Reading Don Quixote

NEH Summer Seminar for School Teachers


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Allow me to begin on a personal note. I have taught Don Quixote, both in Spanish and English, to students in the humanities, to Spanish majors, to graduate students. I have spoken of it incessantly (so my family feels), and I sometimes feel as if I were afflicted with what is jokingly described as cervantitis... . I have engaged the book as editor, scholar, critic, and always, under all guises, as an ever enthusiastic reader of this astonishing text. I have found its traces in the most imaginative narrative experiments in our Western tradition, and in its classic novels; I have found in it also counsel and wisdom on some of the difficult questions of our present society (fundamentalism, ethnocentricity, ideological commitment, and many others).

Don Quixote has taught me how to read, in the broadest sense, and shown me that I am still learning. If my partiality translates into enthusiasm, and that enthusiasm can infect others (as Unamuno wanted Don Quixote's madness to do for his contemporaries), I will have paid back to the hero of my book, Cervantes, some of the joy that I have gained from his creation.


Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Last Updated: 8/1/16