Don Quijote and The Intercontinental History of the Novel1

Walter Cohen


Sancho Panza and Don Quixote meet "Cid Hamete Benengeli"


     1. Don Quijote (1605, 1615) is often taken to be the founding moment of the European novel, a form that is in turn frequently understood to be a uniquely original invention of the western tip of Eurasia that has proven to be the dominant literary genre of the modern world. Although all of these claims can be disputed, few would deny Don Quijote's significance for the European novel, the prominence of the novel form in European literature since the eighteenth century, or the global influence it has subsequently exerted. Despite my sympathy for the stronger versions of these assertions, in what follows I assume only the weaker. My aim is to position the European novel intercontinentally, not by showing that The Tale of Genji, for instance, is or is not a novel, but by considering the non-European dimension of European fiction. Inevitably, such a project relies on a certain view of European imperialism since the mid-fifteenth century. My own understanding, which seems to be broadly though not universally shared by Marxist and non-Marxist historians alike, is that European overseas expansion was primarily a product rather than a source of internal economic change -- the development of capitalism -- though of course the effect also became a cause.2 Here, too, however, I assume only a weaker, less controversial claim -- that Europe, including eventually its most powerful settler colony, was engaged in continual if uneven imperial expansion from 1450 to 1900. Similarly, I subscribe to the linkage of the realist novel with both the middle class and with nationalism (though this connection does not at first glance seem to hold until the eighteenth century).3 But I assume only the weaker, commonsensical position that realism entails the serious treatment of everyday life. In all three instances, the weaker formulation allows the ensuing argument to work, whereas the stronger gives it greater resonance, at least in my view.

     2. Put another way, a traditionally historical materialist approach, in which broad social and economic developments provide fundamental conditions of possibility for literature, here functions mainly as a point of departure for understanding the structured relationship between opportunity and constraint in various literary forms. If a form enables you to do this, it prevents you from doing that. The approach is therefore formalist throughout, the goal being some insight into the relationship between ideology and form. Because forms are inherently ideological, they may prove recalcitrant or receptive to specific ideological projects. Within literary study today, this assertion cuts against a broadly culturalist or discursive approach, for which in principle all forms -- literary or not, verbal or not -- are equally grist for the mill. It seems to me, however, that literary critics can most effectively contribute to a larger project of cultural studies or social critique by retaining contact with our one area of cross-disciplinary comparative advantage -- the formal analysis of verbal practices and objects. The connection between this advantage and the unusual responsiveness of literary criticism, among academic disciplines in the United States, to contemporary cultural change is not an obvious one. I do not pursue it below, and even the more general defense of formalism remains implicit in the specific historical account. I argue, perhaps unexpectedly or even counterintuitively, that the origins of the European novel are to be located outside Europe, that its main line of development in the centuries after Cervantes proved ill-suited to cross-continental forays -- this despite the considerable body of scholarship in recent decades linking the novel to imperial expansion -- and, finally, that the ultimate trans-European success of the form inheres in the very characteristics that long impeded an extra-European dimension. I begin by looking at Cervantes in detail, before paddling upstream briefly in search of sources. I conclude at somewhat greater length with an overview of the ocean of fiction that is in some sense part of the Cervantine legacy.


     3. Much about the life and work of the author of Don Quijote points in the direction of empire. Cervantes fought -- and was maimed -- at the Battle of Lepanto, he was imprisoned for five years in Algiers following capture by Barbary pirates (1575-80), he unsuccessfully applied for posts in America, and he commissioned supplies for the Spanish Armada. Many of his writings evince an overt interest in imperial issues -- in general, in America, and above all in relation to Muslim civilization.4

     4. Cervantes claims to have had twenty-to-thirty plays performed between 1580 and 1587.5 Only two or three survive, one of which is based on his captivity. The names of eight or nine plays, among them the survivors, are known from a list Cervantes provided late in life,6 three or four of which also seem to exploit Cervantes's own experiences with the Islamic world more generally and the interest that the subject elicited on the stage.7 In 1615 Cervantes published eight more full-length plays, and three of these return to the drama of Christian imprisonment in the Islamic world. In short, almost half his extant plays, in addition to a significant percentage of the lost works, focus on Muslim-Christian relations. In the medium of prose fiction the same is true of one of the stories printed in the Novelas ejemplares (Exemplary Novellas, 1613).8 Though not concerned with Islam, another from the same collection evidences Cervantes's characteristic concern with different, even alien cultures. But in general the Novelas seem to allude more often to the Americas, a topic that becomes increasingly prominent late in the author's career.9

     5. Much the same is true of Don Quijote. The first part contains the lengthy Captive's Tale, which is often thought to be based on Cervantes's own experience in Algiers. The second reverts to the topic a bit more briefly in the account of the covert return to Spain of Ricote the morisco (a Moor converted to Christianity) and of his daughter following the royal decree of 1609 that expelled the moriscos. The entire work was ostensibly composed in Arabic by the Arab historian Cide Hamete Benengeli and translated into Spanish by a morisco youth. And speculation continues to this day on Cervantes's possible converso background -- that is, his Jewish descent.10 Similarly, Don Quijote refers to the New World on various occasions -- the Captive's brothers whose fortunes come from America, the priest's fictitious tale of wealth from the Indies, Sancho Panza's scheme to sell off into slavery the inhabitants of the fictitious Princess Micomicona's Guinea, as well as several other passing allusions.11 The work draws on Ercilla's La Araucana (a skeptical eyewitness account of the Spanish conquest of Chilean Indians), may derive one of the alternative names of its protagonist -- Quesada -- from America, and perhaps turns to the utopian tradition begun by More for part of Sancho Panza's gubernatorial experience on the fictitious Island of Barataria. More fundamentally, the critique of chivalric fiction that is the overt object of attack in Don Quijote has for centuries been understood as a commentary on the Spanish aristocracy and, by extension, on the conquistadores and more generally on Spain's entire imperial enterprise in the New World and elsewhere.12 This position has proven remarkably resistant to shifts in ideological fashion. Thus, one can argue that the novel nostalgically evokes the glory days of Spanish imperialism, epitomized by Lepanto and now slipping irretrievably away. Alternatively, one can take Cervantes -- or the narrator, or the translator, or Cide Hamete Benengeli -- at his word and find a thoroughgoing critique of empire. I will return to these competing interpretations below from a structural perspective. Here it is worth noting that this latter reading easily forks into a celebration of the text for its anti-imperialist leanings (the dominant mode today) or a decrying of its damage to the European effort at empire-building (a more common motif in previous eras). In short, though one might disagree about the stance of the work and the political value of that stance, Don Quijote would seem to be profoundly connected with Spanish imperialism.

     6. There is a problem with this line of argument, however, and it is an obvious one. Some of Cervantes's plays are about the Muslim world; the same can be said of barely more than five per cent of Don Quijote. The situation is even worse with respect to America. The New World is the central concern of La Araucana, as well as of a number of plays, though not the most celebrated ones, by the leading dramatists of the Golden Age -- Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Calderón de la Barca. None of Cervantes's works fits this mold, however, and even within his oeuvre a stronger case can be made for a relatively direct, extended meditation on America and empire in Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda (The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda, 1617) than in Don Quijote. Furthermore, unlike the major poems of, for instance, Tasso and Spenser, Don Quijote does not come equipped with an authorial key to its allegorical significance that might open the door to an American interpretation. It is manifestly written in a different register. Finally, though censorship was tighter shortly after 1600 than it had been a century earlier, this did not prevent complaints about the Indies from appearing in print. From this perspective, then, Don Quijote is not about America, not much about Islam in Spain, the Mediterranean, or north Africa, and only intermittently concerned at all with the question of empire in general. It has very little to say about intra-Christian conflict on the Hispanic peninsula (more pressing around 1580 and again in the 1640s), or Spanish wars in Europe (the novel's second part having been composed during the Dutch truce of 1609-21 and before the onset of the Thirty Years' War in 1618). This is important because it is Don Quijote, and not the more openly imperial (or anti-imperial) works of Cervantes or his Spanish contemporaries that is arguably one of the most distinguished and certainly one of the most influential literary products of the Renaissance and perhaps of European culture.13 The relative indifference to empire in Don Quijote may have no bearing one way or the other on its achievement or impact. I will argue, however, that it does, that the significance of the work depends on its relegation of empire to the background. As will become clear, though this approach appears to scale down the importance of the novel's non-European and implicitly anti-imperial elements, it nonetheless takes them seriously. The path to this conclusion leads through an interlinked discussion of literary history and literary form.

