making amends: an approach to the structure of don quixote, part 2


Edward H. Friedman

Vanderbilt University


—Yo apostaré —replicó Sancho— que ha mezclado el hideperro berzas con capachos. (2,3)


Part 2 of Don Quixote is, in many ways, a celebration of Part 1. Miguel de Cervantes brings the success of the 1605 volume into its “legitimate” continuation, published ten years later and beginning one month after the knight’s return home at the end of the first part. The commercial and critical triumph gives Cervantes, as he approaches the age of sixty, his first major literary coup, even though, in his opinion, his best work remained unfinished. That work was not the second part of Don Quixote but his epic in prose, Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, which would be published posthumously. It would be fitting to say—fitting because it is true and fitting because it is paradoxical—that Cervantes could not have known the full import of his magnificent experiment, because, to a degree, he could not have viewed his achievement with the distance that marks the text proper and because he was still experimenting as he composed the sequel. The fact that the novel was new and innovative—hence its name—suggests the idea of a work in progress, which is precisely what Cervantes builds upon internally as well as externally. From the outset, the narrative personae are involved with putting together a manuscript that never seems entirely in place and that is continually subjected to revision or reinterpretation. Don Quixote underscores the narrative process and makes the act of composition an integral component of the text. The prologue to Part 1 begins with a book without a prologue and with a discussion of that lack. The text contains a number of comments about the gathering of data, the state of literature and the theater, the distinction between poetry and history (fiction and nonfiction), and the discerning and not-so-discerning public. Most conspicuously, perhaps, Don Quixote focuses ever more closely on itself. Part 2 is largely about the impact of Part 1, so that the level of self-referentiality grows proportionally, creating a narrative that depends on the devices of fiction to meditate upon its place in the world.

In the Don Quixote of 1605, Cervantes fabricates a plot around the themes of reading and writing. From the apostrophic desocupado lector of the prologue to Alonso Quijano as reader of romances of chivalry to other variations of the consumer of literature, the author takes reading out of the realm of the passive to combine the pseudo-chivalric linearity with metafiction. There is a story, or, rather, there are two stories, one borrowed from tradition, with a satirical edge, and the other based on the process of compiling material and organizing it to form the book, the chronicle of Don Quixote’s adventures.[1] In chapter 1 of Part 1, Cervantes introduces the key topics of life and art, experience and representation, perception and perspective, relative and absolute truth, and so forth. It is not through the chivalric escapades—as witty, entertaining, and symbolic as they may be—but through the self-consciously literary ploys of the narrative and, even more emphatically, through the dialectical play of metaphysics and metafiction that the text acquires depth. Projecting two arguments, which might be classified as the quest for fame and glory and the questioning of method, Don Quixote is nothing if not richly textured. The structure of Part 1 is varied and enigmatic; it possesses an internal logic, but that logic is neither transparent nor consistent. A study of the structure of Part 2 necessarily will relate to the structure of Part 1 and to previous texts, as well as to the intrusive power of the spurious continuation by the pseudonymous Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda published in 1614. Cervantes’s novel-making becomes a function of decision-making, and the reader is able to glimpse significant twists and turns in that path along with, or as features of, the itinerary of the knight errant and his squire.

The 1605 prologue conveys the notion of subversion, which sets a tone for the narrative as whole.[2] The opening chapter brings to the fore the interdependence of concepts commonly seen as binary oppositions. This extremely precocious anticipation of poststructuralism marks the trajectory of both the plot and the metaplot. There is in Don Quixote what one might call a Pierre Menardian recontextualization of chivalry, chivalric romance, and idealistic fiction, a phenomenon that makes the past, literary and otherwise, an intimate part of a present that seeks distance and its own sense of identity.[3] It is not a disparaging remark to posit that Cervantes was testing the boundaries of creation, and of the imagination, as he wrote the novel, that is, that he had a plan that was relentlessly, and suitably, vulnerable—in the best sense of the term—to modification. The narrators and the characters regularly name, rename, and misname items, not the least of which is fiction labeled as history. It is consistent with the protocol of revision that the text tests hypotheses, changes direction, and, on occasion, contradicts itself. Just as the adventures are not ready-made but invented as Don Quixote and others proceed forward, the writing is conditioned by circumstance and revaluation, and by the newness of the endeavor. On one hand, the books of chivalry have an unwavering plot design of incident following incident, reunion following separation, and generation following generation. On the other, during this period generic deep structure can be variable, in line with the shapeless quality of the miscellany, the mixed bag of literary ingredients. Form is at the service of content, but content is closely monitored by form. The chivalric intertext dictates a method, and Cervantes inserts madness into the method. Rewriting is predicated on imitation and deviation, attention to and denial of precedent.

The early chapters of Part 1 are geared toward preparation at the level of story and discourse. Alonso Quijano relies on the chivalric romances as foundation for his departure. He has a noble purpose, a lady to whom to dedicate himself, and a steed, and, in his mind, he is dressed for success. He also has the power to transform one thing into another, such as an inn into a castle, and the first innkeeper enters the fantasy in order to dub Don Quixote a knight errant. Cervantes calculatedly balances event and expression. Even before his first encounter, Don Quixote begins to contemplate the chronicle that will be written about his exploits and has concerns regarding the chronicler. The episode of the boy Andrés and his master Juan Haldudo in chapter 4 quickly illustrates the knight’s reliance on absolute values. Although the child warns otherwise, he trusts the farmer to respect his pledge. Don Quixote is obsessive; he sees no gray areas, and hears only what he wishes to hear. Ironically, then, he recognizes that historiography is contingent on the accuracy of the historian, but his inner world demands a singular perspective. He is forced to attract others not only into the realm of chivalry but also into the domains of justice, goodness, and honesty, which is admirable but—to use the ideal word—unrealistic. In the same chapter, Don Quixote again misreads the situation, attacking a group of Toledan merchants and falling to the ground when Rocinante stumbles. A mean-spirited muleteer breaks his lance into pieces and beats him. Down and out, the knight visualizes himself as the wounded Valdovinos until his rescue by a neighboring farmer, who delivers him to his home and to whom he utters the often-cited “Yo sé quien soy” (ch. 5). Along with the inn converted into a castle, this is one of many chivalric recontextualizations in the narrative, and it has been the narrator’s burden to communicate the difference between fantasy and reality. When, at the end of chapter 7, Don Quixote sets out on the second sally, the narrator’s task has changed.  

Sancho Panza is Don Quixote’s squire and dialogue partner. He satisfies a chivalric need and relieves the narrator of the mediating role. Their first joint adventure, the episode of the windmills, is the most famous, iconographically speaking, in the novel. The charge against the windmill is placed between the scrutiny of the library and the battle with the Bizcayan, which leads to the loss of further information and the discovery of Cide Hamete Benengeli’s manuscript. Art intrudes upon life, as it were. The dilemma is not the knight’s fortune in the conflict but the continuation of the story. Fascinatingly, the suspense may have more to do with the recovery and transmission of facts than with the outcome of the struggle. Metafiction does not surface from time to time in the midst of chivalric action. Rather, Cervantes makes the two elements inseparable. Don Quixote’s speech on the Golden Age in chapter 11, for example, employs rhetorical strategies to exalt the profession of arms; the man who prefers arms is a gifted man of letters, a purveyor of words to complement or to substitute for deeds. Don Quixote makes a case for the purity of justice in an age before arbitrariness and compromise became ingrained in the social fiber. He acknowledges the transition, but, locked into his refurbished identity, he must overlook the present and convince others of his link with the past. The metadramatic onus is thus huge, for—as actor, director, and playwright—the world is quite literally his stage. In the enterprise, he has two (ironically) stable support systems, his memory of the libros de caballerías and the allegiance of his squire. Equally essential is a recourse appropriated by the village priest, the barber, the housekeeper and the niece, and then reappropriated by Don Quixote for his own benefit: the enchanter, whose supernatural powers simultaneously overwhelm the victim and give him limitless poetic license. The enchanter thereby becomes a primum mobile of the narrative.

