Aspects of Narrative in Don Quixote.
Some of the narrative examples adopted by Cervantes
Cervantes follows the pattern of the picaresque `Chivalric Romance',
which depends on a succession of chance adventures. We are told nothing
of DQ's previous life before we meet him in the book. We therefore live
his life more or less chronologically from his 50 years until his death.
The story seems to enfold like the desultory quality of life as it is
being lived. There seems to be little consideration of formal ordering
and coherence in the structure of the novel. In Part One the omissions
and inconsistencies in the details of the story suggest that Cervantes
hardly revised anything he wrote. There are references back to previous
experiences but rarely any sign of forward planning by Cervantes. DQ
is an episodic novel with many of its incidents being susceptible to
being re-ordered into a different sequence. The plots and characters
in the novel seem to be gradually discovered by the author as the story
progresses. There is a slight modification of the characters as the
novel progresses through Part Two. Knight and squire have an effect
on each other (Sancho Panza becomes less stupid for instance. An aspect
of sequence in the novel can be seen in the growing relationship between
knight and squire).
Cervantes the self-conscious narrator
Don Quixote is among the most influential novels ever written. It explores
the shifting boundaries of truth and illusion. The author is a narrator
who self-consciously narrates and makes us constantly aware of his presence
and is preoccupied with literary criticism and theory. With his post-modernist
tendencies he has become a novelist's novelist par excellence.
Example 1 - see Cohen - Part 1: Ch. 8 , pp 68-75 The Adventure of the
* NB See last page in this batch for programme of tapes to be played
during the session.
This is the well known and typical adventure experienced by Don Quixote
and Sancho Panza, the first expedition when the knight and squire have
joined forces. The expression `Tilting at Windmills' comes from it.
Example 2 - see Cohen - Part 1: Ch. 9, pp 75-78. Cide Hamete Benengeli
Suddenly, towards the end of Chapter 8 (after `The Adventure of the
Windmills'), Cervantes calls upon the services of a mysterious document
by an Arabic historian, Cide Hamete Benengeli. The `Freeze-Frame'
This is a remarkable episode in the novel when Cervantes suddenly suspends
the action of a battle between Don Quixote and a Basque Squire, by claiming
that, at this point his own manuscript abruptly came to an end, and
that he had no record of the result of the fight. The action is left
frozen while the author goes at some pains to tell us how he came across
an Arabic manuscript in a market in Toledo which he purchased and got
translated. By way of remarkable coincidence the manuscript turns out
to be the very continuation of the narrative by one - Cide Hamete Benengeli.
On the first sheet of the old Arab parchment - `was a very life like
picture of Don Quixote's fight with the Basque. Both were shown in the
very postures the story describes, with swords aloft, the one covered
by his shield, the other by his cushion'.
The author then resumes the narrative after an extraordinary three and
a half pages of freeze-frame. Cervantes tells us that the Arab `nation
is known for its lying propensities' and thus allows his history to
be unreliable. Truth, fiction, `enchantment' and points of view are
recurring themes in the book.
Example 3- see Cohen - Part II: Ch. 2, pp 484 - 494.
Reference to Cervantes' own part I in part II
Cervantes incorporated reactions to his first part of DQ in the second
part of the novel itself. DQ and S become to know about the publication
of their own life story and Sancho wonders how the historical biographer
could have known the truth about matters which happened to the two adventurers
when they were alone. DQ assures Sancho that their biographer must have
been some enchanter which lets Cervantes off the hook regarding the
tension between truth and fiction. They discuss their `History' at length
with the bachelor Sampson Carrasco and discuss its `truth'. Sampson
says: `The poet can relate and sing things, not as they were but as
they should have been, without in any way affecting the truth of the
Through the three characters - DQ, Sancho and Sampson - Cervantes reviews
and criticises his own book. There is even a reference to one of Cervantes'
errors of continuity, regarding the loss of Sancho's ass.
