Don Quixote 1605-2005:
Teaching Don Quixote on WebCT in the 21st Century.

Roger Moore,
St. Thomas University.

This paper was delivered at the STLHE Conference in UPEI, Charlottetown, on Friday, 11 June 2005. The paper was not read in full to the audience; rather, it was delivered orally from memory and highlighted notes. This is the full version of the paper as it would have been read.

I will begin this paper with a quote from an email that I wrote to my colleague, Dr. Omar Basabe, while he was on sabbatical in Argentina.

Teaching all four upper level courses in Spanish in the second term (January to April) was an incredibly rewarding experience: I was able to link Spanish in a way that the students have never seen before -- translation to Quixote, Quixote to Generation of 1898, Generation of '98 to Generation of '27 and Góngora, Góngora to Lorca and hence to Paz – via Surrealism, automatic writing, metaphor, and the use of dream symbolism– which in turn took us back to Don Quixote – the Cave of Montesinos, the question of reality and metatheatre – and this led directly to the meaning of meaning and the central cultural issue of the Generation of 1898: "What is Spain?"!

Let me explain the situation: with my colleague on sabbatical and with no full-time sabbatical replacement, I was put in the interesting position of being the only person available and qualified to teach the four upper level courses we offer annually in Spanish. This meant that, like it or not, I had to prepare four new courses to adapt to four new time slots. As a result of this, the teaching term was very difficult in terms of preparation and background reading; however, as I have stated, it was also extremely rewarding.

Of the four new preparations, the one that created most work was the course on Don Quixote. I have actually taught Don Quixote before, on several occasions; however, this was to be the first course I had ever taught using WebCT which had just been introduced at my university. So, it was quite an adventure to change the structure of my earlier Quixote courses and to adapt them to a WebCT format. For this particular course on Don Quixote, WebCT became the main teaching vehicle and the students gathered on line, in a virtual teaching space and, for the first time ever, I experienced the mixed blessings of being a WebCT Course designer.

There were several reasons for making WebCT the vehicle of choice for the delivery of this course:

  • there were 17 students in the class from different levels and different backgrounds;
  • the text was read in Spanish, English, or French, according to the language abilities and preference of the students;
  • on account of the varied academic backgrounds, there was no single time at which we could meet as a traditional class;
  • there were students present from other institutions who had course schedules that conflicted with ours, including science students, with labs, who would have been unable to attend a traditional course at standard times;
  • I wanted to experiment with WebCT and gain experience as a course designer while reviewing WebCT as a teaching and learning experience;
  • it being the fourth centenary of the publishing of Don Quixote there would be a great deal of material available in electronic form on line; this proved to be a correct prediction and facilitated certain aspects of the course delivery.

Although WebCT was the delivery vehicle of choice, the course did not depend entirely upon WebCT. I was able to divide the class into two groups that met once a week for an hour in two different time slots (Tuesday evenings before my night seminar and Wednesday morning in a normal teaching slot). I used these two one hour in class sessions to show and commentate a five hour video of Part One of Don Quixote. In addition to adding a visual component, these meetings also offered the face to face element which has always been my preferred model for teaching. Thus, there were an additional ten weeks of in class sessions of 30 minutes video and 20 minutes discussion, and this regulation style class went side by side with the WebCT component to form a blended or hybrid course.

The structure of the course responded, to a certain degree, to the basic problem which any course on Don Quixote sets: how do you persuade students, who are hooked on visual presentations and multi-media, to sit down and read a 1,000 page novel in 13 weeks, be it in English, French, or Spanish? The answer is, of course, to invite them to plan and stick to a reading program. In this fashion, the students were asked to read 2 chapters a day, five days a week for thirteen weeks. This achieved the prime task of reading the 126 chapters which combine to form novel. It sounds simple and it is not complicated, provided the plan is followed, and more about that later. Meanwhile, I read along at the same pace, more or less, as the students and each week, based on my own reading, I prepared between 4 and 6 topics, with commentaries, which I asked the students to discuss. Some of these topics sprang from student questions or comments, some were related directly to the text itself, and some grew out of the critical readings which accompanied the text. These discussions were worth up to four marks per week and students were asked to complete ten weeks of discussions for forty marks which counted as 40% of the course grade.

