the second part of Don Quijote Francisco Márquez Torres relates how, when asked by the French noblemen who were aficionados of Cervantes’s writing about the author’s ‘age, profession, status and wealth’, he replied, to their surprise, ‘old, a soldier, low-ranking nobility, and poor’ (‘viejo, soldado, hidalgo y pobre’).24 That picture of hardship is confirmed by Cervantes himself in the dedication to his patron, the Count of Lemos, in which he describes himself as ‘extremely hard-up’ (‘muy sin dineros’).25 These words, and those of Márquez Torres, who was a chaplain employed by the Archbishop of Toledo, one of Cervantes’s benefactors, are an ironic reminder that, while patronage may have eased his financial situation somewhat, it certainly did not make him comfortable.
Since the vast majority of the profits from printed books went to the bookseller, and since Cervantes, for most of his life, received little or no benefit from patronage, he had no great financial incentive to have his writings printed. The possibility of achieving celebrity was, of course, another motive, as Cervantes indicates in the prologue to the second part of Don Quijote:
I know only too well the temptations of the devil, and one of the greatest is to put the idea in a man’s mind that he can write and print a book that will earn him as much fame as money and as much money as fame.26
Here, and in the conversation between Don Quixote and the translator in the print-shop, Cervantes seems to be suggesting that the writer needs to choose between fame or profit. The translator makes it clear that his motives are purely mercenary: ‘I do not have my books printed to attain fame in the world, for I am already known for my work. I want profit. Without it, fame is not worth a farthing’.27 Choosing literary celebrity, however, as Cervantes had done, also involved risks, as we are reminded by the fact that the remarks in the prologue to the second part of Don Quijote are directed at an unknown writer going by the pseudonym of Alonso Fernández Avellaneda, who, in the autumn of 1614, had published a hostile sequel to the first part, in the prologue of which he had launched a vitriolic attack on Cervantes.28 The hijacking of his literary creation outraged Cervantes to such an extent that he changed the timetable that he had planned for the publication of his works, suspending work on Persiles to bring forward the completion of the Quijote. He expressed his contempt for Avellaneda at various points throughout the text, for example in the episode in the print-shop, which ends with the knight storming out, piqued by his discovery that one of the works being produced there is Avellaneda’s Quijote.
Don Quixote thinks Avellaneda’s book should have been ‘burned to cinders for its impertinence’ (‘quemado y hecho polvos por impertinente’), and goes on to stress the importance of truth in fiction.29 However, the book-trade does not make a distinction between works of fiction that are true and those which are false, and that lack of discrimination clearly infuriated Cervantes. It also irritated him that it was the publication of Don Quijote that had given rise to Avellaneda’s apocryphal sequel, as is clear from one of the items in Don Quixote’s last will and testament:
Item: I beseech the aforementioned gentlemen my executors that if by chance they should meet the author who is said to have composed a story that goes by the name of The Second Part of the Adventures of Don Quixote of La Mancha, they should, on my behalf, ask him, as insistently as possible, to pardon me for unthinkingly having given him the opportunity to write such a load of claptrap, because I leave this life with pangs of conscience for having given him the motive for writing it.30
That print could have negative consequences, and expose one to criticism or ridicule, was something that Cervantes had realized several years previously, when the first part of Don Quijote was published. It is a theme that emerges in Chapter 3 of the second part, in a conversation between Don Quixote and Sansón Carrasco, who, as the reader learns in the previous chapter, has brought news from Salamanca that Sancho and Don Quixote have become literary celebrities through the publication of the first book:
‘It often happens that those who have cultivated and achieved great fame through their writings either lose it completely or see it somewhat diminished when they hand them over to be printed.’
‘The reason for that’, said Sansón, ‘is that, as printed works are viewed at one’s leisure, it is easy to see their faults, and, the more famous the person who wrote them, the more they are subject to scrutiny.’31
Cervantes, in the Adjunta al Parnaso, the prose postscript to his narrative poem Viaje del Parnaso, is keen to stress an advantage, where plays are concerned, of the medium of print, which allows the reader to appreciate at his or her leisure what passes quickly in performance:
I am considering handing over the plays to be printed, so that one might see at one’s leisure what happens quickly, or is disguised or misunderstood when they are performed. Moreover, plays, like songs, have their seasons and their times.32
However, in the conversation between Don Quixote and Sansón, and again in the following chapter, Cervantes dwells on a major disadvantage of publication. Errors, once fixed in print, can be difficult to erase, both from the book and from the memory of the reader.
The most infamous of the faults in the first part of Don Quijote that Sansón Carrasco mentions is the narrative of the theft of Sancho’s donkey. In the first edition of Juan de la Cuesta reference is made to its having gone missing, but with no explanation as to how, between Chapters 25 and 29. In Chapter 42 the donkey reappears, again with no explanation. In the second Cuesta edition of 1605 an attempt was made to resolve the problem by inserting an episode in Chapter 23 in which Ginés de Pasamonte steals the animal, but the donkey is referred to six times, as if the theft had not occurred, before its recapture is described in Chapter 30.33 These discrepancies were all corrected in the Brussels edition of 1607, printed by Roger Velpius, but, astonishingly, only two of those corrections found their way into the third Cuesta edition of 1608.34 Cervantes decided to make light of the issue by incorporating these botched attempts at repairing the original error into the metafictional fun and games that characterize the second part of Don Quijote. When Sansón remarks that ‘before the ass reappeared the author states that Sancho was riding it’, Sancho retorts that ‘either the chronicler was mistaken, or it was carelessness on the part of the printer’, thus laying the blame on the fictional narrator, Cide Hamete Benengeli, or the actual print-shop of Juan de la Cuesta.35 That Cervantes felt the need to address the issue ten years after the error had first appeared in print demonstrates how much it bothered him. However, if he thought that his authorial sleight of hand would spare him further embarrassment, he was mistaken. Lope de Vega, who had been angered by some disparaging comments that Cervantes made in Chapter 42 of the first part, concerning his commercial attitude to the theatre, was certainly not inclined to let his rival off the hook. In Act III of Amar sin saber a quién (‘Loving, Without Knowing Who’) he refers not just to the original mistake, but to Cervantes’s attempts at exculpating himself, when the gracioso Limón, regarding the loss of an ass, says: ‘Tell us its colour, shape and name, for there is a man who is still waiting to find out what happened to a brownish grey mule. If you don’t, they will say it was “forgetfulness on the writer’s part”.’36 For Chartier the textual inconsistencies in the narration of the theft of Sancho’s donkey ‘point up the similarities that exist between Cervantes’s writing and certain practices of orality’.37 However, while such errors may have been part and parcel of the episodic, oral approach to storytelling in which Cervantes excelled, once fixed in print they laid him open to ridicule.
Cervantes therefore had good reason to develop ambivalent feelings about the medium of print, for although it made him famous, it also exposed him to criticism, some of it vicious, gave Avellaneda the opportunity to kidnap his hero, and made him very little money. However, in the period leading up to the publication of the Novelas ejemplares in 1613 any reservations that he felt about print probably began to be outweighed by a growing awareness, as a result of his age and ill health, of his own mortality, and the knowledge that the printed book was the only means whereby he could ensure that his writings would be preserved for posterity. Everything that he writes in the prologues and dedications of his late works is indicative of an author who is striving to complete, and have printed, as much of his work as possible. In the prologue to the Novelas he refers to Viaje del Parnaso as already having been written, even though the narrative poem was not printed until over a year later, at the end of 1614.38 He also announces that the volume of stories will be followed by Persiles, the continuation of Don Quijote and Semanas del jardín, a work that was never completed, the title of which suggests that it may have been conceived as another book of novelas.39 In the dedication to Ocho comedias he informs the Count of Lemos that ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha has put his spurs on, in his Second Part, in order to go and kiss Your Excellency’s feet’ and that Persiles, Semanas del jardín, and the second part of La Galatea will follow.40 In the prologue to the second part of Don Quijote and the dedication that follows it, dated 31 October 1615, he tells his readers to expect both Persiles, which he is ‘in the process of finishing’ and ‘will complete, God willing, within four months’, and the sequel to La Galatea, while in the dedication to Persiles, written just three days before he died, he indicates his intention to complete, if his health allows, not only Semanas del jardín and the second part of La Galatea but also Bernardo.41 Since that is the first mention of the latter work, whose title suggests a chivalric theme, it may have only existed in embryonic form.42 However, the consistency with which Cervantes refers to Semanas del jardín and the continuation of La Galatea from 1613 onwards makes it likely that these works were, indeed, at an advanced stage.
Taking into account what Cervantes himself tells us, and other information garnered from the front matter of the books written in the last few years of his life, it is possible to construct the following timetable for the production of his late works:
The schedule that Cervantes set for himself in the final four years of his life would have been demanding for any writer, but it is particularly remarkable when we consider that he was a man in his late sixties in poor health. In all but two months of the period of approximately fourteen months between mid September 1614 and early November 1615 Cervantes had at least one work at the printers. From 1612 he was not only writing continuously, but also making plans for the completion of as many as four other projects at the same time. This feverish activity reached its peak in the late summer of 1615, for, during August and September of that year, while he was writing Persiles, both the second part of Don Quijote and Ocho comedias were in production, with two different printers. Cervantes, who, as he indicates in Chapter 62 of the second part, was familiar with the ‘ins and outs of the printing business’ (‘las entradas y salidas de los impresores’), knew that printers had a system of concurrent production in place, which could produce lengthy delays.45 He had, accordingly, devised his own method of concurrent production, in order to ensure that as much of his writing as possible would be printed.
Garza Merino has stated that Spanish print-shops were organized around one major project at a time: ‘We know from surviving printing contracts that generally, once an edition had been agreed, it was a requirement that no other work would be accepted until the new one had been finished, which, barring exceptional circumstances, implied that the print-shop would organize itself around one project, apart from any small jobs that might be taken on’.46
Garza Merino is not specific about her sources, but her remarks would, at first blush, appear to be supported by a sixteenth-century document by Juan Vásquez de Mármol, the corrector at the Royal Printing-House (Imprenta de Su Majestad), listing thirteen conditions that an author could require a printer to meet before entering into a contract.47 The first of these stated that the printer was obliged to begin printing within a certain period, and not to abandon the process once begun.48 It is possible, however, to interpret that condition in different ways. An author or bookseller keen to see their book produced quickly might hope that it meant that the print-shop would focus exclusively on their job, whereas the printer could argue that dividing time between two or three jobs did not mean that the process of printing any one of them had been abandoned.49 In any case, Garza Merino’s views are clearly at odds with those of McKenzie, who, in his essay Printers of the Mind, which considered the records of the Cambridge University Press between 1696 and 1712 and of the London printing-house of Bowyer and Son between 1730 and 1739, found that ‘the Cambridge and Bowyer presses, like any other printing-house today or any other printing-house before them, followed the principle of concurrent production’, and that there was no evidence to suggest that any printing-houses of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries did not habitually print several books concurrently.50 McKenzie’s findings are supported by what happens in the episode in the print-shop, for there Don Quixote witnesses three books being produced concurrently. The aforementioned translation of Le Bagateleis being set by a compositor, while two other books are being proofed and corrected: a work entitled Luz del alma (‘Light of the Soul’) and—much to the knight’s displeasure—Avellaneda’s Segunda parte del ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha.
Analysis of information contained in the preliminares of sixty-five books produced at the print-shops of Juan de la Cuesta and La viuda de Alonso Martín between 1612 and 1615, obtained from Pérez Pastor’s Bibliografía madrileña, shows that printers in Madrid, like their English counterparts at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, and like those in the Barcelona printing-house described in the Quijote, did indeed operate a system of concurrent production. Table 1 shows part of the data that was collated: the key dates that indicate the production windows of seven other books printed at the Cuesta and Martín shops between 30 March 1615 and 5 November 1615, while Ocho comedias and the second part of Don Quijote were also in production.
The table helps to explain a question raised by Rico, who, in his study of the printing of the two parts of the Quijote, was puzzled by the fact that the second volume took so much longer to produce than the first one. The privilegio for the first part was granted on 26 September 1604, while the testimonio de las erratas is dated 1 December, which means that printing was completed in a little over two months.51 The corresponding period for the second part ran from 30 March to 21 October 1615—nearly seven months, even though the second volume is significantly shorter, at 280 folios, than the first one (316 fols.).52 Since there are more errors—almost double the number—in the second part, Rico thought it unlikely that the delay in the printing of the second part could be ascribed to a slower rate of production, and was unable to find any other explanation than bad luck, going on to say that the standard of printing in Spain at this time was incredibly low, and that print-shops were poorly equipped, undermanned, and lacking typesetters and correctors who were sufficiently qualified.53 That explanation is, however, thrown into question by Moll’s assertion that the Spanish printing industry of this period, despite facing technical problems, had a number of well equipped shops, with skilled workers who had an in-depth knowledge of their business and were capable of producing books of quality.54
It seems that Rico did not take into account concurrent production and must have assumed, like Garza Merino, that work in the print-shop would have been organized around one project. If one takes into account the other jobs with which the Cuesta shop was occupied, the real reason for the delay becomes clear. The production window of the second part of Don Quijote overlapped with that of four other works: parts V—VIII of Herrera’s Historia general; a new edition of Nebrija’s Dictionarium; Murcia de la Llana’s Compendio;and the second edition of Salas Barbadillo’s El Cavallero puntual (‘The Punctilious Knight’).55 The first two of these books were very large projects—319 and 213 sheets respectively, in folio format. Indeed, it is quite conceivable that, even though the privilegio for the second part of the Quijote was granted on 30 March, production did not get fully up to speed until the beginning of August, when work on the books by Herrera and Nebrija was completed. It would then have shared production time with the Compendio, another work in quarto, whose fe de erratas precedes that of the Quijote by only eight days, and El Cavallero puntual, a work in the comparatively rare duodecimo format, the erratas of which is dated 9 November, just four days after the final date in the front matter of the Segunda parte— the aprobación of Gutierre de Cetina.56
That the second part of the Quijote took longer to produce than the first part was therefore nothing to do with bad luck, poor equipment or insufficient manpower, but rather can be attributed to the fact that the book was printed concurrently with at least two others, and possibly as many as four. This was normal practice in the Cuesta shop during the period in question, and it was also the case in the printing-house of La viuda de Alonso Martín, where Ocho comedias was produced. As Table 1 shows, the volume of plays, comprising sixty-five sheets in quarto, was printed concurrently with three others: a book of sermons of one hundred and twelve sheets, also in quarto, and two works in octavo, the Rhetoricae Compendium ex scriptis patris Ioannis Baptistae and Ledesma’s Romancero, comprising twenty-five and twenty-four sheets respectively.57 The fact that these books were not printed serially is demonstrated by the fact that printing of the body of the four works was completed in quick succession: Ocho comedias on 13 September, the Sermones on 22 September, the Rhetoricae Compendium on 5 October, and the Romancero on 13 October.