Example 4 - see Cohen - Part II: Ch. 59, p850 - 854.
Fernandez de Avellaneda
A spurious second part of DQ was published in 1614 by one called Avellaneda
. While writing his second part Cervantes must have seen Avellaneda's
copy in 1614 and begins to mention him in his own version in Chapter
59 of his own Part II. Avellaneda's book may have caused Cervantes to
rush through the writing of his second part.
Narrations by Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and other characters
Don Quixote and other characters in the novel also narrate. The variety
of narrative techniques in Don Quixote is remarkable. Marie Maclean
has written of the novel:
`We find theatrical performances, narrative competitions, wedding rituals,
and fairground mumming, enacted personal histories, and epic poetry.
Each embedded performance has its self reflexive elements, each tells
us something of the nature of narrative, each helps to produce the text,
our Don Quixote.'
Like Chaucer's Canterbury Tales we have a series of interpolated stories
told by the various characters in the novel. There is a `Goatherd's
Story; a priest tells `The Tale of Foolish Curiosity'; the captive tells
the story of his Life and Adventures in `The Captive's Tale'; the Countess
of Trifaldi also tells a sad story.
Among our narrators, we have, therefore : Cervantes the `truthful' historical
biographer; Cervantes the fictional poet; Cervantes who shares his thoughts
with the reader as author, and through the thoughts, conversations and
tales of his characters; Cervantes through the fictitious Cide Hamete
Benengeli, the fanciful and `lying' historian - blurred even further
through the translation of an Arabic document.
Example 5 - see Cohen - Part II: Ch. 74 p940. The final page of Don
The author takes leave of us in a short `epilogue' at the end of the
Don Quixote Booklist
( a bibliography of the main books used)
Marie Maclean, Narrative as Performance; The Baudelairean Experiment,
London & New York, Routledge, 1988, page 12. A book about story
telling and the dynamics of narrative, the writer as performer, the
constitution of narrative audiences and gendered reading, the listening
voice and the whispering ear etc.
Charles Haywood, `Musical Settings to Cervantes Texts' in Cervantes
Across the Centuries, a quadricentennial volume edited by Angel Flores
and M.J.Benardete, New York, Gordian Press, 1969, pages 264-273. A quadricentennial
celebration of Cervantes and his works.The rest of the book contains
essays by the leading Cervantean authorities.
Norman del Mar, `The Tone Poems (II)' in Richard Strauss; a Critical
Commentary on his Life and Works (Vol. 1), London, Barrie and Rockliff,
1962, pages 147-163. A helpful book which analyses the musical form
and structure of Strauss's composition and relates the musical passages
to the events in the novel.
E.C.Riley, Cervantes's Theory of the Novel, Oxford at the Clarendon
Press,1962. Cervantes's Theory of the Novel is here assembled, surveyed
and elucidated in the light of the literary theory of the time. In DQ
the modern novel emerges and Riley discusses Cervantes's views of fiction
which are incorporated in DQ.
E.C.Riley, Don Quixote, London: Allen & Unwin, 1986. An appraisal
of DQ offering a guide to the book and an account of its influence on
20th C fiction. Concerned with questions of literary genre.
William Byron, Cervantes: a Biography, London, Cassell,1978. A sympathetic
biography where we see Cervantes against the background of his times,
exploring the shifting boundaries of truth and illusion.
P.E. Russell, Cervantes, Oxford, New York, OUP, 1985. The author argues
that the idea of presenting DQ as a comical madman is fundamental to
Cervantes's intentions, and that the Romantic view of the knight as
a figure of tragedy has little foundation in Cervantes's text.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, The Adventures of Don Quixote, translated
by J.M.Cohen, The Penguin Classics, 1950. A serviceable and the most
easily available translation in paperback.
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, The Ormsby translation, revised.
Edited by Joseph R. Jones and Kenneth Douglas, New York, W.W. Norton,
1981 This is said to be an accurate and readable translation and contains
excerpts from important literary texts and ten critical essays.
