Erasmus is appropriated to critique Spanish Imperialism, and in the process Cervantes enacts that other kind of cultural imperialism in the recognition of an irenic spiritual brotherhood. Erasmus stands as the chief example that even before Luther, Catholics were themselves eroding the positivity of Orthodoxy.
But I would hold that not only was Cervantes an Erasmian, he was a disillusioned Erasmian , if you will, a post-Erasmian. Now entering a more radical period of his career, part of him even seems willing to attack the remaining positivity of his own ideological hero.
Carcel Amor by Diego San Pedro
Key here is the word encontinente. Hence the word is charged with Erasmian potential against Philip II, the king who lacked Christian restraint and perhaps inevitably betrayed the ideals and sacrifices of his precursors. The defensive Truth has become the offensive Lie; what was once the Christian passion for world peace has surrendered to an uncontrollable Spanish passion for world domination. Given Cervantes 's play on Rome and Seville, the word encontinente can also have a geographical significance.
Since Cervantes 's Spain had mapped and exploited a new continent through Seville, the poet's word choice could deride the royal appropriation of the Americas. Or we might imagine a critique of the Hapsburgs' failed attempts to unite the European continent, subdue North African piracy, and restrain the insular Protestantism of England.
But I claim that Cervantes is pushing the potential of encontinente a bit further. The sonnet form is, after all, and especially in its baroque burlesque rendering, one of the more dense sites of Western philosophical discourse. And here, in the estrambote of the form, such density is figuratively and literally intensified and then released. There are some etymological considerations. Continente , for example, is a noun by the middle of the thirteenth century and an adjective by the fifteenth Cuervo 2. The case for encontinente 's nominative and adjective potential depends heavily on the questions of spelling and of pronunciation.
The sonnet's decaying teleology of Christianity is then complemented by the etymological events of the sixteenth century that accompanied the political or the theological - i. Not only did the monarch suffer intense attacks of diarrhea when faced with a sudden crisis Walsh , but his deathbed experience was an incontinent nightmare:. According to all eyewitnesses, the worst torment of all was the diarrhea that developed about halfway into this final illness. Eventually a hole was cut into the mattress to help relieve this problem, but it was only a partial remedy.
Philip continued to waste away, wallowing in his own filth, tormented by the smell and the degradation of it all. In addition to such thematic, lexigraphical, and historical evidence, we are faced with two key structural facts about this sonnet that imply a scatological conclusion: 1 the supplemental estrambote is a very real metrical - i. Perhaps history should have Cervantes read this last part of the sonnet with his back to the catafalque cf.
It is both the wry glance of Cervantine humor that seeks to include the interlocutor both the soldado and the reader in the author's irreverence, as well as an embarrassing confession of the author's former lack of Christian manners. Positivistic religion and its ideological appropriation by the state are thereby given their final snub. Yet is it not true that both the sonnet and the catafalque are indeed wonders? The tomb was described as the octava maravilla del mundo , but is there really nothing to be gained from it all as the sonnet seems to conclude?
We can only grasp the poem as a gem if we see it as an Erasmian diamond in the dunghill. And note that it is only through an inspection of the decaying estrambote of the poem that we can understand the irony of what preceded it. We are now very near the essentially atheistic and pagan potential of a kind of Erasmian meta-Christianity that paradoxically grounds all religious superstructure The importance of Death for humanism's ideals can be understood as far greater than even the octava maravilla del mundo , since it is the foundational motivation for humane sentiment and action.
The Eucharist can then be taken in its metaphorical sense, since in its ritualistic sense it is but a farce, just a physical action with very real gastronomical effects. Through incontinence, bread and wine become the excrement and urine of humans, and this is the only way that they can ever be the real body and blood of Christ. But in this light, all of the sarcastic commentary of the poem turns quite serious.
Catholic scatology is much more than humor or simple rebellion; it is a sincere and humbling look at an ideology's capacity to produce excrement in the name of its noble ideals, and hence its need to remain on guard against itself as if in a state of constant reform. Positivistic concerns must be shed once and for all if the utopian pleasures of the cielo are ever to be realized in the here and now Religion presumes access to the responsibility of a free self.
Indeed, Cervantes 's politics help us to combine the aesthetic concerns of Derrida with the Marxist concerns of Eagleton. I claim that what one finds in Erasmian and Cervantine disdain for religious formality is precisely this appeal for social responsibility and hence a rejection of the R eligion , with its potential for self-righteous aggression, and a call for a r eligion based on transnational humanity rather than the fetishization of spiritual transcendence.
Scatology is a structuring principle of this logic that forces a bodily responsibility into the theological politics of the day. Furthermore, it would seem next to impossible to claim a radicality for these elite aesthetics; the institution of Christ most especially in its Western Pauline version insists on being only the reforming memory of such radicality. The self-inflicted lashings of Cervantes 's poem are Catholic and we should not forget Philip II's final acts of charity from the midst of the awful stench of both his deathbed and his tyranny.
Perhaps Alban K. Madrid: Micronet , Alfonso X. Las siete partidas. Ayala, Francisco. Siglos de Oro: Renacimiento. Francisco Rico. Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana UP , Braudel, Fernand. London: Collins, Camille, Michael. Cambridge: Harvard UP , Canavaggio, Jean. New York: Norton, Castiglione, Baldesar. Il libro del Cortegiano. Torino : UTET, Madrid: Alfaguara , El pensamiento de Cervantes. Madrid: Noguer , Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de.
