From romance to the novel: a study of Don Quixote and its Arthurian romance background
Williamson, Edwin Henry.
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The main purpose of the thesis is to study Don Quixote against the background of Arthurian romance in order to estimate its contribution to the transition from medieval romance to the modern novel, and to reappraise certain established interpretations of Cervantes's masterpiece. Chapter 1 is a detailed analysis of the structure and symbolic meaning of Chretien de Troyes' Le Chevalier au Lion, with additional consideration of the ideological premises and narrative treatment of courtly chivalry, the nature of irony, and the function of marvellous incidents. Certain general principles of romance narrative are derived from this analysis. In Chapter 2 there is an examination of how the various narrative features of early romance change or survive in Amadis de Gaula and Las sergas de EsplandiSn. There is also discussion of the problems arising from the unresolved conflict between the use of the marvellous and these romances' claim to historical authenticity. The remaining chapters constitute a study of Don Quixote. Chapter 3 relates the difficulties of late Arthurian romance to the neo-Aristotelian aesthetic debates on verisimilitude and on artistic unity. There follows an analysis of the nature and narrative elaboration of Don Quixote's madness. Chapter 4 studies aspects of irony in the Quixote and demonstrates how Cervantes employs irony as a basic strategy both in his attack on the Spanish romances and in his response to neo-Aristotelian aesthetics. Chapter 5 examines the interplay of character and action in the main narrative and in the interpolated stories. It identifies the emergence of character as a principle of narrative unity and as an area of aesthetic interest which supersedes the traditional concerns of romance.