Don Quixote

  • Andrew Gibson


The case for Don Quixote as the first great realist novel is well established of course. It tends to rely on a view of the novel’s realism as emerging out of certain oppositions: between Quixote and his world, romance and reality, lunacy and common sense. This, in essence, is Auerbach’s argument in Mimesis. ‘The whole book’, Auerbach writes of Don Quixote, ‘is a comedy in which well-founded reality holds madness up to ridicule.’1 Levin has taken a similar line, seeing a ‘colloquy’ in Don Quixote between romance and picaresque, ‘matter of fact’ and ‘matter of fiction’.2 Cervantes’ novel is thus read as juxtaposing ‘high-flown literary fantasies with grubby actuality’, thereby pointing the way ‘to the realists’.3Don Quixote defines the realities of its world against romance. More specifically, it guarantees the authenticity of those realities by playing them off against Quixote’s commitment to romance, against quixotic delusion. As Auerbach sees it, ‘the persons and events of everyday life are constantly colliding’ with Quixote’s madness, ‘and come out in stronger relief through the contrast’.4


Dominant Narrative Pastoral Model Great Realist Narrative Mode Ontological Security 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, tr. Willard R. Trask (Princeton, NJ, 1953) p. 347Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Harry Levin, Contexts of Criticism (London, 1957) p. 87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 6.
    Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Don Quixote ed. Fredson Bowers, with an introduction by Guy Davenport (London, 1983) p. 5.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See, for instance, E. C. Riley, Don Quixote (London, 1986) p. 78Google Scholar
  5. Luis Murillo, The Golden Dial: Temporal Configuration in ‘Don Quijote’ (Oxford, 1975).Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Marthe Robert, The Old and the New: From Don Quixote to Kafka tr. Carol Cosman, with a foreword by Robert Alter (London, 1977) p. 20.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Michel Foucault, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences tr. from the French (London, 1970) p. 46.Google Scholar
  8. 32.
    Pietro Bembo, Gli Asolani tr. Rudolf B. Gottfried (Bloomington, Ind., 1954) p. 145, p. 147.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Andrew Gibson 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Gibson
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Holloway and Bedford New CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

Personalised recommendations