El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. Viaje del Parnaso. Derrida, Jacques. The Gift of Death. David Wills. Chicago: U of Chicago P , Dickens, A. Erasmus the Reformer. London: Methuen, Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P , Eire, Carlos M. From Madrid to Purgatory: The art and craft of dying in sixteenth-century Spain.
New York: Cambridge UP , Erasmus, Desiderius. The Education of a Christian Prince. Lester K. The Praise of Folly and Other Writings. Robert M. Scarabeus aquilam quaerit. The 'Adages' of Erasmus. Margaret Mann Phillips. Cambridge: Cambridge UP , Fabricio de Vagad, Gauberto. Zaragoza: Pablo Hurus , Forcione, Alban K. Cervantes and the Mystery of Lawlessness. Princeton: Princeton UP , Gorfkle, Laura J. Discovering the Comic in Don Quixote. Goytisolo, Juan. Barcelona: Seix Barral, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity.
Frederick Lawrence. Cambridge: MIT P , Lapesa, Rafael. Madrid: Gredos , Cervantes and the Burlesque Sonnet. Berkeley: U of California P , McGrady, Donald. MLN Palencia, Alfonso de. Rasmussen, Steen Eiler. The original strategy, so tenaciously pursued, of appealing directly to the sovereign over the heads of his officials, had yielded its expected dividend. When Garay landed in July, , it had not yet come, but it arrived in September, just in time to give a decisive turn to events. Copies of the decrees were also dispatched to Garay, who saw that he was beaten and gave up without a fight.
It was a game whose ground rules he had studied closely, and which he had fought with every weapon at his command. Events in Mexico itself were crucial, because success in Mexico was the prerequisite for success at Court. He achieved what he intended to achieve; and yet, in the end, his very success proved his own undoing.
His acutely sensitive political antennae, which had told him that he must win at Court if he were to win at all, failed him at the very moment of success. It was the policy of the Castilian Crown, firmly laid down in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, that no subject should be permitted to grow overmighty, and that acts of insubordination should be promptly punished without fear or favor. The intuitive political genius outmaneuvered and outclassed the bureaucratic mind.
But each in his way secured a posthumous revenge. The irony of the situation rubbed salt in the wound. Francisco de las Casas was sent to bargain with Olid, who promptly took him into custody. The Honduras expedition, which provides the theme of the Fifth Letter, was an extraordinary saga of heroism and suffering. But it is just as likely that the unwelcome presence of royal officials also played a significant part.
Already by the autumn of he was beginning to feel hemmed in, and the decision to leave for Honduras may well have been prompted by an impulsive desire to escape into a world where he could again enjoy the delights of supreme command. No one else in New Spain enjoyed even a shadow of his personal authority, and his departure was the signal for anarchy. As soon as his back was turned, his enemies came out into the open, and the old faction feuds reasserted themselves in a vicious quarrel over the spoils of conquest.
The old down by the Spanish Crown. Publicaciones de la Sociedad de Estudios Cortesianos No. I, Mexico, Below, p. In addition to these works, I have also made use of the following: Robert S. Siglos VI-V a. VI-V a. Fragmentos y referencias siglos VI-V a. Siglo IV a. Jenofonte de Atenas c. Siglo II a. Siglo I a. Cayo Salustio Crispo a. Cornelio Nepote c.
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Siglo II Plutarco c. X Liutprando de Cremona c. Historia gral. Madison y J. Madrid: Temas de Hoy, Pages And the readings go on — Don Quixote becomes the symbol of strictly literary values the modern novel , or of values with political implications European values, perhaps?
He has yet to ask for the dissolution of the Army perhaps in order to justify the intervention of the Spanish Army in Afghanistan , although it does seem that by removing the troops from Iraq, the Socialist government would like to transform the Corps into a sort of Firefighters without Borders, ready to deploy off to Afghanistan to keep an eye on any fires that might break out by chance during the electoral period in this new, projected democracy.
I do, however, see it necessary to conclude that if they want to keep maintaining their pacifism and universal solidarity, then they must back off their devotion to Don Quixote, for in no way can Don Quixote be taken as a symbol of solidarity, peace, and tolerance.
Let them continue their pacifist and anti-military politics, but no longer by taking the name of Don Quixote in vain. For what solidarity did Don Quixote show towards the guards watching over the chain-gang of galley slaves? His solidarity with the convicts implies a lack of solidarity with the guards, and cannot therefore be called universal. If Don Quixote is the symbol of something, he is the symbol of weapons, of intolerance — an intolerance so great that he cannot stand it when Master Pedro puts on a puppet show of the story Melisendra, who is about to be captured by a Moor king.
And who can conceive of an unarmed Don Quixote? These imaginary figures would exhaust themselves as they inhabit a social imaginary. Some critics suggest that Cervantes, through the figure of Alonso Quijano, meant to represent some actual individual, one he might have met directly or through some friend or writer.
Accordingly, the real reference of Don Quixote would be Alonso Quijano — an individual made of flesh and blood, but affected by a specific type of insanity that Cervantes intuitively managed to discover and identify without being a doctor or a psychiatrist.
