III. The Genre of Don Quixote
{TAB}Authors and readers inevitably and necessarily use generic concepts; it is impossible to understand a work without placing it in a generic context. An examination of a work's genre, then, is a step towards its interpretion; as E. D. Hirsch has written, "disagreement about an interpretation is usually a disagreement about genre."1 {TAB}Generic study of Don Quixote is especially appropriate since Cervantes was interested in genres. An interest in literary theory, which he obviously had, meant in his day an interest in genres, a large part of early literary (or linguistic, or scientific) theory, and a prerequisite for the formulation of the literary rules about which he evidently cared deeply. Although in no case is it unproblematical, it can be seen how each of Cervantes' works fits into an existing generic category, La Galatea being an eclogue,2 the Novelas exemplares the introduction into Spain and purification of the Italian novella,3 the Persiles an epic in prose, and the Viage del Parnaso an imaginary travel book. Obviously Cervantes thought of Don Quixote as also fitting into some literary category. {TAB}Unfortunately, literary categories are not eternal. Both the criteria used for categorization and, worse, the meaning of the labels for categories are deceptively changeable.4 This is especially the case when dealing with such a pivotal and influential work as is Don Quixote, through which the history of literature changes direction: it seems one thing when viewed from the present looking backwards, and something rather different when considered in its own context. It is for this reason that identifying Don Quixote's genre is something like determining the street on which Columbus Circle or the Plaza de la Cibeles is located, and the subject of great confusion. {TAB}Our goal in this chapter is to identify Don Quixote's genre in Cervantes' terms, as a step toward understanding his interpretation of and goals in the work. In his terms, the category could have been neither novel nor romance, for while the words existed, their Golden Age meaning was quite different from the modern, English generic categories described with the terms.5 However, we have an aid available to us, not just a guide to Golden Age generic theory but the book which influenced Cervantes more than any other work of literary scholarship: L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano's Philosoph'{BKSPACE}ia antigua po'{BKSPACE}etica, the most thorough treatment of genre ever written in Spanish, and one of the few comprehensive treatises of the entire Renaissance. In contrast with modern categories, which are heavily based on form, for L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano the key criterion for literary classification is the story or subject matter treated; this is the "alma," whereas the way it is told is merely the "cuerpo" (I, 239). {TAB}One might think the question of Don Quixote's genre, as seen by Cervantes, settled by the term "historia," which is used to describe the book in the title and repeatedly in the text. It is certainly a logical starting place for a generic examination of Don Quixote. What did Cervantes mean by calling Don Quixote an historia, more specifically a verdadera historia?6 {TAB}Historia, first of all, was not a literary genre, although its meaning was broader than the English term "history" and could refer to literary works. In its broadest sense it meant the telling (contar) of events: "al cuento de mis sucesos," says the Alf'{BKSPACE}erez, "se puede dar el nombre de historia" ("Casamiento enga~noso," III, 147, 2-4). "Cuenta la historia," "la historia cuenta," standard formulas in early Spanish prose, are frequently used in Don Quixote.7 {TAB}An historia could be of two sorts. It could be verdadera, a history, which is the only way in which L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano used the term; an example cited by Cervantes is the Historia del Gran Capit'{BKSPACE}an, called "historia verdadera" (II, 83, 32-84, 1). Or it can be fingida, in which case it is literature, what we would call prose fiction and what Cervantes also calls f'{BKSPACE}abula.8 The distinction between the two types of historia is easier to understand if an historia is thought of as a painting in words, a comparison found explicitly in Cervantes' works.9 A painting can be a portrayal of a real scene or person, or an imagined one, yet the same evaluative criterion applies: how closely the work resembles reality. This is the standard for both historia verdadera and historia fingida:10 "las historias fingidas tanto tienen de buenas y deleitables quanto se llegan a la verdad o la semejan,ca della, y las verdaderas tanto son mejores quanto son m'{BKSPACE}as verdaderas" (IV, 297, 11-15).11 {TAB}We are frequently told that Don Quixote is historia verdadera.12 By the end of the book this term is used favorably and without irony; "mi verdadero don Quixote" contrasts with Avellaneda's false one (IV, 406, 12). At times we are only being told that the book is verisimilar, as is discussed later. Yet the insistence that the book is verdadero is often ironic and less than sincere.13 {TAB}Were the repeated statements that the book was "verdadero" going to mislead anyone? I think Cervantes was confident that they would not; a reader would know that no Alonso Quixano from La Mancha had set out as a knight- errant, for such an incredible occurance would have been commented on all over Spain. From the very first sentence