What might be considered the last of the romances of chivalry retains the linear pattern of the model, but the metaliterary thrust is so prominent that satire takes on a whole new dimension. Cervantes takes advantage of the formulaic structure to compel the reader to participate in several journeys, literal and figurative. Don Quixote inscribes himself into the world, treating the textual past as if it were the historical present. The Marcela-Grisóstomo sequence (chs. 12-14) adds the pastoral to the generic blend and offers the first leading lady (albeit of short duration) who actually appears in the narrative. Cervantes presents a disdainful woman who is not acting on the conventions of courtly love but on feeling, a woman who seeks liberation from the social strictures that would bind her to a man, a woman who desires to live in the solitude of the countryside. The narrator ingeniously introduces her from the masculine perspective, as the murderer of her lovesick suitor and then shifts to her unmediated discourse, her defense, which is rational and reasonable, and which convinces Don Quixote, who protects her against the mob of detractors. The episode enacts a type of logical deconstruction of the motif of unrequited love as male-inflected. The woman who rejects a man may not be doing so as a prelude to acceptance, and if she says no, she should not be presumed to be wrong. The case for multiperspectivism is strengthened here, because we see how generic norms can conceal a hierarchy based on gender and how the privileged space—the masculine stance as a given—can predetermine the angle of vision.[4] Marcela’s intervention in Don Quixote is far more than a nod to the pastoral romance. The meeting of the eccentric shepherdess with the eccentric knight errant has its origins in literary idealism, but the juxtaposition inverts premises and expectations in accordance with a narrative paradigm that invites the reader to rethink the construction of story and discourse, to act as arbiter of the trials of the protagonist, as lived and as recounted, and to note similitude, only to perceive that it ultimately disrupts complacence and is merely the illusion of order.

Don Quixote’s first stay in Juan Palomeque’s inn, beginning in chapter 16, sets the stage for an impressive convergence of characters and stories later in Part 1. If Marcela is complicit in a reassessment of the pastoral romance, the earthy and lustful Maritornes winks at idealism itself. The same verb—refocilarse—is used in connection with Rocinante and “las señoras facas” in the episode of the Yangüesans (ch. 15) and Maritornes’s assignation with the muleteer. The maid who is no maiden finds her way to Don Quixote’s bed instead of that of her intended mate. The dynamics of event and reporting reaches a climax of sorts when Don Quixote recasts the confusion in the dark as a chivalric moment, in which he must resist the temptations of the beautiful daughter of the lord of the castle (i.e., the innkeeper) as the loyal servant of the lady Dulcinea (ch. 17). The categories are not mutually exclusive; the movement exemplifies Cervantes’s skill at synthesizing the linear threads, at recruiting the knight for discursive duty.

After the departure from the inn, Don Quixote decides to confront two flocks of sheep that he metamorphoses into opposing armies. The cloud of dust is his provocation, and he elaborately narrates a battle scene. When he takes his spear to some of the sheep, the shepherds retaliate, leaving him badly wounded and without three or four of his teeth, and with another opportunity to avail himself of the enchantment defense. Chapter 19 offers a variation on this theme in Don Quixote’s nighttime encounter with the encamisados, a group of about twenty men on horseback, wearing surplices, carrying torches, and transporting a dead body in a litter, on their way to Segovia for the burial. Like the dust, the lights in the evening air affect an imagination that never rests. The knight sees what appear to be moving stars, and he takes the figures for phantoms. Even the narrator admits that the raw material lends itself to thoughts of lofty adventure.[5] The majority of the men flee from the assault, but Don Quixote badly wounds the licentiate Alonso López. Once he understands the circumstances—that it is God who has killed the deceased gentleman—the knight refrains from further aggression. Although the religious symbolism of the episode may be ambiguous, it is certainly there. In this episode, Sancho Panza gives his master the epithet of el Caballero de la Triste Figura, interesting in itself, but more so because Don Quixote insists that the wise man charged with writing the chronicle of his feats will have put those words into Sancho’s mouth.[6]  The episode commands special attention because it could be called the most “natural” adventure, because it brings the Church into the frame, and because Don Quixote concedes that there is a higher agency, or agent, at work in the forging of his history. This is Don Quixote’s final “formal” chivalric battle before his entry into the Sierra Morena. There follow the non-adventure of the fulling mills (ch. 20), the capture of the helmet of Mambrino (ch. 21), and the release of the galley slaves (ch. 22). The interconnections are obvious, but the sense of structure is perhaps less clear.

The episode of the fulling mills hinges on the fear factor. Don Quixote wants to trace the threatening sound and to meet the enemy head-on, whereas Sancho Panza wants to avoid danger at all costs. When they find the source of the noise, they realize that their apprehension has been unfounded. Nothing happens in the episode, and yet it is a crucial chapter in the narrative progression. The fundamental events accentuate Sancho, not as squire but as storyteller and metadramatist. He concocts delaying strategies to keep his master from engaging in combat, one of which is a desperate attempt at narrating an unending tale. Don Quixote takes him for a fool, or, at any rate, as a flawed narrator, but the author provides an early marker of the transition to the new and improved Sancho of Part 2. Analogously, Cervantes foreshadows the later, more passive Don Quixote, who now appreciates the batanes as such, for which the narrator begs the reader’s indulgence.[7] After confiscating the barber’s basin as the helmet of Mambrino, Don Quixote speaks at length about chivalry, about the idea of a probationary period for the knight, and about enchantment. The final episode in this sequence, that of the galeotes, deals—as did the first adventure, concerning Andrés, and the speech to the goatherds on the Golden Age—with justice, and with the protagonist’s inability to go beyond the absolute. The criminal and autobiographer Ginés de Pasamonte, with ties to the picaresque mode, complements Marcela’s link to the pastoral. The episode is a paean to freedom, but there are strings attached on more than one level. The advocate of justice repudiates the judicial system, and he gives the liberated prisoners a mandate to pay homage to Dulcinea. Cervantes completes another frame, from the prologue to chapter 22, based on the subversion of authority. The comic vision cannot hide the serious overtones, because the authorities of the period can hardly be taken lightly. Don Quixote, oblivious to much that is going on around him, senses that he has committed an offense against the State, and this motivates him to leave the main road and to take refuge in the mountains. He thereby leaves one path for another.

The 1605 Quixote is divided into four parts (chs. 1-8, 9-14, 15-27, and 28-52), but I would argue that its structural division is chapters 1 through 22 and 23 through 52. I believe that one can detect a two-tiered plan operative in the first half of Part 1, consisting primarily of exposition and action, united by the motif of process. The dichotomy of history and poetry is immediately established, as is a game of mediation between the two. Literary criticism is incorporated into the narrative movement, most palpably in the scrutiny of Alonso Quijano’s library and in the crossing of subgeneric boundaries, which foregrounds chivalric, pastoral, and picaresque books. Don Quixote endeavors to honor his vow to minister to the defenseless and to revere his lady, in clashes that result in victory, defeat, and no contest. Dulcinea is indisputably the constant in Don Quixote’s agenda. The mental imaging commences with Aldonza Lorenzo but ends in heaven, in the sphere of the superhuman, as the knight’s description of his lady to Vivaldo in chapter 13 demonstrates.[8] In chapter 25—directly following the disillusioned Sancho’s earth-bound description of Aldonza Lorenzo—Don Quixote admits that poets fantasize about their ladies, and that he worships a woman born of his imagination. Her beauty is divine, not of flesh and blood, and it is her celestial pedigree, rather than the farmgirl’s social class, that is relevant.[9] Don Quixote’s vision of Dulcinea lies somewhere between the robust country lass and the lyrical object, for he counts on a real body in El Toboso. The construct of the lady reflects the all-important middle ground—the breaking down of antitheses—that characterizes the narrative in general. The same is true of the treatment of madness, which celebrates Don Quixote as oxymoron, as a loco cuerdo, and, in a most pronounced fashion, of the merging of process and product. The scheme is replicated endlessly. For example, the Morisco translator, on whom so much depends, likewise stands between the Arab historian Cide Hamete Benengeli and the narrator-editor who communicates with the reader, just as the fictionalized author of the prologue stands between the historical Cervantes and the team of narrators.