     7. First, to the extent that by means of the everyday reality of Spain, Don Quijote seeks to discredit chivalric romance as well as the ideologies, practices, and social structures to which it was related, a direct depiction of Spanish imperialism is all but excluded. Notice the potential paradox. Even if the enduring interpretive tradition noted earlier is correct in associating the critique of chivalric romance with the opposition to empire -- as I think it is, in part -- the very mode of that critique precludes the overt portrayal of the object of attack. Routine existence in Spain undercuts chivalric romance and by extension imperial adventure, but that adventure occurs outside Spain and hence beyond the limits of the novel. Arising as it does from the distinctive strategy of Don Quijote, this bifurcation between vehicle and tenor might seem fortuitous, and hence of scant import for prose fiction in general. But it is not. Rather, as we will see, this scissors effect inheres in the strategy of novelistic realism, even when -- or perhaps even more when -- the novel becomes standardized around a shaped plot of the sort that Don Quijote clearly lacks. What appears to be a local strategy in Cervantes emerges at only a slightly higher level of generality as the core project of subsequent European fiction -- the representation of ordinary private life with high artistic seriousness. This project had profound implications for the portrayal of the non-European world over the course of three centuries. Insofar as the realist novel sought to depict imperial expansion, its very logic entailed the relegation of that enterprise to the margins. In Renaissance literature as a whole, Europe's outward thrust is often unrepresented but indirectly influential, especially in encouraging a new breadth of outlook.14 Here, however, it is not just unrepresented but also unrepresentable and hence deeply, if negatively, formative.

     8. Such a perspective accords well with Part One of Don Quijote, which seems to share a characteristic disillusionment (Spanish "desengaño") with much late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth century writing -- including but hardly limited to works by Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Quevedo. That disillusionment seems related in part to the fading of the initial enthusiasm over discovery, trade, and conquest. But since Part Two of Don Quijote to some extent overturns the premises of Part One, shifting sympathy to Don Quijote and away from the people who toy with him, it can far less easily constitute a critique of Spanish imperialism in the New World, even an allegorical one. As the work undermines its own premises, it might almost be considered a critique of the critique of empire. Hence, Part Two is compatible with the reading of Don Quijote that emphasizes the nostalgia for feudalism beneath the superficial denunciation of chivalric romance. In other words, the apparent dispute between the anti-imperial and the imperial interpretations described above may be remapped into locally valid accounts of Part One and Part Two respectively. But given not only the ideologically self-contradictory character of Part Two but also the overarching formal logic of the work as a whole, in which the unprecedented reconstruction of everyday reality paradoxically calls into question the existence of that very reality, it is probably more prudent to refrain from direct ideological translation in favor of recognizing the skeptical corrosive spirit that Part Two heightens through its intensified self-reflexive turn. This is one sense in which Don Quijote is and is not about America.

     9. Though the Islamic material in the novel can be subjected to the same general line of argument, its far greater prominence encourages more extended treatment. This material appears in a number of registers in the novel. A range of passing references -- especially to the Moorish legacy or the contemporary Turkish threat -- implicitly indicate the everyday impact of Muslim civilization on Spain. Perhaps the most striking, and certainly the most pedantic, of these references concerns linguistic borrowing. As Don Quijote explains to Sancho, "este nombre albogues es morisco, como lo son todos aquellos que en nuestra lengua castellana comienzan en al . . . . Alhelí y alfaquí, tanto por el al primero como por el i en que acaban, son conocidos por arábigos." ("The name albogues comes from Arabic, like all the words in Spanish that start with al . . . . The words alhelí [gillyflower, carnation] and alfaquí can be seen to be from the Arabic, as much because of the al at the beginning as the i at the end.")15  The literary and historical allusions, however, usually have a more romantic, even exotic feel. They blend into the evocation by Don Quijote of the imaginary Moors of chivalric romance, who in turn give rise to the fabricated ones with which the Duke and Duchess amuse themselves at Quijote and Sancho's expense in Part Two. Third, Cervantes handles a potentially grim side of the subject with an exceptionally light touch. The Inquisition is redeployed above all in the burning of Don Quijote's library by the priest. Here Cervantes combines opposition to books of chivalry with detailed literary critical evaluation, a cheerful tone throughout, and an introductory summary judgment, in which annihilation by bonfire becomes "la muerte de aquellos inocentes" (I:6, p. 67; "the death of these innocents," I:6, p. 35) -- a phrase that turns the language of the Catholic Church against itself. The Inquisition bears a family resemblance to Sancho's assertion of Old Christian (religiously impeccable) blood, typical of the peasantry and directed against the taint of Islam as well as of Judaism. Only the absence of records, which would have revealed the high percentage of the Spanish rural lower class who converted from Christianity during the centuries of Muslim rule, allowed such claims to stand. In Don Quijote, Sancho's pride in his ancestry characteristically contributes a comic effect, except in the episode of Ricote.

     10. The background to that episode is the fate of the moriscos, whose expulsion, mentioned earlier, falls between the publication of Parts One and Two of Don Quijote. A former neighbor of Sancho's, Ricote returns to Spain illegally, in disguise, and in secret to retrieve some buried treasure and by that means to have the wherewithal to effect a rendezvous in Germany with his wife and daughter, loyal Christians who have emigrated to Algeria. Sancho's friendship assures his silence; his scruples, however, cause him to reject Ricote's request for assistance. Here we seem to confront directly an important issue of daily life in early seventeenth-century Spain and hence a fit subject for the realist dimension of Don Quijote. And protected by an orthodox defense of the expulsion from Ricote's own mouth, Cervantes finds in ethnic cleansing what is for Don Quijote an uncharacteristic moment of pathos, again in Ricote's words: "es el deseo tan grande que casi todos tenemos de volver a España, que los más de aquellos, y son muchos, que saben la lengua como yo, se vuelven a ella, y dejan allá a sus mujeres y sus hijos desamparados: tanto es el amor que la tienen; y agora conozco y experimento lo que suele decirse; que es dulce el amor de la patria" (II:54, pp. 932-33; "virtually every one of us has such a burning desire to return to Spain that those among us who know the language as I do -- and there are many, many who do -- in fact make our way back, abandoning our wives and children in all those other places, for that is how intensely we love Spain, and now, indeed, I know and have experienced the common saying: The love of your country is sweet," II:54, p. 647). As if to emphasize the point, Cervantes repeats it in a comic mode only a few pages later, having Sancho and his donkey fall into a pit, where the man laments to his animal: "miserables de nosotros, que no ha querido nuestra corta suerte que muriésemos en nuestra patria y entre los nuestros, donde ya que no hallara remedio nuestra desgracia, no faltara quien dello se doliera, y en la hora última de nuestro pasamiento nos cerrara los ojos!" (II:55, p. 937; "how miserable we are, prevented by our cruel destiny from dying in our own country, surrounded by our own people, because even if they couldn't find a way of helping us, there would at least have been people to mourn over us, and to close our eyes at the last moment, when we left this earth!" II:55, p. 651).