of the prologue, in which the work is called an "hijo del entendimiento," it is obviously an historia fingida. No one would have made armor out of cardboard, chosen Sancho as a squire, and attacked windmills and sheep. That could not possibly have happened, is every reader's reaction. No one could have taken the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias as true, is the position suggested to the reader. No matter what lengths they go to to feign truthfulness. No matter that there is a character called a historian, that we are told details about his manuscript,14 where it was found, how it was translated, even what the translator was paid (I, 131, 5-13). These things mean nothing. Someone made them up. They do not mean that Don Quixote really existed; why should they mean that Amad'{BKSPACE}is did? The "autor" even asks his readers to give his work "el mesmo cr'{BKSPACE}edito que suelen dar los discretos a los libros de cavaller'{BKSPACE}ias, que tan validos andan en el mundo" (II, 402, 2-8). {TAB}Since the recognition of fiction as a legitimate type of literature, an author may claim that he or she writes a true story, even though it is a fabrication. Publishers and merchants of reputable books, and librarians as well, inform us whether a book's claims of veracity are seriously meant, or merely a convention shared by the author and reader, deceiving no one. In Cervantes' day, however, such aids did not exist, and authors who wrote "lies," and then denied that they had done so, could mislead the ignorant; literary consumers were credulous to the point of believing that everything printed was true.15 How, then, could one, at that time, distinguish the true from the false, and determine whether a book describes imaginary actions and characters, or true ones? This problem is never addressed directly in Don Quixote, but it certainly is indirectly. If I may be allowed my own formulation of Cervantes' point: Think! Use the brain God gave you. Can a tower really sail on the sea (II, 342, 8-10)? Are all the trappings suggestive of an ancient story, found in annals, archives, people's memory, buried in a leaden box, and in a manuscript written in Arabic, a language of the Spanish Middle Ages, consistent with a library containing books from the 1580's (I, 128, 20-27), and the other references to contemporary Spain? {TAB}Don Quixote's reasoning is especially fallacious.16 What valid conclusion about Quinta~nona's existence can be drawn from a comparison made by his grandmother (II, 366, 2- 9)? (Old women were commonly associated with "consejas," untruthful and sometimes lascivious tales.17) Could King Arthur really be alive, in the form of a raven?18 Could people be enchanted, and talk, yet have no bodily functions?19 Could a beautiful meadow be reached by jumping into a lake full of serpents, snakes, and lizards (II, 370, 24-371, 19)? Of course not; these are "desaforados disparates" (II, 341, 17). Only a b'{BKSPACE}arbaro inculto, someone "del todo b'{BKSPACE}arbaro e inculto" (II, 342, 7-8), or someone insane, could fail to object to such things. As Cervantes' readers would identify with neither of these, they had to admit to themselves that they could not and did not believe such nonsense. "Es verdad, que no ha de aver alguno tan ignorante que tenga por historia verdadera ninguna destos libros" (II, 86, 27-30). {TAB}Don Quixote consistently tries to help the ignorant reader become a critical reader, one capable of distinguishing truth from lies. The number of points made is impressive. Even if everyone says that a basin is a helmet and an albarda a jaez (Chapter 45 of Part I), or that Amad'{BKSPACE}is existed (II, 365, 1-5), that does not make it true. Physical evidence not present for verification is not reliable (the clavija of Pierres, II, 368, 16-30).20 Although the various pieces of an argument may seem to support each other, forming a "m'{BKSPACE}aquina," part may be correct, and the remainder faulty: that there were historical knights-errant, as Don Quixote points out in Chapter 49 of Part I, does not mean that the literary knights existed. The publication of their historias, even though they are not true, is tolerated; such books are intended for entertainment (II, 86, 1-27). The reader is encouraged to examine the credibility of a narrator (I, 132, 15-133, 5), the consistency of the narration, to see if it all should be accepted (the "apocryphal" Chapter 5 of Part II), and is finally called "prudent" by the translator and given a practical exercise: to judge the report of the truthful Don Quixote of his impossible adventures in the Cave of Montesinos, and arrive at the obvious conclusion that he had a dream.21 {TAB}Returning to the torcido hilo of this chapter, Don Quixote is not an historia verdadera at all, and while it is an historia fingida, that term is not a generic category; it is both too general and a term of form rather than content.22 So if Don Quixote was not, generically, an historia, then what was it? Let us review the various suggestions that have been made about Don Quixote's genre,23 and add some new ones, if only to refute them. {TAB}First of all we will take up the suggestion made by Anthony Close, that Don Quixote is burlesque.24 While the burlesque nature of the work is obvious, the problem with "burlesque" as a generic label for Don Quixote is that burlesque, like historia, was not a generic category in Golden Age Spain and is not mentioned by L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano; Close is