Carroll B. Johnson, Don Quixote: The Quest for Modern Fiction, Boston,
Twayne Publishers, G.K Hall & Co, 1990. A useful paperback examination
of the novel, providing the historical, cultural and literary perspectives
which are helpful to understand the novel's scope.
Recordings of the music to Don Quixote
`The deep relation which music has to the true nature of things ...
explains the fact that suitable music played to any scene, action, event,
or surrounding seems to disclose to us its inner meaning'. Schopenhauer
1 Tomas Luis de Victoria's Requiem Mass in 6 parts (Missa pro defunctis
1605) Sanctus and Benedictus
2 Telemann's `Don Quichotte' Suite in G Major (ca. 1750s). 7th movement
- `The Gallop of Sancho Panza's Donkey'
3 Telemann's `Don Quichotte' Suite in G Major (ca. 1750s). 4th movement
-'Amorous sighs for Princess Dulcinea'
4 Ibert's `Chanson á Dulcinee' from a song cycle for a film
of Don Quixote 1933
5 Ravel's `Don Quichotte a Dulcine' `Chanson epique' the second of three
songs to accompany a film with words by Paul Morand, composed in 1932.
6 Ravel's `Don Quichotte a Dulcine' `Chanson a Boire' the third of three
songs to accompany a film with words by Paul Morand, composed in 1932.
7 Telemann's `Don Quichotte' Suite in G Major (ca. 1750s). 5th movement
-'Sancho Panza tossed in a blanket'
8 Purcell's incidental music with songs to Thomas Durfey's `The Comical
History of Don Quixote' (London, 1695); Part III, Act V, Scene 1 (No
9) Altisidora's mad song `From Rosie Bowers'
9 Purcell's incidental music with songs to Thomas Durfey's `The Comical
History of Don Quixote' (London, 1695); Part I, Act V Scene 2 (No5)
`With this sacred charming wand' (bass and two sopranos)
10 Mendelssohn's `Halt! Wer ihr auch seid' an extract from the finale
Act 1 from his comic opera `Die Hochzeit des camacho (The Wedding of
Camacho, Op 10, 1824)
11 Massenet's opera D'on Quichotte' (first performed at Monte Carlo
in 1910). Sancho's aria `O mon maitre'
12 Richard Strauss's orchestral Tone Poem `Don Quixote' (Op 35, 1897).
also called `Fantastic variations on a theme of knightly character'
Variation 3 Dialogue of the Knight amd Squire
13 Richard Strauss's orchestral Tone Poem `Don Quixote' (Op 35, 1897).
Variation 2 The Battle with the Sheep
14 Richard Strauss's orchestral Tone Poem `Don Quixote' (Op 35, 1897).
Variation 7 The flight through the air
15 Richard Strauss's orchestral Tone Poem `Don Quixote' (Op 35, 1897).
Variation 8 The Adventure of the Enchanted Boat (Barcarole)
16 Richard Strauss's orchestral Tone Poem `Don Quixote' (Op 35, 1897).
Finale The Death of Don Quixote
17 Tomas Luis de Victoria's Requiem Mass in 6 parts (Missa pro defunctis
1605) The first two responseries in the final part of the Requiem.
Musical compositions of Don Quixote The fifth edition
of Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians lists well over fifty musical
compositions inspired by the story of Don Quixote. Among these settings
are operas, incidental music to plays, symphonic poems, songs, ballets,
musicals and films.