Gaskell has summarized the reasons for concurrent production as follows: ‘Books varied so much in size that a balance between composition and presswork could not have been kept if they had been printed serially… for, depending on the relative magnitude of their tasks and on accident, either pressmen or compositors would constantly have been waiting for the others to catch up. Printers therefore had several books in production at once… so that when a man came to the end of a stage in the work, he would be in a position to take up something else’.58
This meant that an individual book took longer to print than it might have done if all the workmen had concentrated on it alone; but also that, by using plant and labour less wastefully, all the books could be printed in less time altogether, and at less cost, than they would have been by serial production.
In most cases production would not, therefore, as Garza Merino suggests, have involved two typesetters working in synchronized fashion on one book in order to supply one or two pressmen, thus ensuring that by the end of the day one sheet of a run of 1,000 or 1,500 copies had been printed.59 The organization of work would instead, as McKenzie argues, have been far more complex and varied, with typesetters and pressmen taking up whatever work was to hand, in order that they should not stand idle. What McKenzie discovered in the records of the Cambridge University Press was that each compositor would work on two or three books simultaneously, and that, even when two compositors worked on one book, the usual practice was that one would take over where the other left off. Like the compositors, a press-crew would usually be working on several books simultaneously, and the most efficient system was not to try to maintain a relationship between a particular compositor and crew.60 If the method of production in Madrid at the beginning of the seventeenth century were similar, as the evidence presented here suggests, then any study of the printing of a Spanish book from this period cannot view the production of that volume as an isolated event, but also needs to take into account other works that were printed concurrently in the same shop.
Since it was based on efficiency, the system of concurrent production worked to the advantage of both printer and author. However, writers keen to see their work published as quickly as possible would not necessarily have seen it that way. Cervantes had already experienced the frustrating delays that this mode of production involved during the printing of the Novelas ejemplares. The privilegio for that work, which was printed concurrently with Aranda’s Lugares comunes (Commonplaces) and the second part of Illescas’s Historia Pontifical y Catholica, was granted on 22 November 1612, yet the fe de erratas was not signed until 7 August 1613, over eight months later.61 By 1615 the ailing author, now sixty-seven years old, had probably realized that, if he were to achieve his ambition of publishing as much of his work as possible before he died, and, in particular, to have his beloved plays printed, he was going to need the services of more than one printer. It may well have been the case, as Cervantes hints in the prologue to Ocho comedias, that Robles, the bookseller who financed both parts of the Quijote and the Novelas ejemplares, was decidedly unenthusiastic about the idea of publishing the plays, but, even if that had not been so, Cervantes, for whom time was running out, would have been keen for him to find another printer, since the Cuesta shop was already occupied with the second part of the Quijote and the other works which were printed concurrently with it.
In the event, Cervantes managed to interest a newcomer to the book trade, the twenty-five year old Juan de Villarroel, in Ocho comedias. His shortlived career in publishing began in 1614, when he financed an edition of Juan Pérez de Moya’s Arithmetica Practica.62 He also acquired the rights to a new edition of Fernando de Mena’s translation of Heliodorus’s Historia etiopica de los amores de Teogenes y Cariclea, which appeared in the summer of 1615, just before Ocho comedias, although the title page of that volume indicates that it was financed by Pedro de Bogia.63 All of these books were printed at the print-shop of La viuda de Alonso Martín, which had been run by Francisca Medina since her husband’s death in 1613.64 Villaroel clearly ran into financial difficulties, for on 6 November 1615 there is a record of his owing 1,500 reales to Medina for the cost of printing both the Arithmetica and Ocho comedias.65 In the prologue to Ocho comedias, Cervantes mentions, with scarcely veiled irony, having been paid ‘a reasonable sum’ for the volume of plays; but he was never actually paid in full, for in 1626, nine years after his death, his widow, Catalina Palacios Salazar y Vozmediano, mentioned in her last will and testament an amount of 400 reales that Villarroel still owed.66
Medina’s print-shop was an obvious choice for the volume of plays. It was situated in Calle de los Preciados, a little further away than the Cuesta shop in Calle de Atocha, but still just a ten-minute walk from where Cervantes was living at the time, on the corner of Calle de León and Calle de Francos (now known as Calle de Cervantes), and even closer to Villarroel, whose address on the title page of Ocho comedias is given as ‘plaçuela del Angel’ (now known as Plaza del Ángel).67 The Medina shop, which printed many classic works of the Spanish Golden Age, had already produced Cervantes’s Viaje del Parnaso, and had just recently, on 3 April, completed printing of the Sexta parte (sixth part) of the plays of Lope de Vega, Spain’s most celebrated dramatist.68 Moreover, while the Cuesta shop specialized in the folio format, the printing-house of Medina was noted for working in octavo—the format in which Viaje del Parnaso appeared—and quarto, which was the usual format for plays. In 1615 it produced eight works in quarto, comprising 568 sheets, as opposed to Cuesta’s three (113 sheets). Ocho comedias, a work of sixty-five sheets, was produced in just eight weeks, with the result that although the privilegio for the plays was granted a month later than that of the Sermones and over two months later than that of Ledesma’s Romancero—the two books with which it was printed concurrently—Ocho comedias was the first of the three works to be completed. The privilegio for the plays was granted four months later than that of the second part of Don Quijote, yet the production of the plays was completed six weeks before the printing of the novel was finished. The efficiency of the Medina print-shop was such that, on 24 September, just two days after completing work on Ocho comedias, it finished the printing of the Sermones, a work of almost double the size in the same quarto format, the privilegio of which had been granted just three months previously; and by 5 October it had managed to produce the twenty-five sheets of octavo of the Rhetoricae Compendium, having only started work after 12 September. These are impressive rates of productivity for three books that were printed concurrently, and are an indication that the Medina shop probably had four presses at its disposal. It may also have been able to distribute work to other shops, for, as Moll points out, this often happened when a book needed to be produced quickly, as, for example, in the case of the second Madrid edition of the first part of Don Quijote.69 Time was certainly of the essence where Ocho comedias was concerned, for Cervantes must have been anxious to see his plays printed before he died, and one imagines he would have conveyed his concerns to both Villarroel and Francisca Medina.
While Ocho comedias and the second part of the Quijote were at the printers, Cervantes was working hard to complete Persiles. He had long been aware that printers in Madrid worked on many jobs at the same time, with the result that authors could experience lengthy delays in the printing of their works, and had therefore developed his own method of concurrent production, which proved to be particularly important in preserving his plays for posterity. For much of his life he had felt ambivalent about print, and with good reason, for it had made him little money and had exposed him both to ridicule and literary piracy. Now, however, with his health failing, he worked feverishly to ensure that as much of his work as possible would be passed on to future generations. The printed book, whatever its shortcomings, was the storage medium that would ensure that his writing survived. The dedication to Don Pedro Fernández de Castro, Count of Lemos, dated 19 April 1616, just three days before his death, is a moving testament to his determination to keep writing as long as he still has the strength to hold his pen:
I still retain in my soul the vestiges and traces of Weeks in the Garden and the famous Bernardo. If, by chance, by good fortune (though it would not be fortune, but a miracle), heaven allows me to live, you will see them, and also the final part of Galatea.70
In presenting his last work, Cervantes, who knows he is dying, also offers his patron and his readers, present and future, the ghosts of unfinished projects, those that neither the print-shop nor the wider world would ever see.
1Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Ocho comedias, y ocho entremeses nuevos, Nunca representados (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). In references to early editions, including titles and quotations, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and accentuation is reproduced as found in the source consulted, with the following exceptions, all of which have been regularized: the long ‘s’; where ‘u’ stands for ‘v’ (e.g. ‘auenturas’) and vice-versa (e.g. ‘Don Qvixote’); and where ‘i’ stands for ‘j’ (e.g. ‘trabaios’).
2 ‘No hallé autor que me las pidiese, puesto que sabían que las tenía; y así las arrinconé en un cofre y las consagré y condené al perpetuo silencio. En esta sazón me dijo un librero que él me las comprara si un autor de título no le hubiera dicho que de mi prosa se podía esperar mucho, pero que del verso nada.’ La entretenida, ed. by John O’Neill (London: King’s College, 2014), published online at http://entretenida.outofthewings.org. All translations are my own.
3 Jonathan Thacker, A Companion to Golden Age Theatre (Woodbridge: Tamesis, 2007), p. 59. Miguel Cervantes, Pedro, The Great Pretender, trans. by Philip Osment (London: Oberon Books, 2004).
4 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Segunda parte del ingenioso cavallero Don Quixote de la Mancha (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615 ).
5 Fermín de los Reyes Gómez, ‘La censura del libro: legislación y consecuencias. La impresión del Quijote’, in Imprenta, libros y lectura en la España del Quijote, ed. by José Manuel Lucía Megías (Madrid: Imprenta Artesanal, 2006), pp. 159—80 (p. 163).
9 When Cuesta joined the printing-house of Pedro Madrigal in 1599, it was jointly owned by Madrigal’s widow María Rodríguez de Ribalde (who had married Juan Iñiguez de Lequerica, and been widowed again), and their son, also called Pedro Madrigal. In 1604, after the younger Pedro died, his widow, María Quiñones, married Cuesta, who took over the running of the shop. Books produced there continued to bear his name until Ribalde’s death in 1626, even though Cuesta moved to Sevilla in 1607, abandoning his pregnant wife. Juan Delgado Casado, Diccionario de impresores españoles (siglos XV—XVII), 2 vols (Madrid: Arco/Libros, 1996), I, 175; Jaime Moll, ‘Juan de la Cuesta’, in Gran enciclopedia cervantina, ed. by Carlos Alvar, 10 vols (Madrid: Castalia, 2005— ), III(2006), 3020.[Note from Spanish Classic Books: more correct information at this link]
11 D. F. McKenzie, ‘Printers of the Mind: Some Notes on Bibliographical Theories and Printing-House Practices’, in Making Meaning: ‘Printers of the Mind’ and Other Essays, ed. by Peter D. McDonald and Michael Felix Suarez (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002), pp. 13—85.
12 Miguel de Cervantes, Primera parte de La Galatea, dividida en seys libros (Alcalá: Juan Gracián, 1585).
13 The other six editions were produced in Lisbon (1590), Paris (1611), Baeza (1617), Valladolid (1617), Lisbon (1618), and Barcelona (1618). See La Galatea, ed. by Francisco López Estrada and María Teresa López García-Berdoy (Madrid: Cátedra, 1999), pp. 124—25.
14 ‘Que alguno dellos tiene casi de memoria, la primera parte desta’; Don Quijote de La Mancha, ed. by the Instituto Cervantes, dir. by Francisco Rico (Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores; Centro para la Edición de los Clásicos Españoles, 2004), I, 669. References to this edition are by part, chapter (where applicable), and page.
15 ‘Aquesta es La Galatea | que, si buen libro desea | no tiene más que pedir’; cited in La Galatea, ed. Estrada & García-Berdoy, p. 99.
16 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1605). For the quotation see Don Quijote, I, Prólogo; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 11. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Novelas exemplares (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1613).
17 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Viage del Parnaso (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1614); Los trabajos de Persiles, y Sigismunda, historia Setentrional (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1617).
18Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, pp. 1247—51.
19 ‘—Pues ¿qué? —dijo el autor—. ^Quiere vuesa merced que se lo dé a un librero que me dé por el privilegio tres maravedís, y aun piensa que me hace merced en dármelos?’; Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1250. The basic units of currency when Cervantes was writing were the copper maravedí, the silver real (royal), equivalent to 34 maravedís, and the gold escudo (shield), the value of which fluctuated, from 350 maravedíswhen it was introduced in 1535, to 400 maravedís in 1566, to 440 maravedís in 1609. The gold ducado, worth 375 maravedís or 11 reales, was an older coin, which was replaced by the escudo during the reign of Charles V, but still functioned as a unit of account in Cervantes’s time. See Bernat Hernández, ‘Monedas, pesos y medidas’, in Don Quijote, ed. Instituto Cervantes, pp. 941—47 (pp. 941—42)
20 ‘-No daré el privilegio de este mi libro a ningún librero de Madrid, si me da por él dos mil ducados; que allí no hay ninguno que no quiera los privilegios de balde, o, a lo menos, por tan poco precio que no le luzga al autor del libro’; Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, ed. by Carlos Romero Muñoz (Madrid: Cátedra, 2002), p. 635.
21 Krzysztof Sliwa, ‘Documentación’, in Gran enciclopedia cervantina,IV (2007), 3570—3646 (p22p. 3589—90).
23 Cristobál Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, ó descripción de las obras impresas en Madrid, 3 vols (Madrid: Tipografía de los Huérfanos/Tipografía de la Revista de Archivos, Bibliotecas y Museos, 1891—1907), II, 250.
24Don Quijote, II, ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 670.
25Don Quijote, II, ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 679.
26 ‘Bien sé lo que son tentaciones del demonio, y que una de las mayores es ponerle a un hombre en el entendimiento que puede componer y imprimir un libro con que gane tanta fama como dineros y tantos dineros cuanta fama.’ Don Quijote, II, ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 675.
27 ‘Yo no imprimo mis libros para alcanzar fama en el mundo, que ya en él soy conocido por mis obras: provecho quiero, que sin él no vale un cuatrín la buena fama.’ Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1250.
28 Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda, Segundo tomo del ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, que contiene su tercera salida : y es la quinta parte de sus aventuras (Tarragona: Felipe Roberto, 1614).
29Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1251.
