Forms of Modernity: Don Quixote and Modern Theories of the Novel

By Rachel Schmidt

© 2011

It's a critical cliché that Cervantes' Don Quixote is the first modern novel, but this distinction raises two fundamental questions. First, how does one define a novel? And second, what is the relationship between this genre and understandings of modernity? In Forms of Modernity, Rachel Schmidt examines how seminal theorists and philosophers have wrestled with the status of Cervantes' masterpiece as an 'exemplary novel', in turn contributing to the emergence of key concepts within genre theory.

Schmidt's discussion covers the views of well-known thinkers such as Friedrich Schlegel, José Ortega y Gasset, and Mikhail Bakhtin, but also the pivotal contributions of philosophers such as Hermann Cohen and Miguel de Unamuno. These theorists' examinations of Cervantes's fictional knight errant character point to an ever-shifting boundary between the real and the virtual. Drawing from both intellectual and literary history, Forms of Modernity richly explores the development of the categories and theories that we use today to analyze and understand novels.

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Product Details

  • Series: University of Toronto Romance Series
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.3in x 9.5in
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  • PUBLISHED APR 2011

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    ISBN 9781442642515
  • PUBLISHED APR 2011

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    Regular Price: $87.00

Quick Overview

In Forms of Modernity, Rachel Schmidt examines how seminal theorists and philosophers have wrestled with the status of Cervantes' Don Quixote is as an 'exemplary novel', in turn contributing to the emergence of key concepts within genre theory.

Forms of Modernity: Don Quixote and Modern Theories of the Novel

By Rachel Schmidt

© 2011

It's a critical cliché that Cervantes' Don Quixote is the first modern novel, but this distinction raises two fundamental questions. First, how does one define a novel? And second, what is the relationship between this genre and understandings of modernity? In Forms of Modernity, Rachel Schmidt examines how seminal theorists and philosophers have wrestled with the status of Cervantes' masterpiece as an 'exemplary novel', in turn contributing to the emergence of key concepts within genre theory.

Schmidt's discussion covers the views of well-known thinkers such as Friedrich Schlegel, José Ortega y Gasset, and Mikhail Bakhtin, but also the pivotal contributions of philosophers such as Hermann Cohen and Miguel de Unamuno. These theorists' examinations of Cervantes's fictional knight errant character point to an ever-shifting boundary between the real and the virtual. Drawing from both intellectual and literary history, Forms of Modernity richly explores the development of the categories and theories that we use today to analyze and understand novels.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: University of Toronto Romance Series
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.3in x 9.5in
  • Reviews

    Highly significant and original, Forms of Modernity presents a wide-ranging synthesis of philosophical and theoretical receptions of Cervantes' Don Quixote. Rachel Schmidt impressively sheds new light on the book as a touchstone that has defined both the idea of the novel and the problem of modernity. Readers will find that Forms of Modernity holds their attention and interest extremely well while teaching them a tremendous amount.
    Anthony Cascardi, professor of Comparative Literature, Rhetoric, and Spanish, University of California at Berkeley

    Forms of Modernity will have a major influence on how we read Cervantes, the idea of modernity, and the genre of the novel. This major scholarly accomplishment provides understandings of theorists such as Bakhtin and Cohen that are often brilliant, and includes the best presentation of Schlegel's theory of the novel I have ever seen. Rachel Schmidt's rich knowledge of the literature on Don Quixote makes this a serious advance in state-of-the-art research.
    Howard Mancing, professor of Spanish, Purdue University and President, Cervantes Society of America
  • Author Information

    Rachel Schmidt is a professor in the Department of French, Italian and Spanish at the University of Calgary.

  • Table of contents

    Prologue
    Abbreviations for Cited Material
    Note on Translations and Quotations

    1. Don Quixote and the Problem of Modernity
    2. Arabesques and the Modern Novel: Friedrich Schlegel’s Interpretation of Don Quixote
    3. The Emptiness of the Arabesque: Georg Lukács and the Theory of the Novel
    4. Ideas and Forms: Hermann Cohen’s Novelistics
    5. The Poetics of Resuscitation: Unamuno’s Anti-Novelistics
    6. Form Foreshortened: Ortega y Gasset’s Meditations on Don Quixote
    7. Don Quixote in Bakhtin
    8. Revolutions and the Novel
    Bibliography

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