The rhythm of action and narration found in the first half of Part 1 yields to a purer form of narration in the second half, where storytelling becomes dominant and Don Quixote recedes, with some frequency, to the margins. From the discovery by the knight and the squire of an abandoned valise containing a memorandum book, and the exposition regarding the love-crazed Cardenio, in chapter 23 to Don Quixote departure from the inn, in a cage, in chapter 46, Cervantes interweaves a series of narratives that all but replace chivalric adventures. He is an expert at creating suspense, parallels, contrasts, and ironic overlaps. Cardenio’s gripping story includes Dorotea, but his story is incomplete, interrupted in medias res, and incorrect in spots. Dorotea’s narration, in turn, complements his, addresses her personal tribulations, and opens the way for the reunion of the pair with Fernando and Luscinda in chapter 36. Engaged by the priest and barber to help lure Don Quixote back home, Dorotea plays the role of Princess Micomicona, where she tells another story, with considerably less feeling. In chapter 32, the innkeeper Juan Palomeque and the priest Pero Pérez defend, respectively, the merits of fiction and nonfiction, and the debate is followed by an example of each: El curioso impertinente and the captive’s tale. True to his modus operandi, Cervantes brings history into the fiction and fiction into the history (which, in this case, is historical fiction, related to but not bound to the author’s experience as a captive in Algiers). He times the arrival of Fernando and Luscinda to coincide with the completion of El curioso impertinente and the arrival of the judge, his daughter Clara, and their party to coincide with the completion of the captive’s tale. The story of Clara and her suitor Don Luis elides the historical backdrop of her uncle’s story to gear the narrative toward romance.

If off-center (and off-stage), Don Quixote is always a force to be reckoned with. His battle with the wineskins disrupts momentarily the reading of the (exemplary) novella, and chance brings two characters from chapters—Andrés and the barber of the “baciyelmo”—to the inn, where they chastise the knight for his disservice to them. Cervantes instantly connects Don Quixote to Cardenio—who initiates the complex story line involving love, fidelity, betrayal of friendship, rash decisions, and quick thinking—through madness. Don Quixote muses upon Cardenio’s unstable condition and shortly thereafter imitates the madness of Amadís de Gaula. He sends Sancho to deliver a note to Dulcinea, and the squire meets the priest and the barber from his village, who then come across Dorotea. The various reunions at the inn have their starting point, or their linkage, in the mission to bring Don Quixote home. The final chapters of Part 1 include two battles, a rather ignoble one between the knight and a goatherd (following the story of Leandra’s misfortune) and the attack on the flagellants (disciplinantes) who are transporting an image, but the crux of these chapters is literary and dramatic criticism. The canon from Toledo joins Pero Pérez in denouncing the books of chivalry and in debating Don Quixote (chs. 47 and 49). The priest and the canon—and Cervantes—exploit the forum to denounce the comedia nueva of Lope de Vega (ch. 48), a decision that will have consequences in the years to come. Don Quixote reaches his home dazed and severely injured, but the narrator heralds a third sally and further adventures, the particulars of which are unavailable at the moment in which he concludes this part of the (hi)story.

The decentering of Don Quixote in the second half of Part 1 is not solely a matter of the interpolation of El curioso impertinente into the text, as some critics, including the initial critics, might have one believe. Once Cardenio enters the panorama, what can be termed adventures in storytelling supplant chivalric adventures. Don Quixote does not figure in the Cardenio-Dorotea-Fernando-Luscinda narrative, the novella, or the captive’s account (although Cervantes does). He is removed from the resolution of Cardenio’s and Dorotea’s troubles and from the story of Clara and Luis, an extension of the captive’s tale. The knight causes a stir at the inn with the officers of the Holy Brotherhood, but Don Fernando comes to his rescue. The priest, the barber, and company devise the capture of Don Quixote by the “phantoms” who lock him in a cage bound for his village. I do not believe that Cervantes forgets Don Quixote in these sections of the novel, but that he sets up a type of internal rivalry that mirrors other rivalries within the text: the knight errant versus real and imagined foes, the liberated Marcela versus her detractors, Cardenio versus the deceitful Fernando, Christians versus Muslims, poetry versus history, idealistic literature versus new forms of realism (and metafiction), the new art of writing plays versus the old, orality versus the printed word, etc. Don Quixote is, without a doubt, at the heart of the book that bears his name, but I would contend that its soul is the art of narration itself. The adventure-expression dichotomy comes to favor the second element. Cervantes offers a master class in writing, with reading as an indispensable complement. In displacing chivalric romance, he dislodges the chivalric protagonist, transferring the writer—that is, Cervantes and his surrogates—into the pivotal position. He surveys the literary scene, displaying the intertext as he conducts experiments with an evolutionary, if not revolutionary, spirit. The symbolic displacement become literal, as the metafictional umbrella envelops even the metafictional hero. Don Quixote’s journey and the self-referential power of absorption continue in Part 2.

The success of Part 1 is recorded in the continuation, not only in the allusions to the popularity of the book but in the plot, which puts Don Quixote into competition with his chronicled Other. Alonso Quijano the reader and metadramatist cedes to readers of his story, who are often inclined to perform metadramatically. Like Part 1, Part 2 effects a decentering, yet in a unique manner. The sequel is more enclosed—more profoundly self-conscious—while its points of reference become broader, and paradox builds upon paradox. The emphasis on reading and writing, and on readers and writers, remains, but criticism becomes increasingly decisive, both in theory and practice. Don Quixote longs for fame and recognition, which he attains by dint of the absurdity and incongruity of his endeavor rather than by adherence to the chivalric norm. He is living the second part of his knightly existence as the chronicler keeps on observing and writing, but those with whom Don Quixote comes into contact may know him beforehand, due to the notoriety that the printed word has granted him. The structure of the 1615 Quixote maintains features from Part 1—the big ideas, the chivalric ideals, the transgressing of literary boundaries, enchantment as remedy, extreme self-consciousness, an array of exempla, critical rhetoric, and cases of rivalry, among others—but the shadow of the original looms large, as an automatic graft on Part 2. Above all, Cervantes magnifies the scope of literary critique and rivalry in the plotting of the sequel, so that the anxiety of influence is a blessing and a curse, a sign that the intertext cannot fail to impose itself, for better and worse. Cervantes reinvents—or, technically, pre-invents—the intertext. Part 2 can be deemed the author’s intellectual autobiography, a document that monitors his education in the ways of the world, in the ways of the word, and in their vital intersections. The ironic base of Don Quixote expands exponentially. I would submit that Cervantes begins the second part with an allegorical aim and that, as he goes along, not only does he become ever more accomplished, but life serves his art in a way that he could never have imagined. [10]

Prologues commonly are read first but written last. The authorial persona in the 1605 prologue has a completed manuscript in his hand. He stays, loosely, within the parameters of fiction and does far less talking than his friend. The authorial persona of the 1615 prologue, could hardly be closer to Miguel de Cervantes, as he responds to his unknown assailant, Avellaneda. The rhetoric of the second prologue is a study in anger tinged by wit. Readers who may be expecting a tirade against the invasive (and evasive) writer will be disappointed, the opening paragraph announces, but, in fact, they are not. Cervantes defends himself against his adversary’s charges and manages to insult Lope de Vega—in whose cause Avellaneda has enlisted—once more. He alludes to Don Quixote’s death, as his narrator had done in the final chapter of Part 1, but here he makes clear that he is killing off the protagonist in order to preclude further continuations. The relation of the prologue to the text proper is, in itself, ironic. It is an addendum, not a natural or automatic lead-in to the first chapter. Cervantes seems to have left his manuscript pretty much intact after the publication of the false sequel, so that the response begins in chapter 59, where the gentlemen Don Jerónimo and Don Juan share a copy of the Avellaneda volume with the knight. If this assumption is correct, the reader is privy to two “rutas de Don Quijote,” one part of a fixed design and the other modified to fit the circumstances. The commitment to a unified structure becomes more problematic, but Cervantes seems to relish the testing of conventions and of decorum.

Don Quixote takes a one-month respite at his home, during which time his comrades hope that the chivalric objectives will slip his mind. For the story to continue, of course, that is unlikely to happen. Don Quixote remains steadfast in his resolve to revive knight errantry. In chapter 2, Sancho Panza visits his master, and the narrator makes a point of informing the reader that the two were alone in Don Quixote’s bedroom before he quotes their dialogue verbatim. Don Quixote asks Sancho what the people in the village are saying about him. He expects some differentiation between the comments of his neighbors of the upper and lower classes, and he insists that Sancho give him the unvarnished truth.[11] The squire summarizes the collective opinion as a mixed review: his fellow citizens view the knight as mad, unfortunate, and impertinent, yet amusing, brave, and well-mannered. The biggest item of news is that the student Sansón Carrasco has returned from Salamanca and that he has made known the publication of a book (by “Cide Hamete Berenjena”) about their chivalric exploits. In chapter 1, Don Quixote responds with vigor to the barber’s instructive anecdotes on madness, showing himself to be adept at argumentation. In the conversation with Sancho, he quietly but competently rationalizes his behavior and counters the negative commentaries of the general public.  The implied author casts Don Quixote’s words in irony; a case in point would be the knight’s reference to the chronicler as “some wise enchanter,”[12] as would his thought (at the beginning of chapter 3) that, if the history exists, it must be “grandiloquent … and true”[13] Sansón Carrasco is not only the bearer of the notification of publication and not only the first character in the novel who has read Part 1, but he is also the first character who manipulates Don Quixote based on his reading as opposed to direct contact. That is, he is the first metadramatist by proxy. At the same time, he is the spokesman for the guardians of taste, the critics.