30 ‘Iten, suplico a los dichos señores mis albaceas que si la buena suerte les trujere a conocer al autor que dicen que compuso una historia que anda por ahí con el título de Segunda parte de las hazañas de don Quijote de la Mancha, de mi parte le pidan, cuan encarecidamente ser pueda, perdone la ocasión que sin yo pensarlo le di de haber escrito tantos y tan grandes disparates como en ella escribe, porque parto desta vida con escrúpulo de haberle dado motivo para escribirlos’; Don Quijote, II. 74; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1334.
31 ‘Muchas veces acontece que los que tenían méritamente granjeada y alcanzada gran fama por sus escritos, en dándolos a la estampa la perdieron del todo o la menoscabaron en algo. —La causa deso es —dijo Sansón— que, como las obras impresas se miran despacio, fácilmente se veen sus faltas, y tanto más se escudriñan cuanto es mayor la fama del que las compuso’; Don Quijote, II. 3; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 713.
32 ‘Pero yo pienso darlas a la estampa, para que se vea despacio lo que pasa apriesa, y se disimula, o no se entiende cuando las representan. Y las comedias tienen sus sazones y tiempos, como los cantares.’ Viaje del Parnaso, ed. by Miguel Herrero García (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto Miguel de Cervantes, 1983), p. 314.
33El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha, 2nd edn (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1605). The six occasions on which reference is made to the donkey can be found on fols. 109r, IIIV, 112r, 120V; 121r and 122r.
34El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Brussels: Roger Velpius, 1607). The six corrections are located on fols. 210r, 215r, 216r, 232r, 233r and 235r. El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1608). The two corrections can be found on fols. 96r and 98v.
35 ‘—No está en eso el yerro —replicó Sansón—, sino en que antes de haber parecido el jumento dice el autor que iba a caballo Sancho en el mesmo rucio. —A eso —dijo Sancho— no sé qué responder, sino que el historiador se engañó, o ya sería descuido del impresor.’ Don Quijote, II. 4; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 716.
36 ‘Dezidnos della, que ay hombre | que hasta de una mula parda | saber el sucesso aguarda, | la color, el talle, y nombre: | O si no dirán que fue | olvido del escritor’. Lope de Vega Carpio, Ventidos parte perfeta de las comedias(Madrid: La viuda de Juan Gonzalez, 1635), fol. 166r.
37 Roger Chartier, Inscription and Erasure: Literature and Written Culture from the Eleventh to the Eighteenth Century (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), p. 34.
38 Miguel de Cervantes, ed. by Jorge García López, Novelas ejemplares (Barcelona: Circulo de Lectores/Galaxia Gutenberg, 2005), p. 16.
39Novelas ejemplares, ed. García López, pp. 19—20.
40 ‘Don Quijote de la Mancha queda calzadas las espuelas en su segunda parte, para ir a besar los pies a V. E. […] Luego irá el gran Persiles, y luego Las semanas del jardín, y luego la segunda parte de La Galatea’; La entretenida,ed. O’Neill.
41 See Don Quijote, II; ed. Instituto Cervantes, pp. 677 and 679, and Persiles, ed. Romero Muñoz, pp. 117—18.
42 The title of Bernardo could be a reference to the legendary Spanish hero Bernardo del Carpio, who appears as a character in Cervantes’s play La casa de los celos, and is mentioned in El gallardo español and (several times) in Don Quijote.
43 The preliminares of Avellaneda’s Quijote do not include a privilegio, fe de erratas or tasa. The last date in the front matter is 4 July, which is when the second aprobacián was signed (fol. [ii]r). It is unlikely that a work of this size (sixty-eight sheets of quarto) could have been printed in less than two months, so the earliest date that it could have been published is September, which is the date that Canavaggio gives (Don Quijote, ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. CCCI). However, it is difficult to imagine that Cervantes, had he known about Avellaneda’s Quijote,would not have found a way of inserting some reference to it in the preliminares to Viaje del Parnaso, just as he did in the dedication to Ocho comedias and the prologue to the second part of Don Quijote. Such a reference could even have been added after the fe de erratas (11 November) and tasa (17 November), as was the case with the dedication of the Segunda parte. It therefore seems unlikely that Cervantes found out about Avellaneda’s Quijote until late November or December 1614.
44 Since Cervantes mentions having only six plays and interludes ready for publication in the Adjunta al Parnaso(see Viaje del Parnaso, ed. Herrero García, p. 314), he probably wrote the new material in the period of approximately five months between finishing Don Quijote and handing over the manuscript of Ocho comedias to the printers.
45Don Quijote, II. 62; ed. Instituto Cervantes, p. 1250.
46 ‘Sabemos por los contratos de impresión conservados que, por lo general, cuando se acordaba una edición, se exigía que no se aceptara otro trabajo hasta que se acabara el recién admitido, lo cual, descartando las salidas de la norma que hubiera, implicaba la organización de la empresa en torno a un proyecto, al margen de los pequeños encargos que se aceptaran’; Sonia Garza Merino, ‘La cuenta del original’, in Imprenta y crítica textual en el siglo de oro, ed. by Francisco Rico, Pablo Andrés, and Sonia Garza (Valladolid: Universidad de Valladolid, Centro para la Edición de los Clásicos Españoles, 2000), pp. 65—95 (p. 73).
47 Juan Vázquez de Mármol, Condiciones que se pueden poner cuando se da a imprimir un libro (Madrid: El Crotalón, 1983). The Condiciones are part of an autograph miscellany preserved at the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid (sig. Mss/9226, fol. 243r—v).
48 ‘Que el impressor se obligue a començar a imprimirlo dentro de tanto tiempo y despues de comenzado no dexe de proseguir en el so cierta pena.’
49 Neither the Dictionarium nor El cavallero puntual required a privilegio, since they were new editions, so estimates have been provided. If the speed of printing of the Dictionarium matched that of the Historia general,which was 319 sheets of folio and in production for nine months, then this work, which was almost exactly two thirds as long at 213 sheets of folio, would have been in production for six months. If, on the other hand, one assumes that production was at the average rate of 4. 5 sheets a week for folio at the la Cuesta shop between 1612 and 1615, printing of the Dictionarium would not have started until late September 1614. The only other work in duodecimo format, apart from El cavallero puntual, produced by Juan de la Cuesta in the period in question was the 1614 edition of Jorge Manrique’s Coplas (see Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, p. 297). The production window of that book, which comprised 17 sheets, spanned seven months, from 21 June 1613 until 17 January 1614. If the 13 sheets of El cavallero puntual were printed at a similar rate, production would have started sometime around the beginning of June 1615. However, none of these estimates should be regarded as reliable, since, as this study shows, it is very difficult to calculate rates of production for works that are printed concurrently.
53 Francisco Rico, El texto del ‘Quijote’: preliminares a una ecdótica del siglo de oro (Barcelona: Ediciones Destino, 2005), p. 210.
54 Jaime Moll, Problemas bibliográficos del libro del siglo de oro (Madrid: Arco/Libros, 2011), pp. 118—19.
55 Antonio de Herrera, Historia General de los Hechos de los Castellanos en las Islas y Tierra Firme del Mar Oceano [General History of the Deeds of the Castilian People in the Islands and Mainlands of the Oceans], pt. V—VIII, 2 vols (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615); Antonio Nebrija, Dictionarium (repr. Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615); Francisco Murcia de la Llana, Compendio de los Metheoros del Principe de los Filosofos Griegos y Latinos Aristoteles[‘Compendium of the Meteorological Observations of the Prince of Greek and Latin Philosophers Aristoteles’] (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615); Alonso Jerónimo de Salas Barbadillo, El Cavallero puntual, pt. 1, 2nd edn (Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1615).
57Sermones predicados en la Beatificacion de La B. M. Teresa de Jesus Virgen (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615); Rhetoricae Compendium ex scriptis Patris Ioannis Baptistae Poza (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615); Alonso de Ledesma, Romancero y Monstro imaginado (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). A romancero is a collection of romances (ballads).
58 Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p. 164.
59 ‘La práctica más común fue el reparto de la composición de un cuaderno entre cajistas que, trabajando sincronizadamente, fueran suministrando las formas a uno o dos tiradores diferentes, de manera que al cabo del día pudieran tener impreso un pliego, por lo menos, de una tirada corriente de mil o mil quinientos ejemplares’; Garza Merino, ‘La cuenta del original’, p. 73.
61 Juan de Aranda, Lugares comunes de Conceptos, Dichos y Sentencias en diversas materias, 2nd edn (Madrid: Juan de La Cuesta, 1613); Gonzalo de Illescas, Segunda parte de la Historia Pontifical y Catholica (repr. Madrid: Juan de la Cuesta, 1613). See Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, pp. 246—47, 26524.
62Arithmetica Practica y Speculativa (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). Villaroel was granted a licencia on 4 December 1614 (see Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, p. 351).
63Historia etiopica de los amores de Teogenes y Cariclea (Madrid: La viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). The licenciawas granted on 10 February 1615, and the last date in the front matter is 13 June, which is when the dedication was signed (see Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, p. 334).
64 The only other work with which Villarroel was associated was Persiles y Sigismunda, but that was printed by Juan de la Cuesta, although Medina’s shop did produce an edition, in 1619 (see Pérez Pastor, Bibliografía madrileña, p. 481).
65 K. Sliwa, Documentos de Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Pamplona: Ediciones Universidad de Navarra, S.A., 1999), p. 369.
66 ‘Él me las pagó razonablemente’; La entretenida, ed. O’Neill. Regarding the debt, see Sliwa, Documentos, pp. 371—72.
67 Jaime Moll, ‘Viuda de Alonso Martín’, in Gran Enciclopedia Cervantina, VIII (2011), p. 7639.
68 Lope de Vega, Sexta parte de sus Comedias (Madrid: la viuda de Alonso Martín, 1615). Other important works produced at the Medina shop included editions of Cervantes’s Novelas ejemplares (1622), Montemayor’s La Diana(1622), and Rojas’s Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea (1632).
70 ‘Todavía me quedan en el alma ciertas reliquias y asomos de Las semanas del jardín, y del famoso Bernardo. Si, a dicha, por buena ventura mía (que ya no sería ventura, sino milagro), me diese el cielo vida, las verá, y, con ellas, fin de La Galatea’; Persiles y Sigismunda, ed. Romero Muñoz, pp. 117—18.
In Golden Age Spain, most major “serious” poets also wrote superb and exuberant comic verse. Cervantes, Quevedo and Góngora are but three examples.
In his book Cervantes and the Burlesque Sonnet, author Adrienne Laskier Martín seeks ‘to contribute to a new understanding and reappraisal of Cervantes as both an accomplished poet and a comic genius. Indeed, these poems reveal the model of comicity that Cervantes utilizes in his masterpiece of humor, Don Quixote.’
This book is a revised version of author’s doctoral dissertation, written at Harvard University under the direction of Francisco Márquez Villanueva:
Cervantes, recognized as Spain’s greatest humorist, is especially alluring as a humorous poet since his festive corpus stands as a barely sampled treat waiting to be savored. It exemplifies his humor, the touchstone of all Cervantine literature, and at the same time confirms his substantial poetic gifts.
The purpose in this book is to provide an artistic analysis of Cervantes’s burlesque sonnets, a genre of which he was particularly fond and in which he excelled.
‘The burlesque sonnet is a rich vein within the comic verse tradition in Europe. And Cervantes was an excellent burlesque sonneteer. But what does “burlesque” actually mean? Although the origin of the word “burla” is unknown, it is apparently a Spanish creation whose later derivation, “burlesco” nevertheless derives from the Italian. The term means both a trick—”la acción que se hace con alguno, o la palabra que se le dice, con la cual se le procura engañar [an action or words used to deceive someone]” and mockery: “la acción, ademán, o palabras con que se hace irrisión y mofa de alguno, o de alguna cosa [an action, gesture, or words used to deride and ridicule someone or something]” (Autoridades, s.v. “burla “). The acceptations combine in burlesque poetry, whose purpose is to mock and ridicule someone or something, often itself. Burlesque can mock a literary style or movement or a specific work. It can also mock a person, a society, an institution, or even a nation. Burlesque is not specifically limited to literature, yet its richest expression is achieved through this medium. Burlesque is a certain attitude toward life and toward the object of the burla . Rather than criticize and censure bitterly as satire does, burlesque is festive and comic in spirit and in style. It does not imply satire’s superior stance with regard to its object. While satire tends to portray life as tragically flawed and vice-ridden, burlesque depicts life as ridiculous and, therefore, worthy of being ridiculed. This element of burla —of mockery and ridicule and of pulling a trick on someone or something—is essential to the aesthetic category of the burlesque. It must be allowed, however, that burlesque and satire cannot be rigidly separated and often overlap in practice.
Indispensible to a proper appreciation of the burlesque is the realization that it has its own aesthetic standards and conventions. Unfortunately, in the late twentieth century we still operate to an extent under the often prudish nineteenth-century canons of literary “good taste.” But the burlesque deliberately turns its back on “the beautiful” in its search for the festive image, the quick joke, the laugh. It does not seek harmonious, melodic language but one designed to ridicule and provoke laughter, to debase, and to shock our ears and even our sensibilities. Its concerns are not the intricacies of the soul, of love, or of metaphysics, but the parodic inversion of such sublime themes. This is not to say, however, that the burlesque is without its own profound philosophical “meaning.”
Paradoxically, through exaggeration, burlesque is a call to truth and antidogmatism. It bids us to cast aside the prevailing deadly serious world view so that we might see and enjoy ourselves in all our complexity: imperfect, illogical, and irrational, yet vital and irresistibly comical creatures.
2. Quevedo y Góngora
Along with his lifelong rival, Luis de Góngora, Quevedo was one of the most prominent Spanish poets of the age. His style is characterized by what was called conceptismo. This style existed in stark contrast to Góngora’s culteranismo.
Alix Ingber, Professor Emerita of Spanish at Sweet Briar College, USA, developed a web site with 115 translations of Golden Age Spanish sonnets to English: http://sonnets.spanish.sbc.edu
Ramón Menéndez Pidal was born in 1869 and died in 1968, so 2018 is the 50th anniversary of his death and 2019 the 150th anniversary of his birth. To commemorate these events, the Fundación Ramón Menéndez Pidal celebrates the ‘Bienio Pidalino’.
