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The Hispanic Society hosted Dr Diana Berruezo-Sánchez, Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. Dr Berruezo-Sánchez talked about ‘the parody of reality’ in Don Quijote, the most influential piece of Spanish Literature.

Dr Berruezo-Sánchez started the presentation by talking to the boys about how Cervantes gives us an extremely realistic image of Quijote, of a man who not only lives, eats, and dies, but also suffers the problems of a normal man. Being as it may that Don Quijote himself sets to undo wrongs and bring justice into the world in his story, the parody of reality here lies in how it mimicked the era that Cervantes was in at the time. With chivalric practices gaining popularity through the Renaissance, popular authors such as Cervantes continued to write about humanism, and Don Quijote himself was no exception. He rides out into battle like a ‘wandering knight’, he discusses a code of honour in the first part of the novel; Cervantes was trying to apply these moral attributes into a world that was simply not able to attain them, and as such the parody comes to light.

After a truly compelling talk to the boys in the Gladstone library, Dr Berruezo-Sánchez was kind enough to take questions from the boys. We would like to thank Dr Berruezo-Sánchez for taking the time to talk to boys about an immensely significant aspect of Spanish literature, and indeed Spanish culture as a whole.

A short spanish commentary on the talk is also provided below:

Los caballeros normalmente son un imagen de fantasía en la literatura como con el rey Arturo. Cervantes con quijote nos da un caballero más realista: un caballero que come, vive y muere. Pero el problema de un caballero más realista es que también sufre los problemas normales – no es superhuman. Quijote es desilusionado con todo – las princesas de perfección que quiere tanto, no son princesas pero sirvientes que huelen terrible, los castillos que visita en realidad son tabernas y los monstruos son molinos de viento. Como señora Berruezo-Sánchez explicó tan claramente y estimulante, Cervantes está animándonos reírnos con el quijote, pero también entender y apreciar la realidad y la parodia y la diferencia que separa los dos por el compañero de quijote, Sancho, podemos hacer esto exactamente.

Nathan Swidler and Max Shakespeare