     11. But this is one of those exceptions that proves the rule of the unrepresentability of empire noted earlier. Ricote enters Don Quijote only when and because he is no longer allowed to enter Spain, when the moriscos are not merely a marginal but actually a dispersed, exiled, and superseded sector of the Spanish population, important primarily in their absence, evoked primarily in the mode of elegy. Second, the logic of his story -- really a throwback to the inset novellas of Part One -- is that of romance. The buried treasure is an early hint. Another is the brief reference to a stereotypical morisco romance, the unresolved love plot between Ricote's beautiful and orthodox Christian daughter, Ana Félix, and an Old Christian suitor. When Don Quijote and Sancho later reach the Mediterranean coast at Barcelona, they witness the capture of an Algerian pirate brig, which turns out to be captained by Ana Félix, disguised as a man. She has temporarily left her suitor behind in Algeria, where he is disguised as a woman; is recognized by and reunited with her father, who providentially shows up at the right moment laden with gold; is pardoned and indeed treated royally by Barcelona's officials; and in short order is reunited with her lover as well, who is rescued from Barbary. The episode ends with efforts underway, though of uncertain outcome, to obtain an exception for Ricote and his daughter that will allow them to remain in Spain. The stagy theatricality of these events, the double cross-dressing combined with an open reference to a homosexuality taken to be characteristic of the Islamic court (and, as some critics have surmised, perhaps a part of Cervantes's own experience in captivity),16 the perilous sea adventures, the near-death experiences, the reconciliation of father and daughter and of boy and girl -- all these are the stuff of romance and thus are incompatible with the main thrust of the novel.17

     12. Similar considerations apply to the earlier Captive's Tale. Here too events seem to conspire in encouraging a realistic rendering of the imperial foe, and to a considerable extent Cervantes delivers on this promise. Whether or not the tale is autobiographical, Cervantes certainly draws on his own Algerian imprisonment to provide a credible account of life in captivity. This portrayal memorably extends to Muslim culture in a passage that anticipates Ricote's lament for his lost Spanish homeland. The Captive owes his escape to Zoraida, a beautiful Moorish woman who will become his Christian bride in Spain. Her wealthy father is briefly kidnaped as part of their flight. When he is set free, he curses both the Christians and his daughter. But as they sail away, they hear him cry: "Vuelve, amada hija, vuelve a tierra, que todo te lo perdono; entrega a esos hombres ese dinero, que ya es suyo, y vuelve a consolar a este triste padre tuyo, que en esta desierta arena dejará la vida, si tú le dejas!" (I:41, p. 427; "Come back, oh my beloved daughter, come back, I forgive everything! Let those men have all this money, it's already theirs, and come back to comfort your miserable father, who will die here in these barren sands, if you abandon him!" I:41, p. 287.) The intensity of the moment arguably exceeds that of Ricote's remarks published a decade later and is perhaps equaled only by Don Quijote's dying words.

     13. For all the verisimilitude of Cervantes's portrayal, however, the Captive's Tale remains atypical of Don Quijote in at least three ways. First, it arises less logically and more metonymically than most of the episodes even of Part One, though the Tale of Impertinent Curiosity is a still more extreme example. The Algerian excursus is in short an inset novella rather than an integral part of the main plot. Though it may reflect implicitly on Quijote and Sancho, it has almost nothing to do with them directly other than the fact that they are there to hear it. Second, its realism lacks the demystifying thrust of so many of the protagonists' adventures. Finally and relatedly, its internal structure is that of morisco romance -- the persistence of exotic elements, the Moorish woman who converts to Christianity, the lovers brought together after great peril, the family reunion that succeeds almost immediately thereafter, the vast sums of money that shower down on the happy couple, the remarkable coincidences indicative of the benevolent hand of Providence.18 In Don Quijote, then, realism is incompatible not only with the representation of the non-European world but also with affective power except, perhaps, briefly at the end. It was left to later writers to retrieve the emotional force of earlier literature for the novel form.

     14. If Don Quijote tends to relegate things Islamic to the incidental, historical, anachronistic, fantastic, excluded, external, exotic, and romantic, however, the narrative voice of Cide Hamete Benengeli gives one pause. He may have been an afterthought. The opening paragraph of Part One explains: "Quieren decir que tenía el sobrenombre de Quijada, o Quesada, que en esto hay alguna diferencia en los autores que deste caso escriben; aunque por conjeturas verosímiles se deja entender que se llamaba Quejana." (I:1, p. 36; "It's said his family name was Quijada or maybe Quesada: there's some disagreement among the writers who've discussed the matter. But more than likely his name was really Quejana," I:1, p. 13.) Shortly thereafter, however, we're told that the hero's decision to call himself Don Quijote persuades "los autores desta tan verdadera historia que, sin duda, se debía llamar Quijada, y no Quesada, como otros quisieron decir" (I:1, p. 40 ; "the authors of this highly veracious history that, beyond any question, his family name must have been Quijada, rather than Quesada, as others have claimed," I:1, p. 16). In conjunction with the undermining of authorial authority, these passages evoke multiple biographers. The introduction of Cide Hamete Benengeli in Chapter Nine by contrast narrows the field to one, though the mediating morisco translator and first-person narrator exercise editorial prerogative. If Cervantes did indeed invent Cide on the fly, this is of a piece with the generally improvised feel of Part One and may help account as well for the relatively limited use to which the Moorish historian is put in the 1605 version, after his spectacular initial appearance to continue the interrupted saga of Don Quijote's battle with the Basque page (I:9).

     15. That appearance, however, follows hard upon the introduction of Sancho Panza, which may well have had decisive formal consequences in transforming a novella devoted to a monomaniacal obsession into a dialogical interaction of verbal, ideological, and social range -- in short, into a novel. Can something similar be said for the Muslim historian and in particular for his religion and ethnicity? The text does not at first encourage this line of thought. The first-person narrator worries about getting the truth from an "arábigo, siendo muy propio de los de aquella nación ser mentirosos" (I:9, p. 95; "Arab, since it's very natural for people of that race to be liars," I:9, p. 52) -- an anxiety shared by Don Quijote himself in Part Two, since "de los moros no se podía esperar verdad alguna, porque todos son embelecadores, falsarios y quimeristas" (II:3, p. 558; "truth simply could not be expected from the Moors, because they were all cheaters, swindlers, and wild-eyed troublemakers," II:3, p. 374). Yet most of the evidence points unequivocally in the opposite direction. The nearly simultaneous eruption of Sancho Panza and Cide Hamete Benengeli into the work implies a double effort at social exteriority -- one based on class, the other on religion -- as if Cervantes were seeking a stance outside the norms of the dominant culture. Since the doctrinal difference pertains to the first author himself, as Cervantes calls him, it is also entangled with what might be deemed an epistemological exteriority -- the laborious construction and then interrogation of objective reality. All of this, it can be surmised, is part of the estrangement effect attendant upon the elevation of everyday life to artistic seriousness. In other words, the importance of Cide Hamete Benengeli lies less in the specific content of any putative Islamic identity than in its marked distance from Christian Spain. That distance, moreover, though not bereft of ideological implications, translates primarily into formal originality. Thus, rather than deciphering the ideology of form, we need to understand the form of ideology. The issue is less the religious implications of genre than the generic implications of religion.19