What follows is Ramón Menéndez Pidal, “The Genesis of Don Quixote,” from The Anatomy of Don Quixote: A Symposium, edited by M. J. Bernardete and Ángel Flores. First published in English by Dragon Press, 1932. Copyright 1924 by Ramón Menéndez Pidal; currently, this essay appears in Cervantes across the Centuries, edited by Angel Flores and M. J. Bernardete 1948, 1969 by Gordian Press, NY.
The origin of this article was a speech in Ateneo de Madrid in 1920, later published in Ramón Menéndez Pidal, «Un aspecto en la elaboración del Quijote», in De Cervantes y Lope de Vega, 1.ª ed., Buenos Aires, Espasa Calpe Argentina, 1940, pp. 9-56 (see online version in Spanish)
From the twelfth century onward, France, relying primarily on Bretonian legends, had set the model for the versified romance of chivalry, the taste for which spread throughout Europe, thanks to the charm of works such as Tristan, Lancelot, Perceval, and, Merlin, by Chrétien de Troyes or Robert de Boron, and to that of a body of prose literature that made its appearance in the first half of the thirteenth century. Heroic verse, which reflected traditional, political, and martial ideas and was characterized by domestic austerity and the absence of love as a poetic theme, was now succeeded by a new kind of narrative poetry, which, like the lyric, assumed the essential character of love poetry, with its scenes unfolding in a courtly, elegant world far removed from the stern feudalism of the epic.
The several and new emotions that enriched these poems of adventure were embellished by very diverse means. Through the famous works of Béroul, Chrétien, and Thomas, France was especially smitten by the poetry of fatal and turbulent love, whose poisoned shafts struck the breast of Tristan. Germany, in the poem by Wolfram von Eschenbach, contemplated the battles of inner purification fought in Parsifal’s soul, winning for him the kingdom of the mystical city of the Holy Grail. Spain refined the legends of Bretonian inspiration into the anonymous Amadís, inventing the innocent first love of the Doncel del Mar and Lady Oriana, which was destined to last from childhood until death “in such a manner that never for a single hour did they cease to love one another,” despite the temptations and hardships that relentlessly conspired against them.
Amadís, whose stout heart beats comfortably only at the shock of danger and in the midst of battles against deadly attacks, nevertheless trembles and turns into a coward in the presence of his lady, at whom he hardly dares to gaze. He goes numb upon merely hearing Oriana’s name, and he would actually fall off his horse were it not for his faithful squire Gandalín, who steadies and supports him. The romance of chivalry inherits this trait from the love poems. But because the latter originate immediately after the epic, it is not surprising that they, like the later romances of chivalry, have certain points of contact with the ancient heroic poems. Like heroic poetry, the romances of chivalry conceive their heroes within very similar ideals of chivalric perfection, placing them in a world made up of only two bands, one of the noble personages, the other of the wicked, who are locked in eternal antagonism with one another. Moreover, the struggle between them is settled in battles that use formulas and narrative techniques found both in the romances of chivalry and epic poetry.
Apart from the inspiration of love, other very profound differences in the conception of poetic life nevertheless separate the new literary productions from the old. In the romances of chivalry the struggle between the two forces previously mentioned is not carried out in an organized fashion, as in the epic—where the contest is generally played out before the king and his court—nor does it extend to entire nations. It is instead a purely personal struggle. The life of the ancient vassals, set in the midst of a powerful family group, faithful to or rebellious against their lord, abandons its national and political dimensions to assume a human and merely individual quality with the advent of the new knights-errant, who wander about alone in search of adventures, stimulated by whim and chance. The horrible revenges based on inherited enmities that characterized the epic are now replaced by what the Amadís calls “glorious vengeances,” which the knight executes in the name of justice as if following a professional protocol without himself being personally involved in the wrong he seeks to redress. The knight-errant fights as if to the death for any reason, whether it be to prevent the harmful enchantments of Archelaus or merely to compel a strange knight to declare his secret name. Heroic action is replaced in the romances of chivalry by actions that are arbitrary and more than human, both in the brutal acts of violence of the evil knight and in the lance thrusts of the good ones, which always cut through perversity’s strongest coats of mail. The epics’ heroic deeds unfold slowly in the middle of the life of societies of great historical density; meanwhile, the adventures of the romance of chivalry take place brusquely and swiftly against a lonely landscape, typically in a vast forest where the laments of the aggrieved go unheeded until the avenging knight hears them. If there arises on the edge of the forest a wellturreted castle inhabited by some powerful lord, or by a giant or an enchanter, be he evil or kindly, it is only for the purpose of initiating further complicated adventures which the good knight untangles and resolves with the blows of his invincible arm. If farther on a king’s court is occasionally found, it is only because the valiant knight-errant, who all by himself is more powerful than the entire kingdom, is awaited. How far removed is all this from the Poem of Mío Cid! The Corpes Woods, where the Cid’s daughters are ravaged, is not the center of the heroic life. The greatest of affronts committed against the hero in the oak woods is not immediately avenged on the spot, as a romance of chivalry would demand, but rather at the court of Toledo and under its authority. However, the romance of chivalry is actually not very far removed from the later epic—the new decadent epic of the Cid—in which the vassal repudiates his king and the entire nation and goes on to fight alone.
In Spain, this medieval romance had a very late revival. Around 1492 Garci Ordoñez de Montalbo adapted and expanded the old Amadís with such timeliness and good fortune—typical at the time of all Spanish endeavors—that the work, which for two centuries had been confined to the Peninsula, now sallied forth brilliantly and impetuously into the realm of universal literature, being translated and meriting repeated editions in a great many foreign languages. The romance of chivalry, which during the Middle Ages had scarcely produced any original works in Spain and which in France was completely forgotten, enjoyed in the plenitude of the Renaissance a profuse flowering which spread from the Peninsula throughout Europe. There came forth an entire series of sequels to the Amadís which recounted the lives of the sons and grandsons—Esplandianes, Lisuartes, Floriseles— of the fortunate Doncel del Mar. Additional series of Palmerines, Primaleones, and a hundred other knights, who came from the strangest and most archaic realms of fiction, entertained the spirits of those generations that deserved the more refined art of Bembo, Garcilaso, Ronsard, and Sidney. The last highly successful romance of chivalry, the one that survived the longest, was Diego Ortún ̃ez de Calahorra’s El Caballero del Febo (1562), whose adventures furnished plots to the courtly theater of Queen Elizabeth of England and inspired Henry Pettowe and perhaps even Shakespeare himself.
With some basis in fact, but also considerable exaggeration— justified by the exuberance of popular opinion on the matter— it has been claimed that chivalric and adventurous ideals were at odds with the Spanish character and spirit. For some, an unfathomable abyss existed between the Spanish epics (like the Poem of Mío Cid) and the romances of chivalry which, some had asserted, never enjoyed real popularity among us. It is true that the romance of chivalry is not derived from the ancient Spanish epic, but it is nevertheless linked to it, even if only by a tenuous thread. It is also true that it is primarily a reflection of foreign models, but this fact neither cancels out its popularity nor stands in the way of the intimate Spanishness of the Amadís, which was a happy adaptation to the Spanish spirit of a French trend. And if chivalric literature captivated the Spanish public from the remote times of King Don Pedro to those of Philip III, filling bulky tomes for the more cultured classes; if it descended the social scale in the form of cheaply produced broadsides for the humble classes and invaded even the beautiful ballads of the Romancero; if it inspired the national Hispano-Portuguese theater; if it found its way into seigneurial events and public fiestas; if its lengthy tales provided absorbing reading, capable of filling with bitter remorse the conscience of the old Chancellor Ayala, Juan de Valdés, or Santa Teresa, and of worrying the solicitors in the Cortes of the kingdom as well as the moralists Luis Vives and Fray Luis de Granada, then we must concede that this literary genre was not only popular but exceedingly so. The romances of chivalry did not triumph, as some believe, because they were the only narrative works of fiction available in the sixteenth century, but rather because they practically had no competition, as their adventures had long beforehand captured the Spanish imagination. These works spawned continuations and sequels because readers’ imaginations wanted to prolong the pleasure of living vicariously the life of exciting adventure with its victorious, avenging great deeds.
This literature was not dying of old age even as late as 1602, when Don Juan de Silva, Lord of Cañadahermosa, published his Crónica de don Policisne de Boecia. Then came the well-known moment when Cervantes decided to better the reading habits and morals of his homeland by discrediting the romances of chivalry.
Don Quixote is thus born with a special literary purpose, stated repeatedly by the author, according to which it may be believed that the novel bears only a negative relationship to such books and to the chivalric spirit that informs them. Lord Byron (in his Don Juan) thinks that Cervantes destroyed the Spanish feeling for chivalry and that he was thus responsible for his country’s ruin. Likewise, León Gautier (upon dedicating his monumental volume on the chivalric life to Cervantes himself), bitterly lamented the fact that ancient chivalry—his love of loves—was ridiculed and put to death by the great novelist. To forgive Cervantes for the imperishable yet demolishing pages of Don Quixote, Gautier was forced to evoke the heroic soldier of Lepanto, preferring the man over the book. Menéndez y Pelayo, at the opposite pole, maintained that Cervantes did not write a work antithetical to chivalry nor one of dry and prosaic negation but, rather, a work of purification and perfection: He came not to kill an ideal but to transfigure and exalt it. All the poetic, noble and human elements of chivalry were incorporated into the new work with the loftiest of meanings. In this way, Don Quixote was considered to be the last of the romances of chivalry, the definitive and most perfect one.
Between this latter point of view, which in itself seems paradoxical, and the other, more generally accepted one, we shall endeavor to develop our own judgment concerning the fundamental meaning of Don Quixote by taking a genetic approach.
Regarding the introduction of a comic dimension into a heroic domain, Don Quixote appears as the last exemplar of a series. This intertwining of the comic and the heroic had existed in literature for many centuries, since the very time of the epic’s splendor. It is sufficient to recall, as the most notable instance, the epic poem Pèlerinage de Charle Magne. The Renaissance stressed this way of understanding heroic poetry, because in that period, which contemplated serene classical beauty with great seriousness, the characters of the chansons de geste must have been seen as extremely simple poetic fictions, as monotonous in their turns of thought as in the wild blows of their swords. Spirits nourished by the ideas of Roman antiquity understood much less the empire of Charlemagne than that of Augustus, and they were unable to truly appreciate the simple grandeur of the medieval epic. Thus the Italian Renaissance, from the end of the fifteenth century, finding itself with Pulci and Boiardo confronting Carolingian and Bretonian poetic material that the northern Italian tradition transmitted to it, could not take that tradition seriously. By making Roland fall in love, Boiardo amused himself by presenting the unconquerable paladin as an awkward and timid lover, a stupid fellow, a babbione ever deceived by Angelica. Later, Ariosto (1516–32) continued this ridicule of the hero, making him a spurned lover, and exaggerating the furious madness of his jealousy to tragicomic proportions. With regard to these culminating scenes, the poet, whimsically and with a barely veiled smile, intertwines the knights of Charlemagne with those of Marsilio in a tangle of adventures—adventures replete with love affairs, battles, and enchantments, each one being interrupted and overtaken by the following one, like the calm waves of the sea, always continuous, always monotonous, foaming forever with playful novelty.
Almost a century after Ariosto, Cervantes took up chivalric adventures from a comic point of view. The Spanish author knew and admired Boiardo as well as Ariosto. He frequently imitated the Orlando Furioso, and Don Quijote even prided himself in being able to sing some stanzas of the poem. Still, face to face with his much admired predecessors, Cervantes achieved a strange kind of originality. While Pulci, Boiardo, and Ariosto carried forward the narration of the old poems with mocking humorism, Cervantes, on aiming to satirize the tales of chivalry in prose, did not set out to write a poem but rather a novel which took him into an artistic realm very different from that of the Italians. That is, Cervantes did not seek the initial source of his inspiration in their works, lofty as they were with artifices and the exquisiteness of monumental endeavors; instead, following the instincts of his Spanish nation, he sought inspiration in a simpler, more popular kind of literature.
Along with the comic scenes of the old French epic and the unbelievable narration of chivalric fiction created by Boiardo and Ariosto, there had long existed, in works of a lesser literary magnitude, another more openly hostile way of looking at chivalry: that of embodying its ideals in a poor madman whose fantasies are dashed to pieces against hard reality. For example, in the second half of the fourteenth century, I find in the work of the Italian novelist Franco Sacchetti a figure of the most exact quixotic appearance. In Agnolo di Ser Gherardo, Sacchetti created an extravagant personality, afflicted with a chivalric monomania in spite of his seventy years of age, who, mounted on a tall, lean horse that was the very image of hunger itself, goes from Florence to a nearby town to attend jousting matches. As his assistants help him put on his helmet and give him his lance, mischievous wags place a thistle under the tail of his nag, which begins to run, leaping and bucking, and does not stop until galloping all the way to Florence. There, amid general laughter, a woman takes in the battered equestrian, puts him into bed to cure him of the blows caused by his helmet and armor, and upbraids him for his foolish chivalric madness. Not only the comic structure but also the narrative details are similar to those in Don Quixote. Who can forget the old Manchegan hidalgo atop his lean Rocinante on the beach at Barcelona, where he, too, has gone to participate in certain jousts, and by his strange bearing arouses wonder in the merrymakers who surround him? Who does not remember the boys who place a bundle of gorse beneath his horse’s tail, producing the beast’s bucking that sends Don Quijote crashing to the ground?
Cervantes must have known Sacchetti’s story or a similar one, either in manuscript or in its oral telling, although he must have come to it late, only upon writing part II of the novel, where he exploits it. He also must have been familiar with some of the various stories then in circulation about comic delusions suffered by readers of books of chivalry, like the one about the student at the University of Salamanca who, because of these books, abandoned his studies and one day interrupted the solitude of his reading with loud shouts and sword thrusts in the air in defense of one of the characters in the novel he was reading; to such a point it had saturated his brain.
