11-16-2009 01:46 PM
Well, we are now getting into the second of the two tomes on the ingenious gentleman -- Cervantes published the first volume in 1605, and then some other author, Avellaneda [a pseudonym], wrote a work featuring Don Quixote. This volume, according to the prolog, was written in answer to that. It is interesting to imagine the background for this second volume, as Cervantes begins his prolog by suggesting that a lot of readers, both illustrious and plebeian, are hoping for a great blast of invective from him against Avellaneda. I assume, from this statement, that when the work came out, there was a lot of people wondering what Cervantes' reaction was going to be, and perhaps Cervantes himself had made statements regarding the work. When word came out that there was going to be an authorized Book II (publ. 1615), the rumors must have been flying -- rather as they have been about what might or might not be in Sarah Palin's new book (I am not comparing Cervantes to Palin!).
It seems to me that this second volume, though, could not have been written all in one year -- it's not impossible, but it does seem like it must have been in some draft before Avellaneda's work came out.
I find it interesting how Cervantes does slam his imitator, while protesting that he's not going to do that -- an old trick, but a good one.
He does say that he's going to end with the death of the Don so no further stories can be written about him. But didn't he end the first volume with some epigrams from the grave of Don Quixote? We didn't see the Don dead, but we did get the sense he had died. And killing off a character does not mean that he's dead. Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes, but then wrote some adventures about his detective before he died (including The Hound of the Baskervilles, I think), and then he resurrected Holmes.
What are your thoughts on the prolog to Book II? Or what are you expecting as we enter the second volume?