     16. Part Two exploits the opportunities created by an Islamic narrator far more fully than does Part One, just as is the case with Sancho Panza. Like Sancho's, Cide Hamete's increased importance follows from the altered narrative logic of Part Two. In the case of Cide, the very literariness attributed to Part One by Part Two calls attention to the act of telling. Many of the references to the original author either by name or in his capacity as author are relatively innocuous reminders of his existence or of his veracity. But others go beyond that. They range from rhetorical set pieces (II:17, p. 657; II:17, p. 446), through disabused disquisitions on poverty with a sly glance at Cervantes's own financial straits (II:44, pp. 852-53, and II:48, p. 882; II:44, pp. 589-90, and II:48, p. 610), to evaluative judgments on wisdom and folly, sanity and madness: "Y dice más Cide Hamete: que tiene para sí ser tan locos los burladores como los burlados, y que no estaban los duques dos dedos de parecer tontos, pues tanto ahínco ponían en burlarse de los tontos." (II:70, p. 1041; "Sidi Hamid also records that, in his opinion, those who concocted the joke were quite as crazy as those who were obliged to experience it, and that in working so hard to make fun of fools, the duke and duchess had come within an inch of looking like fools themselves," II:70, p. 726.) Most important, a considerable number of passages are self-reflexively narratological. The inset novellas of Part One are defended in Part One (Ch. 28) and more critically canvassed by Sancho, Quijote, and Sansón Carrasco early in Part Two (Ch. 3). The omission of such novellas from Part Two inspires Hamete Benengeli's "queja . . . de sí mismo" (II:44, p. 848 ; "complaint against himself," II:44, p. 586), which ends with the request that readers "se le den alabanzas, no por lo que escribe, sino por lo que ha dejado de escribir" (II:44, p. 849; "praise him, not so much for what he has written, as for what he has refrained from writing," II:44, p. 586). Indeed, Cide or his translator or the narrator often comments on the refusal to digress (II:12, p. 619, and II:18, p. 662; II:12, pp. 418, 419, and II:18, p. 450). They also question the plausibility of certain episodes, usually consigning them to apocryphal status (Spanish -- II:5, pp. 570, 573, 575; II:10, p. 601; II:23, p. 702; II:24, p. 713; English -- II: 5, pp. 383, 386, 387; II:10, p. 406; II:23, p. 479; II:24, p. 487). The translator or narrator points out Benengeli's imprecision about this or that fact (Spanish -- II:10, p. 604; II:18, p. 663; II:60, p. 972; II:68, p. 1032; II:74, p. 1067; English -- II:10, p. 408; II:18, p. 451; II:60, p. 676; II:68, p. 719; II:74, p. 745). But the narrator also emphasizes the primary author's commitment to accuracy (Spanish -- II:40, p. 822; II:47, p. 878; English -- II:40, p. 566; II:47, p. 608). All of this of course has the effect of calling the possibility of such accuracy into question.

     17. As such, it feeds into Cervantes's playful handling of religion: "Bendito sea el poderoso Alá! -- dice Hamete Benengeli" (II:8, p. 589; "'Blessed be Allah the All-Mighty!' says Hamid Benengeli," II:8, p. 397). The original author invokes his religion's prophet: "por Mahoma" (II:48, p. 882; " in the name of Mohammed," II:48, p. 610); and he is called a "filósofo mahomético" (II:53, p. 923; "Muhammadan philosopher," II:53, p. 640) when he presents an ambiguous comparison between the instability of life and the North African cycle of five seasons. Or, more teasingly: "Entra Cide Hamete, coronista desta grande historia, con estas palabras en este capítulo: 'Juro como católico cristiano . . .'; a lo que su traductor dice que el jurar Cide Hamete como católico cristiano siendo él moro, como sin duda lo era, no quiso decir otra cosa sino que así como el católico cristiano cuando jura, jura, o debe jurar, verdad, y decirla en lo que dijere, así él la decía, como si jurara como cristiano católico" (II:27, p. 738; "Sidi Hamid, this great history's chronicler, begins this chapter with the following declaration: 'I swear as a Catholic Christian . . .,' to which the translator adds that when Sidi Hamid swore as a Catholic Christian, being as he surely was a Moor, all he meant was that he was swearing in precisely the way that a Catholic Christian would swear, or is supposed to swear, that he is being truthful in saying whatever he says, just as Sidi Hamid, swearing as a Catholic Christian, was verifying his own truthfulness," II:27, pp. 504-05). Similarly: "exclamó Benengeli . . . : 'Oh pobreza, pobreza! . . . Yo, aunque moro, bien sé, por la comunicación que he tenido con cristianos, que la santidad consiste en la caridad, humildad, fee, obediencia y pobreza'" (II:44, pp. 852-53; "Benengeli exclaimed, . . . 'Oh poverty, poverty! . . . For even I, though a Moor, can readily perceive [having been in contact with many Christians] that holiness is composed of charity, humility, faith, obedience, and poverty,'" II:44, p. 589). I hypothesized earlier that Cide Hamete's religion and ethnicity served primarily formal rather than ideological ends. But only primarily. These passages simultaneously undermine both literary and doctrinal epistemological certainty.

     18. The final twist on the strategy is effected by the introduction -- again perhaps improvisational -- of the pseudonymous Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda's continuation of Don Quijote (1614) into the Prologue and, more vertiginously, into the latter stages of Cervantes's own Part Two. This move only exacerbates the literally impossible self-referentiality from which Cervantes obtains so much leverage. Part One was published in 1605 and refers to Don Quijote's death. But Part Two must take place after the publication of Part One -- since the characters of Part Two discuss that publication -- and in it Don Quijote is still very much alive. Avellaneda's version, which appeared in 1614, therefore extends the protagonist's life span still farther, whereas in Cervantes's own narrative the events of Part Two occur very shortly after those of Part One. The intrusion of these extra-textual facts is thus strictly speaking incompatible with the work's internal time-scheme. But who cares? The incorporation of Avellaneda's Don Quijote sets up a running contrast between the lying Christian's fiction (Avellaneda may have been a cleric)20 and the truthful Muslim's history. As Sancho explains: "el Sancho y el don Quijote desa historia deben de ser otros que los que andan en aquella que compuso Cide Hamete Benengeli, que somos nosotros." ("The Sancho and the Don Quijote in that book have got to be different people from the ones in Sidi Hamid Benengeli's book, because the ones in his book are us.") To which the corroborating reply is: "se había de mandar que ninguno fuera osado a tratar de las cosas del gran don Quijote, si no fuese Cide Hamete su primer autor." (II:59, p. 970; "it ought to be made illegal for anyone but Sidi Hamid, the original author, to write about the great Don Quijote and his doings," II:59, p. 674.) In Barcelona, welcome is extended to Don Quijote -- "no el falso, no el ficticio, no el apócrifo que en falsas historias estos días nos han mostrado, sino el verdadero, el legal y el fiel que nos describió Cide Hamete Benengeli, flor de los historiadores" (II:61, p. 987; "not the counterfeit, not the false and fictive, the apocryphal Don Quijote, brought before us, recently, by lying histories, but the true, the lawful, and the real Don Quijote drawn for us by Sidi Hamid Benengeli, flower of all historians," II:61, p. 686). In a mock-vision of hell conjured up by a servant of the Duke and Duchess -- a passage that establishes a disquieting and possibly unintended resonance with the burning of Don Quijote's library -- the devils play ball with bad books, in the process destroying them. "Mirad qué libro es ése" ("Hey, what book is that?"), one asks. "Ésta es la segunda parte de la historia de don Quijote de la Mancha, no compuesta por Cide Hamete, su primer autor, sino por un aragonés, que él dice ser natural de Tordesillas." (II:70, p. 1043; "That's the so-called second part of Don Quijote de La Mancha's history, not written by Sidi Hamid, the original author, but by some Aragonese fellow who's supposed to come from Tordesillas," II:70, p. 727.) And on the hero's death bed, efforts are taken "para quitar la ocasión de algún otro autor que Cide Hamete Benengeli le resucitase falsamente" (II:74, p. 1067; "to prevent any writer other than Sidi Hamid Benengeli from falsely resurrecting Don Quijote," II:74, p. 745).