reconstructing an eighteenth-century English view. "Burlesco" is not even a noun in Spanish, nor can it be used as one. In the Diccionario de autoridades, for example, we can find comedias, romances, and sonetos burlescos, but not burlesque pure and simple. Cervantes could not have called Don Quixote a burlesque. {TAB}L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano does mention parodia as a literary type: "La Parodia no es otra cosa que vn poema que a otro contrahaze, especialmente aplicando las cosas de veras y graues a las de burlas" (I, 289). Yet L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano sees a parody as based on a single work, not a genre such as libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias; the example he gives ("el poema de Matr'{BKSPACE}on, el qual aplic'{BKSPACE}o los metros de Homero graues a las burlas de la cozina," I, 289) implies that a parody takes a famous, distinguished, serious work as its foundation. This Don Quixote does not. {TAB}Parody is also a type of writing which is essentially respectful, and does not seek to diminish its object. Homer was not going to be less revered because Matron parodied him, nor is Shakespeare taken down a peg by the numerous parodies of Hamlet's soliloquy. Parody is incompatible with serious and straightforward discussion of the defects of the object of the parody, and with an intent to banish it. Don Quixote is not a parody. {TAB}We can also rule out s'{BKSPACE}atira as Don Quixote's genre, for a s'{BKSPACE}atira attacks and names specific people, "en el qual siempre suele hablar el poeta reprehendiendo a quien le parece."25 The work does contain attacks on specific people; the known living models of named characters are all ones who were indeed in need of reprehension. These include the bandit Roque Guinart, Diego de Miranda, based on an adulterer of that name, jailed with Cervantes and exiled from the corte,26 Gin'{BKSPACE}es de Passamonte, whose crimes are so enormous we are not told what they are,27 Ricote, who is not completely Christian (IV, 194, 28-32), is present in Spain illegally, and is about to commit the further crime of smuggling out precious metals,28 and perhaps the prostitute Maritornes, the innkeeper Juan Palomeque, and the play producer Angulo el Malo.29 All of these, however, are secondary characters; the reprehension of some is at the very least muted; Cervantes said in the Parnaso (55, 11-13) that he had never written s'{BKSPACE}atira, and he attacks this type of writing repeatedly.30 {TAB}Is Don Quixote, perhaps, a comedia?31 This is not as preposterous a suggestion as it might seem; similarities between Cervantes' plays and his prose have been noted.32 The prologue to Avellaneda's continuation33 begins with the observation that "casi es comedia toda la historia de don Quixote de la Mancha,"34 and he calls his own work "la presente comedia," which, continuing the dramatic terminology, he will "entremessar"35 with the silly remarks of Sancho. If an epic can be written in prose, a comedia surely can as well (see L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano, II, 221); Avellaneda called Cervantes' Novelas exemplares "comedias en prosa" (I, 12, 2-3), and Su'{BKSPACE}arez de Figueroa also did so.36 {TAB}The comments on comedia in Chapter 48 of Part I have long been found enigmatic when applied to contemporary drama and Cervantes' own plays, to which, as already stated, I believe them subsequent.37 They invite application to other types of writing, and a parallel between comedia and libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias is made in the same chapter.38 Both can "admirar," "alegrar," and "suspender,"39 and thus neutralize the hazards of ociosidad by providing "honesta recreaci'{BKSPACE}on." To achieve these ends, both should be guided by "arte y reglas"; both should observe verisimilitude and be free of "absurdos" and "disparates," yet many authors fail in this regard. For this reason an official examiner is recommended; the same person could pass judgment on both types of work. {TAB}L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano's discussion of comedia, which will be examined further in the next chapter, is also quite relevant to Don Quixote. Comedia should not attack specific individuals, but rather the "especie de los hombres malos y viciosos" (III, 16), teaching "con sus risas, prudencia para se gobernar el hombre" (III, 17). Comedia is "imitaci'{BKSPACE}on actiua hecha para limpiar el '{BKSPACE}animo de las passiones por medio del deleyte y risa" (III, 17). Like Don Quixote, comedia deals with persons who are "comunes," not "graues" (III, 19), and though the number of things which cause laughter is larger than those which cause tears (III, 29), the basic cause of laughter is "lo feo" (III, 33), "alguna fealdad y torpeza" (III, 43). It is fascinating to find that L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano's example of a ridiculous action is a fall, especially a fall from a horse (III, 34-36), of which the examples in Don Quixote are numerous. {TAB}Yet the generic identification of Don Quixote as comedia must be rejected. Avellaneda saw differences between Cervantes' Quixote and comedia, for he qualifies his description with the adverb "casi," and applies the label without reservation only to the shorter Novelas exemplares. Even if we were to conclude that Cervantes' Quixote lacks, to be a comedia, only the humor Avellaneda claims for his own book, his reduced interest in literary theory