While Cervantes must have known stories of this sort, perhaps not knowing or remembering them until after beginning Don Quixote, it is certain that he conceived the first episodes of the novel as a response to the stimulus of a work of another type, a contemptible “Entremés de los Romances” (“Interlude of the Ballads”) whose importance, in my opinion, has not yet been understood by the critics.1 Adolfo de Castro happened to exhume this sorry theatrical composition, stating that Cervantes himself was its author and thereby attracting to himself the most justifiable and widespread disgrace among critics. Nevertheless, his foolish affirmation ought not to prevent us from examining the question without prejudice.
The “Entremés” must have been written about 1591 or shortly afterward. Its intention was to make fun of the extraordinary vogue of the Romanceros, the volumes of which had been published without pause for half a century, especially the Flor de Romances, which was reprinted and augmented from 1591 to 1597.
This “Entremés” introduces us to a poor peasant, Bartolo, who from “reading the ballads so much” goes crazy, as Don Quijote did from reading the books of chivalry. Bartolo insists on ridiculously imitating the knights in the ballads. His ravings bear the most striking resemblance to those of Don Quijote during his first adventure, that of the Toledan merchants. Having become a soldier in his madness, Bartolo believes himself to be the Almoradí or the Tarfe of the Morisco ballads, and he attempts to defend a shepherdess who is being harassed by her shepherd boyfriend. But the latter takes Bartolo’s lance and mauls him with it, leaving him flattened on the ground. In like manner, Don Quijote is beaten with his own lance by one of the merchant’s muleteers. Unable to get up, Bartolo consoles himself by thinking that not he but rather his horse was to blame for his misfortune. Don Quijote says the same thing, without being able to raise himself from the ground: “It is not through my fault that I lie here, but through that of my horse.” Resemblances increase when Bartolo, recalling the well-known “Ballad of the Marqués de Mantua,” now believes himself to be the enamored Valdovinos, who lies wounded in the deserted woods and exclaims: “Where art thou, my lovely lady/Feel’st thou not my cruel pain?” Don Quijote likewise believes himself to be Valdovinos, and he bursts forth reciting these same verses. Meanwhile, members of Bartolo’s family arrive, and he now thinks that it is the Marqués himself arriving; thus he greets them with more verses from the ballad: “O noble Marquis of Mantua/My uncle and carnal lord!” These are verses that Don Quijote also repeats when a peasant from his own town approaches him.
The “Entremés” goes on stringing together parts of the ballad, first in the mouth of Bartolo, then in those of the other characters who, humoring the madman, give themselves over to a foolish parody concerning the very famous history of the Marqués de Mantua. As would have been expected, Cervantes rejected such a grotesque parody, and he reduced it to a short narrative in which he says that Don Quijote only replied to all of his neighbor’s questions with verses from this ballad, recounting Valdovinos’s misfortunes as his own. In this short sequence, early in his novel, Cervantes allows himself to be swayed by the parodic system of the “Entremés.” He recalls that the Marqués, on approaching the wounded knight,
From his head and face his helmet
And his beaver first he drew;
Then with gore beheld him cover’d,
All of one ensanguin’d hue.
With his handkerchief he wipes him;
When his face from blood was clean,
Then, alas! too true the story,
Then too plain the truth was seen.
Cervantes tells us that, upon approaching Don Quijote, the peasant, “taking off the visor of his helmet… wiped off the dust that covered his face, and presently recognized the gentleman and said to him…” Created by Cervantes without any burlesque intent, this parody is a significant vestige of his unconscious imitation of the ballads, as suggested by the “Entremés.”
Bartolo and Don Quijote are carried away in the same fashion to their respective villages, and while on the road the madness of both takes a violent leap from the ballad of the Marqués de Mantua to those on Morisco themes. Bartolo now imagines that he is the mayor of Baza, who laments with his friend Abencerraje the unfaithfulness of his beloved Zaida, and Don Quijote fancies that he is Abencerraje’s captive, who tells the mayor of Antequera about his loves. Both madmen finally reach their homes, and once in bed, they fall asleep. But in a short time both are back to alarming their concerned relatives, disturbing them with new follies: Bartolo ranting about the burning of Troy and Don Quijote about the tournaments of the twelve peers.
“May the devil take the ballads which have put you in such a plight!” says Bartolo’s neighbor. “May a hearty curse… light upon those books of chivalry that have put you in this pickle,” says Don Quijote’s housekeeper when he reaches home. The “Entremés” aims to make sport of imprudent readers of the ballads and treads its ground firmly when it makes Bartolo believe that he is a character drawn from them. Cervantes wants to censure the reading of chivalric romances, and he is very much out of his element when he repeatedly makes Don Quijote rave about the same ballad characters as Bartolo. It can be readily seen that the first idea of the madman who dreams that he is Valdovinos belongs to the “Entremés,” and that only thanks to its general, undue influence is it found in Cervantes’ novel. If we should claim for an instant that the “Entremés” was written after the novel and created in imitation of Don Quixote, we would be forced to confront the fact that it reaches into the very foundation of both works.
We should still add yet another substantial consideration on behalf of the precedence of the “Entremés.” A madman in whose head his own personality dissolves in order to be substituted by that of a famous personage is the crass and sole type of lunacy that governs the “Entremés,” which is mindful only of provoking the spectators’ laughter. But in Don Quixote this kind of madness only appears in the first adventure, in the fifth and seventh chapters about which we have been speaking. It is, moreover, a madness that is at odds with the one that always afflicts Don Quijote, whose personality remains on every other occasion steadfast and firm in the presence of those heroes who are the cause of his insanity. One must consider, then, in examining the foundations of that which is quixotically comic in the adventure of the Toledan merchants, that Cervantes did not conceive the episode by freely mixing the resources of his own fantasy, but that his imagination was constrained and limited by the indelible recollection of the “Entremés de los Romances,” which had left a strong comic impression in his mind. This tenacious, immoderate impression not only imposed on Cervantes an unconscious and incomprehensible substitution by the ballads of the Romancero tradition of the books of chivalry as the cause of Don Quijote’s madness, but rather, and in addition, implied a form of madness and a parodic procedure that were quite foreign to the untrammeled imagination of the novelist.
This is the fundamental element in the genesis of Don Quixote. Cervantes discovered a productive kind of humor in the “Entremés,” which poked fun at the mental derangement caused by the injudicious reading of the Romancero. This literary satire seemed to him an excellent theme. But he shifted it away from the ballads— an admirable poetic form—in order to transfer it to a literary genre despised by many, that of the romances of chivalry, which at the same time were as popular as the Romancero. There were authors, too, who, like Lorenzo de Sepúlveda, wished to apply a corrective to the influence of the old ballads, so “full of many lies and very little merit,” but Cervantes was not to proceed either in the manner of Sepúlveda or of that of the writer of the “Entremés.”
As soon as Don Quijote arrives home and goes to sleep, resting from the madness of having been the Valdovinos of the ballad, the priest and the barber proceed to the scrutiny of the deranged hidalgo’s library. In it, besides the great profusion of romances of chivalry, there are the Dianas, the Galatea, and other pastoral romances. There are heroic poems in the Italian style and the Tesoro de varias poesías, but we notice with surprise that there are none of the many Cancioneros, Silvas, Flores de Romances, or other Romanceros that had been published over the previous half century.2 To Cervantes, the brief poems contained in these collections were, so to speak, the poetic output of the entire Spanish people. They could not be the cause of the madness of the very noble knight of La Mancha, nor should they be subjected to the judgment of the priest and the barber. What really drove Don Quijote insane were those bulky old books of chivalry which were condemned to the fire, like the unwieldy Don Florisel de Niquea and that fat barrel of a tome, Don Olivante de Laura. Still, the first instance of Don Quijote’s immortal madness was not provoked by any of these but rather by a thin, cheaply produced broadside containing the “Romance del Marqués de Mantua,” which does not figure in any way in the witty and grand scrutiny because it entered not into Cervantes’ plans but rather into those of the mediocre author of the “Entremés.”
Solely through the immediate influence of the “Entremés” are we able to discover that the ballads, not the romances of chivalry, lie at the heart of Don Quixote. And this is not only the case in the adventure of the Toledan merchants but also in other events of chapter 2. At dusk on that hot July day which saw Don Quijote’s first longed-for sally through the Montiel plain, when he arrives at the inn where he is to be dubbed a knight, is he contented with the poor lodging that the innkeeper offers him, recalling the words of the mysterious ballad La Constaneira: “My only gear is arms,/My only rest, the fray”? And when the inn’s female attendants help him remove his armor, he goes on with his insanity by garbling lines from the ballad of Lancelot:
Oh, never, surely, was there a knight
So served by hand of dame,
As served was he, Don Quijote hight,
When from his town he came.
But all this changes completely as soon as Cervantes puts the “Entremés” behind him.
When a superior work of literature is in question, the study of the literary sources of an author, which is always an excellent way of understanding the sum of human culture of which the poet forms a part, should not be undertaken for the purpose of determining what that work takes from them in order to subtract from its originality. (That could only be done by those who do not understand what truly constitutes artistic invention.) On the contrary, the study of sources should serve to show how a poet’s conception rises above those sources, how it frees itself, and evaluates and transcends them.
Paradoxically, Cervantes is more original than ever precisely when he follows the “Entremés” most closely. Of that fresh, keen, and profound comic delicacy which makes the episode of the Toledan merchants one of the best in the novel, not a single element is derived from the “Entremés,” which imposed on Cervantes’ imagination only sporadically the most peripheral details of the adventure. The grotesque and clownish Bartolo resembles Don Quijote from the outset only in the crass materiality of some of his actions. To make use of the “Entremés” in the first chapters of Don Quixote, a gigantic creative effort was needed; this fact is forgotten by many eminent critics who are reluctant to believe that Cervantes’ (or Dante’s) inventive genius could have had more sources of inspiration than those commonly attributed to them. After providing Cervantes with a point of departure, the “Entremés” did not help but rather became a hindrance because it obligated him to carry out a corrective procedure that we are able to observe only partially and that to some degree was carried out not at the time of the work’s gestation but in the course of its execution.
Several inconsistencies in the sequence of the episodes and their relationship to one another can easily be observed in Don Quixote. This phenomenon has stimulated some critics to speak of Cervantes’ creative haste in writing his work, while others believe such a view to be merely a common misconception because it is known that Cervantes corrected and produced more than one draft of his writings. It should be clear that there are traces of every possible cause in the lapses that have been noted in the novel; there are cases of evident carelessness, half-made corrections, and bold displays of willful incongruities and absurdities. Forever changing direction because of the hero’s deranged imagination, the overall plan of the plot of Don Quixote received less attention than that which the author devoted to the Exemplary Novels. Cervantes wanted to allow the action to be fraught with all the trifling inconsistencies of improvisation, very much in the Spanish style. But that improvisation in no way presupposes indifference but rather gives a keen, lively, and profound impression that refuses to be bogged down by useless detail. Cervantes’ art is not a careless one because he happens to draw liberally from popular fiction; he knows how to carve out of that raw material facets of extraordinary poetic brilliance. It is not a careless art made simply to satisfy the shallow joviality of those who say: “Let us have more quixotic stunts, let Don Quijote attack and let Sancho comment, come what may, and with this we will be quite content!” Cervantes was perfectly aware that he was infusing his work with lasting human value. He writes, in the prologue to part II, that he believes “that there is not going to be… a language into which it will not be translated.” Yet in contrast to the carelessness we observe in some details, how much meditation is evident in the distillation of the quixotic type! What an intimate and prolonged cohabitation between the artist and his creation!
Our point of departure is that Cervantes’ fantasy did not conceive the type spontaneously but rather that it was in a certain fashion held in check by the outline of the “Entremés.” He did not create his protagonist according to a plan well defined at the outset; he worked instead from a somewhat imprecise and synthetic vision. Only during the development of the work did he, at times groping tentatively, draw forth and call to life all the complicated grandeur that was latent in his brilliant initial conception. One can easily understand how felicitously the gradual development of an idea may be in a long novel of adventures. Far from being a wearying repetition of the original type of the hero, Don Quijote’s adventures are a never-ending series of revelations, even for the artist himself, and they are therefore ever more gratifying to the reader. The character of the protagonist is not perfectly and completely revealed until the very end of the novel.
Don Quijote’s particular madness on his first sally, imagining himself at one time to be Valdovinos laying wounded on the ground, believing himself immediately thereafter to be Abindarráez the prisoner, and next Reinaldos, indignant with Don Roldán, was, as we have already indicated, very damaging to the personality of the ingenious hidalgo. Cervantes abandoned this course completely after he had exhausted the “Entremés,” his first source of inspiration. From then on Don Quijote would always and only be Don Quijote.
His character immediately receives firm support. In that same seventh chapter in which his delusions about his identity come to an end, Sancho enters the scene. He, too, comes from popular literature. An old proverb goes: “There goes Sancho with his donkey.” And here comes Sancho, inexhaustible reciter of proverbs, like an archaic type of squire who had first appeared in the fourteenth century in the oldest known romance of chivalry, El Caballero Cifar. In the very first conversations that Don Quijote holds with his squire there is already an anticipation of the hidalgo’s axiomatic mental habits that later will give weight to his madness and soon afterward, in the eleventh chapter, blossom forth in the eloquent speech on the Golden Age. Master and squire will continue to gradually complement (and complete) one another in such a way “that the madness of the master without the servant’s gaffes would not be worth a penny.” Rubió rightly adds that when Don Quijote is left alone in the Sierra Morena and at the home of the Duke and Duchess, which are the only two occasions on which the genial pair is separated, we feel for Sancho the same yearnings that the knight experiences in his own golden heart.