     19. In short, Cervantes has it both ways. At one level the deployment of Cide Hamete undermines narrative and religious authority. At another, the concern with dishonest Arabs has been left far behind. In comparison with the lying Christian interloper, the truthful Muslim author retains absolute authority.21 We might speculate that the expulsion of the moriscos pushed Cervantes in the direction of this doubly, if inconsistently, critical move, beneath the scrupulously maintained veneer of orthodoxy. The novel concludes with Cide Hamete getting the last word, an address to his pen: "Para mí sola nació don Quijote, y yo para él; . . . solos los dos somos para en uno, a despecho y pesar del escritor fingido y tordesillesco . . . . pues no ha sido otro mi deseo que poner en aborrecimiento de los hombres las fingidas y disparatadas historias de los libros de caballerías" (II:74, p. 1068; "Don Quijote was born only for me, as I for him; . . . only we two are a unity, in spite of that fake Tordesillan scribbler . . . . for all I ever wanted was to make men loathe the concocted, wild-eyed stories told as tales of chivalry," II:74, p. 746). Thus this passage unites Benengeli not only with Don Quijote but also with the author of the Prologue to Part One, who is not quite Cervantes but is certainly a less mediated version of him than is Cide Hamete or the morisco translator. The friend of this author -- though, perhaps significantly, not the author himself -- asserts that "todo él es una invectiva contra los libros de caballerías" (p. 24; "the whole thing is an attack on romantic tales of chivalry," p. 10). More than the inset tales of Moors and moriscos, then, and in a fashion that overlaps to an extent with the role of Sancho Panza, Cide Hamete Benengeli is integral to both the skeptical and critical dimensions of Don Quijote. Arguably he contributes to an inchoate reconstructive impulse as well. For if Part Two in particular at times seems to regret the irrelevance (at best) of the chivalric temper to the national culture, perhaps an alternative is a more encompassing vision of that culture.

     20. It is difficult to determine the precise weight of the specifically Arabic, Moorish, and Islamic side of Cide Hamete, as distinguished from the more deracinated and narrowly formal significance of multiple, self-conscious author-historians. The separation is probably artificial. What is likely, however, is that the Muslim world enters Don Quijote most profoundly at the level not of representation but of narration. Given the specific form of Cervantes's novel, it could not have been otherwise.


     21. To what extent can one extrapolate from a single case? To address this question, we can look both back and forward. Don Quijote is sometimes seen as the synthesis of picaresque and chivalric romance. Although the picaresque at first carries a distinctively intra-national charge, Mateo Alemán's important Guzmán de Alfarache (1599, 1604) sends its protagonist, by now a convicted criminal, to row in the galleys. More important, chivalric romance seems inconceivable without reference to the relationship between Christianity and Islam in the Mediterranean. This is so whether the focus is on the early vernacular texts of the twelfth century as responses to the Crusades, the more overt treatment of the subject in Wolfram von Eschenbach's early thirteenth-century Parzival, or works composed in the shadow of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and spared burning by Don Quijote's priest -- Martorell's late fifteenth-century Tirant lo Blanc and Ariosto's Orlando Furioso. Similarly, Cervantes's debt to ancient Greek romance brings with it (pre-Islamic) north Africa.

     22. Yet none of these forms provides as crucial a constructional model for Cervantes in general and Don Quijote in particular as does the novella, which achieves high artistic status in Boccaccio's Decameron in the mid-fourteenth century. The Exemplary Novellas, some of which predate the first part of Don Quijote, are by the author's own account the first such collection in Spanish. Don Quijote itself may well have begun as yet another novella before, perhaps with the introduction of Sancho Panza and, shortly thereafter, of Cide Hamete, Cervantes discovered the possibilities of extended narrative. Further, the episodic quality of Part One in particular resembles a collection of novellas in which the protagonists remain constant. Finally, the inset novellas, which individually recall the tales collected in the Exemplary Novellas, slightly alter this method by introducing a different set of protagonists, while reducing Don Quijote and Sancho to auditors. In this way, Don Quijote approaches the method of the frame-tale collection, the macrostructural principle of The Decameron, here with Don Quijote and Sancho serving as the frame. Boccaccio, of course, does not spring from nowhere. There are precedents for the novella in Italian and for both the novella and the frame-tale collection in medieval Latin. But behind all of these lie earlier sources and analogues in Arabic, of which the best-known today is the Thousand-and-One Nights. These enter European literature via Latin or vernacular -- especially Spanish -- translation. The Arabic materials in turn draw on Persian and ultimately Indian models. In short, the origins of what is arguably the quintessential European form lie in north Africa and southwestern and south Asia.22


     23. European fiction of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries apparently continues this multicontinental perspective. Behn's Oroonoko, Defoe's Captain Singleton and Robinson Crusoe, Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Montesquieu's Persian Letters, Johnson's Rasselas, and Voltaire's Candide all crucially depend on the non-European world for their plot, outlook, or both. Of these works, however, only Defoe's, indebted as they are to the picaresque, are unambiguously novels, and even they formally differ from the shaped realist narratives that become the staple of the European novel.23 Those narratives usually descend directly or indirectly from either the Exemplary Novellas or Don Quijote. But in some of the leading specimens -- Lafayette's Princess of Clèves, Richardson's Pamela and Clarissa, Fielding's Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones, Laclos's Dangerous Liaisons, and even a somewhat eccentric work like Sterne's Tristram Shandy -- the intercontinental referent has all but disappeared. As suggested earlier, one of the necessary projects of the novel after Cervantes was to jettison even Don Quijote's limited extra-European perspective, an epistemological and ideological transmutation somewhat paralleled by the only partial simultaneous subordination of popular culture but certainly issuing in both the constriction and the expansion of the novel. Realism requires the near-exclusion of self-reflexive strategies and exotic peoples alike, both of which might undermine its claim to reality.

     24. Before pursuing this hypothesis in relation to the nineteenth-century fiction, we can gain an external vantage point by turning briefly to Romantic poetry. A representation of empire or of non-European peoples is routine in lyric and narrative alike. Goethe, arguably not a Romantic, models his collection The West-Eastern Divan on the fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafiz. Leopardi begins his career with anti-imperialist nationalist works in reaction to Napoleonic power, moves to a level of philosophical abstraction in the "Night Song of a Nomadic Shepherd in Asia," and ends with his celebrated "Broom or the Flower of the Desert," a poem whose metaphysical cast nonetheless is indebted to the international, indeed intercontinental purview of his earlier writing. Byron provides the obvious example of the easy crossing of European borders in Romantic poetry through his repeated rendering of the eastern Mediterranean in Childe Harold, in parts of Don Juan, and in Oriental tales such as The Giaour.24 Hugo's lyric collection Orientalia is indebted to Byron, as are some of Pushkin's early poems like The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, which in turn influences Mickiewicz's Crimean Sonnets. But Pushkin and Mickiewicz, who had been friends, fell out over Russia's imperial suppression of Polish nationalism, which Pushkin aggressively defended. Mickiewicz bitterly counterattacked in Forefather's Eve, Part III, an extended verse narrative that denounces Petersburg as a symbol of Russian aggression. Pushkin replied in what is arguably his finest work, The Bronze Horseman, a poem that ostensibly celebrates Peter the Great and Petersburg alike but also internalizes and implicitly accepts Mickiewicz's critique.