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Cervantes may have been inspired by him, or perhaps by Don Rodrigo Pacheco, a marquis from Argamasilla de Alba, who also went mad reading books of chivalry. Psychiatrists have, naturally, tended to interpret Don Quixote from categories typical of their trade. In the 19th century, Dr. Esquirol interpreted Don Quixote as a model of monomania a term of his own invention. More recently, Dr. I must thank my dear friend Dr. Alonso for his demonstration that Alonso Quijano suffered from a disorder that Cervantes was able to describe with impressive precision.
Not necessarily, as it could be the case that Cervantes was using his description of a specific type of disorder as the symbol of another reference: the reality of certain people in Spain not Spain itself, as many argue , a reality in which men, according to many accounts, had gone mad either because they went to America as some say or because they stopped going as I, and others, say.
Don Quixote, slashing the wine skins in the inn, believes he sees spilled blood where there is only wine: is Cervantes here trying to describe a type of disorder similar to that of someone who, upon hearing the consecration, prepares to drink wine that has been turned into blood? For is not Alonso Quijano himself a literary figure? Another matter is to identify these figures and determine the possible reach that the use of delusional symbols as symbols of themselves might have.
A human figure, such as Don Quixote, never exists in isolation: one person always implies others who relate to one another in either peaceful or hostile coexistence. In other words, an individual in and of itself is an absurdity, a metaphysical entity, and as such the attempt to interpret Don Quixote as a symbol of some isolated individual, whether sane or mad, is mere metaphysics — an individual in itself cannot exist because existence is co-existence. Not even a king or emperor may be considered an individual, in the sense of an isolated being. According to Aristotelian criteria either one commands, or some command, or all the majority command.
Don Quixote, from this dualist viewpoint of coexistence, has always been considered in relation to Sancho. There are, however, very serious reasons to conclude that these dualist viewpoints are only a fragment of a more complicated structure. Adam and Eve, for example, are only a fragment of a society they make up together with their sons Cain, Abel, and Seth. Don Quixote and Sancho are usually thought of in terms of abstract oppositions like idealism and realism or utopic and pragmatic.
But these oppositions fall apart immediately: they suppose that idealism is some sort of personal disposition geared to transcend the immediate horizon of the facts of life, and thereby impulses people toward altruism or glory. Sancho, then, does not oppose Don Quixote because he too from the beginning, not only in the second part, as some critics contend is quixoticized.
Getting himself into all sorts of dangers,he accompanies Don Quixote not only to acquire riches which itself would be enough, given that someone who wants to acquire riches by putting his life in danger is no longer a pragmatic realist in the traditional sense but also to help his wife Teresa Cascajo ascend the social ladder.
But when we apply the dualist structure to a given social group the circle of individual human beings, for example , we find that reality is presented to us as a plurality of pairs disconnected from each other since we suppose that the terms of each pair refer integrally to one another. In effect, the connection of the terms of each pair is completed internally, whether each individual is considered to be correlated or conjugated with the other.
As such, global reality is seen as a multiplicity composed of infinite pairs whose interactions are merely random. The most basic structure compatible with the principle of symploke of philosophical materialism is the ternary structure. In a triad A, B, C , each member is involved with the others, but at the same time it is possible to recognize binary coalitions [A, B], [A, C], [B, C] in which the third member, while segregated, still remains associated with the others.
The organization of any field constituted by individuals also contains the possibility for each triad to be involved with other triads through some common unity, thus giving rise to enneads 3 x 3 , dozens 3 x 4 , and so on. In these pluralities organized in triads, enneads, and dozens, the principle of symploke is adequately satisfied. Both the connection not total of some things with others, and the disconnection or discontinuity of some things with others which will follow their own course , can be affirmed from this plurality. This conception of reality or of its regions as organized in triplets is just as old as conceptions organized dualistically.
In Christianity, and more specifically in the Catholic tradition to which Don Quixote undoubtedly belongs , the fundamental triad is represented in the dogma of the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit which proceeds from the Father and the Son together in this final aspect Roman Catholics differ from Greek Orthodox, for whom the Holy Spirit is some sort of emanation from the Father, without the participation of the Son. In Roman Christianity the dogma of the Trinity developed gradually, and the appeal to the Holy Spirit was probably related to the constitution of the Universal church itself, one which had no parallel in its social structure with the known social structures of the Greeks such as the family or the state.
In addition, in some Germanic trinities one of the members is feminine — Odin, Thor, and Freyja. Let us leave aside the dualist organization that imposes upon us the association in pairs between Don Quixote and Sancho, even if such an association may be very fundamental in which the two are sometimes explained by their complementarity and at other times for their conjugation: Don Quixote maintains the unity between the different episodes of his quest through Sancho, who maintains the unity between the episodes of his quest through Don Quixote. What is sure is that Don Quixote always appears as a member of the trinity that he makes up with Sancho and Dulcinea.
In any case, the basic trinity around which Don Quixote seems to move throughout the book is the one he makes up with Sancho and Dulcinea. Facing the Catholic Trinity as my hypothesis obliges , it must be conceded that Don Quixote corresponds to the role of Father, Sancho to that of Son just as his sire Don Quixote calls him time and time again , and regarding Dulcinea, she must be put in correspondence with the Holy Spirit, which Sabellius interpreted as a feminine entity, as the Mother Church.