makes him a less reliable source. {TAB}L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano (III, 19-20) gives some characteristics of comedia which Cervantes does not follow in Don Quixote; comedia, for example, is supposed to "ense~na[r] la vida...que se deue seguir," while Don Quixote, in keeping with his concept of tragedy, teaches "la vida que se deue huyr." Comedia requires a low style, and Don Quixote has a variety of styles; comedia should not have "tristes y lamentables fines" (III, 19), but Don Quixote's end, in both parts, is just that. Also, despite the theoretical emphasis on content, the examples of comedias given in Chapter 48 of Part I, and all of those which Cervantes published, are what we would call drama, and all of them are much shorter than Don Quixote. {TAB}Another suggestion about Don Quixote's genre has been made recently by L. D. Salingar and Luis Murillo,40 and was formerly quite widely discussed:41 that Don Quixote is an epic. It obviously falls into L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano's general category of poes'{BKSPACE}ia heroica, subject of his eleventh ep'{BKSPACE}istola, as did the Bernardo, according to the arguments of the previous chapter. Yet we have the same question to answer with regard to Don Quixote as we did with the Bernardo: whether Don Quixote is a prose epic or a subcategory, the libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias. One of the same arguments is applicable as well: since the Persiles is an epic, and it was the practice for an author to write only one, it is unlikely that the quite different Quixote would be one as well. {TAB}Is Don Quixote similar to the works of L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano's epic authors, Heliodorus, Achilles Tatius, Homer, and Virgil (III, 165 and 180), or the books like Amad'{BKSPACE}is, Belian'{BKSPACE}is, and all the rest? Clearly, the resemblances with the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias are much stronger. Don Quixote models his actions, his philosophy, and at times his speech on libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias, not epics. He himself, as well as Diego de Miranda, would label a work written about his deeds a libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias,42 and contemporary readers took Don Quixote as such.43 {TAB}There are, of course, occasional epic features in Don Quixote, such as the lists of combatants who make up the reba~nos, the subplot of Cardenio and Dorotea,44 and the descent into the cave of Montesinos45 and its echo, Sancho's fall into a sima. In a libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias, the canon observes, "el autor pued[e] mostrarse '{BKSPACE}epico, l'{BKSPACE}irico, tr'{BKSPACE}agico, c'{BKSPACE}omico" (II, 345, 4-5), an allusion to L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano's four general categories of literature (I, 239; III, 100); occasional use of epic elements is thus permissible in a libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias. In fact, the very variety of materials, styles, and literary forms found in Don Quixote is itself a strong argument that it was a libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias. In contrast with the epic, in a libro one could, in Cervantes' view, treat chivalric material in whatever way one wished, the implication of the canon's famous statement on the writer's freedom in the libro, from which the preceding quotation was taken.46 They are, in L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano's term (I, 285), "extravagantes."47 The only rules, besides the need to deleitar aprovechando, are the general literary principles of verisimilitude and proportion; if one follows these, one can write "sin empacho alguno" (II, 343, 28). {TAB}Don Quixote does not have every characteristic of the canon's ideal libro--though, as already discussed, that is believed to be the description of another book--but it does have many of them. In its structure (desatada) it conforms to the canon's description. Certainly it has "lamentables y tr'{BKSPACE}agicos sucessos," "alegres y no pensados acontecimientos," and many "hermos'{BKSPACE}issimas damas," though--curiously--none of them are also "honestas, discretas y recatadas"48; the "cavallero christiano" is burlesquely represented by the protagonist, whose religion is discussed in Chapter 5, and the "pr'{BKSPACE}incipe cort'{BKSPACE}es" and his vassals by Sancho the governor. Don Quixote is on many occasions an "eloquente orador." There is even, on the Ebro, a burlesque shipwreck. {TAB}But limiting ourselves to the preceding libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias, rather than the canon's vision of an ideal one, we can see that Don Quixote resembles them much more than it does the epic. It first resembles them in its form. Like them, it is a fictitious biography, told linearly and chronologically. Just as the libros, Don Quixote is long and complex, with a large number of characters and incidents. Part I is divided into four parts, like Amad'{BKSPACE}is, Belian'{BKSPACE}is, Cirongilio, and other libros. {TAB}Don Quixote also resembles the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias in its function. It is, in the prologue to Part I, directed to the idle reader, and it is described as a passatiempo49 and an entretenimiento;50 in Don Quixote as elsewhere, it was the idle who turned to the libros to pass the time.51 (No one mentions this as a motive of readers of epics.) Just