Perhaps the most familiar settings of Don Quixote include:
• Purcell's incidental music with songs to Durfey's `The Comical
History of Don Quixote' (London, 1695);
• Telemann's `Don Quichotte' Suite in G Major (ca. 1750s); Paisiello's
opera (Naples, 1769);
• Felix Mendelssohn's opera `Hochzeit des Camacho' (Berlin, 1827);
• Anton Rubinstein's musical portrait for orchestra (1870);
• Richard Strauss's symphonic poem Don Quixote (1897) ;
• Massenet's opera (Monte Carlo, 1910);
• Manuel de Falla's puppet opera `El Retablo de Maese Pedro' (Paris,
• Jacques Ibert's `Quatre Chansons' (1932) and film music (1933);
• Ravel's songs entitled `Don Quichotte et Dulcinée' (1932-3).
Films of Don Quixote
There was a French film produced in 1909 and an American one in 1916.
A British film version was made in 1923, directed by Maurice Elvey (1887-1967)
and starring Jerrold Robertshaw (1866-1941).
In 1933 the German director Georg Wilhelm Pabst (1885-1967) made a British
film of the story with with Fedor Chaliapin (1873-1938) and George Robey(1869-1954);
meanwhile a Danish director, Lau Lauritzen, had done one in 1926.
Rafael Gil made a Spanish version in 1947. The 1957 Russian film, directed
by Grigori Kosintsev(1905-) with Cherkassov as Don Quixote, is said to
be the best of all.
Orson Welles (1915-1980s) never finished his cherished ambition to make
a film on the subject of Don Quixote. He worked on it on and off in the
late fifties and up till the end of his life, but was never satisfied
with what he called affectionately his `Il mio bambino'. The actors for
Welles's film looked as if they had leaped out of the pages of Dore's
A Jugoslavian cartoon film version appeared in 1961 and Eino Ruutsalo
directed a film in Finland in 1962.
More recently Rudolf Nureyev (1939-) made a film version of his ballet
Don Quixote in 1974, with music by Ludwig Minkus (1826-1917). This ballet
had been first performed in 1869 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Nureyev
was joined by Robert Helpmann (1909-) who took the part of the knight.
A popular stage musical Man of la Mancha was made in 1972 with Peter O'Toole
as Don Quixote and Sophia Loren as Dulcinea, co-starring James Coco, Harry
Andrews and John Castle.
Don Quixote Booklist SLIDES of the illustrations
( a bibliography of the main books used)
Phillips' translation of Don Quixote, London 1687, and the scene illustrating
the battle of the Knight and the Windmills. The translator was son in
law to the poet John Milton. The images throughout are copperplate engravings.
Anonymous illustrator Don Quixote Translated by John Philips and Adorn'd
with Several Copper Plates 1687
John Vanderbank Adventures of Don Quixote De la Mancha Translated from
the Spanish of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, by Charles Jarvis Jacob
Gustave Dore The History of Don Quixote Text edited by J.W.Clark London & New
York: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin 1863
Honore; Daumier `Don Quixote and Sancho Panza' two paintings (in the
Courtauld Institute, London) c.1865
Anonymous illustrator Adventures of Don Quixote De la Mancha Translated
from the Spanish of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, by Charles Jarvis
London & New York, George Routledge and Sons 1866
Arthur Boyd Houghton Don Quixote De la Mancha Translated from the Spanish
of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, by Charles Jarvis London & New
York, Frederick Warne and Co. 1866
W. Heath Robinson The Adventures of Don Quixote DeLa Mancha by Miguel
de Cervantes London:J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, New York: E.P.Dutton & Co.
Inc. 1897 (from a1953 edition)
Walter Crane Don Quixote of the Mancha Retold by Judge Parry London:Blackie
and Son Ltd, Manchester: Sherratt & Hughes. 1900
Jean de Bosschère The History of Don Quixote de La Mancha based
on Shelton's translation of 1620 and an essay by J.B.Trend, London:
Constable and Co. Ltd 1922
Luther Roberts Luther Roberts: A Personal Memoir by Bevil Roberts Printed
by Bexley Printers Limited, Petworth, West Sussex 1990
Peter Bailey A Calendar for David Game College Group with Linocuts by
Peter Bailey The September Press for Warren Editions, London 1990