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Don Quixote (lecture 2)

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University of Toronto St. George
William Robins

ENG150Y Don Quixote (lecture 2) Prof. Will Robins Initiating quotation: “All prose fiction is a variation on the theme of Don Quixote”—L. Trilling Gilgamesh goes off on journey to discover identity Aeneas  loses life in Troy and has to go off to find a new identity and people 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?) Met
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