as the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias banish melancholy,52 so does Don Quixote.53 {TAB}In its presentation of nature as benevolent, Don Quixote also resembles the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias: Don Quixote's fantasy of how dawn will be described in a book dealing with his deeds (I, 58, 20-59, 1) resembles the beautiful way in which dawn is actually described (III, 250, 4-9; III, 443, 10-19). Although the protagonist sets out at the height of summer, "uno de los calurosos [d'{BKSPACE}ias] del mes de julio" (I, 57, 13-14), and it later gets even hotter ("el calor...era...del mes de agosto, que por aquellas partes suele ser el ardor muy grande," I, 388, 26-29), there is little comment on the heat. Sancho complains about not eating, or about sleeping on the ground, but not about the weather, and it only rains once in the entire book (I, 281, 6; I, 283, 19-20). The sun shines; the birds sing; pure water is easily found; trees provide shade.54 It is not surprising that Don Quixote, like the literary knights- errant,55 prefers to be outdoors. {TAB}Yet the key criterion for literary classification is the story or subject matter treated. Don Quixote's subject matter is chivalric adventures, not the "casos amorosos" of the Historia eti'{BKSPACE}opica and the Persiles, nor the "batallas y victorias" of the poems of Homer and Virgil (L'{BKSPACE}opez Pinciano, III, 180). The protagonist's life is that of a caballero andante, and it is told to us by the sabio encantador and historiador Cide Hamete, an imitation of the libros' fictitious historians. After Don Quixote's primera salida, he, like the protagonists of the libros, is only alone when he chooses to be, and wanders through the world with no destination in Part I,56 and no more definite one in Part II than ending up, eventually, in Zaragoza.57 Don Quixote, like the heroes of the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias,58 leaves home secretly, is dubbed a knight, and chooses a squire, a lady, a heraldic symbol, and a name by which to be known. He tries to gain fame and honor, and be generally useful. He sends his lady presents; when she is victim of an enchantment, he must set her free. He meets other knights and fights with them; he spends the night in castles, or thinks he does. {TAB}That, of course, is the key, that Don Quixote's chivalric life is a burla, and his book is a libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias burlesco. The two senses in which Cervantes uses the word burla help to understand a central aspect of Don Quixote.59 Burla first was the opposite of vera.60 Something "de burlas" was "fingido" and "contrahech[o]" (I, 359, 26-27; IV, 42, 23), and this is what Don Quixote's chivalric existence is. His "figura" is "contrahecha" (I, 62, 11; I, 63, 25); contrary to his claims, he does not give himself "verdaderas calaba,cadas" (I, 360, 9-10), his "tristezas" are not "verdaderas" (III, 134, 6), he is not actually a knight, Dulzinea is his own invention, etc. {TAB}A burla was also something productive of laughter, with which the burlas of the text are repeatedly associated. The duke and duchess "en el estilo cavalleresco...hizieron muchas burlas a don Quixote" (III, 420, 16-19; adapted), and the burlas gave their makers laughter "no s'{BKSPACE}olo aquel tiempo, sino el de toda su vida" (IV, 46, 1-2); the jabonadura of Don Quixote, arranged by their doncellas, is a burla, faced with which "fue gran maravilla y mucha discreci'{BKSPACE}on poder dissimular la risa" (III, 396, 3-5). The manteamiento of Sancho, source of laughter (I, 228, 12-14 and 21), is a burla (I, 250, 13; I, 286, 24-25), as is his mocking of Don Quixote's words after the adventure of the batanes (I, 276, 29); the whole encounter with the batanes, after which Don Quixote laughs and Sancho "tuvo necessidad de apretarse las hijadas con los pu~nos por no rebentar riendo" (I, 276, 13-15), is a "pesada burla" (I, 281, 9). The "duda del yelmo de Mambrino y de la albarda" is a "burla pensada" (II, 309, 12), "materia de grand'{BKSPACE}issima risa" (II, 307, 31-308, 1; see also II, 305, 15-16). Even at the "mala burla" (III, 142, 6; also III, 412, 1) of the enchantment of Dulzinea, "harto ten'{BKSPACE}ia que hazer el socarr'{BKSPACE}on de Sancho en dissimular la risa, oyendo las sandezes de su amo, tan delicadamente enga~nado" (III, 141, 7-9). {TAB}A work which is burlesco, full of things which are not genuine, is thus intended to make readers laugh, to provide pasatiempo (I, 286, 25; IV, 141, 11). A work of burlas, in contrast with a parody, is quite compatible with an intent to attack something; the object of a burla is humiliated, exposed, or otherwise dimished.61 By "haz[iendo] burla de...tantos andantes cavalleros" (IV, 405, 31-32), creating a libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias burlesco,62 Cervantes could reach the readers he wanted to reach, those who read the libros. Such readers, who were seeking entertainment, would not have read a treatise on the errors of books of chivalry, and the failure to appeal to them directly was one reason that previous discussions of the books' defects had been unsuccessful.63 {TAB}In Don Quixote, much importance is given to the imitation of models: "quando alg'{BKSPACE}un pintor quiere salir famoso en su arte, procura imitar los originales de los m'{BKSPACE}as '{BKSPACE}unicos pintores que sabe." So that we do not miss the literary application of this principle (see note 9, supra), Don Quixote adds