As an ideal figure, how can it be ignored that she comes from both the Father Don Quixote and the Son Sancho? The peasant, who had made the figure of Dulcinea, prods her poultry with a nail that she was carrying and the poultry breaks into a canter across the field, dumping Lady Dulcinea among the daisies. Is it not obvious here that Cervantes is trying to linger in the description of the poetic vision of the peasant that Sancho offers to Don Quixote by drawing attention to her agility while concealing the moon face and flat nose that Don Quixote also sees?
Don Quixote does not see Dulcinea, but rather, reinforced by Sancho, sees an agile peasant girl moon-faced and flat-nosed. Seeing these three villagers announced as Dulcinea and her duchesses come out of the wood, Don Quixote says:. Psychiatrists might also recognize this same delirium of theological rationalization in Saint Thomas, when he tries to explain why the piece of bread and cup of wine that the priest holds at the altar are in reality the miraculous transmutation of the invisible, intangible body of Christ. And what psychiatrist would dare diagnose Saint Thomas Aquinius as a madman?
This madness is not only a psychological process that would have affected Alonso Quijano. It is also and primarily a social process triggered by the people who surround Don Quixote and who act as Cartesian evil geniuses, deceiving him even while trying to help or even entertain him.
From the general presupposition that a singular person always implies a plurality of people, I have tried to outline the structure of this plurality, the one in which the characters of Don Quixote operate. Furthermore, these trinitary structures can give rise to other, more complex structures such as enneads or dozens, which are found in the novel in the form of the remembrance of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the twelve apostles, or the twelve Knights of the Round Table.
Herein lies its potential to be made into sculptural or pictorial representations, and later into cinematographic and televised ones. Cervantes offers us characters in well-defined scenes. Various characters are always moving in these scenes, at least in principle there are, of course, exceptions with a single character speaking in a monologue or two speaking in dialogue ; the triangle is the elemental structure of the theater as well. Finally, in addition to references and figures contained within both the circle of human persons and the radial region of space, the stage also contains figures and references that extend beyond this circle and region.
Focusing on the unique rhythm that he seems to attribute to finite and immanent matters, he seems to set aside the indefinite and transcendent rhythm of matters that would concern the Catholic Church. Undoubtedly, these references can be put to the side if one remains in humanist, ethical, or psychological interpretations of the novel. Cervantes took part in this battle under the command of Don Juan de Austria and there he lost use of his left arm, which served as a lifelong memory of the reality of the Muslim offensive.
In addition to this loss, he was taken prisoner by the Moors and held captive for five years in Algiers until he was set free by a paid ransom. However, its ascending course has slowed down, chiefly due to the other empires rising out of its shadow. As I understand it, this meditation on the Spanish empire is a task whose philosophical importance has a much further reach than the humanist meditation on the human condition, which may seem to be a much more profound meditation, but in reality is but a uniform, abstract, and empty monotony.
Only from the continental shelves formed by these universal empires can we begin to approach the depths of what we call the human condition, not as something invariable except in its genetic structure common with primates but as something ever-changing and given in the course of history.
O resplendent light of arms! O honour and mirror of the Spanish nation! For our purposes, this has a far-reaching political meaning, demonstrating not only that the Spanish nation is already recognized in the 16th century much earlier than the English or French, let alone the Catalonian or Basque nation , but also offering the extra-literary reference that Cervantes attributed to the figure of Don Quixote. The unity and consistency of this Spanish nation could be understood beyond the then-hegemonic and visible Empire; it could be understood from France, Italy, England, and from America.
To what then does Sancho refer? He too is given to us from the same stage: a peasant from La Mancha, the head of a family made up by his wife and two children. As such, he represents any of the workers who live on the Iberian Peninsula and who are dedicated with their wives to keep their family going. Sancho, gifted with great intelligence and not only manual intelligence, but also verbal and even literary , gets along perfectly with other peasants and people of his social status.
And Dulcinea? The one-armed man [Quixote] strives for her, fighting against the windmills. In some general way, yes, much as Sancho too such as I have presented him must refer to this same Spanish nation which now seems consolidated into, or existing as, a historical nation, regardless of the deep crisis that it is suffering after the defeat of its Armada.
However, although the circumstantial reference of Don Quixote, Sancho, and Dulcinea may be the same — Spain — the perspectives from which each of these characters of the trinity refers to Spain are nonetheless distinct to each other. Perhaps Don Quixote refers to Spain from the perspective of the past, Sancho from the perspective of the present, and Dulcinea from the perspective of the future and for that Dulcinea is a matter of faith, not of actual evidence.
Don Quixote is seen from a past that, even during the time on the stage, is still close the time in which Spanish knights used lances and swords instead of harquebuses and cannons , and Sancho is seen from the present in a village that lives thanks to the fruits that the land, which must keep producing in every moment, gives after hard labor. With that said, in a historical time like that which corresponds to Spain, the present, past, and future are not mere points on a line that represents astronomical time. The time of Spain as an emerging generating Empire that is beginning to show the deep wounds that its enemies, the European predatory empires, are inflicting upon it, this time is historical time — a flowing, constantly interacting collection of millions of people, each one used to eating daily and in constant agitation and interaction.
This flowing collection, this oceanic river of people who make history and are swept away by it, can be classified in three classes or circles of people theoretically well-defined:. Second, there is the circle of finite, but indeterminate diameter made up by people who influence the people of the present for better or worse and whom we take as references, molding them nearly completely, but without us being able to influence them in any way, neither profoundly nor superficially, because they have died.
