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Don Quixote

Cervantes's fascination with form and narrative technique lies behind his many experiments in the interplay of long and short fiction. At the heart of Part I of Don Quijote he has embedded one of the most powerful of his short stories, ‘El curioso impertinente'. The story tells how Anselmo is overcome by an urge to test the fidelity of his wife Camila. Anselmo persuades his best friend Lotario, initially against his better judgment, to put her to the test. All three are destroyed by this act of folly. Anselmo is one of many madmen in Don Quijote who provide a contrast to Don Quixote's largely harmless eccentricity; but what makes Anselmo particularly interesting is the strong sense we have that he wills the tragic outcome from the start. In his unpublished article 'Cervantes, Herodotus and the Eternal Triangle: Another look at the sources of El curioso impertinente', Barry Ife reads this interpolated novela against the story of Gyges and Candaules (Herodotus I) and argues that Cervantes has written an account of a man who wants to see his best friend make love to his wife. The text of 'El curioso impertinente' is available in the etexts section of this website.

On a lighter note ―but with a serious interest in material culture―, Barry Ife has studied the many references to food and diet in Don Quijote, and has concluded in Don Quixote's Diet that Cervantes offers a keenly-observed physiological explanation for the knight's eccentricity. 'Mad Cats and Knights Errant' discusses a specific aspect of this relationship, the common belief that eating cats' brains causes insanity. For more references to this phenomenon click here , and refer to Bob Goodwin's more extended study in Food and Culture .

Link to El curioso impertinente.

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