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Lecture 4

Don Quixote (Lecture 4)

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University of Toronto St. George
William Robins

Don Quixote (Lecture 4) Created on 13/02/2013 10:05:00 AM ENG150Y1Y W. Robins Idea of imitation—discussion today (follow up lecture, from TAs on Monday): Imitation – in Renaissance Literary Theory • Imitatio: creative imitation of earlier works of art/literature by a modern artist/writer o Example: you learn to paint by imitating the great masters • Exemplarity: presentation of a historical/fictional personage as a model to follow for achieving appropriate forms of behaviour o Ethical ideas are developed through observing exemplars • Verisimilitude: Work of art/literature judged for how plausibly it reflects ideal truths about how the world ought to work. o Art ought to imitate/reflect what is conceived of as “truth”—not necessarily “factual” or realistic, but more so in a sense of moral conventions such as “the wicked are punished and righteous are rewarded” (truth, as in the way things ought to be) Don Quixote has, at this point in the story, been caged and captive because of the “enchantments of some wicked sorcerer”. While they are on the way home, they are overtaken by someone who is fascinated by Don Quixote, asking the priest and canon about him, who proceeds to tell him that Quixote has been driven mad from reading romances (Chapter 47). First problem of romances: supposed to be instructive and entertaining—fail to be instructive. “...fiction is better the more it resembles the truth...fictional tales...must be written to seem like the impossible things are possible...the person who flees from plausibility...cannot accomplish this...” A real work of literature ought to be educative and thus have many examples. Difference between Cervantes and Canon: Canon has straightforward belief about imitation; Cervantes investigates imitation—the mechanisms by which it comes operative in the world. Imitative desires Don Quixote imitates the goals and desires of figure Amadis. Don Quixote later proceeds to become mediator  Sancho’s goals and desires. Scene where Sancho returns home and his wife asks him what he has brought her—responds that he has brought back better than w
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