ENG150Y1 Lecture Notes - Midlife Crisis, Metafiction, Diegesis

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6 Feb 2013

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ENG150Y Don Quixote (lecture 2) Prof. Will Robins
Initiating quotation:
All prose fiction is a variation on the theme of Don Quixote”—L.
Gilgamesh goes off on journey to discover identity
Aeneas loses life in Troy and has to go off to find a new identity and
Erec when he realizes he has not been able to reconcile identity as
husband and warrior journeys off to discover identity to integrate
conflicting parts of his self
Dante mid-life moral crisis of identity and despair
Don Quixote—a man driven to delusion by mid-life crisis:
Is not an exact parallel to aforementioned heroes, of whom tragedy is
never an unlikely ending (all have looming, existential crises hovering
above them, which is not the situation with Quixote)
Rather than young, heroic at the prime or at mid-life turning point, Don
Quixote is aged and has declined past his prime. His figure is old and
thin, rather than brawn and primed like Erec. His character is complex
and multifaceted. His crisis comes from the limitations of comfort, and
dissatisfaction with his quality of life – the question of: “Is this all there
is to life? What is my purpose?”
“This combination of intelligent moderation with absurd excess results
in a multiplicity which cannot be made to accord altogether with the
purely comic... “Human problems are never presented in such a way
that we tremble and are moved to compassion. We always remain the
realm of gaiety. But the levels of gaiety are multiplied as never
before.”—E. Auerbach
Engages in building a series of self-designed narratives, featuring
himself as the hero—others recognize this insanity, and some play
along (e.g. the innkeeper). He is play acting, but believes it to be
reality; he is delusional.
The Membrino helmit (barber’s basin)—what causes Sancho to
question his master’s sanity. A dynamic has been created between
reality and fantasy—a finger is pointed towards the reader’s individual
perception of reality (i.e. how do you know your reality is real?)
(meta ‘beyond’/’above’ + fiction)
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