The bachiller answers Don Quixote’s request that he signal the most noteworthy passages of the text—opinions vary—and the two discuss, with Sancho, the discipline of historiography. Don Quixote cannot help but be uneasy about the Muslim chronicler and the configuration of the history. Sansón Carrasco assures the squire that he is second only to the protagonist, that readers are enchanted by his style of speech, and that there are even some who have faith in his becoming a governor. It is impossible to please everyone, and Sansón notes that the greatest criticism has fallen on the inclusion of El curioso impertinente, as a pleasing story that is out of place in the narrative scheme, since it is unrelated to the history of the knight errant. Don Quixote reacts boldly, concerned that the author’s organization of the events has been haphazard and that readers will need annotations to comprehend what is occurring. Sansón assures him that this prospect should not worry him, for the public has been immensely satisfied with the history, which has made icons of the knight, his squire, and even Rocinante. The dialogue covers in detail the omissions and errors of Part 1.[14] Don Quixote vacillates a bit. He seems always on the verge of admonishing Cide Hamete Benengeli, but he is quick to guard his private space—grounded on the strength of his convictions—which has become, like it or not, the Arab historian’s space. Both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza affirm that their actions are compelling enough in their own right to command the author’s full attention, and that no digressions are necessary. This would seem to be Cervantes’s way of taking the criticism to heart and to suggest to the current readership that he will amend the structural template in Part 2. Little in Don Quixote is as it first seems, and, not surprisingly, the question of structure is enigmatic and highly nuanced.

Cervantes must treat the errors from a distance, from the perspective of those who level them and those at whom they are leveled, and within the narrative frame. Sansón Carrasco is thorough in his presentation of the offenses, Sancho Panza is clever and comical in his reaction, and Don Quixote tends to wax philosophical. The characters talk about history, truth, reliability, and arrangement (dispositio), among other issues, and Don Quixote seriously ponders the lapses of Cide Hamete and the complaints of the critics. The conditions under which the dialogue takes place are humorous by virtue of their incongruity, by the very presence of the dialogue in the narrative, and Sancho as interlocutor supplies his own brand of comic discourse. Don Quixote argues that his defeats should be regarded as verisimilar, since any biography will deal with the ups and downs (los altibajos) of the hero. (The comment follows a reference to the blanketing of Sancho at Juan Palomeque’s inn). He is dumbfounded that the author has intercalated extraneous stories and novellas into the text, given the richness of his subject’s mission, achievements, and adventures.[15] A culminating point is the knight’s judgment with respect to comedy (and more): “En efecto, lo que yo alcanzo, señor bachiller, es que un gran juicio y un maduro entendimiento—decir gracias y escibir donaires es de grandes ingenios. La más discreta figura de la comedia es la del bobo, porque no lo ha de ser el que quiere dar a entender que es simple. La historia es como cosa sagrada, porque ha de ser verdadera, y donde está la verdad está Dios …” (2,3: 458). Sancho echoes the statement: “Atienda ese señor moro, o lo que es, a mirar lo que hace, que yo y mi señor le daremos tanto ripio a la mano en material de aventuras y de sucesos diferentes, que pueda componer no solo segunda parte sino ciento” (2,3: 461). Another extraordinary moment is Don Quijote’s inquiry, in chapter 4, as to whether the author has promised a sequel. Sansón replies in the affirmative, but with some reservations. The author has not found the sequel, but he will continue looking with extreme diligence, even though he realizes that no continuation has ever been as good as the original. According to Sansón, for some consumers of histories, enough has already been written about this particular knight errant, while, for others, there remains a market for further adventures.[16]

To recapitulate: The first part of Don Quixote, published in 1605, is a literary triumph. Readers applaud the anachronistic knight errantry of Don Quixote and the antics (and idiolect) of his squire Sancho Panza. Critics, who are never in short supply, disapprove of Cervantes’s insertion of El curioso impertinente and other stories that stray from the primary plot. Don Quixote, Sansón Carrasco, and Sancho Panza take into account this point and others when they discuss the appearance of the book, its Muslim author, the protocols of historiography, etc. The solution seems relatively straightforward. In the continuation of the narrative, the author should stick to the main plot and should restrict the use of material that does not bear, at least moderately, on the focal characters. The “author” acknowledges that it is hard to recreate the novelty of a first part in its sequel, and the implied challenge, then, would be to make the second part the superior narrative. The two questions that I would like to consider are the following: Does the dialogue in chapters 3 and 4 of Part 2 offer a valid assessment of the structure of Part 1? Does Cervantes’s theory of the sequel (that is, his articulated meditation on the flaws of the original as a prescription for the composition of the second part) coincide with praxis, the actual structure of the 1615 Quixote? To avoid suspense, I will state that my answer to each question is no.

The plot of Part 1 gravitates around Don Quixote’s two sallies. The knight’s goal is to reclaim the chivalric past, to forge a new society modeled after an ideal, and idyllic, tradition. Don Quixote combines fantasy and faith. Versed in the books of chivalry and blessed with a good memory, he orchestrates scenes that push fiction onto reality. In every situation, he baffles those who become, wittingly or unwittingly, actors in his metadrama. They are struck by his oddness, by his resolve, by his illusions of grandeur, and by his illusions of another kind, a rare form of madness. He fights, sometimes wins, more often loses, and almost always suffers bodily harm. He enters into battle with people and other objects, imagines what he cannot see and re-imagines what he can see, liberates damsels in distress and men who have been deprived of their freedom, and is standard bearer for a lost Golden Age. But the bottom line is that Don Quixote is a consummate reader and a superlative student of literature. He thinks analytically and knows how to apply the lessons of his readings in the practice of his vocation. His bookishness is a factor at all stages of his venture into chivalry. He recalls the models as he determines his course of action, and he envisions himself as a historical figure worthy of tribute, the subject of a document whose composition is imminent. From the beginning of  Part 1, the narrative balances action with reflection on the writing process, or, more exactly, tips the balance toward the latter. Chivalric romance guides Don Quixote, while the prologue, the observations on history and truth, the collection of data, the discovery of Cide Hamete Benengeli’s manuscript, the debate on fiction and nonfiction, the critiques following the reading of El curioso impertinente and the narration of the captive’s tale, and other metaliterary flourishes guide the narrative, and hence the reader. Part 1 is never wholly a series of chivalric-inspired episodes, and from the knight’s entry into the Sierra Morena storytelling prevails. It is not exclusively El curioso impertinente and the captive’s tale but the format of narration and dramatic action inaugurated by Cardenio and continuing with Dorotea and their respective partners, together with an assortment of metafictional and non-chivalric recourses, that helps to generate the structure of Part 1. Whereas Don Quixote and Sancho Panza view themselves as absolutely indispensable, the text that puts them in the limelight them regularly shifts centers and frames. In a sense, the critique of Part 1 derives from false premises, or from a misreading of the structure, for Don Quixote is off-center in more ways than one.

