Law and History in Cervantes' Don Quixote
Published: August 2013© 2012
256 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.65 in, 8 b&w illustrations
Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote is a deep consideration of the intellectual environment that gave rise to Cervantes’ seminal work. Susan Byrne demonstrates how Cervantes synthesized the debates surrounding the two most authoritative discourses of his era – those of law and history – into a new aesthetic product, the modern novel.
Byrne uncovers the empirical underpinnings of Don Quixote through a close philological study of Cervantes’ sly questioning of and commentary on these fields. As she skilfully demonstrates, while sixteenth-century historiographers and jurists across southern Europe sought the philosophical nexus of their fields, Cervantes created one through the adventures of a protagonist whose history is all about justice. As such, Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote illustrates how Cervantes’ art highlighted the inconsistencies of juridical-historical texts and practice, as well as anticipated the ultimate resolution of their paradoxes.
‘Learned and insightful, Susan Byrne’s book provides a new look at Cervantes’s masterpiece through the lenses of law and history in order to highlight and clarify how the novel engages in specific arguments that foreground these topics. Her book is one more testimony of Cervantes’s wide learning and willingness to engage in the most important issues of his day as he composed what came to be considered as the first modern novel.’Frederick A. de Armas, Revista de Estudios Hispanicos
‘Susan Byrne succeeds in the ever-more-challenging task of shedding new light on Don Quixote through her careful tracing of the ways in which his dialogue with Giovio and Baeza helped Cervantes to forge the modern novel.’ Barbara Simerka, Renaissance Quarterly vol 66:04:2013
‘Byrne's study and her conclusions constitute an essential contribution toward our understanding of the conception of the Quijote as a fully modern work.
This is, conclusively, another must-read study for all Cervantistas and for all scholars of the history of the Spanish novel.’J. A. G. Ardila, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 90.7:2013
‘Byrne's study and her conclusions constitute an essential contribution toward our understanding of the conception of the Quijote as a fully modern work. This is, conclusively, another must-read study for all Cervantistas and for all scholars of the history of the Spanish novel.’J. A. G. Ardila, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 90.7:2013
‘Susan Byrne’s scholarship is dispassionate and informative, refreshingly unlike interpretations of Cervantes that read like baseball rule books riddled with Freudian gobbledygook. She strikes an enviable balance between sophisticated analysis and warm exposition.’ Eric C. Graf, Modern Philology, 17 June 2014
‘Byrne’s erudite and thoroughly researched book is an indisputable contribution to Cervantes’ studies.’Mary Quinn, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, vol 93:01:2016
‘This is a substantive work of investigation, analysis, and metacriticism. Highly recommended.’ E.H. Friedman, Choice Magazine, vol 50:08:2013
‘This is a most important and original study that deserves a central and special place in the vast bibliography on Cervantes. Susan Byrne’s highly sophisticated use of archival research, developed in her historical and philological approach to Don Quixote’s text, greatly helps to reconstruct anew the ideological contexts of the writer and of the “idle readers” of his time.’Isaías Lerner, Distinguished Professor of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literature and Language, Graduate Center, City University of New York
‘Stimulating and illuminating, Law and History in Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’ makes a strong case for the argument that Cervantes’ brushes with and knowledge of law were sufficient for him to incorporate its multiple threads throughout the novel. Susan Byrne consistently reveals her thorough knowledge of the confusing compendia that form Spanish jurisprudence as Cervantes would have known it. Byrne’s success in identifying legal issues in numerous episodes of the novel (beyond what most twentieth- and twenty-first-century editors have noted) and bringing to light the writings of jurist Paolo Giovio make this book a major contribution to the research on Cervantes.’Charles Victor Ganelin, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Miami University