The purpose of this book is to help the English-speaking reader, with an interest in Spanish literature but without specialised knowledge of Cervantes, to understand his long and complex masterpiece: its major themes, its structure, and the inter-connections between its component parts.
Beginning from a review of Don Quixote's relation to Cervantes's life, literary career, and its social and cultural context, Anthony Close goes on to examine the structure and distinctive nature of Part I (1605) and Part II (1615), the conception of the characters of Don Quixote and Sancho, Cervantes's word-play and narrative manner, and the historical evolution of posterity's interpretation of the novel, with particular attention to its influence on the theory of the genre.
One of the principal questions tackled is the paradoxical incongruity between Cervantes's conception of his novel as a light work of entertainment, without any explicitly acknowledged profundity, and posterity's view of it as a universally symbolic masterpiece, revolutionary in the context of its own time, and capable of meaning something new and different to each succeeding age.
Anthony Close —
Anthony Close, now retired, was Reader in Spanish at the University of Cambridge.
Close, Anthony. A companion to Don Quixote. Tamesis, 2008. 287p bibl index afp; ISBN 9781855661707. Reviewed in 2009mar CHOICE.
Intended for general, perhaps first-time, readers of the Quixote in English, this study illuminates various aspects of this novel. A renowned Cervantes scholar, Close (ret., Univ. of Cambridge, UK) provides compelling analyses highlighting the interplay of history, fiction, and reality and of picaresque and chivalric elements, satire, irony, parody, burlesque, and empathy. The author emphasizes Cervantes' life, times, and career; the adventures and episodes of parts 1 and 2 of the novel; the counterpoint of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza; wit and colloquial narrative; and Quixote's influence on the modern novel. The volume joins a literature that includes Close's Cervantes and the Comic Mind of His Age (CH, Apr'01, 38-4360); Cervantes' Don Quixote: A Casebook, ed. by Roberto González Echevarriá (2005); González Echevarriá's Love and the Law in Cervantes (CH, Feb'06, 43-3287); María Antonia Garcés's Cervantes in Algiers (CH, Feb'03, 40-3292); Cesáreo Bandera's The Humble Story of Don Quixote (CH, Apr'07, 44-4347); Myriam Yvonne Jehenson and Peter Dunn's The Utopian Nexus in Don Quixote (CH, Feb'07, 44-3188); and translations of this masterwork by John Rutherford (2001), Edith Grossman (CH, Jun'04, 41-5779), and Burton Raffel (CH, Mar'96, 33-3796). Close includes a useful guide to further reading.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers. -- M. V. Ekstrom, St. John Fisher College