We have come to categorize the two parts of Don Quixote as a single novel, and it would be moot to place Cervantes in competition with himself to determine which part is better, even though the writer does something on that order. Whatever one’s personal preference, it would be appropriate to say that the text become more intricate and more intriguing as it moves along, as it promotes a reconsideration of what has gone before. Part 1 has the advantage of breaking the mold, while Part 2 has the advantage of the quixotic intertext and a special emphasis on criticism. The motif of the making of the narrative—the boldest feature of Part 1—assumes emblematic status in Part 2. The resulting book is ripe for critique by the public and by the characters themselves. Sansón Carrasco plays a decisive role in the second part. He is not only the first reader of the text and of its critical commentaries, but he is the first character to act upon his reading, by formulating a plan to animate Don Quixote to embark on a third sally. From the first innkeeper in Part 1, chapter 3, others have crossed the threshold into the chivalric world of Don Quixote, but they have stepped into his playscript, his metafiction. Sansón Carrasco institutes a new paradigm, in which readers of the book—and Sancho Panza, who has lived much of Part 1—become the figurative dramatists. In Part 2, Cervantes replaces interpolation with deferred authority. Don Quixote is in the midst of the action, but his control is diminishing, passing to others, notably Sansón, the duke and duchess, and, most ingeniously, to Sancho Panza.

Sansón Carrasco engineers Don Quixote’s departure and gives him a destination: the city of Zaragoza, where jousting tournaments are held. Don Quixote decides to pass by El Toboso to pay his respects to the lady Dulcinea. Sancho, who realizes that he has not delivered his master’s missive and has lied about his aborted mission, panics. (He fails to remember, among other things, that Don Quixote has told him that Dulcinea is a transformed Aldonza Lorenzo.) Performing under pressure, Sancho produces an “enchanted” Dulcinea, a farmgirl accompanied by two “maids of honor” on donkeys (ch. 10). The enchantment defense is now in the public domain, and Don Quixote must honor Sancho’s version of reality. This is an unmistakable turning point in the narrative, for the knight has a new charge: he must “disenchant” Dulcinea. When Cervantes elects to intensify the theme of rivalry in Part 2—not yet realizing the comprehensive ramifications of that decision—he bears in mind the enormous popularity of the squire. He takes a bigger gamble with Sansón Carrasco and the duke and duchess, but Sancho is a known quantity. The reader can trace his development and can note a progression that serves to justify the astuteness and common sense that he will display as governor of Barataria. When Don Quixote becomes more passive as his fame escalates, he is at the mercy of his literary inscription. Sancho and others fill the gap, and the enchantment of Dulcinea rejuvenates Don Quixote, just as it adds fuel to the imaginative fires of the ducal couple, aristocrats with time on their hands.

Part 2 sustains the theatrum mundi thesis, but Don Quixote repeatedly becomes an actor or spectator in the tableaux of others. It may not be coincidental that the episode following the enchantment of Dulcinea involves a troupe of actors, whom Don Quixote accepts as such. One of the jesters spurs the knight to do battle, but Sancho gives him an excuse not to fight, and he withdraws.[17] Chapters 12 to 15 recount Don Quixote’s confrontation with Sansón Carrasco as the Knight of the Wood (or of the Mirrors). It is Sansón who arms himself, disguises Sancho’s neighbor Tomé Cecial to serve as his squire, and invents a convoluted pretext in order to defeat Don Quixote and to bring him home, with the stipulation that he restrain from the practice of knight errantry for a two-year period. Theatrical spectacles do not always go as planned, and Don Quixote emerges victorious. When the identities of the opposing knight and squire are exposed, enchantment once again comes into play. The juxtaposition of Don Quixote’s encounter with Don Diego de Miranda and the lion episode (chs. 16-18) show two faces of the knight’s eccentricity. With Don Diego, a mainstream citizen with a library that contains no books of chivalry, Don Quixote stands out as unusual, bizarre, outrageous. Don Diego is unfamiliar with Part 1, and this gives Don Quixote the impetus to demonstrate his valor. Fortunately, the lion is lethargic, so Don Quixote receives credit for his daring, and for his madness, without injury. The episode of Camacho’s wedding (chs. 19-21) symbolizes the structural change in the second part. It combines theater (the “spoken dances” and the wedding ritual) and metatheater (Basilio’s stratagem to win Quiteria) while relegating Don Quixote and Sancho to the role of spectator. The knight’s next big scene is his descent into the cave of Montesinos and his report on the events that transpired there (chs. 22-23). The episode carries great weight because it rehearses classical venues, because it gives the reader a glance into Don Quixote’s mental state, because the question of veracity will be pursued, and because the duke and duchess, having heard about the adventure, build it into their comedia palaciega. Perhaps the most emblematic episode of the 1615 Quixote is Maese Pedro’s puppet show (chs. 25-26).[18] The drama of Gaiferos and Melisendra energizes him, and he moves from spectator to participant, only to admit his error and to pay for the damage at the end, an act that he duplicates in the episode of the enchanted boat (ch. 29). The showman of this section is Maese Pedro (the galeote Ginés de Pasamonte), puppet master and the brains behind the divining ape.

There is a resemblance between the first half of Part 1 (the chapters leading to the escape to the Sierra Morena) and the first half of Part 2 (the chapters leading to the meeting of the duchess). The knight shares in a number of adventures that are, in the main, thematically linked but distinct, or isolated from each other, as in chivalric romance. The opening segments of Part 1 satirize chivalric conventions while introducing Don Quixote, the hidalgo turned knight, and the double plot of fiction and history versus their metafictional and metahistorical Others. Although Don Quixote continually surprises us and catches us off guard, his characterization and comportment in the early chapters give the reader the initial shock that can only come once. Within the text, though, he fills character after character with admiratio, which may give the reader vicarious aftershocks. After the book has been published, and read, the response to Don Quixote is influenced by a foreknowledge of his strange infirmity and its manifestations. Readers want more, but probably not just more of the same. The internal readers are empowered to draw Don Quixote into their plots, derived, needless to say, from the circulated chronicle. The divining ape and, later, in Barcelona, the enchanted head owned and operated by Don Antonio Moreno are markers of the motif of “getting into Don Quixote’s head,” of reading his mind, of anticipating and preempting his actions, and reactions. Cervantes exchanges critique and diffused authority for spontaneity and astonishment, and a band of metadramatists for their source of inspiration. Sansón Carrasco leads the charge, and Sancho Panza follows suit, with laudable efficiency and composure. Don Quixote moves bravely on, routinely deferring to the whims of others. The invitation of the duke and duchess to visit their palace will add a new dimension to the transference of control.

In structural terms, the palace (and island) episodes, encompassing chapters 30-57 and 69-70, are analogous to the Sierra Morena and inn chapters of Part 1, with interwoven narratives and a blending of storytelling and action. The events in these sequences of Part 2 are more obviously unified than their counterparts. The duke and duchess, royalty of the countryside, pay homage to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza—or, rather to Don Quixote—by surrounding them with the accoutrements of their fantasies: chivalric scenarios and an island to govern. They make themselves dialogue partners of the knight and the squire, but, as lords of the manor, they seem to require comic relief. Despite their reverential welcome—Don Quixote marvels at being taken seriously, without reservation, for the first time in his career[19]—the duke and duchess are bibliophiles with a wicked sense of humor, and they convert their guests into court jesters, mocking them, humiliating them, and making them suffer. Like other authoritarians real and metaphorical, these representatives of the nobility are superbly organized. They employ a large number of actors and props (including the wooden horse Clavileño and the construction of a waterless island), and, with only minor exceptions, their plots and subplots go off like clockwork, frequently to the detriment of the protagonists. Whatever their “human” failings, they have impeccable gifts as readers, playwrights, stage managers, set designers, directors, and producers; they are autores, en toda la extensión de la palabra. It can be noted that Cervantes entrusts a good portion of the 1615 Quixote to them. In determining this strategy, he may have been thinking allegorically. When a manuscript is published—when it becomes a book in the marketplace—it leaves the hands of the author. In order to have his brainchild(ren) reach the public, Cervantes must let his readers and critics share custody. The significance and the interpretive direction of his work are in their hands. They may not be perceptive or just, but they are in control. Like the reading public, the duke and duchess take the reins. They commandeer Don Quixote and Sancho in the name of art, and their role in the order of things gives them the right to do so.

