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By Rachel Noël Bauer

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In the Preliminary Verses of Part I, for example, there are Menippean overtones in Cervantes’s parody of the solemn sonnets that normally precede a book of chivalry. In the first prologue, the friend suggests the fictionalized author invent the “sonnets, epigrams, and eulogies that are missing from the beginning 33 and that should be written by weighty and titled personages” (44), rather than formulate the typical prologue that is found in illustrious books, which is filled with erudite quotes from famous authors.

Belianis of Greece swears eternal servitude to the princess Florisbella of Babylon, whom he knows. Don Quixote, however, does not share any type of relationship previous to the start of the novel with his Dulcinea, or rather Aldonza Lorenzo, because he knows her only by sight; hence he is substituting the concept of true love, so glorified in chivalric romances, for the fulfillment of a prerequisite. It is through the reverse of this chivalric formula that Cervantes utilizes parody to focus on the absurdity of this motivational tool found in the books of chivalry.

One instance when this occurs is the dialogue which takes place as Don Quixote and Sancho begin their first sally together in Part I, chapter 7. Through their conversation, an important issue is raised which tests the feudal structure included in books of chivalry and highlights its limitations. Sancho reminds Don Quixote of his promise to award him an island as payment for his services as squire. The subject raised here concerns whether a knight was obliged to pay a squire, something which was highly unlikely in a feudal state and definitely did not appear in the books of chivalry.

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Madness and Laughter: Cervantes's Comic Vision in Don Quixote by Rachel Noël Bauer

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