that "esta mesma regla corre por todos los m'{BKSPACE}as oficios o exercicios de cuenta que sirven para adorno de las rep'{BKSPACE}ublicas" (I, 351, 30-352, 3).64 Cervantes realized that Don Quixote was without precedent, a "nueva y jam'{BKSPACE}as vista historia" (II, 402, 2),65 and therefore hard to prologuize (I, 30, 17-29). Yet it is logical that he would have used a model for this work, as he did for many of his others. There is another funny libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias cited in Don Quixote, a book which is similarly "un tesoro de contento y una mina de passatiempos": Tirante el Blanco, a book which Cervantes believed to be Castilian and of the sixteenth century.66 It is only a partial precedent, but it is the most important one, and it is worth pausing to examine it.67 {TAB}The famous passage68 in which the priest expresses his delight over Tirante has become the subject of a controversy which is in many ways a miniature of that over Don Quixote as a whole. Although as Margaret Bates has pointed out, "this 'obscure passage'...could hardly be expressed more clearly,"69 it has received gratuitous textual emendations, and forced interpretations based on obscure meanings of terms in it.70 None of these has received general acceptance, and many have already been refuted.71 The straightforward and quite intelligible meaning of the text as it stands is that Cervantes found Tirante to be a funny book, although in contrast with Don Quixote, he believed its humor unintentional. Its "necedades" were not written "de industria," or, in the terms he used in the Parnaso, it has "desatinos," but not "hechos de prop'{BKSPACE}osito."72 {TAB}The priest's comments indicate the many elements of Tirante which caught Cervantes' attention and from which he may have drawn inspiration. The book is full of unvaliant knights and unvirtuous women. "El valiente de Tirante" fights with a dog, as Don Quixote will "fight" with sheep. The priest also singles out the "valeroso cavallero" Quirieleis'{BKSPACE}on, whose praise is also ironic, for he never fights in the whole book; when he should rightly do so, having issued a challenge to a duel to avenge the death of his lord, dies of ira instead (Chapter 80). Knights fight with paper shields (Chapter 65), perhaps the source of Don Quixote's cardboard celada (I, 53, 29-54, 2). {TAB}The women of Tirante are no better than the men. The empress falls in love with a person below her station, as Don Quixote does with Aldonza Lorenzo.73 The priest singles out the two most licentious female characters, Placerdemivida and the chivalricly incongruous widow Reposada, the latter perhaps reflected in Do~na Rodr'{BKSPACE}iguez de Grijalba, and the former in Altisidora or Maritornes. {TAB}The names of the characters are also the subject of comment by the priest; Fonseca could only have been mentioned because of his name, which is hilariously "ordinary" for a knight. Placerdemivida, Reposada ("relaxed"), Quirieleis'{BKSPACE}on de Montalv'{BKSPACE}an, even Tirante el Blanco:74 names found in Tirante are "peregrinos y significativos" (I, 56, 27-28; adapted), as funny as the names invented by Cervantes, such as Micomicona, Mentironiana, Caraculiambro, Alifanfarr'{BKSPACE}on, and Antonomasia. {TAB}Furthermore, the priest points out that in Tirante, "comen los cavalleros, y duermen y mueren en sus camas, y hazen testamento antes de su muerte, con otras cosas, de que todos los dem'{BKSPACE}as libros deste g'{BKSPACE}enero carecen." He proceeds to label the book's features he has enumerated "necedades" and to sentence its author to hard labor for life, so we can be sure that these are not presented positively; the humor may perhaps be appreciated if one tries to imagine Lancelot or Roland making a will.75 Rather than enduring the rigors of knight-errantry, which Don Quixote boasts of and revels in,76 the knights of Tirante are, in Don Quixote's terms, given to "el buen passo, el regalo y el reposo," "blandos cortesanos" (I, 167, 1-3); Tirante himself, in another passage, is labeled the most "acomodado" knight of all the libros (III, 46, 16-17), which term is defined by the Diccionario de autoridades as "el que es muy amigo del descanso, regalo y conveniencias." The characters of Tirante are funny because they act in an unchivalric way; there is a contrast, then, between a chivalric context and unchivalric acts, of which the book indeed has many, e.g., the prostitutes of London on parade (Chapter 42); the emperor chasing a non-existent rat around his palace (Chapter 233). The possibility certainly exists that Cervantes was inspired by Tirante to create humor through contrast, in his case between chivalric behavior and a mundane context.77 {TAB}The humor of Don Quixote will be dealt with at greater length in the next chapter; our present topic is genre. Don Quixote is a libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias burlesco, but it is a libro (the noun) first, and burlesco (the adjective) second. Validation for the generic identification of Don Quixote as a libro de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias can be found in its avoidance of the defects the canon finds in the previous libros, and its conformity with his suggestions for the composition of a better one; we may well believe that part of Cervantes' attack on the books of chivalry consisted, as in the Bernardo, in writing a superior work, one which would pass the scrutiny of the examiner of libros and comedias proposed at II, 353, 