The hosts supply Don Quixote with a group of damsels (or matrons) in distress— Countess Trifaldi, Doña Rodríguez, and Altisidora—each with a unique story and a script with Don Quixote as protagonist, in the skies, on the battlefield, and in the bedroom. His arrival having been announced by a devil, Montesinos appears in the palace in a triumphal cart accompanied by the enchanted Dulcinea, with the message that the lady can be disenchanted if Sancho administers 3,300 lashes to his ample buttocks. This amplification of the cave episode is one of many productions with actors, costumes, and tramoyas. The extravagance and the attention to detail reflected in the palatial spectacles indicate the dedication of the duke and duchess to their undertaking. They go to great length as theater practitioners, and they are also proficient in rhetoric. The duchess seems to convince Sancho that his enchantment of Dulcinea was itself an enchantment,[20] and the duke cunningly dangles the governorship over Sancho, like a carrot over a horse. The efforts of the ducal pair keep Don Quixote and Sancho in center stage. The protagonists chat, they write or dictate letters, they confer on gubernatorial etiquette, make judgments, flee danger, and strive for success. Characters come to the knight to seek his aid in resolving their grievances, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous, from the stuff of myth (Countess Trifaldi) to the homespun (Doña Rodríguez) to youthful lovesickness (Altisidora). The business of Barataria is meticulously mapped out: the staff, the cases, the making of rounds, the menu, the enemies. Don Quixote is wise when he advises Sancho, and he is cautious in handling of the petitions of the ladies who call on him. As governor, Sancho possesses a strong sense of justice and fairness, and an uncanny ability to detect fraud. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza have the starring roles but not the credits for writing and producing. Both act correctly and honorably, although they do not always fare well against the tricks—and against the seemingly inexhaustible human and economic resources—of the duke and duchess.

The publication of Part 1 is the starting point for the reversals and transpositions of Part 2. Sansón Carrasco is the first character to intrude on Don Quixote’s metafictional space, but it is Sancho Panza who essentially defines the plot of the 1615 volume by engineering the enchantment of Dulcinea. One might argue that he moves from underling to co-protagonist; when Don Quixote becomes a bit sluggish, Sancho may be seen as the shrewder and more confident presence. His prudence as governor does not strike us as inconsistent or improper, because Cervantes has prepared us for his development as a character. When the duke and duchess step into the frame, they furnish the theatrical tools, the plot outline, the cast and crew, and the special effects. They even sponsor a resident critic, the grave ecclesiastic. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are not, by way of analogy, puppets handled by puppeteers, but their wills are tempered, tampered with. Accustomed, with relative authority, to their own metatheatrical clout, they must assert themselves to fight the dominance of their hosts, and they do so with varying success. The power struggle becomes a chief feature of the text and a factor in the allegorical vision of Part 2. The duke and duchess know Don Quixote and Sancho Panza from the book and from their stay at the palace, which includes one-on-one interviews. Few other readers of Part 1 can be familiar—as Part 2 is being experienced and written—with Don Quixote’s visit to the cave of Montesinos and with his sighting therein of the enchanted Dulcinea. The spectacles presuppose the presence of two Don Quixotes (and two Sancho Panzas), one a verbal construct and the other a houseguest. Constrained by the popularity of the Other and hemmed in by the rigid plotting of the duques, Don Quixote gallantly endures trial after trial, hoping to comply with his chivalric destiny. His hosts let him entertain them, and they attempt to deflate Sancho’s confidence level by deconstructing his story of the enchantment. They stack the deck against him during his tenure as governor, so that neither his drive nor his native intelligence—and a wisdom that is, on occasion, nothing short of Solomonic—can suffice, and he resigns out of fear and frustration. For the duke and duchess, ridiculing Don Quixote and Sancho becomes a laughing matter. They are talented but insensitive readers, and, consequently, their literary joke borders on the perverse. The knight and the squire leave the palace a bit worse for wear, but with their pride intact.

After Sancho renounces the governorship of Barataria, he comes across his former neighbor, the Morisco Ricote, who has fled the country following an expulsion edict. Through Ricote, Cervantes brings history back into the picture, while, later, in the story of Ricote’s daughter Ana Félix, he returns to romance. Sancho then falls into a pit—the parallel with the cave of Montesinos is evident—and is rescued by Don Quixote. There follows the knight’s non-battle with the substitute for Tosilos (the reluctant fiancé of Doña Rodríguez’s daughter), when the actor prefers marriage to combat, to the great displeasure of the duke and duchess. Don Quixote’s final “battle” in this sequence is with an enamored and overly aggressive Altisidora. In chapter 58, on the road, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza meet a group of men dressed as farmers and carrying the images of four saints. In his first foray beyond the palace, Don Quixote has no bellicose desires. He accepts the images as such, and he calmly identifies the warrior saints, including San Diego Matamoros, with himself, noting, however, that their mission was spiritual and his is earthbound. He adds that he may move his mission upward once he has saved Dulcinea from her enchantment.[21] In the same chapter, he and Sancho stumble into a remade (“fingida”) Arcadia, where they meet two beautiful shepherdesses, who describe their project. These creatures of the countryside relate more to Grisóstomo than to Marcela. They are avid readers of Garcilaso and Camões, and, rather than children of nature, they are imitators, or stepchildren. One of the shepherdesses has read Part 1 of Don Quixote, and the other has heard about it, and they are thrilled to be in the company of the famous knight and his winsome squire. Don Quixote vows to honor the shepherdesses by proclaiming their beauty in the middle of the highway leading to Zarazoga, during a two-day period. His timing is unfortunate, for a herd of bull approaches, he is too resolute to move, and he, Sancho, and their mounts are trampled.

There is a type of fresh-slate, or breathing-room, quality to the narrative after Don Quixote and Sancho depart from the palace. They are still on their way to Zaragoza, and Sansón Carrasco is still hungry for revenge. As to the future, it is possible that Cervantes may have planned a pastoral interlude for his protagonists. In the penultimate chapter of Part 2 (73), Don Quixote tells Pero Pérez and Sansón Carrasco that he has decided to spend a year in the countryside. His description sounds as if he were going to bring his friends into the pastoral fold.[22] The priest and the bachiller are astounded at this “new madness,” but, remaining hopeful of finding a cure for his malady, they humor him. We cannot know where Cervantes was heading, because he faces a detour that makes its way into the narrative: the publication of the Avellaneda sequel. This leads to three approaches to the structure of Cervantes’s Part 2: a determination of the plot line prior to the appearance of Avellaneda’s book, a construction of what might have been, and a measurement of the impact of the false continuation. None of these approaches could be called pure. The prologue to Part 2 makes the reader aware of structural changes wrought from the devastating intrusion. We know as early as the final chapter of Part 1 that Don Quixote and Sancho will travel to Zaragoza, but where they were to go from there—spatially and creatively speaking—must remain a mystery. We cannot ascertain precisely how Cervantes modifies what he has written prior to the fall of 1614, although it has been surmised, plausibly, that the redirection of the manuscript comes primarily at the end. The spurious sequel is a factor in the construction and analysis of the real Don Quixote because Cervantes has made it so. Had he ignored Avellaneda, we would not be commemorating the imposter, paradoxically immortalized alongside of the true protagonist. A further irony is that the response to Avellaneda, which might be deemed a miscalculation that places Cervantes’s personal feelings over art, is a most fortuitous and brilliant touch. It does not detract from the argument, but underscores its messages.

Satire dominates the early direction of Part 1, but only in collaboration with the metafictional commentary that begins in the prologue and chapter 1. The parallel structure—the path to chivalric glory and the composition of the (hi)story—breaks a precarious balance to place the story ahead of its subject. This subtle rivalry accounts for the marginalization of Don Quixote in the second half of the 1605 volume. Discourse itself becomes the bona fide subject, a cover for the interplay of dichotomies and for linguistic, semantic, and theoretical feats of legerdemain. Adhering to a poststructuralist model centuries before its conception, Cervantes decenters Don Quixote from his own narrative, and the margins provide the ideal perspective from which to consider and to reconsider the stories behind a story joined at the hip to history. Don Quixote becomes a metonym for the reader, and Miguel de Cervantes a metonym for the writer. To some extent, the two are indivisible, but Cervantes alternates between a comfortable synthesis and the setting up of barriers. The allegory of reading functions with and against the allegory of writing. On the level of story, Alonso Quijano separates himself from society by refashioning himself as Don Quixote. On the level of discourse, the chivalric adventures fade into the background as storytelling takes over. To coincide with the knight’s removal from the center, diegesis surpasses mimesis as the predominant mode. They may be benign or friendly adversaries, but the reader and the writer—Don Quixote and Cervantes—sustain the motif of rivalry in Part 1, which helps to explain the “disappearance” of Don Quixote as Part 1 progresses. Reading becomes the point of access to the theme of writing, which is, essentially, the theme of literature, with its implicit rivalry of tradition and innovation. Don Quixote returns home at the end of Part 1 and continues his journey in Part 2. Cervantes likewise continues the allegorical technique, primed for inevitable revision and reconfiguration.

