Ekphrasis in the Age of Cervantes

Ekphrasis in the Age of Cervantes

Ekphrasis in the Age of Cervantes

Ekphrasis in the Age of Cervantes


Among the many ancient techniques that shift or become problematized during the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, this volume focuses on one in particular, that of ekphrasis. It is through the lens of experimentation with the technique of ekphrasis that we can view Cervantes' texts. Don Quixote can be studied through the constant contamination and agony between the visual and the verbal arts.


Frederick A. de Armas

But let no painter of old or of today boast that he can do this:
even art must yield here to simple magic which causes trem
ors to the spirits of hell.

—Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, Canto 33

Although miguel de cervantes pinned his hopes in his prose romance, the Persiles y Sigismunda, as the work that would bring him literary immortality, he is remembered today for a far different work. Don Quixote is viewed by many not only as a text that served to create a new literary genre, that of the modern novel, but also as a work that marks a shift in episteme, a transformation in the way we come at knowing. the novel also marks a shift away from doctrine and allegory and toward individuality. Many critics have noted the deeply human characters that populate the text. Equally prevalent in criticism of Don Quixote are notions of a self-conscious author, self-reflexivity, and the fostering of an active reader. the novel also plays with the already fading popularity of the chivalric romance, much as it mocks the notion of auctoritas, the reliance on classical, biblical, and church authorities for the acquisition of wisdom. and yet, Don Quixote is also a novel of its time. a careful reading shows that the concept of imitation, key to auctoritas, is alive and well in the work. There is much in this novel that takes us back to the classical epic, to the ancient romance, and to Renaissance canonical writers such as Castiglione, Petrarch, and Ariosto.

If Cervantes’s Don Quixote marks a new episteme and thus a new age, it is not because it rejects the classics and the Renais-

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