     25. The moral of these examples, which could easily be multiplied and extended to later nineteenth-century poetry,25 is not that Romanticism is fundamentally Orientalist, imperialist, anti-imperialist, or even merely interested in other continents. It is rather that a significant area of compatibility exists between the characteristic concerns of Romanticism and the representation of non-European culture. Think of the routine clichés -- emphasis on the imagination at the expense of dead fact, turn from prose to poetry, privileging of the lyric and meditative over the narrative, fascination with the unique and abnormal and exotic as opposed to general nature, return to the medieval and the Gothic in reaction to an emergent modernity, preference for the rural over the urban, interest in primitivism at the expense of civilization, rejection of inherited truths in favor of a revolution in thought and life and maybe even society. Few of these tendencies point you away from a concern with the non-Western world; some seem positively to invite such consideration. In short, the world was discursively available to Romantic poetry.

     26. It is otherwise with nineteenth-century realist fiction. Indeed, one can demonstrate an inverse relationship between the realist novel and the representation of empire at the very moment Europe initiates a second wave of global expansion, three centuries after the conquest of America. Stendhal's Red and the Black, Balzac's Père Goriot or Lost Illusions, Flaubert's Madame Bovary or Sentimental Education, Gogol's Dead Souls, Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, the major works of Dostoyevsky -- these novels have next-to-nothing to say about Africa, Asia, or the Americas, imperial or otherwise, and not that much more about even other European nations. They are in this sense implicit evidence of the national and nationalist vocation of the realist novel. The same holds for a wide variety of equally prominent British fiction of the era. But as one might expect from the leading imperial power, there is another group of English novels that can be and often are cited to demonstrate the close connection between the realist novel and European imperialism -- Austen's Mansfield Park, Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Dickens' Great Expectations and Bleak House, and George Eliot's Daniel Deronda.

     27. These are, however, the exceptions that prove the rule. The works by Austen, Brontë, Thackeray, and Dickens offer colonial or imperial backdrops of varying importance for the plot. Recent criticism has gone to considerable lengths to demonstrate the significance of the Caribbean, or India, or Australia to these novels -- precisely what one does not have to do (and this is a crucial point) to prove, for instance, that Jane Eyre or Great Expectations is a Bildungsroman.26 In other words, the very effort and ingenuity that goes into establishing the imperial connection tells its own unwitting story, though the task becomes easier when one moves away from high canonical realism. As we would expect, the colonial backdrops themselves are frequently referred to but scarcely represented.27 A similar argument, though with a twist, applies to Daniel Deronda. The novel is able to depict a non-European people (Jews) because those people live inside European society. The work moves toward Zionism, which can arguably be understood as a distinctive species of European expansion. But characteristically it cannot actually represent the implementation of the Zionist project because that would take it outside the confines of Europe and of the European realist novel.

     28. Like Daniel Deronda, Scott's Ivanhoe presents a Jewish character within English society. Unlike Eliot's work, Ivanhoe is a historical novel; as such, though it is in the realist mode, it has greater representational freedom -- precisely because it is set in the past. Though, like Daniel Deronda, it does not venture beyond the confines of Europe, elsewhere Scott combines geographical and historical distance.28 The same pairing also characterizes Flaubert's Salammbô and in a way Cooper's Last of the Mohicans as well. Temporal distance enables geographical or ethnic range, while nonetheless facilitating implicit commentary on the contemporary scene.29 But the connection is possible rather than necessary: Trafalgar, the first in Galdós's long series of historical novels, and, of course, Tolstoy's War and Peace limit their investigations of empire to an intra-European "take" on the Napoleonic Wars. Not surprisingly, Chateaubriand's earlier, more fanciful, and pseudo-historical short novel Atala has certain limited affinities not only with the exotic elements in Cooper and Flaubert but also with Romantic poetry, as do the openly Orientalist sections of Dumas's Count of Monte Cristo. From the Romantic it is scarcely a step to the supernatural. Stoker's Dracula employs a realist mode, but does so in order to render the threat of vampires. This flight from standard realism into what Patrick Brantlinger has called the late-Victorian "imperial Gothic"30 allows a brief visit to an only nominally European Transylvania, understood as an alien invasive threat to England and humanity at the very high point of British overseas imperialism. In short, the realist novel has enormous difficulty directly representing the contemporary European confrontation with the non-European world.

     29. The far-flung empire of the West is, however, the overt topic of Conrad's Heart of Darkness as well as other of his works such as Nostromo. Though Conrad's focus on non-English imperialism raises ideological issues, from the formalist perspective adopted here his fiction leads one to ask whether modernism escapes the limitations of realism. Gide's contemporaneous Immoralist provokes the same question. The answer, however, would seem to be that it does not. Kipling's Kim has no difficulty in representing a distant empire in a realist vein; similarly, Stevenson moves from the Romantic adventure of Treasure Island to a more realistic mode after he actually settles in Polynesia. The shift is paradigmatic. What these works share is a historical moment, the moment when the European settler colonies have acquired sufficient density to allow for realist representation.31 In this respect, modernism does not constitute a break with realism.

     30. Such a conclusion therefore opens the possibility of a realist fiction that is not limited to the West, provided that the geographical distances are not so daunting. We might look to the two great terrestrial empires of the nineteenth century, the North American and the Russian, for instances of the necessary contiguity. The examples from the United States all come with caveats. Cooper's fiction is set in the past. Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and, to strain even further, Twain's Huckleberry Finn portray African Americans, a people who, despite their ancestry, are far more internal to American society than are Cooper's historically distant and culturally "other" Indians. With Melville, who, like Conrad after him, exploits the opportunities of a maritime career in his fiction, the limitations are slightly different. An early South Seas tale such as Typee certainly renders an alien culture but hardly does so in a realistic mode. The heritage of Romanticism and of romance also pervades Moby-Dick, which, as in Leopardi's late poetry, raises earlier international -- in this instance anti-ethnocentric -- concerns to a philosophical plane, at the same time that its minute rendering of whaling life does not really deliver a realist narrative because that rendering remains largely unintegrated into what little plot there is.32 Perhaps Benito Cereno comes closer in its deceptively bland version of a shipboard slave rebellion, though like The Last of the Mohicans it addresses contemporary racial concerns by recourse to events well in the past, and like Heart of Darkness it develops a highly ambiguous, perhaps ambivalent, account of its own country's complicity in European imperialism.

     31. In Russia, many of the leading novelists were at pains to portray the internal alien cultures of Tsarist Russia. Pushkin, whose unfinished tale "The Moor of Peter the Great" treats his own Ethiopian ancestor, composed, but later rejected, a trip to the Caucusus for the eponymous hero of Eugene Onegin, his "novel in verse." That is also the destination of Lermontov's titular protagonist in A Hero of Our Time. The Cossacks form the subject of Gogol's Taras Bulba and of Tolstoy's Cossacks and other earlier tales. Tolstoy's late short novel, Hadji Murad, concerns the Crimean Tartars. The conclusion of many of these works -- that the gap between the cultures of Russia and the Caucasus is unbridgeable -- helps explain two phenomena. First, the problem of integration today between Russia and Chechnya involves the ethnic and geographical descendants, as it were, of these fictional characters. Second, Pushkin ultimately decided not to include his Caucasian material, and the most esteemed Russian novels of subsequent decades, often by the same writers who depicted Cossacks and Tartars, concentrated instead on Russian society more narrowly conceived.