In Part 2, reading is associated with criticism and critical judgment. The writer needs to win over the readership and its formal representatives, the critics. The early chapters of the second part emphasize the power of the critic—inside and outside the text—not only to determine the success of a work but also to interpret, to appraise, and to rank. As Cervantes bares his devices, he bares his soul to his constituents. He has his characters go over the errors and omissions—the tachas—of Part 1, point by point. The lively and droll dialogue cannot conceal the vulnerability—the nakedness—of the author before his critics. The adage that the customer is always right is not correct in theory, but it is correct in practice. Cervantes is being pragmatic when he assumes, or pretends to assume, that the critique of Part 1, as articulated by Sansón Carrasco, is on target. His apparent acceptance of the charge of a lack of unity implies that Part 2 will integrate the suggestions of critics, namely, the insistence on a central plot line and a uniformly central positioning of the knight and his squire. It is to Cervantes’s credit that he is able to satisfy the demands of his critics, while encoding a counterargument that more accurately may coincide with his structural design. My reading is, of course, one of many possible readings, but what I propose is a move from the reader to the writer to the critic to the metacritic (i.e., the writer as critic). Under this last rubric, Cervantes disarms his critics by ostensibly supporting their objections while abiding by his own rules, his own game plan, which certainly permits modifications as needed. A particular benefit (if that is a valid term in this context) of my approach is that it is significantly enhanced by the unexpected and insidious Avellaneda sequel.

Alonso Fernández de Avellaneda is the antithesis of the well-intended or constructive critic. He presumably is angry at Cervantes’s condemnation of Lope de Vega’s theater, and he uses the false continuation to defend Lope, to malign Cervantes, and to block a smooth reception of the authentic second part. He succeeds on all three counts. His novel is not a magnum opus, but it does not have to be. It is intended as an obstruction rather than as an aesthetic masterpiece. The author hides behind a pseudonym, as a sneak thief of intellectual property. Whether he does so in real life or not, Cervantes controls his anger on the pages of his own Part 2. In the rhetorically overdetermined prologue, he puts forward a self-defense, further jibes at Lope, and revelation of—and justification for—the ending, while staying on course with anecdotes on the theme of madness that begins and ends Part 2. He chooses to concede both credit and space to Avellaneda, and this decision serves to reinforce the response to criticism that directs much of the movement of his second part. His assertion of creative independence is generally unobtrusive, in line with the show of respect for criticism, but Avellaneda incites him to be bold. Despite the historical datum regarding the stay in Zaragoza, in chapter 52 of Part 1, he has Don Quixote refuse to step foot into that city, for example, and he will have death visit the protagonist in order to ward off additional sequels. Cervantes uses the spurious text for comic and critical effect, assimilating it into the plot without a lot of fuss. The introduction of the false sequel by Don Jerónimo and Don Juan is followed by its presence at a printing establishment in Barcelona (ch. 62), in Altisidora’s account of her premature entry into hell on a forced return visit to the dulcal palace (ch. 70), and in Don Álvaro Tarfe’s certification before a notary of the genuine Don Quixote (ch. 72).

In this concluding section of the narrative, Cervantes intersperses the episodes of Roque Guinart and Claudia Jerónima (ch. 60), the stay in Barcelona hosted by Don Antonio Moreno (beginning in ch. 61), the reunion of Ana Félix and Ricote (ch. 63), the defeat of Don Quixote by Sansón Carrasco as the Knight of the White Moon (ch. 64), the dialogue between Don Quixote and Sancho about a genre shift to the pastoral (chs. 67 and 73), the trampling of the knight and squire by hundreds of pigs (ch. 68), the climax of the recurring debate concerning Sancho’s whippings (chs. 71-72), and the arrival home, amid bad omens (ch. 73). The final chapter deals with his (ex-maquina) disillusionment, his rejection of chivalry, this last will and testament, his confession, and his death. Cervantes rounds out the miscellany with segments that include points of contact with the real world (the lower depths and the upper crust), byzantine romance, the cycle of variations on love, the chivalric intertext (deflated), and the pastoral (artificial). A year in the country may have been on Cervantes’s mind, as it was on Don Quixote’s, despite his age and ill health. Avellaneda devotes five chapters to Zaragoza. We can only guess what Cervantes might have done without the obstructions, but we can see how Avellaneda becomes an ironic, and certainly reluctant, enabler.[23] He takes the spotlight off the Don Quixote of Part 1 and gives the dormant protagonist of Part 2 a new mission—to redeem his identity and to prove his superiority over the counterfeit knight—and renewed energy. The illegitimacy of Avellaneda’s tome makes the ludicrously proffered “true history” just that. The false author resituates Cide Hamete Benengeli, already more closely tied to Cervantes in Part 2, as joint recipient of the critical commentaries. Although the novel definitely is more about difference than similitude, the Muslim historian’s pen, which has the last word in the text, speaks for Cervantes, as well.

In the end, metafiction wins out. The constantly expanding, if understated, motif of rivalry reaches a climax when the ultimate adversary makes his appearance. Don Quixote may lose to the Knight of the White Moon, but he is victorious over his fraudulent double, and he becomes a more viable opponent of his “real” alter ego, the celebrated hero of Part 1. The 1605 Quixote enters into dialogue with the 1615 Quixote. Together, they tell an allegorical story about letters, as they supposedly focus on arms. They craft a special rhetoric of combination and resistance. Understandably, the story grows more self-referential, and more profound, as the reader progresses along the narrative continuum. Self-referentiality reaches a peak in the dialogue of the opening chapters of Part 2 and another in the dramatic exercises of the duke and duchess. Little, however, can top the Avellaneda sequel with regard to rivalry, criticism, and irony. Don Quixote is the work of a literary genius, but even the most gifted of artists need a bit of luck. How fitting it is, for this story, that one of Cervantes’s luckiest moments—after his survival in the battle of Lepanto and his rescue from an Algerian prison, perhaps—came when an insult bound in leather entered the world. Cervantes frames Part 2 of Don Quixote in competition, and, as is often the case, the competitive spirit brings out the best in him. Avellaneda forces him to come to terms with his theory of the novel, which for him is synonymous with the practice of writing. Cervantes follows the lessons of the past and foresees the future. He explores the unexplored depths of art, but his art is grounded in reality. He answers every question with a question. His success can be measured by the reading and the writing that we do on his behalf.


Works Cited


Alter, Robert. Partial Magic: The Novel as a Self-Conscious Genre. Berkeley: U of California P, 1975.

Anthony El Saffar, Ruth. “In Marcela’s Case.” Quixotic Desire: Psychoanalytic  Perspectives on Cervantes. Ed. Ruth Anthony El Saffar and Diana de Armas Wilson. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1993. 157-78.

Aylward, E. T. Towards a Revaluation of Avellaneda’s False Quixote. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 1989.

Baena, Julio. Discordancias cervantinas. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 2003.

Borges, Jorge Luis. “Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote.” Prosas completas. 2 vols. Barcelona: Bruguera, 1980. 1:425-33.

Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel. El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. Ed. Tom Lathrop. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 2001.

Cruz, Anne J. “Don Quixote’s Disappearing Act: Structural Unity and Character Transformation in Don Quixote.” Indiana Journal of Hispanic Literatures 1.1 (1992): 83-99.

Friedman, Edward H. “Guzmán de Alfarache, Don Quijote, and the Subject of the Novel.” Cervantes for the 21st Century / Cervantes para el siglo XXI: Studies in Honor of Edward Dudley. Ed. Francisco LaRubia-Prado. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 2000. 61-78.

---. “Insincere Flattery: Imitation and the Growth of the Novel.” Cervantes 20.1 (2000): 99-114.

Haley, George. “The Narrator in Don Quijote: Maese Pedro’s Puppet Show.” MLA 80.2 (1965): 145-65.

Iffland, James. De fiestas y aguafiestas: risa, locura e ideología en Cervantes y Avellaneda. Madrid: Iberoamericana; Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert, 1999.

Jehenson, Yvonne. “The Pastoral Episode in Cervantes’ Don Quijote: Marcela Once Again.” Cervantes 10.2 (1990): 15-35.

Martín Morán, José Manuel. El Quijote en ciernes: Los descuidos de Cervantes y las fases de elaboración textual. Torino: Edizioni dell’Orso, 1990.

