One witch, two dogs, and a game of ninepins: Cervantes' use of renaissance dialectic in thecoloquio de los perros

  • Arthur F. Kinney


The best and best-known of Cervantes'Exemplary Novels, The Colloquy of Dogs, is also the most difficult yet most rewarding. Exploiting a humanist poetics grounded in the classical tradition of rhetorical dialectic and colloquy and imitating Erasmus'sPraise of Folly, Cervantes makes human nature and the human use of reason problematic by raising questions and paradoxes about them. In such a work, built through many layers of narration and dialogue, the meaning finally rests with the reader (as, mutatis mutandis, in the dialogues of Plato) whose job it is to determine reading and so at last stabilize the text. In this way,The Colloquy of Dogs not only teaches the reader but puts the lessons of the colloquy to an immediate test and into immediate action.


Classical Tradition Ella Billiard Table Humanist Belief Paradoxical Preface 
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    Miguel de Cervantes,Novelas Ejemplares, Vol. I, with an Introduction by Margarita, Smerdou Altolaquirre (Madrid: Novelas y Cuentos, 1973): “Prólogo,” pp. 25–28; “El casamiento engañoso,” pp. 125–146; “El coloquio de los perros,” pp. 147–232. The translation used here is that of C. A. Jones in the Penguin Classics series (London: Penguin, 1972). The two parts of theQuijote were published in 1605 and 1615.Google Scholar
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    Arthur F. Kinney,Continental Humanist Poetics: Studies in Erasmus, Castiglione, Marguerite de Navarre, Rabelais, and Cervantes (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1989), p. 24.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arthur F. Kinney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of Massachusetts at AmherstAmherstUSA

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