As soon as he put an end to the adventure suggested by the “Entremés de los romances,” Cervantes clearly understood that the kind of humor produced by the collision of a half-witted fantasy with cruel reality, which was consequent with the popular art of Sacchetti or the author of the “Entremés,” could not reach humoristic perfection by being based on the heroic and national ideals of the ballads. It is true that the Romancero and the romances of chivalry were half brothers as offspring of the medieval epic, but the Romancero, as a legitimate child, remained within the patrimonial legacy of the heroic world, while the bastard child (the romances of chivalry) went in search of adventures and lost its wits by pursuing them. Cervantes venerated the world of the epic, and as soon as he saw himself free from the influence of the “Entremés” he withdrew Don Quijote’s madness from the verses of the Romancero and made it take refuge, as if in its own castle, in the fantastic chivalric deeds of the prose romances. These, then, in the mind of Don Quijote, are elevated to the level of heroic fictions. The hidalgo claims to know that in the armory of the kings of Spain, next to the saddle of the Cid’s horse Babieca, stands the enormous peg, big as a wagon tongue, with which the valiant Pierres guided his wooden horse through the air. And he even places the world of the romances of chivalry above that of the epic, holding the Knight of the Blazing Sword in higher esteem than the Cid himself. Scandalized by this nonsense, the canon, on the contrary, discriminates between the epic heroes and the phantoms of chivalry, and he connects the former in a general way with historical personages. He had never seen in the Armory in Madrid the peg belonging to Pierres, but he believes in the authenticity of Babieca’s saddle (which archaeological scholarship has now banished from the royal collection), and he counsels Don Quijote to stop reading about the fanciful deeds of Felixmarte de Hircania and the Emperors of Trebizond and to pay heed to the (real) ones of Viriatus, Caesar, Alexander, Fernán González, and the Cid.
Without uncertainty we may say that Cervantes definitely understood that his Don Quijote could not continue reliving the episodes of the Romancero, of which the Spanish imagination was so notably fond, and that he knew that the comic force of his book would have to rely solely on the clash between the knighterrant’s asocial perfection and the life of society tightly organized and structured by the powerful institutions of the state. Don Quijote not only stops believing himself to be a character drawn from balladry; he also ceases to apply to himself the ballads’ verses. He only appropriates later a certain famous vow from the Marqués de Mantua ballad (“My arms are my only gear; my only rest, the fray!”) as indelible memories of the first manifestation of his madness as influenced by the “Entremés.” Apart from this, it seems as if Cervantes instinctively wished to remove himself as far as possible from the wrong road along which he had initially embarked, and in all the rest of the part I of Don Quixote he makes but few allusions to the ballads in spite of the fact that they were then in fashion and even used in ordinary conversation. Don Quijote cites only the ballad about Lancelot and the one about the Cid being excommunicated by the Pope, treating them as historical matters. By contrast, in part II of the novel, written when Cervantes was already free from the objectionable “Entremés,” the resonance of the Romancero tradition occurs twice as often as it appears in the first part and, as we shall see, it is much more fully developed there than in part I.
Even when Cervantes expressly avoided making reference to the Romancero in part I, he had it very much in mind and made use of it for his own personal inspiration. When he wanted to enliven part I of Don Quixote, crafting the plot with care and making the greatest effort that a novelist could make according to the art then in fashion, he created the series of episodes in the Sierra Morena. There came to his mind a ballad worthy of imitation, although its thrust was quite different from that which held sway in the parodic “Entremés.” It is the figure of Cardenio, taken bodily from a ballad by Juan del Encina that circulated along with the traditional ones in Cancioneros and broadsides. Rejected by his beloved, this Cardenio, leaving his dead mule behind, penetrates into the most rugged and remote part of the Sierra, and leaps from hedge to hedge amid brambles and thickets. Then, surrounded and pitied by the shepherds he encounters, he weeps, gives signs of madness, becomes speechless, and fixes his eyes on the ground:
A sorrowing knight presses
into the forges of a dark mountain
His steed, dead, he forsakes,
and scales the cliffs alone.
Deeper and deeper,
from bush to bush,
into the thickest of the forest
With eyes downcast,
he does not stop lamenting.
His beloved has scorned him,
and never before has he felt such pain.
“Who hath brought thee here, Sir Knight,
into this dark forest?”
“Alas, shepherd, only my misfortune!”
Cervantes’ learned critics have failed to see the correspondence between this ballad and Cardenio’s actions, but it is clear to us, and it reveals how in the mind of Cervantes his inspiration in romance has shifted its focus.
Once Cervantes modified the relationship between the hidalgo’s madness and the Romancero, he was easily able to lead the protagonist to his perfection. Ever since his first sally, Don Quijote had proposed to right wrongs and punish the proud, but in this respect he does not yet differ greatly from the grotesque Bartolo, who confronted the shepherd pursuing the shepherdess. Only in the seventh chapter, cited earlier, in which the influence of the “Entremés” comes to its end, does the hidalgo elevate his madness to a comprehensive reflection, expressing the need for knighterrantry to be, through him, revived in the world. He is thus invested with a mission and this fleeting phrase signals the moment of genius of Cervantes’ conceptualization. For it is then that the author begins to look upon the madman’s fantasies as an ideal deserving of respect; it is then that he decides to depict him as grand in his purposes but inadequate in their execution. Perhaps the initial, flawed introduction of the Romancero into the novel helped Cervantes to rescue the heroic element still present in the romances of chivalry. These elements coincided with the epic, as we have noted, in the ideal of chivalric perfection. Don Quijote gradually fulfills in himself both the ideals of the epic and those of the romances of chivalry. He is steadfast in his love of glory and tenacious in his struggles in the face of danger; he displays a loyalty to which all ingratitude is foreign, and he will not tell a lie, even though he be shot for it. He interprets and applies the law correctly, aids all those in need, defends those not present, is liberal and generous, eloquent, and even listens to omens, daring to challenge those which are adverse to him, as did the ancient Spanish heroes. The romances of chivalry had added a further perfection to the epic ideal: that of being in love. Dulcinea rises up before Don Quijote because the “knight-errant without a beloved was a tree without either fruit or leaves, a body without a soul.” Thus, from the intricate adventures of the romances of chivalry, Don Quijote’s confused mind derived a pure heroic ideal that came down from the same stock as that of the ancient epic.
“Poor Don Quijote!” exclaims Paulin Paris, considering the superior beauty of the French poems of chivalry from which the romances of chivalry took their inspiration. “Poor Don Quijote! The romances responsible for your madness were nothing more than long colorless paraphrases. What would have become of you if you had read the French originals?” But no, if Don Quijote had read only Tristan and Lancelot with “that recounting, so sweet and smooth, of his brave and amorous deeds,” he would have been an ordinary madman, fortunate only in tragic loves. The parody would have come to an end and exhausted itself after a few scenes verging on buffoonery in which the knight of la Mancha would win Dulcinea, the “Tobosan dove,” by the might of his arm, realizing an accomplishment that Cervantes often had in mind and that he had announced in the introductory verses of Urganda’s prophecy. The French poems might well have maddened Don Quijote more, but only the happy Spanish adaptation of the Amadís could lend a superior nobility to his madness. After much racking of his brains in long meditations, Don Quijote decides to imitate not the madness of Orlando Furioso but rather the penitence of the knight from Gaul on the Pen ̃a Pobre. “And now,” he exclaims, “oh famous deeds of the great Amadís, come to my remembrance, and instruct me in the means by which I may begin to imitate you!” This is the moment in which his madness offers a glimpse of all the moral grandeur of which he is capable.
From that time onward, the gradual refinement of the quixotic type is assured. If before that moment the fidelity and veneration that Don Quijote feels for Dulcinea reveal some vacillation and serious lapses of reverence (part I, chapters 21, 25, 26), from now on the figure of the faithful lover is definitively established, especially in chapter 30 in which the knight-errant slights the Princess Micomicona. Recall the subsequent chapter in which Sancho, telling of his mission to El Toboso and its message, describes Dulcinea as a mannish country wench winnowing reddish wheat; the more the squire seeks to undo all the illusions of Don Quijote, the more successfully the knight-errant reconstructs them with delicate and untiring care.
This stubborn restoration of the ideal of the beloved is likewise treated a little earlier, in chapter 25. Yet how much more infelicitously, because of the vacillation and irreverence already mentioned! And still the progression continues. The peasant girl Aldonza, who had a better hand for salting pork than any other woman in all of La Mancha, with whom Sancho is acquainted, and whom Don Quijote has looked upon occasionally in respectful silence, disappears in part II of the novel and is converted into an ideal lady whom her knight has never seen, being in love with her solely on the basis of hearsay.
In like manner, the novel’s comic disposition, which at first manifested itself in confused fashion, gradually reaches its highest inner perfection. At the end of part I Don Quijote can say: “ever since becoming a knight-errant, I am brave, courteous, bountiful, well-bred, generous, civil, bold, affable, patient, and a sufferer of hardships, imprisonments and enchantments.” He has distanced himself from the allures of love and violence that the anarchical and fantastic world of chivalry offered in order to accept only harsh sacrifices, always placing before his imagination “the goodness of Amadís, the flower and mirror of knights-errant.” Firm in the idea that chivalry is a religion, he ennobles all his ridiculous life with profound mystical sentiment. He ascends to the purest sources of the heroic and, with the corporeal indifference of a martyr, he endures the greatest pains “as if he were not a man of flesh, but a statue of stone.” He is sustained by the most steadfast faith: “Get upon thy ass, good Sancho, and follow me once more; for God, who provides for every creature, will not fail us, especially since we have set about a work so much to His service; thou seest that He even provides for the little flying insects of the air, the wormlings in the earth, and the spawnings in the water. In His infinite mercy, He makes His sun shine on the righteous and on the unjust, and the rains fall upon the good and the malevolent.” Don Quijote always places his hopes in God, even though he always finds his expectations frustrated. He wishes to “improve this depraved age of ours” and to restore to it the purity of chivalry though the whole world be ungrateful to him for it. He seeks all about himself to entrust his downtrodden honor to those who show him the most sympathy: “I have redressed grievances, and righted the injured, chastised the insolent, vanquished giants, and trod elves and hobgoblins under my feet!… My intentions are all directed toward virtuous ends and to do no man wrong, but good to the entire world. And now let your Graces judge, most excellent Duke and Duchess, whether a person who makes it his only endeavor to practice all this, deserves to be upbraided as a fool!” It is all in vain. The Duke and Duchess, to whom he appeals in his sadness, are at that very moment playing a vicious trick on him in order to ridicule his misguided ideals. The most holy hopes of heaven and earth are frustrated. Is it because they are impossible? It does not matter. The hero’s noble madness assumes a bitter, tragicomic meaning. It is a madness sustained by an ideal which, although never realized, is deserving of humankind’s warmest sympathy.
At times we let ourselves be overwhelmed with the hidalgo’s comic aspect and think like his niece: “You should know so much, sir uncle, as to be able, if there were occasion, to get up into a pulpit and go to preach in the streets, and yet be so strangely mistaken, so grossly blind of understanding, as to fancy that a man of your years and infirmity can be strong and valiant; that you can set everything right, and force stubborn malice to bend, when you yourself stoop beneath the burden of age; and, what is yet more odd, that you carry yourself like a knight, when it is well known that you are none! For, though some gentlemen may be knights, a poor gentleman can hardly be so.” Nevertheless, when all is said and done, we believe that the ideal force of Don Quijote overcomes his abandonment of reason as well as all the other limitations imposed by reality. Being poor, he amazes us with his generosity; being weak and sickly, he is a hero possessed of unyielding courage in the face of misfortune; being old, he yet moves us with his absurd, mad first love; being crazy, his words and actions always stir vital chords in the enthusiastic heart.
Nine years after the publication of part I of Don Quixote there appeared an imitation which is of keen interest to us. Avellaneda seems to have written another Don Quixote solely to give us a tangible measure of Cervantes’ own value. The outstanding characteristics and qualities of the comic type are in Avellaneda, but they miss the mark of genius. This judgment can never be sufficiently emphasized if we are to avoid inadequate assessments of the novel. Every appreciation of Don Quixote which can be likewise applied to Avellaneda contains nothing unique to Cervantes. Avellaneda’s Don Quixote can be used as another touchstone for measurement.
From the point of view of the issues under consideration here, Avellaneda dwelt on both the hero’s delusions in which he assumed other identities as well as his ravings over the ballads; far from understanding how much harm they did to his hero, Avellaneda thus tediously insisted on the vulgar madness of the “Entremés” and Don Quixote’s early chapters. Avellaneda’s Don Quijote, wounded and defeated by a melon dealer, begins to recite the ballad of King Don Sancho, believing himself wounded by Vellido Dolfos, and he orders Sancho Panza to call himself Diego Ordón ̃ez and to go challenge the people of Zamora and the venerable old Arias Gonzalo. Again, Avellaneda “strings together a thousand beginnings of old ballads without rhyme or reason,” just like the Bartolo of the “Entremés.” Mounting his horse, he recites the beginning of the ballad “Ya cabalga Calaínos.” Upon entering Zaragoza he speaks as if he were Achilles; he later takes himself to be Bernardo del Carpio; in Siguenza he believes himself to be Ferdinand the Catholic; in the Prado of Madrid he imagines himself to be the Cid Rui Díaz; still later he says that he is Fernán González and stuffs his speeches with irrelevant ballad verses. This fool who, puffed up with vanity and boasting, appropriates the identities of heroes and kings, makes us appreciate all the more the vigorous personality of Cervantes’ Don Quijote, from whose mouth discretion and madness flow in gentle alternation. It is instructive to observe how, in the hands of Avellaneda, the same popular theme of the madman enamored of chivalry is punished by reality and ends in failure. Meanwhile, Cervantes, using that very same idea, tapped a powerful source of inspiration. Avellaneda’s gifts as a narrator are not accompanied by a profound poetic genius, and so his Don Quijote does not resemble the real one at all. In the false Don Quixote the worst kind of literary coarseness is shockingly combined with a pleasing form, at times in a solemn and labored way, just as immorality can coexist with superficial devotion to the rosary, self-flagellation, and hair shirts — all so far removed from the mystical religiosity of the real Don Quixote. The structure that Cervantes erects upon a popular idea is so much his own that, even after it has been assembled, it cannot be copied by the likes of an Avellaneda.
But a fact that cannot be denied is that Avellaneda’s work served as one of Cervantes’ sources of inspiration when he wrote part II of his novel. I believe that Cervantes had some fairly definite information about his competitor’s work before writing chapter 59, in which he refers expressly to it, and which marks the moment when it appeared in print. What is certain is that he wanted to derive the most reasonable profit from Avellaneda’s envy, that is, to have his work resemble in no way his resentful rival. It would appear as if in Avellaneda he saw clearer than ever the dangers of triteness and coarseness that the story contained, and that he struggled all the harder to eliminate them upon writing part II of Don Quixote. He no longer thought of drawing those two or three crude pictures elaborated in part I, even though they were far removed from the coarseness of his imitator. The superiority of part II of Don Quixote, unquestionable for me as for most people, may be attributed in great measure to Avellaneda. There are sources of literary inspiration that operate by rejection, and they may be as important as, or more so than, those that are mobilized by attraction.
