Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Enamoured Knight

For by the end of the novel Cervantes has pricked the balloon of reader certainty over and over again. For example, the reader never knows exactly what happened in the cave of Montesinos, and later, the Don Quixote impostor, who enters the novel as a fictional character in the spurious second volume, erupts into Don Quixote itself as a real if debased double of the old knight himself. The latter is an instance of the bookish games Cervantes plays with the logic of reality, text and fiction. In other passages he discusses the composition of the book, talks about its critical reception, and otherwise tries to seduce the reader into the relativized universe of his characters, just as his characters become readers.

This reader abuse is quite clearly meant as an antidote to the kind of lazy, simple-minded reading that drives Alonso Quixano insane. Novels that present themselves as illusions, as substitute realities, are false; only books that advertise their bookish nature, that foreground their technological role in the production of illusion, are true.

The Enamoured Knight, Douglas Glover

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