Spain, however, is a historical process. So to affirm that Spain is the place in which the references of the stage characters — Don Quixote, Sancho, and Dulcinea — must be placed is still not saying much. To begin, we must determine the parameters of the present, the present in which our stage is situated, and with that perspective as a platform we can look toward both the past and the future. Undoubtedly these parameters must be obtained following the method of analysis of the literary immanence — the immanence of the stage itself, the stage on which the characters act.
Even more precisely, there is the letter that Sancho, as governor of the island of Barataria, writes to his wife Teresa Panza, dated July 20, It must be concluded then that Don Quixote took off in search of Dulcinea in those days. The central point of his diameter is found very close to — the date of the battle of Lepanto, in which the twenty-four year old Cervantes took glorious part. From his present , of course, Cervantes summons a stage whose reference is Spain, but not exactly the Spain of the Middle Ages as Hegel thought when he interpreted Don Quixote as a symbol of the transition from the feudal to the modern period.
Cervantes and the Burlesque Sonnet
Don Quixote crosses a now unified peninsula without interior borders between the Christian kingdoms and even more, without borders with the Moor kingdoms: the Spain that Don Quixote crosses is subsequent to the capture of Granada in by the Catholic Monarchs. There are no longer Moor kings in Spain. Some Moriscos that were expelled even return to Spain, and meet with Sancho:. It seems as if Cervantes had deliberately wanted to return to a previous Iberian Spain, perhaps not before the discovery of America, but as least earlier than the massive Spanish entrance in the New World Peru, Mexico… and the repercussions that such an entrance would have in Spain itself.
This intemporal air comes from a society that, like the Spanish, has already matured as the first historical nation. Nonetheless, it still needs the care of knights armed with lances and swords, even in those moments when it is abstracted from its imminent political responsibilities those which oblige the mobilization of armies with firearms — today we would say missiles with nuclear heads.
It does so not in an immediate way, but rather through the use of an intemporal Spain, one not unreal but seen simply under an ultraviolet light in which a civil society, set in the historical time that the Iberian peninsula lives, lives according to its own rhythm. There are many interpretations formulated on diverse scales. According to these interpretations, Cervantes, in his fundamental work, would have supplied the most ruthless and defeatist vision of Imperial Spain that could ever have been offered up.
As clever psychological critics say, Cervantes — resentful, skeptical, on the border of nihilism and disappointed by the innumerable failures that his life handed him mutilation, captivity, prison, failure, and rejection — especially in his request to move to America, a right he felt he deserved as a hero in Lepanto — this Cervantes would have eliminated from his brilliant novel any reference to the Indies, as well as any to Europe. For what is it that this mirror reflected? A deformed knight who goes on delirious and ridiculous adventures from which he returns defeated time and time again.
Accordingly, Cervantes must be placed among those men inside the Spanish nation not outside who have most contributed to the development of the Black Legend although others have done so in a much more subtle and cowardly way.
Nonetheless, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra himself must be the central figure of this list. In this defeatist interpretation, must we then follow the path that Ramiro de Maetzu himself initiated when he advised to temper the cult of Don Quixote not only in schools, but also in the Spanish national ideology? If Don Quixote is a mad and ridiculous Spanish antihero, a mere parody and counterfigure of the real man and the real modern knight, then why is there this determination to keep him as a national emblem by celebrating his anniversaries and centennaries with such uncommon pomp?
Only the enemies of Spain — internal enemies above all, like Catalonian, Basque, or Galician separatists — could delight in the adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha. It would still be possible to try to restore a less depressing symbolism of Don Quixote, even while recognizing his incessant defeats. Furthermore, in no way is it clear that Cervantes held the nihilist, resentful attitude toward the Spanish empire which Unamuno attributed to him.
His results were without a doubt more ambiguous because of that — so ambiguous that they allowed the enemies of Spain to transform him into a pretext for derision of its history and its people. They lived forgetful of the fact that the same Empire which protected their welfare, their happiness — their more or less placid and pacific life — was being attacked on all sides and starting to show alarming signs of leak after the defeat of its Armada. The lances and swords of his grandparents, or the bacinelmet Don Quixote himself makes, can then be seen as allegories through which Cervantes, without even needing to be aware of it, meant to represent the Spain that resulted from the ultraviolet light he used.
According to this, Cervantes, with his Don Quixote, could have attempted or if what he had attempted was to unleash his skepticism bordering on nihilism at least could have succeeded in exercising the role of an agent of a revulsion before the government of the successive kings of Catholic majesties — Carlos I and even Felipe II, in the times of Lepanto.
What Cervantes would be saying to his compatriots is that with rusty lances and swords, with paralytic boats, with solitary adventures, or less still, dressed up as bucolic and pacific pastors, that with all of this the Spanish people would be destined to failure because the Empire that protected them and the one in which they lived was being seriously threatened by neighboring ones. Nonetheless, Cervantes would also be seeing — albeit with skepticism — that it was still possible to overcome the depression that without a doubt appeared in some of the characters — among them Alonso Quijano transformed as Don Quixote.