Navarro, Emilia. “Manual Control: ‘Regulatory Fictions’ and Their Discontents.” Cervantes 13.2 (1993): 17-35.

Parr, James A. Don Quixote: An Anatomy of Subversive Discourse. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 1988.

Shipley, George A. “The Critic as Witness for the Prosecution: Making the Case against Lázaro de Tormes.” PMLA 97.2 (1982): 179-94.

---. “A Prologue and Afterword for an Inquiry into Don Quixote, Part I, Chapter 20.” Studies in Honor of Elias Rivers. Ed. Bruno M. Damiani and Ruth El Saffar. Potomac, MD: Scripta Humanistica, 1989. 169-83.

Sullivan, Henry W. Grotesque Purgatory: A Study of Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Part II. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1996.

Unamuno, Miguel de. Niebla. Ed. M. J. Valdés. Madrid: Cátedra, 1982.





[1]A good starting point for metafictional readings of Don Quixote is Robert Alter’s Partial Magic, although one might prefer the theory-in-practice approach, borrowed from Cervantes, in Miguel de Unamuno’s Niebla.

[2] A number of scholars have worked with the “subversive” nature of Don Quixote. James Parr’s treatment of the topic in Anatomy is especially comprehensive.

[3] The reference is, of course, to Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote,” which focuses on an attempted re-creation of the original text. George Shipley discusses recontextualization and related matters in an admirable essay on Lazarillo de Tormes, “The Critic as Witness for the Prosecution.

[4] Among the most effective arguments on behalf of Marcela are those by Jehenson, Navarro, and Anthony El Saffar.

[5] “Y para acabar de confirmar esta desgracia les sucedió una aventura, que, sin artificio alguno, verdaderamente lo parecía” (1,19: 133). Quotations from Don Quijote will refer to the edition by Tom Lathrop.

[6] “‘No es eso,’ respondió don Quijote, ‘sino que el sabio a cuyo cargo debe de estar el escribir la historia de mis hazañas, le habrá parecido que será bien que yo tome algún nombre apelativo, como lo tomaban todos los caballeros pasados …’” (1,19: 136).

[7] “Y eran—si no lo has, oh lector, por pesadumbre y enojo—, seis mazos de batán, que con sus alternativos golpes aquel estruendo formaban” (1,20: 146-47). See Shipley (“A Prologue”) for an analysis of the episode.

[8] “ … su nombre es Dulcinea, su patria, el Toboso, un lugar de la Mancha, su calidad, por lo menos, ha de ser de princesa, pues es reina y señora mía; su hermosura, sobrehumana, pues en ell se vienen a hacer verdaderos todos los imposibles y quiméricos atributos de belleza que los poetas dan a sus damas; que sus cabellos son oro, su frente campos Elíseos, sus cejas arcos del cielo, sus ojos soles, sus mejillas rosas, sus labios corales, perlas sus dientes …” (1,13: 93).

[9] “Así que, Sancho, por lo que yo quiero a Dulcinea del Toboso, tanto vale como la más alta princesa de la tierra. Sí, que no todos los poetas que alaban damas debajo de un nombre que ellos a su albedrío los ponen, es verdad que las tienen. … Porque has de saber, Sancho, si no lo sabes, que dos cosas solas inician a amara más que otras cosas, que son la mucha hermosura y la Buena fama, y estas dos cosas se hallan consumadamente en Dulcinea, porque en ser hermosa ninguna le iguala, y en la buena fama pocas le llegan. Y para concluir con todo, yo imagina que todo lo que digo es así, sin que sobre ni fate nada, y píntola en la imaginación como la deseo, así en la belleza como en la principalidad …” (1,25: 195).

[10] Anne J. Cruz offers an interesting perspective on the unity of the two parts in “Don Quixote’s Disappearing Act.” For an engaging and entirely different view (which, among other things, links Jacques Lacan and the concept of salvation), see Sullivan.

[11] “Finalmente, quiero, Sancho, me digas lo que acerca desto ha llegado a tus oídos, y esto me has de decir, sin añadir al bien ni quitar al mal cosa alguna, que de los vasallos leales es decir la verdad a sus señores en su ser y figura propia, sin que la adulación la acreciente, o otro vano respeto la disminuya. Y quiero que sepas, Sancho, que si a los oídos de los príncipes llegase la verdad desnuda, sin los vestidos de la lisonja, otros siglos correrían, otras edades serían tenidas por más de hierro que la nuestra, que entiento que de las que ahora se usan es la dorada” (2,2: 450-51).

[12] “‘Yo te aseguro, Sancho,” dijo don Quijote, ‘que debe de ser algún sabio encantador el autor de nuestra historia, que a los tales no se les encubre nada de lo que quieren escribir” (2,2: 452).

[13] “Y cuando fuese verdad que la tal historia hubiese, siendo de caballero andante, por fueza había de ser grandílocua, alta, insigne, magnífica y verdadera” (2,3: 453).

[14] Martín Morán and Baena have written the most comprehensive studies of the critique of Part 1 and the list of “tachas.”

[15] “… no sé yo qu[é] le movió al autor a valerse de novelas y cuentos ajenos, habiendo tanto que escribir en los míos. … Pues en verdad que en solo manifestar mis pensamientos, mis sospiros, mis lágrimas, mis Buenos deseos y mis acometimientos puedier hacer un volumen mayor, o tan grande, que el que pueden hacer todas las obras del Tostado” (2,3: 457-58). Lathrop notes that the complete works of Alonso de Madrigal (“el Tostado”) total thirty-one volumes (458n33).

[16] “… y así por esto, como porque algunos dicen: ‘Nunca segundas partes fueron buenas,’ y otras: ‘De las cosas de don Quijote bastan las escritas, se duda que no ha de haber segunda parte, aunque algunos que son más joviales que saturninos dicen: ‘Vengan más quitadas, embista don Quijote, y hable Sancho Panza, y sea lo que fuere, que con esto nos contentamos’” (2,4: 461).

[17] Sancho observes, “… muévale saber de cierto que entre todos los que allí están, aunque parecen reyes, príncipes y emperadores, no hay ningún caballero antante.” Don Quijote replies, “Ahora sí, … has dado, Sancho, en el punto que puede y debe mudarme de mi ya determinado intento. Yo no puedo ni debo sacar la espada, como otras veces muchas te he dicho, contra quien no fuere armado caballero” (2,11: 504).

[18] George Haley’s well-known essay on the episode sees the presentation (by Maese Pedro and Cervantes) as a microcosm of the narrative structure in general. Haley focuses on “the dynamic interplay of a story, its dramatized tellers and its dramatized readers” (145-46).

[19] “… aqu[é]l fue el primer día que de todo en todo conoció y creyó ser caballero andante verdadero, y no fantástico, viéndose tartar del mesmo modo que él había leído se trataban los tales caballeros en los pasados siglos” (2, 31: 624).

[20] “… volviendo a la plática que poco ha tratábamos del encanto de la señora Dulcinea, tengo por cosa cierta y más que averiguada que aquella imaginación que Sancho tuvo de burlar a su señor, y darle a entender que la labradora era Dulcinea, y que si su señor no la conocía debía de ser por estar encantada, toda fue invención de alguno de los encantadores que al señor don Quijote persiguen. Porque real y verdaderamente yo sé de buena parte que la villana que dio el brinco sobre la pollina era y es Dulcinea del Toboso, y que el buen Sancho, pensando ser el engañador, es el engañado, y no hay poner más duda en esta verdad que en la cosas que nunca vimos …” (2,33: 643-44).

[21] “Ellos conquistaron el cielo a fuerza de brazos, porque el cielo padece fuerza, y yo hasta agora no sé lo que conquisto a fuerza de mis trabajos. Pero si mi Dulcinea del Toboso saliese de los que padece, mejorándose mi ventura y adobándoseme el juicio, podría ser que encaminase mis pasos por major camino del que llevo” (2,58: 780).

[22] “Respondió don Quijote que él se había de llamar el pastor QUIJOTIZ, y el bachiller, el pastor CARRASCÓN; y el cura, el pastor CURAMBRO, y Sancho Panza, el pastor PANCINO” (2,73: 858).

[23] On the Avellaneda sequel, see Aylward, Iffland, and Friedman, “Insincere Flattery” and “Guzmán.”