     32. Fiction from the United States and Russia, then, suggests that even geographical proximity has only limited value in overcoming the barriers erected by realist norms to the representation of non-European cultures. In the four centuries after Columbus, the literature of empire in the West composed in a realist vein fundamentally obeys the logic of nonrepresentation. There is another way of looking at the matter, however, in which the geographically marginal position of these two countries with respect to the core of European high culture places them on the receiving end of imperialism. Supporting evidence can be adduced from the United States; the case seems to me both stronger and more suggestive for Russia, however. As already implied, War and Peace fits well with this interpretation. Though contemporaneous with Tolstoy's novel, Dostoyevsky's major works -- Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, Demons (formerly translated as The Possessed), The Idiot, and The Brothers Karamazov -- seem to belong to another world. These novels expose the self-destructiveness of living by Western ideals of reason, science, liberalism, and revolution in a Russia more appropriately guided by the political norms of the Tsarist state and the religious values of the Orthodox Church, both understood in some sense as fundamentally non-Western.33 For most readers, Dostoyevsky's critique proves far more compelling than his traditionalist alternative. Its persuasiveness arises not from the author's simple opposition to modernity, however, but on the contrary from his internalization of its attractions. Something similar might be said of Tolstoy. This dual access to the most advanced ideas of the West and the older values of the national culture may help explain the extraordinary emergence of nineteenth century Russian literature and in particular the remarkable, enduring reputations of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.

     33. In this respect, Russia conforms to a striking pattern in modern European literature. After 600 years in which literary leadership tended to be aligned with political and military power, aesthetic innovation seems to have shifted to the margins beginning in the mid-eighteenth century. One thinks of the Scottish Enlightenment, Germany in the age of Goethe, the American Renaissance especially in New England, Russia as already suggested, Scandinavia at the end of the nineteenth century, Ireland at the beginning of the twentieth, Jewish writers in the era of high modernism, the American South of Faulkner and his successors, and, after World War Two, the rest of the world -- Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, India, East Asia, and Oceania, often in European languages, often via the novel form. In other words, the comparative advantage has resided with those who were both inside and outside the center of European modernity. Assessment of the consequences of this phenomenon lies beyond the scope of the present paper. Two points may be hazarded in conclusion, however. First, though it would be wrong retrospectively to baptize nineteenth-century Russia a Third World country avant la lettre (a concept like the semi-periphery might make more sense), it may be useful to construct a lineage that partly links its literary practice to those of post-colonial societies. Second, and more closely related to the concerns developed above, the example of Russia suggests a final way of thinking about the capacities of novelistic realism. When deployed in the metropole, the realist novel cuts against the representation of non-European culture or the interaction between the European and non-European worlds. No such limitations obtain, however, when the realist mode is deployed at the fringe of Europe or beyond. Rizal's Noli Me Tangere from the Philippines and Tagore's short stories from Bengal exemplify this possibility in the late nineteenth century.34 As already noted, the twentieth century, especially its second half, witnesses a vast expansion of this tendency -- in realism, modernism, and their successors, some of these last pioneered beyond the confines of Europe. In short, Don Quijote serves as the fulcrum of a long tradition of European prose fiction. The origins of that tradition lie outside Europe; its consolidation entails constriction to an intra-European perspective; its full development reverses direction and thereby results in a global literary form. The implicit totalizing project of the European novel loses some of its structural implausibility only when the novel ceases to be distinctively European.



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1 I am indebted to David Quint of Yale University for his thoughtful and incisive commentary on the Don Quijote section of this essay. I also wish to thank the students in my graduate seminars at Cornell on the Renaissance (2002) and the nineteenth century (2003) for helping me to formulate my ideas.

2 See, for instance, Kenneth R. Andrews, Trade, Plunder and Settlement: Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480-1630 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984); Robert Brenner, Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders, 1550-1653 (Princeton: Princeton University. Press, 1993); and Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (London: Verso, 1997).

3 In English, the standard sources are Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957), and Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, 1983; rev. ed. (London: Verso, 1991). I attempt to address the problems with the bourgeois nationalist explanation of European prose fiction before 1700 in "The Novel and Cultural Revolution," Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Pädagogische Hochschule "Karl Liebknecht" Potsdam, 32 (1988), 29-47, and "The Uniqueness of Spain," in Echoes and Inscriptions: Comparative Approaches to Early Modern Hispanic Literatures, ed. Barbara Simerka and Chris B. Weimer (Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 2000), pp. 17-29.

4 The foundational work about Muslim and Jewish influences on Golden Age Spain is by Américo Castro. For his account of Cervantes in this context, see his Cervantes y los casticismos españoles (Madrid: Alfaguara, 1966), pp. 1-183, and Hacia Cervantes, 3rd ed. (Madrid: Taurus, 1967), pp. 213-474.

5 Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, "Prólogo al lector," in Ocho comedias y entremeses (1615), in Obras completas de Miguel de Cervantes, Vol. II: Teatro (Genoa and Madrid: Turner, 1993), p. 158.

6 Cervantes, Journey to Parnassus (Viaje del Parnaso), trans. James Y. Gibson (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, 1883), prose Appendix (Adjunta, 1614), pp. 274-75.

7 María Antonia Garcés, Cervantes in Algiers: A Captive's Tale (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2002), argues for the traumatic centrality of captivity to Cervantes's literary career and of "The Captive's Tale" to Don Quijote.

8 See Ottmar Hegyi, Cervantes and the Turks: Historical Reality versus Literary Fiction in "La Gran Sultana" and "El amante liberal" (Newark, Delaware: Juan de la Cuesta, 1992).

9 Diana de Armas Wilson, Cervantes, the Novel, and the New World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 29.

10 In addition to Castro, Cervantes y los casticismos españoles and Hacia Cervantes, see Dominique Aubier, Don Quichotte: prophète d'Israël (Paris: Laffont, 1966); Francisco Olmos García, Cervantes en su época (Madrid: Aguilera, 1968), pp. 144-52; Rosa Rossi, Escuchar a Cervantes: un ensayo biográfico, trans. from the Spanish (Valladolid: Ambito, 1988), pp. 19-23, and Sulle tracce di Cervantes: Profilo inedito dell'autore del "Chisciotte" (Roma: Riuniti, 1997), pp. 39-43; Ellen Lokos, "The Politics of Identity and the Enigma of Cervantine Genealogy," in Cervantes and His Postmodern Constituencies, ed. Anne J. Cruz and Carroll B. Johnson (New York: Garland, 1999), pp. 116-33; and Cervantes's leading modern biographer, Jean Canavaggio, Cervantes, trans. J. R. Jones (New York: Norton, 1990) pp. 24-25. Here, as in subsequent citations, the later revision of the original French edition of Canavagggio, Cervantès (Paris: Fayard, 1997), does not offer a different position. Norbert Rehrmann, "Ein Las Casas der peninsularen Minderheiten: Mauren, Zigeuner und Judem im Werk von Cervantes," in Cervantes: estudios en la víspera de su centenario (Kassel: Reichenberger, 1994), pp. 71-95, finds a critique of anti-Muslim sentiment in Don Quijote, a critique that is duplicated in other works by Cervantes, where it is supplemented by a parallel critique of anti-Jewish anti-Semitism.

11 I owe these details to Quint, Cervantes's Novel of Modern Times: A New Reading of "Don Quijote" (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003), Ch. 3, passim.

12 Wilson, pp. 96-103, 22, 29, 90, 110-11, 119-25, 136-39, 142-57, and 161-78.

13 The only competitor that immediately comes to mind is Hamlet (1600-01), with which Don Quijote has a number of similarities -- the importance of madness and the related assertion of an inner truth inaccessible to others; itinerant actors, the blurring of life and art, and the advocacy of a mimetic theory of art ultimately derived from Aristotle but of only ambiguous relevance to the work in question; and a deep reliance on popular culture. These parallels may indicate deeper affinities.

14 I pursue this argument in "The Literature of Empire in the Renaissance," forthcoming in Modern Philology. That essay includes the same pages on Don Quijote that appear here.

15 Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, ed. Martín de Riquer (Barcelona: Juventud, 1965), II:67, pp. 1026-27; Don Quijote, trans. Burton Raffel, ed. Wilson (New York: Norton, 1999), II:67, p. 715. Subsequent references are to these editions and are noted in the text.