I developed a protocol to establish grade rankings for the type of discussions in which I expected the students to participate and the discussion mark also served as a participation and attendance grade.

Protocol for Using the Discussion and Email Tools.

The discussion tool can be thought provoking. It can also help you organize your ideas and present them to a wider audience. In this course, I expect you to use it regularly and I demand participation from you on a weekly basis (regular reading and 2 or 3 postings a week as you read through the text). Each week is numbered on the discussion group. Note that postings are judged by their quality, not their quantity. Lo bueno, breve, dos veces bueno (Baltasar Gracián). You will receive a mark (from 0-4 points) for each of your postings. Please use the discussion groups frequently, but use them sensibly. Ideas and research can be presented at four very different levels, which correspond to the marks designated above:

1 mark: A relevant but coloquial commentary on the words of other students (1 point).

2 marks: General information of use to the other members of the class–– “I have found a useful website which offers an annotated text of Don Quixote and allows you to listen to and read Spanish online. This is what I read and here is the URL.”

3 marks: Intellectual contributions to the class discussion, backed up by direct quotes from the text –– “I don’t agree with Roger’s interpretation of the episode of the Cave of Montesinos. Individuals are confronted by their own version of reality and should not be bound by a social hierarchy which dismisses the personal and individual in its interpretation of interior events. For example, ...”

4 marks: Presentation of critical ideas from a reliable academic source (with correctly annotated quotation) –– "I have just read Salvador de Madariaga’s book on Don Quixote. In it he presents the idea that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza interchange ideas to such an extent that they draw nearer to each other. Thus, in the words of Madariaga, we can speak of the Sanchification of Don Quixote and the Quixotification of Sancho Panza. Some of the examples he uses for this process are ……”

Email should be used for private correspondence between individual members of the group. Comments such as “I agree with you” or “That’s what I think” should be relayed in email form to the individual student concerned. Personal comments (and replies) that are specific to one or two people should also be communicated privately by email.

Your weekly contributions to the discussion group will be graded.

The grading system was 40% for these weekly discussions and this was joined to 60% for three formal essays delivered monthly, each essay being due on the last day of the month. Essay topics were circulated well in advance of the due date and students were given a variety of topics and were encouraged to draw from (a) critical articles and (b) quotes from the online discussions. In addition, students gad the choice of writing three separate essays or of developing their essay topics, with critical readings, over the course to present a fully researched academic paper, in three instalments. Several students chose this option.

Discussion topics for the first three weeks:

• Week 1 -- DQ, I, 1-10:

(1) The first sortie; (2) Gotta luv him; (3) Chivalry; (4) The scrutiny of the library; (5) Cide Hamete Benegeli.

• Week 2 -- DQ, I, 11-20:

(1) The second sortie; (2) “Ni sé leer ...” / ”I don’t know how to read ...”; (3) Pastoral with goat herds; (4) Marcela.

• Week 3 -- DQ, I, 21-30:

(1) A double act: Sancho Panza and Don Quixote; (2) El yelmo de Mambrino / Mambino’s helmet; (3) Los galeotes / the galley slaves; (4) Slang, double meanings, and the picaresque.

While most of these topics were designed by me and sprang naturally from the reading sequence, some came from students and merit further discussion. The topic entitled Gotta luv him, for example, came from an in class revelation that Don Quixote, the character, seemed to be just like one class member’s old, bumbling, loveable grandfather, and that “we gotta luv him” in spite of all his difficulties and ambiguities. This turned out to be a prolific topic and an extremely personal link between novel and individual reader was established very early on. I did not discourage at any stage this personal and subjective interpretation of the text, since one of the goals of the course was to enable students to commit to, and read, a long novel.

The topics I opened up to the group were chosen with great care. They were designed to point out what I consider to be vital signposts along the the reading route of Don Quixote. When presenting a topic, I did so by asking various questions and posing specific problems. I tried to do this in such a way that each topic could be examined from several points of view; these embraced both the subjective and personal readings of gotta luv him and the more objective critically researched, in depth readings which were developed by the most committed students as the course advanced.

I would like to examine, very briefly, the first topic of all, which corresponds to the first sortie. Here are the initial questions I posed for introducing the first discussion:

The First Sortie is very brief and lasts only 4 chapters (DQ, I, 2-5). Several questions as to the sortie's structure arise:

(1) On the evidence of this first sortie, did Cervantes start out with the intention of writing a long novel?