11-20. Surely no one would say that Don Quixote is "en el estilo duro, en las haza~nas incre'{BKSPACE}ible, en los amores lascivo, en las cortes'{BKSPACE}ias mal mirado, largo en las batallas, necio en las razones, disparatado en los viajes, y ageno de todo discreto artificio" (II, 343, 6-11; adapted). On the contrary, it is of admirable and agreeable style, restrained in deeds, honesto in love (as both Don Quixote and the narrator tell us), "bien mirado" in the "cortes'{BKSPACE}ias," brief in the battles, intelligent in the "razones," believable in the trips, and quite well gifted with "todo discreto artificio." Don Quixote, in contrast with preceding libros, deals with only one generation of protagonists and does not end in the middle of an action.78 Who would deny that it has "un cuerpo de f'{BKSPACE}abula entero con todos sus miembros" (II, 342, 32-343, 1)? {TAB}Yet Don Quixote's most significant theoretical feature responds to the greatest failing of the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias. Not only is it full of things which are "possible[s]" (II, 342, 21), it is a work which "tir[a] lo m'{BKSPACE}as que fuere possible a la verdad" (II, 344, 28-29). In this sense Don Quixote is verdadero, and for this reason it will "dexa[r] atr'{BKSPACE}as y escurece[r]...los Amadisses, Esplandianes y Belianisses."79 Cervantes avoids not only the imposibles mentioned by Juan Palomeque (II, 84, 21-85, 15), the canon (II, 341, 23-342, 14), and Don Quixote himself,80 but also the details which give merely an "apariencia de verdad." As Don Quixote explains, these are typical of the libros;81 they are also part of the mock-chivalric stories of Micomicona, Trifaldi, and Do~na Rodr'{BKSPACE}iguez. We are not told Don Quixote's father and mother, his town is similarly concealed, and even his exact name is the subject of doubt, "pero esto importa poco a nuestro cuento; basta que en la narraci'{BKSPACE}on d'{BKSPACE}el no se salga un punto de la verdad" (I, 50, 9- 11).82 {TAB}The libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias are full of details, but they "huye[n]...de la imitaci'{BKSPACE}on," which is what makes literature good (II, 342, 29-30). To attack them, according to his friend of the prologue,83 Cervantes "s'{BKSPACE}olo tiene que aprovecharse de la imitaci'{BKSPACE}on en lo que fuere escriviendo; que quanto ella fuere m'{BKSPACE}as perfecta, tanto mejor ser'{BKSPACE}a lo que se escriviere."84 As the canon points out, only with verisimilitud and imitaci'{BKSPACE}on can one create a work of literature which, "facilitando los impossibles, allanando las grandezas,85 suspendiendo los '{BKSPACE}animos" (II, 342, 23-25), can "admirar, suspender, alborozar y entretener" (II, 342, 25-26; adapted). {TAB}Here--in the intent to attack the libros--we also have an explanation for one of Don Quixote's most appealing, yet critically perplexing features: its portrayal of contemporary Spain and the people of it, what is loosely called the work's realism. While the means to assess Don Quixote's realism comprehensively do not exist, it has never been seriously attacked, and various studies have shown Cervantes' accuracy in treating geography, plants, horses and donkeys, medicine, and other aspects of the natural world.86 There is no reason to think that he would not have followed the same principle in his imitation of people's speech and behavior.87 {TAB}The work's realism is not accounted for by literary theory; that literature should represent reality was and is a critical commonplace. Neither is it fully explained by the comic elements.88 Some considerable part must have been unconscious and an expression of the author's personality; a realistic strain runs through all of his writing, including the Persiles and the less-read Novelas exemplares.89 Yet Don Quixote is, along with some Novelas exemplares and his entremeses, Cervantes' highest accomplishment in this regard. It can be explained, as indicated, as a response to the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias. The libros were full of unbelievable people and places, fantasies, magic; Cervantes tried to combat and replace them by exposing their falseness, and offering in its place truth, reality, or at the very least verisimilitude. {TAB}Rather than royalty and nobility, the characters of the libros, Don Quixote realistically offers us a cross-section of Spanish society, again taking advantage of the freedom Cervantes found in the libro form; the dazzling variety of characters in Don Quixote, with a verisimilar predominance of the lower class, is one of the ways it most differs from the works it attacks. The vivid dialogue, providing the illusion of real conversation, is also explained by this principle. {TAB}The use of such characters may also be attributable to a desire to show the effects of the libros on different contemporary readers. But it is at the same time part of a conscious attempt to improve on those books, and to expose their excesses as unnecessary. While the libros were set in vague, remote times (Romances of Chivalry, p. 56), and in places not even on the map (I, 294, 2), Don Quixote is set in contemporary Spain, the country and time that Cervantes could best describe. Frightening encounters can be found close to home (the cuerpo muerto and batanes), as can the marvelous, the product of nature (the lagunas de Ruidera) or man (the toros de Guisando). Places linked to chivalry, such as the cave of Montesinos, can as well. {TAB}The falsity of literary chivalry, however, is