The blundering way in which Avellaneda takes hold of the ballads contrasts strongly with the new use which Cervantes makes of them in part II. Having now forgotten his aversion to the “Entremés,” he again begins to use the ballads in profusion, but now, of course, never to impair the personality of the hero in the form of impertinent nonsense, as did the author of the “Entremés” and Avellaneda. The ballads reappear in order to render Cervantes’ prose agreeable with poetic reminiscences that at that time were remembered by all, and which everybody used in polite conversation: The novelty now is that this poetic resonance appears not only in the mouth of Don Quijote and in those of the more educated characters but, rather, principally, in the mouth of Sancho. The Sancho of the proverbs is now, at times, the Sancho of the ballads.
This evolution can be observed from the very beginning of part II of Don Quixote when, in chapter 5, Sancho refers to a ballad for the first time. It is the one concerning the Infanta don ̃a Urraca’s self-assuredness. It is true that this chapter is jokingly labeled apocryphal by Cide Hamete’s translator on account of containing “judgments that exceed Sancho’s capacity.” But its intimate authenticity is guaranteed by the dialogue that Don Quijote later has with his squire: “ ‘Truly, Sancho, every day thy simplicity lessens, and thy sense improves!’ ‘And there is good reason why!’ quoth Sancho, ‘Some of your worship’s wit must needs stick to me.’ ” Without doubt, Sancho is improving and being refined, too, at the same time that Don Quijote and Dulcinea are undergoing their own evolution. Avellanedas’s Sancho, gluttonous, brutal, and clownish to the point of not even understanding the proverbs that he chaotically heaps up pell-mell, rises up between the primitive Sancho of part I and the new Sancho of Cervantes’ part II. He makes us appreciate in all his perfection the Sancho of poor and kind heart, a faithful spirit who is skeptical of everything and believes in everything, and in whom prudence in abundance shows through his coarse shell of craftiness, achieving the keenest kind of folk wisdom as governor in decisions comparable to those of Solomon and Peter the Cruel.
The Sancho of part II of Don Quixote recalls verses from the Romancero several times in his conversation: “Aqúı morirás, traidor, enemigo de don ̃a Sancha,” “Mensajero, sois amigo,” “no diga la tal palabra,” or he alludes to the ballad of the Conde Dirlos, to that of Calaínos, to that of the Penitencia del rey Rodrigo, or to that of Lanzarote about which, as he declares, he learned by hearing them from his master.
Moreover, Cervantes used the Romancero not only for its phraseology but also for the very invention of the novel, although in a very different way than he had used it in the adventure of the Toledan merchants. In this as in everything else, one sees the superiority of part II of Don Quixote over part I. Savi López, an adherent to the opposite opinion, affirms that part I is predominantly comical, while in part II the grotesque dominates. But I believe in fact that quite the opposite is true. Limiting ourselvesto the special point that we are considering, the grotesque elements that appear in the adventure of the ballad of the Marqués de Mantua are completely absent from the episode that has its inspiration in the Montesinos ballads and succeeds because of its delicate comic sentiment.
While in part I of the novel, only a single adventure contains a resonance of the Romancero, in part II several adventures do so.
When Don Quijote enters El Toboso on that mournful night, looking in the darkness for the ideal palace of his Dulcinea, he hears a farmhand approaching, who, on his way to work before dawn, sings this ballad: “Ill you far’d at Roncesvalles,/Frenchmen…” His song, like an evil omen, startles and disturbs the mind of the knight-errant.
Later, the ballad of the undauntable Don Manuel de León, who enters a lion’s den for the purpose of retrieving a lady’s glove, is invoked for the great adventure of the lions. There the so frequently audacious madness of Don Quijote borders on extremes that approximate more the epic than the comic mode. The victory won before the lion which turns his hindside to the knight is ridiculous, but the valor of the Manchegan hero, comparable to that of Don Manuel de León, is realized not solely in his imagination as on other occasions; it is, instead, actually materialized in the midst of the fear of all those who witness his boldness in the presence of the savage beast, free to attack. He rightly feels himself strong: “No, these magicians may well rob me of success, but they can never take from me my strength and courage of mind!” He is so beside himself that he sends Sancho to remunerate the lion keeper with two crowns of gold; it is the first time that history records that Don Quijote has given a gratuity! Generosity, an essentially chivalric virtue, stands out only in part II of the novel. Is it not evident that here the hidalgo’s comic success far surpasses the repeated beatings by which the adventures of the first part are resolved?
Nor is there in part I as rich a development of the frequent quixotic delusions as appear in part II, in the adventure, for example, of Maese Pedro’s puppet show, so wisely and admirably commented upon by José Ortega y Gasset. Here we are interested in remarking only on one thing: Delusion in the presence of a theatrical spectacle was a common theme of popular anecdotes old and new, and it had already been incorporated in the quixotic fable by Avellaneda, when his Don Quijote, taking for reality the performance of Lope de Vega’s play, El testimonio vengado, leaps into the actors’ midst to defend the unprotected queen of Navarre. As if he had seen here an excellent theme poorly developed and now wished to use it, Cervantes even gave his competitor the advantage of being first! Hence he described the madman’s exaltation not before a performance of actors but of puppets, and the topic was not an original and cleverly dramatized action but a well-known ballad adventure familiar to young and old. The ballad recounts how the forgetful Don Gaiferos recovered his wife Melisendra from captivity. Cervantes’ success here is one of stylistic and psychological refinement. The picturesque narration by the boy who explains the action of the figures onstage is animated with such descriptive force that he brings to life that poor world of balladry and puppetry.
Nevertheless, Don Quijote listens and watches everything with cool sanity, even commenting upon the archaeological accuracy of the representation. But when the boy’s words project real emotion and anguish over the danger in which the fleeing lovers find themselves, the flash of chivalric obsession suddenly flares in Don Quijote’s mind and he hurls himself into the midst of the adventure to destroy with his sword the stage upon which the Moors of Sansuen ̃a ride at full speed in pursuit of the lovers. Reality soon again takes possession of the deluded knight and imprisons him in its powerful bonds; Don Quijote now agrees to the undeceived appraisal and payment for the broken clay figures. But in the presence of the most fleeting recollection of the dangerous adventure, his fragile and inconsistent imagination again goes wild and he once again escapes to live, as if it were reality, in the world of the ideal that is his and from which he sorrowfully feels banished.
The perfection so often attained in the real adventures was nevertheless not enough for the novel. Cervantes sought a type of adventure that could rise above the realm of the ordinary, “of the possible and verisimilar,” in which other adventures, craftedaccording to the aesthetic doctrines that he followed, could develop. He wanted a fantastic adventure that could serve as a sort of nucleus for part II, and he created it in the Cave of Montesinos, the visit to which he announces with solemn anticipation, relating it to subsequent adventures right up to the very end of the novel. Just as in the profoundly humorous episode of the galley slaves, where he had coupled his chivalrous hidalgo with the heroes of the picaresque novel, he wished now to associate him with the true and venerated heroes of medieval fiction. He did not seek them out in any book of chivalry. Once more, his mind turned to the ballads, although not, as we might suppose, to those of Spanish themes, but rather to the Carolingian.
Through an extravagant allusion, Don Quijote appears among Charlemagne’s knights for a second time in an adventure derived from the ballads. But this time he appears more nobly and rationally, so to speak, than in the adventure of the Toledan merchants. The ballads had given those first chapters the appearance of a caricatural parody. Now in part II they provide the best moment of the burlesque ideal, in which it seems as if Cervantes were making amends for having earlier allowed himself to be too greatly influenced by the “Entremés.”
If in Italy and Spain the Carolingian heroes had second homelands, conquered for them by Charlemagne’s campaigns in both countries, they had multiplied in our own with new characters such as Durandarte and Montesinos. La Mancha, at the time a frontier between Christendom and Muslims and a bulwark that the three powerful military orders defended, had made itself worthy of being inhabited by poetic figures prouder and more gallant than, though not as universally admired as, that of their belated compatriot, Don Quijote. A certain castle in ruins, with its fountain which stood on a rocky outcrop in the middle of one of the lagoons of Ruidera where the river Guadiana has its source, was singled out by Manchegan tradition as the wonderful castle of which the ballad sang: “The castle called Roca/And the fountain called Frida.” Silver battlements had been erected there on a foundation of gold, as the ballad states, studded with sapphires that shone in the dark of night like suns. In that castle had lived the maid Rosaflorida, disdainful of all suitors until she burned with love for the French Montesinos and, bringing him there, strew his path with pearls and precious stones. About the nearby cave, named for the same Montesinos, they told such marvelous things through all that realm that Don Quijote’s curiosity was aroused. This was a great good fortune for the Guadiana, a hapless river in which the poets of the Golden Age, who lavished their efforts on the Duero, the Tagus, and the Henares, could find not a single nymph, except perchance one who had been turned into a frog in its muddy pools! Don Quijote found in the medieval Rosaflorida the nymph who would endow those marshlands with poetry, converting them into the enchanted fortress of the chivalry of long ago. The lagoon and cave, along with the dusty roads, the burning hot oak groves, and all the monotony of the vast, disconsolate horizon of La Mancha, were exalted to the dignity of a landscape that was poetical, familiar, and pleasing to humankind—no less so than the sacred olive groves of Attica and the luxuriant groves of the Cephisus, which were never penetrated by the summer sun or the winds of winter but indeed were frequented by the choruses of muses and bacchantes and by Aphrodite, driver of the golden chariot.
The exceptional quality in this adventure of Montesinos’s cave, so insistently called to the attention of his readers by Cervantes, is that, for me, Don Quijote’s heroic ideal does not manifest itself, as usual, in conflict with reality but, rather, finds itself emancipated, free from annoying and painful contact with it. Don Quijote descends to the bottom of the cave and, slackening the rope held by Sancho and the guide—the only link that connects him to the outer world—finds himself removed from it, alone in the midst of the cold, cavernous darkness. The cave is then illuminated by the light of the Manchegan hidalgo’s imagination, as noble as it is unbalanced, and he finally finds himself among the heroes of the old ballads. He discourses amid the gloomy shades of Durandarte and Balerma, comic–heroic figures shrouded in a warped ideal. He appeases his mind with the placid and pitiful appearance of the enchanted Dulcinea, and in that mansion of ancient chivalry, where the lugubrious and the comic are powerfully blended in a fantastic picture of incomparable beauty and humorism, the eager spirit of the hidalgo realizes its supreme aspiration, the crowning of his effort through the mouths of the admired masters. Montesinos himself extols the restorer of knight-errantry and entrusts to him the important mission of revealing to the world the mysteries of the ancient heroic life and that of disenchanting the ancient paladins and the new Dulcinea. The novel’s entire machinery, built on the opposition between fantasy and reality, is suspended on this sole occasion.
Upon reaching the summit of his exaltation, the hero nevertheless also reaches the edge of the abyss. When Don Quijote, hanging onto the rope, returns to the land of mortals and relates the supreme success that he has achieved, he encounters more than ever in his faithful Sancho a bold, impudent skepticism, and finally he, too, falls into doubt. That firm soul, who always restored his idealism so energetically whenever it was crushed by the vicious blows of reality, does not know how to defend himself against doubt in this glorious adventure devoid of torments. In vain he tries to put his uncertainty at rest by questioning the soothsayers as to whether his experiences with the ballad heroes in the enchanted cave had been a dream or the truth. The ambiguous clichés of the replies obtained from such oracles gradually filter into his heart, and dejection holds sway over him. The hour of being reduced to ordinary thinking has arrived. The hero is convinced that he will not attain the promise of Montesinos, that he will not see Dulcinea in all the days of his life, and he dies of sorrow… and of sanity. He has recovered his reason but lost the ideal by which he lived and breathed, so nothing is left for him but to die.
In Sophocles’ tragedy, the offended Minerva sets in motion in Ajax’s mind the whirlwind of a chimera, and the maddened hero attacks a flock of sheep, believing that he is beheading the Atrides who have wronged him. On recovering from his delirium and seeing himself surrounded by dead animals, he realizes that spilled blood is a dishonor to his invincible courage and to all his achievements, and he runs himself through with his own sword. His madness is divine because it is a punishment of the gods, while that of Don Quijote is a divine creation of his ailing soul.
The hero of Salamis takes his own life upon feeling himself ludicrous in the face of the reality that he contemplates. He kills himself out of shame. The Manchegan hero dies of the sadness of life upon discovering that reality is inferior to him and upon seeing that the Dulcinea to whom he gave his being is fading away forever into the world of impossible enchantment.
Is this novel of a madman one more book of chivalry, the last, the definitive and perfect one, as some say? Or, is it the ruination of chivalry and heroism, as others contend? It was not when writing Don Quixote that Cervantes attempted to produce a modern romance of chivalry, but afterward, when he composed his last, and for him, his most valuable work, The Trials of Persiles and Segismunda. This the good canon seems to announce in chapter 47 of part I when, cursing the books that have caused the Manchegan hidalgo’s madness, he nevertheless finds in them something good, and this is “the subject that they furnished to a man of understanding with which to exercise his parts, because they allowed a large scope for the pen to expand upon without restriction, describing shipwrecks, storms, skirmishes and battles.” All this is found in Persiles, the real novel of adventures, not only because of the influence of the Byzantine novel but also because of the romances of chivalry. The latter are influential even through their conventional episodes, as when Periandro, at the head of the company of fishermen, goes out to sea righting wrongs—a seafaring Amadís, created by the author of Don Quixote.
As for Don Quixote, we cannot help considering it simply and plainly as antagonistic to the romances of chivalry, which it tries to condemn to oblivion by satirizing not only their unpolished and careless composition but also their subject matter, a blend of childish fantasy, unbelievable deeds, and elemental passions.