16 Rossi, Escuchar a Cervantes, pp. 23-35, and Sulle tracce di Cervantes, pp. 16-17, argues that Cervantes had homosexual experiences while in captivity. This position is challenged by Emilio Sola and José F. de la Peña, Cervantes y la Berbería (Cervantes, mundo turco-berberisco y servicios secretos en la época de Felipe II), 1995; 2nd ed. (Madrid: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996), pp. 253-75. Canavaggio, Cervantes, pp. 93-94, leaves the question open. For the years in Algerian captivity more generally, see Canavaggio, Cervantes, pp. 76-96.

17 On these episodes, see Olmos García, pp. 71-88; Canavaggio, Cervantes, pp. 238-39; and Johnson, Cervantes and the Material World (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000), pp. 57-68, who emphasizes the underlying economic realities, a point the author also develops in relation to the Captive's Tale. See pp. 71-92.

18 Quint, Cervantes's Novel, provides a detailed and impressive argument for the opposing position, demonstrating the careful placement and thematic cross-references of what I call inset novellas and what he convincingly relates to the interlace structure of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, a major influence on Don Quijote. Quint's is a more dynamic argument for the structural unity of the work than the approach taken by René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure, 1961; trans. Yvonne Freccero (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965), pp. 1-4, 49-52, and 96-104, who connects the Tale of Impertinent Curiosity to the behavior of Don Quijote, Sancho, and many of the minor characters in Part Two through his master category of mediated desire.

19 Discussion of Cide Hamete Benengeli has characteristically taken a formalist route, emphasizing the importance of the fictive first author in undermining a stable reality and sometimes seeing in his presence a mechanism by which Cervantes could distance himself from heterodox utterances. See Castro, Hacia Cervantes, pp. 409-19; E. C. Riley, Cervantes's Theory of the Novel (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1962), pp. 205-12, and Don Quixote (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986), pp. 162-63; Francisco Márquez Villanueva, Fuentes literarias cervantinas (Madrid: Gredos, 1973), pp. 244-57, for the influence of Guevara (and, possibly, others) on this function of Cide Hamete; and Robert Alter, Partial Magic: The Novel as Self-Conscious Genre (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), pp. 18-23.

20 Canavaggio, Cervantes, pp. 280-81, however, has his doubts.

21 Critics tend to see Avellaneda primarily as another self-reflexive structural device, much like Cide Hamete Benengeli and not necessarily of inferior authority. See Riley, Cervantes's Theory of the Novel, pp. 212-20; and Jesús G. Maestro, "Cervantes y Avellaneda: creación y transducción del sentido en la elaboración del "Quijote," in Cervantes: estudios en la víspera de su centenario (Kassel: Reichenberger, 1994), I, 309-41, for a semiological account.

22 I have developed much of the argument of this paragraph in "The Novel and Cultural Revolution" and "The Uniqueness of Spain."

23 The argument here depends on the generic distinctions within prose fiction developed by the Chicago Neo-Aristotelians. See Sheldon Sacks, Fiction and the Shape of the Belief: A Study of Henry Fielding with Glances at Swift, Johnson and Richardson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), for the distinctions among satire (Swift), apologue (Johnson), and novel (Fielding); and Ralph Rader, "Defoe, Richardson, Joyce, and the concept of Form of the Novel," in Autobiography, Biography, and the Novel, by William Matthews and Rader (Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA, 1973), pp. 29-72, for distinctions among pseudo-factual (Defoe), action (Richardson), and modernist (Joyce) forms of the novel.

24 For more than a decade the series Cambridge Studies in Romanticism, by which is meant British Romanticism, has issued a number of studies bearing on questions of empire. See, for instance, Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Saree Makdisi, Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Timothy Morton, The Poetics of Spice: Romantic Consumerism and the Exotic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); and Helen Thomas, Romanticism and Slave Narratives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

25 On Baudelaire, for instance, see Christopher L. Miller, Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985).

26 See, for example, Franco Moretti, The Way of the World : The Bildungsroman in European Culture (London: Verso, 1987).

27 Jane Eyre: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, "Three Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism," Critical Inquiry 12 (Autumn 1985): 244-49; Vanity Fair: Patrick Brantlinger, Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830-1914 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988), pp. 73-107, for Thackeray in general, pp. 92-96 for Vanity Fair, and pp. 121-25 and 146-59, for more direct imperial representation in less canonical novels by Bulwer-Lytton and Disraeli; Mansfield Park: Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993), pp. 84-97. For disagreement with Said, see Moretti, Atlas of the European Novel, 1800-1900 (London: Verso, 1998), pp. 24-29. "Bertram goes to Antigua, then, not because he must go there -- but because he must leave Mansfield Park" (p. 27). And earlier: "He goes, not because he needs the money, but because Austen needs him out of the way" (p. 26). Recognizing that the colonies and colonial fortunes are not directly represented in the English sentimental novels he is considering, Moretti then reads his attractive local formalist insight off exclusively as a product of metropolitan class ideology. "This is the mythic geography -- pecunia ex machina -- of a wealth that is not really produced . . ., but magically 'found' overseas whenever a novel needs it. . . . the link between the wealth of the élite and the 'multitude of labouring poor' of contemporary England can be easily severed . . . . Which is a wonderful thing to know, for heroines that want to marry into it -- and even better, of course, in the decades of the harshest class struggle of modern British history" (p. 27). This argument probably underestimates the weight of both imperialism and of the larger imperatives of fictional form. More generally, however, Moretti's opening chapter suggestively overlaps with the argument that follows, especially on historical fiction (pp. 33-47) and the Russian novel (pp. 29-32).

28 For discussion of Scott's Talisman, set in the Crusades, and of cross-cultural possibilities, see Harry E. Shaw, Narrating Reality: Austen, Scott, Eliot (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), pp. 175-97.

29 Georg Lukács, The Historical Novel, 1937; trans. Hannah and Stanley Mitchell (Boston: Beacon, 1963), pp. 183-96, misses this point in his otherwise illuminating analysis of Salammbô, perhaps because of his insistence that after 1848 society was divided into two opposing classes and that consequently historical novelists could no longer understand the past as a prehistory of the present. Such an approach unduly constrains the useful ways in which the past might be fictively mobilized. Jonathan Culler, Flaubert: The Uses of Uncertainty, 1974; rev. ed. (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985), p. 226, argues that the sacred in Flaubert and in this novel in particular comes "to represent in the allegory of interpretation the formal desire for connection and meaning which governs the activity of readers and characters. . . . the sacred . . . enables them [the novels] to be read as warnings against the tawdry and premature ways of investing things with meaning. . . . but it is noteworthy that to do that Flaubert had to leave his contenporary environment for the quasi-feudal world."

30 Brantlinger, pp. 227-53.

31 This argument cuts against the position taken in two distinguished works, Brantlinger's Rule of Darkness, and Said's pathbreaking Orientalism, 1978; rev. ed. (New York: Vintage, 1994). Both critics rightly refuse to limit the link between literature and imperialism to the land grab at the end of the nineteenth century. In so doing, however, they obscure the generic specificity of the European response.

32 This formulation implies a certain distance from the argument for a more direct connection between the novel and the mid-century crisis over slavery developed by Michael Paul Rogin, Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), pp. 102-51.

33 The unusually direct emphasis on politics and consequent relative attenuation of character in Demons renders problematic two influential interpretations of the novel -- Girard's emphasis on mediated desire and Bakhtin's understanding of the lesser characters as emanations of aspects of the protagonist. See René Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel, pp. 59-62, 249-53, and 274-79, and Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics, ed. and trans. Caryl Emerson (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), pp. 237-70.

34 Rizal's novel was introduced into contemporary criticism by Anderson, pp. 26-30.



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