As such, Cervantes seems to want to stress in every moment that his characters effectively have the necessary energy — even if it had to be expressed in the form of madness. As such, Don Quixote, along with his follies, would be offering some hints of the path it would be necessary to follow. The first of these, before any other, would be to travel and explore the lands of the Spanish nation: Cervantes takes care that Don Quixote de La Mancha leaves his village in the fields of Montiel and crosses the Sierra Morena.
He even takes care to make him arrive at the beach of Barcelona the same beach, it seems, in which Cervantes saw how the boat carrying his patron the Count of Lemos took off to sea towards Italy, without Cervantes being able to catch it for a final chance. I have done all I can. A message of perpetual peace and disarmament directed to the Spanish nation would be lethal, however. It could only be understood as a message sent to Spain by its enemies, hoping that once Spain had disarmed herself, they could then go in and split her up.
Even further, it can be conceded that this allegory — suggested from the beginning, but in chiaroscuro — became a constant stimulus for the author and gained momentum as it went, driving the author to dedicate himself with greater fervor to the development of such an ambiguous character, one so ambiguous that it became inexhaustible — a character that promised so much, even from its initial, simple definition. Alonso Quijano is a madman, and while Don Quixote channels his madness through generally violent means, they are nonetheless filled with strength and generosity.
In addition, the hero — a madman in his acts and exploits — is a judicious and ingenious hero in his speech, so unlike a madman. Why then are these triadic figures laughable, especially the figure of Don Quixote? Not for his efforts, strength, fortitude, or generosity, but rather because he uses laughable instruments or proposes laughable goals: broken lances, bacinelmets, windmills, flocks of goats, even the governance of an island. But he does so always maintaining that forceful, firm, and generous energy inherited from his lineage.
Cervantes could catch glimpses of this allegory as his story moved forward. The important thing is that Cervantes saw such an allegory, because only then can his disposition be understood to lead Don Quixote, in a given moment in his career, to hang up his arms and so decree his death. One must hang up ones arms in order to renounce these follies, to be cured of them after a great fever — but with this comes death which is what the dimwitted pacifist does not see. He makes Don Quixote give intelligent and ingenious discourses that prove this faculty and appear all the more strong while his actions, weapons, and deeds appear to us all the more weak and disjointed.
This goes in spite of the difficulty in determining the line of demarcation between a sane discourse and a degenerated one. It seems proper then to test different criteria for the division between coherent and incoherent discourse. The one which seems to me the most plausible is based on a distinction between doctrinal discourse necessarily abstract, political, and philosophical and the judgment to apply the discourse to the concrete circumstances of the moment — a judgment where prudence and discretion must intervene, not only the wisdom of principles nor the science of the conclusions the coherence of the doctrine.
For example, in II, 29 where Cervantes offers the famous adventure of the enchanted boat , it seems that Don Quixote possesses a solid science in his discourse about the Sphere, in that he uses concepts Sancho knows nothing of: colures, lines, parallels, zodiacs, ecliptics, poles, solstices, equinoxes, planets, signs, points, and measurements. It is not a common madness such as a schizophrenic suffering from confusion and mental chaos. A different matter is the origin of this disagreement between doctrine and deed.
Or is it that the facts are disrupted from the outside from the palace of the dukes, for example , so that they seem different than they ought to? At times, Sancho himself even loses his good sense, as happened in the episode of the wine skins slashed by Don Quixote I, 35 which he took to be giants and the spilled wine their blood. But if we take St.
Such a judgment can only be assented to by appealing to divine action, to a miracle that is in some way the work of enchantment. And what is the substance of this perfect discourse about arms and letters? Which is to say, against whom is it directed? Both groups exalt Don Quixote on his fourth centenary and hope to lift his figure up as another emblem of redeeming pacifism. In what way is a man different from an animal? According to Erasmus, a man, in spite of his intelligence, behaves more bestially than beasts themselves in their relations with others of the same species.
Elephants often behave as brothers one to another. Lions show no fierceness to other lions. Christ is the beginning of peace. In spite of their intelligence, why then do men permanently start wars? Perhaps for their original sin? But Erasmus, just as Augustine, seems to be saying that if intelligence or reason had not been cut short in man by his original sin, then he would stop developing weapons because of his rationality. Manuel de Montoliu defends this relationship. But while Erasmus affirmed that humans, precisely on the basis of their rationality, ought to stop developing weapons, Don Quixote begins by vindicating the rational condition of weapons.
Man is a rational animal, and so to must be weapons, as inventions of man. But this distinction between instrument-arms whose energy proceeds from the organism, which uses instruments as if they were its own organs: claws, fangs, and fists and machine-arms does not permit classifying instrument-arms as irrational, animal arms. But instrument arms are weapons strictly speaking, normalized tools, the contents of human culture. They are therefore rational, as Don Quixote says. Consequently, neither weapons nor war come from irrational animals. War is not a question of some brute force rooted in the body.
It requires spirit, ingenuity:. The argument that such people usually adduce and depend upon is that brain-work is superior to physical work, and that the exercise of arms involves the body alone, as if it were the business of market-porters, which needs nothing more than brute strength; or as if acts of fortitude requiring a keen intelligence were not involved in what we fighters call soldiership; or as if the warrior who is in charge of an army or the defence of a besieged city did not labour with his mind as much as with his body.
There are, however, two main ways to interpret it:. Universal and perpetual peace is the aim of each and every war — a peace therefore understood to be everlasting and mutual among opponents. Peace is not the universal and undifferentiated aim of all wars, but rather the particular and specific aim of each war: those who are in war are looking for peace, but it is the peace of their victory.
