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August 05 , 2007

Law and History in Cervantes' Don Quixote


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.

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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.

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