Don Quixote in Translation
“The fault lies not with the mob, who demands nonsense, but with those who do not know how to produce anything else.”
—Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote
The long arc of modernity begins with Don Quixote. So, at least, goes one reading of Cervantes’s most important work of fiction. But what does an assertion of modernity for a book originally published in 1605 really mean for a reader in Seattle in the early years of the twenty-first century? Is modernity something that impacts us from the outside or is it something that originates within us, a way of thinking about the world that is independent of such external factors? And what does it mean to write a modern novel? Are considerations of structure and style ever really capable of capturing something as elusive as the concept of modernity? And finally, who is supposed to be reading this first modern novel? Or, to put this question another way, how do reflections on the readership for a book like Don Quixote come to inform this basic claim to modernity?
All will be revealed in ten weeks of exhilarating class discussion …