constantly demonstrated through contrast with the reality of the world. In the real world horses do not fly (Part II, Chapter 41); Mambrino's helmet does not exist, and it is ridiculed by the use of a barber's basin in its place. Montesinos' cave is logically full of bats and crows (III, 283, 3-6), and its enchanted residents are no more than characters in Don Quixote's dream.90 "Magic" that does not have a physiological explanation can be seen to be nothing more than the untruthful product of people's minds. People claim that magic exists for various purposes: for financial gain (Gin'{BKSPACE}es' monkey), "para entretenerse y suspender a los ignorantes" (Antonio Moreno's talking head, IV, 291, 22-23), to take advantage of Don Quixote's credulity, for entertainment (the adventure of the Due~na Dolorida, Part II, Chapters 36-41) or for his benefit (the story of Micomicona, Part I, Chapters 29-30), and to disguise what they have done (the disappearance of Don Quixote's library, attributed to Frist'{BKSPACE}on, I, 108, 1-109, 19), or what they have not done and can not do (Sancho's "enchantment" of Dulzinea, III, 132, 8- 133, 2). The only people taken in by such fictions are the ignorant and the insane. {TAB}Because it is verdadero (verisimilar), Don Quixote can give pleasure to the reader, more so than could the previous libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias. Different types of readers wanted different kinds of pleasure, Cervantes would agree.91 The canon desires pleasure from the appreciation of beauty: "el deleite que en el alma se concibe ha de ser de la hermosura y concordancia que vee o contempla en las cosas que la vista o la imaginaci'{BKSPACE}on le ponen delante" (II, 341, 18-21). Cervantes certainly wanted the approval of the readers who, like the canon and Cervantes himself, were discretos;92 such readers could have appreciated the art of his book, the carefully constructed and verisimilar adventures. But he was writing for everyone, the prologue to Part I implies,93 and thus most of his readers were going to be, without class implication, the vulgo (I, 31, 5-7).94 This is first because it is primarily the vulgo who read libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias (II, 346, 30-347, 2), but also because "es m'{BKSPACE}as el n'{BKSPACE}umero de los simples que de los prudentes" (II, 346, 26- 27); in fact, "stultorum [readers of Part I] infinitus est numerus" (III, 70, 28). Such readers were unable to appreciate literary beauty. So that he will be able to instruct them, he must offer them what the libros provide: "gusto y maravilla" (II, 373, 28), or as it is put by the canon, "admiraci'{BKSPACE}on y...alegr'{BKSPACE}ia" (II, 342, 27).95 {TAB}The elements which in Don Quixote produce these effects are of course different from those of the libros, but the text repeatedly tells us when admiraci'{BKSPACE}on and alegr'{BKSPACE}ia are being produced. Don Quixote, and occasionally Sancho or another character, causes admiraci'{BKSPACE}on by displaying madness or ignorance, or by combining those qualities with intelligence and wisdom. The text tells us, for example, that Diego de Miranda received "admiraci'{BKSPACE}on" from the deeds and words of Don Quixote (III, 221, 18-20), and the duchess "n[o] dex'{BKSPACE}o de admirarse en o'{BKSPACE}ir las razones y refranes de Sancho" (III, 414, 14-15). Don Quixote and Sancho, I believe, still cause admiraci'{BKSPACE}on. It is the humor, cause of alegr'{BKSPACE}ia, which has suffered most with the passage of time, "devorador y consumidor de todas las cosas" (I, 128, 17-18), even though it is more frequently signaled (through laughter) than is admiraci'{BKSPACE}on. Because the libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias are gone forever--no one reads them prior to reading Don Quixote--we can never read Don Quixote as its first readers did, and much of the work's humor is not perceived. To try to correct this, I will attempt to reconstruct the humor as those first readers would have seen it. {TAB}Before doing so, however, there is a final point to be made. An attack on libros de caballer'{BKSPACE}ias need not have meant the composition of a work of fiction. It need not have meant, either, the composition of a funny book; there are other types of "gusto" which could have replaced that of the libros. It is possible that Cervantes chose this strategy, the composition of a funny book, because he liked funny books and thought the world needed more of them.96 There is reason to believe that Cervantes appreciated humor in general--the funny stories in his books show his appreciation of oral humor--and funny books in particular; two of the latter, though unintentionally funny, are celebrated in the escrutinio de la librer'{BKSPACE}ia above all others, and spared from destruction.97 In the prologue to the Persiles, Cervantes bid farewell to "gracias," "donaires," and "regozijados amigos" (I, lix, 27-28). In that to the Novelas exemplares, he said that these friends were many, and that he had gotten them not with his ingenio, but with his condici'{BKSPACE}on (I, 20, 8-9). The type of condici'{BKSPACE}on which would have gotten him such friends was alegre, as seen in his eyes (Novelas exemplares, I, 20, 20), which revealed the soul.98 Such a disposition, and an appreciation for humor, is not incompatible, rather quite in keeping, with the melancholy that was also part of his disposition, as seen in parts of Don Quixote, Part II, and in the "Coloquio de los perros."