Yet on the other hand, because these books, far from being essentially exotic to the Spanish people, are deeply saturated with that part of their spirit that consists of the exaltation of the universal feelings of selfless generosity and of honor, Cervantes’ satire does not seek to damage the reputation of the eternal ideal of chivalric nobility. When he observes the ideal come to naught by its collision with daily life, he does not blame the ideal as much as he does reality itself for not turning out to be exactly as the heroic spirit would want it. Far from wishing to destroy that world adorned by the purest moral feelings, Cervantes holds it up for our respect and sympathy, showing us its ruins, bathed in a light of supreme hope, as a lofty refuge for the soul. Dulcinea del Toboso will always be the most beautiful woman in the world, as her unfortunate knight proclaims, even when he falls vanquished to the ground and begs his opponent to slay him.
In short, far from combating the spirit and fictions of heroic poetry, Cervantes received from the Romancero the first impulse to portray Don Quijote’s ideal madness, and he sought in the Romancero a great portion of the work’s inspiration and embellishments. Thus, popular heroic poetry was present at the creation that destroyed the molds in which the romances of chivalry were cast, removing its fictions from the world of chimeras to bring them to contend with the world of mundane reality. Thus Cervantes forged the first and inimitable prototype to which every modern novel, in close concert or somewhat distantly, is ultimately subordinated.
1. An entremés, literally a dish served between main courses of a meal, was a brief, one-act skit, a comic interlude performed in the interval between the acts of a play. Romance is the Spanish for ballad, a narrative poem in popular meter and rhyme. The first romances were derived from the epic poems, such as the Poem of Mío Cid, but as time went on they acquired a variety of themes, including the wars against the Moors and topics derived from the romances of chivalry. Romancero is the sum of all the romances and also a compendium or anthology of them. These popular, anonymous ballads enjoyed a great revival in the sixteenth century among cultivated poets, and they became a standard form in Spanish poetry that has endured up to the present. Menéndez Pidal was the foremost expert on the romances, which he placed at the core of Spanish literary history. ↵
2. Cancioneros were anthologies of poetry in the courtly love tradition with much circulation in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. ↵
L’ambition de ce livre est de proposer un regard nouveau sur le Guzmán de Alfarache et le Quichotte. Il adopte pour cela un angle d’attaque singulier qui consiste à étudier ces deux chefs-d’œuvre du Siècle d’or en regard de leurs Secondes parties apocryphes.
Les Premières parties du Guzmán et du Quichotte ont en effet donné lieu à des continuations d’autres auteurs, parues respectivement à Valence, en 1602, et à Tarragone, en 1614, alors qu’Alemán et Cervantès préparaient eux-mêmes des suites de leurs romans. Si, de ce fait, l’entreprise littéraire de ces écrivains concurrents s’apparente à une imposture, elle comporte cependant une part remarquable de création : Luján et Avellaneda introduisent tous deux des innovations qui ne sont pas des maladresses ou des « erreurs ».
De surcroît, leurs projets romanesques stimulent la créativité des auteurs originaux, qui sont contraints de remanier – voire de réécrire – leurs propres Secondes parties. C’est la fécondité et la richesse de ces différentes interactions romanesques que cet ouvrage aimerait mettre en lumière.
Eric Bentley, critic and editor, and Roy Campbell, poet and translator
Eric Bentley, born in September 14, 1916, is a British-born American critic, playwright, singer, editor and translator. He is still one of the most respected theatre critic in America, and is also recognized by his role as having introduced the English-speaking theatre to the works of Bertolt Brech and other classic writers from Italy, Germany, Spain, and France.
The Classic Theatre serie was started in 1958 and planned in four volumes: v. 1. Six Italian plays. – v. 2. Five German plays. – v. 3. Six Spanish plays. – v. 4. Six French plays.
Volume 3 of the Classic theatre under title Six Spanish plays was published in 1959 with six plays of the ‘Spanish drama of the golden age’ translated into English by Roy Campbell for BBC: The siege of Numantia / Miguel de Cervantes – Fuente Ovejuna / Lope de Vega – The trickster of Seville and his guest of stone / Tirso de Molina – Life is a dream / Calderón de la Barca – Celestina / Fernando de Rojas – Love after death / Calderón de la Barca.
Very unfortunately, Roy Campbell died in a car accident near Setúbal, Portugal, on Easter Monday, 1957, when a car driven by his wife hit a tree. At the time of his death, he was 55 years old and was working upon translations of 16th- and 17th-century Spanish plays. Although only the rough drafts were completed, Campbell’s work was posthumously edited for publication by Eric Bentley in 1959.
Roy Campbell was a real character of his own: a poet who counted George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, T S Eliot, Evelyn Waugh, J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis among his friends. He was Afrikaner, British, catholic, pro-Franco, translator of Spanish drama and poetry (Lorca, Cervantes, Lope, Calderón, St John of the Cross…) into English, sergeant during the Second World War, BBC journalist for many years. His live reflects a personal scale version of shaken twenty century. It is highly recommendable to know more of his biography here.
To approach Roy Campbell’s translator spirit, it is worth to have a look at Campbell’s verse commemorating Lorca’s death. He wrote:
Not only did he lose his life
By shots assassinated:
But with a hammer and a knife
Was after that—translated.
This same warning on literature translations is identified in Bentley’s edition of Campbell’s plays. In the foreword of the 1959 edition, Bentley revels something really surprising: the Spanish Golden Age plays have been awfully translated into English. He says:
“Probably there is no body of World Literature so little known to the world as the classic Spanish drama. This is not entirely the world’s fault, for few of the translations are readable, let alone impressive. The only collection of Lope de Vega ever published in English it, it seems, Four Plays, in English versions by John Garret Underhill. I defy anyone to read it through. In the nineteenth century Denis Florence MacCarthy spent many years of his life translating Calderón. In trying to reproduce the sound of the Spanish, he effectively prevented himself from writing English. Edward Fitzgerald had much greater success with Calderón, but went to the other extreme of excessive freedom. For a while the effect must have seemed to be one of brilliance: today one is depressed by the persistent feeling that one is reading Victorian poetry of the second class. In ranging pretty widely over the field of Spanish classics in English, I found most enjoyable a volume entitled Three Comedies from the Spanish, published anonymously in London in 1807 and known to be the work of Lord Holland. Unfortunately, Lord Holland did not choose to include a single major play.
What was needed, I thought, was fresh air, such as flooded into the translated Greek drama a generation ago when Cocteau and Yeats applied themselves to it. I got hold of some translations which Roy Campbell had recently made for the B.B.C. Third Programme. Fuente Ovejuna and The Trickster of Seville, flat and even absurd in the earlier translations I had read, came alive. Campbell was in love with old Spain and was one of the few poets writing English in our day who had a touch of bravado, a vein of bravura. Even qualities I had disliked in certain poems of his own were turned to account in the translations. And he also had a straightforward lyrical gift, invaluable for the rendering of Lope’s tenderness and charm. When Roy Campbell came to America for a lecture tour in the autumn of 1955, Jason Epstein and I arranged with him to bring out the B.B.C. translations—plus a couple we ourselves commissioned—in this country.
Campbell was killed, with all the sudden, sprawling violence of Spanish life and literature, some 18 months later. The translations were done, but, as they were not revised, let alone polished and fully prepared for the press, the responsibility devolved upon me of editing manuscripts without being able to consult their author. Should research students ever compare the manuscripts with the texts here published, some of them will wish, I imagine, that I had meddled more, others will conclude that I have already meddled too much. The task being impossible, the solutions found were at best partial and questionable. But in human affairs this is not an unusual situation.
The book remains largely Roy Campbell’s, but it is rounded out by a version of one of the few Spanish classics that has received a truly classic translation into English. In the circumstances under which this volume was prepared, I would not have wished to mix Campbell’s work with that of other moderns, but I think he would have enjoyed proximity to the Mabbe version of La Celestina. “As Greek tragedy,” says Moratín, “was composed from the crumbs that fell from Homer’s table, so the Spanish drama owed its earliest forms to La Celestina.” James Mabbe’s work, in turn, rendering Rojas in the English of Shakespeare and the King James Bible, stands as a model and a challenge to all subsequent translators of the Spanish classics.
The volumes of the present series represent only a small selection from an enormous repertoire. There will always be a case against the particular selection made, and there will always be a case against the particular translations used. I am very willing to concede that such a volume as the present one is only a beginning, if my critics will grant that it is a beginning. “Spanish drama of the golden age” has been a phrase only, referring to we knew not what. If this volume communicates something of the spirit of that drama to modem readers (and, who knows? also to theatre audiences) it will have succeeded where many worthy efforts in the past have failed. In any event I shall not be ashamed to have played even a modest part in the enterprise.”
In 2016, Eric Bentley was interviewed by Rob Weinert-Kendt, the editor-in-chief of American Theatre. Here is the introduction to the mentioned article. (Read the full article)
Eric Bentley has not gone soft. But at age 99, the British-born critic who wrote The Playwright as Thinker and introduced the English-speaking theatre to the works of Bertolt Brecht—among an eventful career’s worth of noteworthy achievements—has well earned the right to be circumspect about his body of work, about the art form he greatly influenced if never personally mastered, and about the cultural health of the nation he’s called home since becoming a citizen in 1948. And so, as he sat in a plush leather chair for an interview last December in the study of his home on Riverside Dr., with a view of a Joan of Arc memorial statue that one of his idols, George Bernard Shaw, might have appreciated, Bentley alternated between dispatching ready answers to questions he’s been asked hundreds of times and taking the time to think through philosophical and aesthetic quandaries he’s still, after all these years, wrestling with.
It is that wrestling—his rancor-free but nevertheless uncompromising lifelong tangle with ideas, both as expressed through the theatre and outside it—that keeps a reader returning with interest and pleasure to Bentley’s work. Though he was only a proper critic, in the sense of being employed to review current theatrical offerings on a regular deadline, for a handful of years in the late 1940s and early ’50s (for The New Republic and The Nation), in his major books and essays he brought a sharp, systematic mind and exacting if wide-ranging taste to a task few had taken up before him, and nearly none have since, outside the halls of academia: fashioning a long-viewed yet fine-grained critical history of Western drama up to the present day.
Alas, that “present day” more or less stopped at mid-century; though he considered himself an ally of many ’60s liberation movements, in particular gay rights (he himself came out near the end of that decade), he wrote precious little about the theatre of that time, let alone after. His health currently renders him unable to travel outside his home; even so, there remain intervening decades of substantive theatre (Shepard, Sondheim, Churchill, Kane, Kushner, assorted Wilsons, Mamet, Vogel, Nottage, etc.) about which he has been effectively silent. He has spent some of the intervening decades teaching, as well as writing his own plays, which include Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?, Lord Alfred’s Lover, and Round Two.
Still, the shadow of his seminal collections—which include What Is Theatre?, In Search of Theatre, and The Life of the Drama—continues to hang over what passes for critical discourse today, and it would be a grave mistake to consign his books to history, or to the timeworn aesthetic and political arguments from which they sprung. As with the greatest critics, it is not Bentley’s judgments but his insights that make him most valuable, though these can be hard to untangle, of course. And it is probably the case that without his peremptorily contrarian temperament, which put him so regularly at odds with major figures of his day, Bentley might never have teased out the contradictions and complexities of playwrights he admired as well as the ones he didn’t.
He lionized Pirandello, for instance, and championed Ibsen, but few of their admirers have ever written so frankly or comprehensively about those dramatists’ shortcomings as well. Bentley brought a similarly rounded view to writers that interested him but he mostly didn’t care for, including Miller and O’Neill.
Nothing demonstrates what might be thought of as Bentley’s critical integrity so well as his dealings with Brecht. This was the one figure, apart from Shaw, that Bentley most admired and on which he pinned his hopes for the future of the theatre, and the admiration was reportedly mutual. But when Brecht rather hamfistedly insisted on Bentley’s political fealty to his brand of Eastern bloc Communism, Bentley bluntly declined. As an anti-Soviet leftist with seemingly equal disdain for hardline Marxists and softheaded Western liberals, Bentley quite literally made enemies right and left—but mostly left.
The occasion for our meeting was the aftermath of a centennial celebration at Town Hall, organized by soprano Karyn Levitt, who recently released the album Eric Bentley’s Brecht-Eisler Songbook. Bentley had watched the event—which was hosted by a former mentee and housemate, Michael Riedel (yes, that Michael Riedel), and featured tributes from various luminaries (including Kushner)—from home via livestream. Below are excerts from our conversation.
The Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala is the home of the fantastic MOOC Discover Don Quijote de la Mancha, what many call the greatest book of all time. The Don Quijote MOOC, which was the brainchild of the brilliant Giancarlo Ibarguen, is beautifully created by professor Eric Graf and the UFM video production team in both English and Spanish versions. It has been made possible thanks to a donation from the John Templeton Foundation, with additional support from the Earhart Foundation.
This MOOC uses many of the vibrant teaching techniques that makes the Internet a revolutionary teaching and learning tool. MOOC in English:http://donquijote.ufm.edu/en/
Las actas de los dieciséis congresos de la AIH celebrados desde 1962 a 2007 se encuentran disponibles online en la web del Instituto Cervantes. Entre sus múltiples artículos y brillantes estudios, seleccionamos aquí los que tratan algún aspecto sobre Miguel de Cervantes y su obra.
Según el editor: “Para las escritoras inglesas de comienzos del siglo XIX, el conocimiento de las lenguas modernas era un modo de adquirir una educación paralela a la universitaria, a la que no tenían acceso. La autora de Frankenstein es un buen ejemplo, pues llegó a dominar el francés, el italiano, el portugués y el español. Mary Shelley leyó gran parte de nuestra literatura clásica, como se aprecia en sus biografías literarias, las Lives of the Most Eminent Literary and Scientific Men of Spain and Portugal (1837). El corazón de estas semblanzas que Mary construyó según el modelo de las Vidas paralelas son dos biografías contrastadas: las de Cervantes y Lope de Vega. En ellas Mary vertió muchas de sus preocupaciones más íntimas: la relación entre literatura y vida privada, la presión que ejercen sobre el escritor las expectativas sociales, la naturaleza del genio… Son páginas reveladoras acerca de la idea de la literatura española que se tenía en la Inglaterra del XIX, y también acerca de los gustos de una escritora tan fascinante como Mary Shelley.”.