Contribution to Book
Don Quijote is a novel, perhaps even the first modern novel (Fuentes 15, Bloom 145). Practically from the date of its writing, however, it has been almost irresistibly viewed through the lens of theater—"Como casi es comedia la historia de don Quixote de la Mancha [ ... ]"in the words of Avellaneda (fol.lllr)—and a growing body of scholarship acknowledges the importance of theatricality to both the structure of the work and the way one interprets it. "Theatricality," as it turns out, is a very flexible term in many of these studies and the widely varying definitions of it have given rise to substantially different approaches to the topic. In its most literal sense, theatricality refers only to those elements one associates with the presentation of plays: theaters, scripts, actors, performances, and spectators. Among the most common episodes cited as evidence are, of course, Las cortes de la muerte (Ramos Escobar 677, Ricapito 326; Maestro 43, 46; Syverson-Stork 54-63) and Maese Pedro's puppet show (Haley 149-63; Burningham 181-96; Martín Morán 41-42). Many scholars have preferred to expand the definition of "theatricality" and approach the subject from an historical perspective: from biography—Cervantes as playwright (Syverson-Stork 73-115; González, Roca Mussons 420), and his rivalry with Lope de Vega and his opinions on the comedia nueva (Syverson-Stork 98; Maestro 46-47; Ricapito 325-26; Albrecht 9n)—to literary history—the recasting of similar plots in both narrative and theatrical genres by Cervantes and other authors and evidence that Don Quijote was informed by the commedia dell'arte, the mester de juglaría (Burningham), or medieval and Renaissance festival theater and its use of masking, cross-dressing, the mock king and the trope of the world upside-down (Farness 107).
Chad M. Gasta, Julia Dominguez
Juan de la Cuesta Press
Stroud, Matthew D. “Artistic Distance and the Comedia: Lessons from Don Quijote.” Hispanic Studies in Honor of Robert L. Fiore. Ed. Chad M. Gasta and Julia Domínguez. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta Press. 2009. 479-95.
Hispanic Studies in Honor of Robert L. Fiore