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The Age of SilverThe Rise of the Novel East and West$
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Ning Ma

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190606565

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190606565.001.0001

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La Mancha to the Indies

La Mancha to the Indies

The Romance and Materiality of the Empire in Don Quixote

(p.79) 3 La Mancha to the Indies
The Age of Silver

Ning Ma

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote in light of imperial Spain’s position in the Age of Silver. It first relates the picaresque novel Lazarillo de Tormes’s pioneering realism to rapid commercial developments in Spain after the colonization of the New World. Don Quixote is a far more complex literary engagement of the same context. Drawing on transnational approaches to Cervantes, the chapter interprets Don Quixote’s romantic idealism as connoting aspects of Habsburg imperialism, and addresses his relations to Sancho and Dulcinea as symbolizing historical ironies within imperial Spain’s ideologies and material foundation. The chapter also contextualizes the novel within Spain’s Muslim connections, “purity of blood” doctrine, transatlantic colonialism, and Spanish-East Asia relations, thus situating Don Quixote’s modernity within early modern global history, and reading from the novel a nationally symbolic political critique similar to the other cases.

Keywords:   Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote, Lazarillo de Tormes, imperial Spain, Age of Silver, transatlantic colonialism, Spanish-East Asia relations

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