Those who take part in war collaborate in creating disorder; the aim of war is to reestablish order, but such as it is understood by the victor. As such, the goal of war is peace, the peace of victory and of the victorious and stable order that victory manages to establish. If peace were the universal law of mankind, then the only way to explain wars historically would be to suppose that humans — rational animals — have started wars because of their irrationality. The history of mankind, then, would have to be the history of nonsense. War then must be the extreme form of the ordinary relationship between these parts.
Based on this supposition, when I talk about peace as the aim of war, I am referring to real war, to each war in particular. Only now does talk of war have a political and historical sense, not a metahistorical or metaphysical one. Talking about peace as the aim of war is talking about political peace, whether it be the Pax Romana, the Pax Hispanica, or even the Pax Sovietica of which Stalin proclaimed himself leader in The peace to which war aspires must have one of the following aims:. Or to achieve hegemony over others, not to simply dominate them, but to provide them with better goods than they currently have the aim of so-called civilizing or liberating wars ,.
Or to govern those who deserve to be governed, even as slaves. Vitoria, even Sepulveda, assumes this third aim as the aim of a just war, if it proposes to tutor and educate people incapable of educating themselves, in order to help them develop their own capacities. All in all, Don Quixote is defending an order — a peace — to be maintained by just and fair laws themselves only effective with the force of arms.
These arms make it possible for the order represented by the laws to prevail over other opposing or alternative orders. The order represented by the laws presiding over a nation such as the Spanish nation can only be maintained by the force of arms. These arms created that nation and sustain it from below and are the same as those carried by Don Quixote — not alone, but together with Sancho and Dulcinea — from which new soldiers and lawyers can issue. A weak or disarmed nation can only assume the order that other, better armed nations or empires impose. As such, arms must be considered superior and more rational than laws, than human learning:.
Away with anyone who gives letters [the letters of the learned, or the law-makers, of the Rechtsstaat] the preference over arms, for I say to him, whoever he may be, that he does not know what he is talking about. The argument that such people usually adduce and depend upon is that brain-work is superior to physical work, and that the exercise of arms involves the body alone, as if it were the business of market-porters, which needs nothing more than brute strength; or as if acts of fortitude requiring a keen intelligence were not involved in what we fighters call soldiership; or as if the warrior who is in charge of an army or the defense of a besieged city did not labor with his mind as much as with his body.
While the goal of letters is to interpret and enforce the law, it is not as praiseworthy as that which arms have before them, which is peace…This peace is the true goal of war; and war and arms are all one. Don Quixote obliges us to affirm — such is my interpretation — that if Spain exists, that if Spain can resist its threats, that if Spain is a nation and wants to keep being one, then none of this can come from nor be maintained by letters or laws or the rule of law.
Arms are necessary.
This excerpt is found on pages This quote is found on English translation by A. Lane El Quijote y su laberinto vital.
Research and Teaching Interests
Barcelona: Anthropos, Barcelona: Alba, Barcelona: Araluce, , p. Barcelona: Ediciones B, As quoted in Carlos Alvar ed. Madrid: Editorial Castalia, , page Editorial Cervantes, The first circumnavigation of Earth was the Magellan—Elcano expedition , which sailed from Seville, Spain, in and returned in , after crossing the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. The first voyage around the world was that of the ship Victoria, between and , known as the Magellan—Elcano expedition.
It then continued across the Pacific discovering a number of islands on its way, including Guam before arriving in the Philippines. Elcano and a small group of 18 men were actually the only members of the expedition to make the full circumnavigation. In September , he passed through the southern tip of South America, named Drake Passage, which connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean. Drake completed the second circumnavigation of the world in September , becoming the first commander to lead an entire circumnavigation.
In February we will commemorate the arrival of Hernan Cortes to the Mexica empire. By any consideration, this is one of the most amazing journey of a man in history. It is a journey into a past most Mexicans would rather forget, and I respect that. However it is history, and truly an epic one that brings us to what we all are. In only two years, Hernan Cortes brought about the downfall of an efficient military civilisation through a combination of diplomacy, warfare, tactics, luck and sheer force of personality. The conquest of the Aztecs is more complicated than the simple myth of European superiority, but it remains an incredible achievement in military history.
In , the historian J. Hernan Cortes reported his campaigns in five letters to Charles V, the Spanish king. Edited by Pascual de Gayangos. Paris: A. Chaix, In addition to his descriptions of the Valley of Mexico and Tenochtitlan, his explanations for the actions he took, and his military and administrative directives, have been subjected for years to the close critical scrutiny. In the spring of , some adventurers led by Hernan Cortes, a failed law student-turned planter and speculator, embarked on the conquest of a ruthless and predatory empire with an army numbering in the tens of thousands.
The Spanish conquest of Mexico was the greatest military expedition in history, and in achieving it, Cortes proved himself one of the foremost generals of all time. The Conquest completely changed the history of the world. The establishment of a European power on the mainland of the western hemisphere opened the door for a complete European hegemony, ultimately leading to the establishment of independent states. Whether this was for better or worse is a question for the philosophers.
The fact is that it did happen, and now, some years later, a western hemisphere nation is the dominant power in the world. San Antonio, Texas, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Monterey, California, were all seats of Spanish government until , and of Mexican government until even later, and Spanish and English are spoken side by side throughout the American southwest. This is the legacy of Hernan Cortes and his conquistadors.
