Don Quixote Book I

The Narrator-Knight, Or Don Narrador

For much of the opening part of Don Quijote, the narrator contents himself with narrating. Though we are made aware of his presence as a character by his first-person style, his subjective interpretation of Quijote's actions, and occasional references to his historical research, it is Quijote himself who rightfully takes center-stage throughout the first eight chapters. In Chapter IX, however, the first chapter of Part Two, the narrator steps forward into the limelight, turning away from Quijote's (mis)adventures for a few pages in favor of his own story, the story of the discovery of the second manuscript. On first reading this episode, one may be tempted to call it merely another tactic employed by Cervantes to support his elaborate framing device, designed to cast the novel as a history. (Indeed, the intricacies of the Spanish word "historĂ­a" come into play here, as the line between story and history was hardly drawn clearly in the late 16th century, when Cervantes was writing. ) Upon closer examination of Chapter IX, however, we find a surprising pattern: the narrator's role over these pages mirrors that of don Quijote in Chapter I, moving from engaged reader to principled actor. By exposing this...

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