Brian Bosworth in A Tale of Two Empires: Hernan Cortes and Alexander the Great has drawn parallels between these two scenarios: the wars of Conquistadors, on the one hand, and the Macedonians, on the other. Read it in this link to chapter two of the book Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction , edited by A. Bosworth and E.
He needed that island because it had the closest known harbor to Fernandina, or Cuba, which was on the way to Yucatan. After sailing around Yucatan, Cortes lands in Tabasco on March , meeting resistance from the natives. On April 18, Palm Sunday, expedition departs from Tabasco. During his march to the Aztec capital, Cortes gathers valuable allies among enemies of Montezuma.
Cortes faces Montezuma on the great causeway leading to Tenochtitlan. Less than a week later, he seizes the Aztec ruler and takes control of the city. The Spaniards and their allies flee Tenochtitlan on the Night of Tears. Having lost more than half their company, they rally at Tlacopan before retreating to Tlaxcala. Having fought their way back to the lake, the conquistadors launch their brigantines, besiege the city, and the great battle for Tenochtitlan begins.
After months of fierce fighting, which leaves Tenochtitlan in ruins, the last tlatoani Cuauhtemoc is captured in a canoe on the lake and the Aztecs finally surrender. No official commemoration in Mexico or Spain planned. Both current administrations would rather forget all about Hernan Cortes and his legacy. What a pity! In Mexico, instead, new populism is trying to celebrate indigenous fight against invaders. They are planning a huge celebration by to commemorate the founding of the city of Mexico-Tenochtitlan.
In Spain, politicians are ashamed of brutality shown by conquerors five hundred years ago. Really we can not do better? Yes, both worlds. First published in English by Dragon Press, Bernardete , by Gordian Press, NY. Heroic verse, which reflected traditional, political, and martial ideas and was characterized by domestic austerity and the absence of love as a poetic theme, was now succeeded by a new kind of narrative poetry, which, like the lyric, assumed the essential character of love poetry, with its scenes unfolding in a courtly, elegant world far removed from the stern feudalism of the epic.
The several and new emotions that enriched these poems of adventure were embellished by very diverse means. The romance of chivalry inherits this trait from the love poems. But because the latter originate immediately after the epic, it is not surprising that they, like the later romances of chivalry, have certain points of contact with the ancient heroic poems. Like heroic poetry, the romances of chivalry conceive their heroes within very similar ideals of chivalric perfection, placing them in a world made up of only two bands, one of the noble personages, the other of the wicked, who are locked in eternal antagonism with one another.
Moreover, the struggle between them is settled in battles that use formulas and narrative techniques found both in the romances of chivalry and epic poetry. Apart from the inspiration of love, other very profound differences in the conception of poetic life nevertheless separate the new literary productions from the old. In the romances of chivalry the struggle between the two forces previously mentioned is not carried out in an organized fashion, as in the epic—where the contest is generally played out before the king and his court—nor does it extend to entire nations.
It is instead a purely personal struggle. The life of the ancient vassals, set in the midst of a powerful family group, faithful to or rebellious against their lord, abandons its national and political dimensions to assume a human and merely individual quality with the advent of the new knights-errant, who wander about alone in search of adventures, stimulated by whim and chance. The knight-errant fights as if to the death for any reason, whether it be to prevent the harmful enchantments of Archelaus or merely to compel a strange knight to declare his secret name.
If there arises on the edge of the forest a wellturreted castle inhabited by some powerful lord, or by a giant or an enchanter, be he evil or kindly, it is only for the purpose of initiating further complicated adventures which the good knight untangles and resolves with the blows of his invincible arm. The greatest of affronts committed against the hero in the oak woods is not immediately avenged on the spot, as a romance of chivalry would demand, but rather at the court of Toledo and under its authority.
However, the romance of chivalry is actually not very far removed from the later epic—the new decadent epic of the Cid—in which the vassal repudiates his king and the entire nation and goes on to fight alone. In Spain, this medieval romance had a very late revival. The romance of chivalry, which during the Middle Ages had scarcely produced any original works in Spain and which in France was completely forgotten, enjoyed in the plenitude of the Renaissance a profuse flowering which spread from the Peninsula throughout Europe.
Additional series of Palmerines, Primaleones, and a hundred other knights, who came from the strangest and most archaic realms of fiction, entertained the spirits of those generations that deserved the more refined art of Bembo, Garcilaso, Ronsard, and Sidney. With some basis in fact, but also considerable exaggeration— justified by the exuberance of popular opinion on the matter— it has been claimed that chivalric and adventurous ideals were at odds with the Spanish character and spirit.
It is true that the romance of chivalry is not derived from the ancient Spanish epic, but it is nevertheless linked to it, even if only by a tenuous thread. The romances of chivalry did not triumph, as some believe, because they were the only narrative works of fiction available in the sixteenth century, but rather because they practically had no competition, as their adventures had long beforehand captured the Spanish imagination.
Then came the well-known moment when Cervantes decided to better the reading habits and morals of his homeland by discrediting the romances of chivalry. Don Quixote is thus born with a special literary purpose, stated repeatedly by the author, according to which it may be believed that the novel bears only a negative relationship to such books and to the chivalric spirit that informs them.