(2) Cervantes also wrote short stories: what evidence can you find that this first sortie might actually have started out as a short story?

Some students showed great powers of observation, even in these early moments of the course; however, others experienced a great deal of difficulty with this topic. Quite simply, they didn’t yet have -- nor were they expected to have -- either the analytical skills or the background knowledge to go beyond a relatively simple reading of the text. The questions outlined above attempt to illustrate both the text's complexities and the efforts I made, through topics, questions and commentaries, to develop from inititial subjective reading, through in-depth reading, to the basic skills of critical analysis. In fact, the text's difficulties will readily come through to the mixed audience for which I am writing this paper; for clearly, a mixed audience, containing people who are unfamiliar with Don Quixote, people who have read it, but have neither taught nor studied it, and people who are specialist Cervantistas and have read the original text in Spanish on more than one occasion, will all draw on different knowledge bases. In order to present the complexities that are inherent within the text, the early topics began with an open-ended question and terminated, at the end of the week, with a brief summary of what might be termed the "current state of the problem." In this fashion, after open and flowing discussion, I tried to illustrate both the text’s complexities and the necessity for further critical reading.

The topics were also thematically linked. In this fashion, the theme of structure – what Jurgen Hahn has called “the tectonic approach” which was pioneered by my own teacher at the University of Toronto, Geoffrey L. Stagg – was introduced in the first sortie. The topic was continued with the invention of Cide Hamete Benengeli, reintroduced when the first sortie (one protagonist – Don Quixote) was compared with the beginning of the second sortie (two protagonists and hence the introduction of a continuous dialogue – Don Quixote and Sancho Panza), and was presented again with the story of Marcela (the first of the intercalated tales which break – or do they?– there was much discussion on this point) the narrative structure of the novel.

Structure, of course, emerges again from the peripatetic nature of the picaresque tales included within the chapter on the galley slaves / los galeotes. The discussion topics gave me enormous flexibility in my teaching and this flexibility enabled me to work individually with the students who visited me regularly throughout the term. In fact, I can safely say that this course – and this way of teaching it – generated more individual one on one discussions in my office, on e-mail, and elsewhere on campus, than any other I have ever taught. As a result, I was able to reach out to students at very flexible levels according to their preparation, their reading and their intellectual and academic development and interest. For example, the topic “Ni sé leer ...” permitted me to introduce the theories of Walter Ong, as represented in Orality and Literacy, to a group of students who were working with human rights and developmental themes in Latin American countries. Don Quixote became, for these students, at one level, a representation of that strange literary meeting place in which half the characters are literate and can read and write, while the other half can neither read a scrap of paper nor sign their names. The placing together, in this novel, of selected moments at which literate and oral world views approach each other in ever greater proximity, is a master-piece of artistic achievement that has been little studied and which moves directly into the empowerment theories (knowledge as power) of Paolo Freire and Michel Foucault.

I began this article by stating how important was the thematic linkage between all four upper level courses and this was true too of the Don Quixote course at several separate levels.

At the first level, instead of beginning with themes and tracing their development throughout the novel, the reading system employed allowed us to discuss themes as they arose and then to repeat and elaborate those themes as they reoccurred in the novel. In this fashion, the reiterated theme of Don Quixote’s madness – is he, isn’t he, in what way is he? – became closely linked to the Sanchification / Quixotification process which in turn was linked into the development of metatheatre, which again became linked to the development of inter-textual commentary, relativism and perspectivism, and the shared views of characters, historian, translator, narrator, and commentator, all of whom discuss and dispute along with the students in the discussions, the textual facts of the presentation of madness.

At the second level, this linkage was enhanced by the texts selected by those students who were also following the course on twentieth century literature. Texts chosen for study, for example, in the twentieth century literature course included Azorín: La ruta de don Quixote, two texts from Miguel de Unamuno: Vida de Don Quixote y Sancho Panza, and “Don Quixote in the Contemporary European Tragi-comedy,” the last chapter from Unamuno’s The Tragic Sense of Life; Ramiro de Maeztu’s study entitled Don Quijote o el amor, and José Ortega y Gasset’s classic: Meditaciones del Quijote. The readings from one course injected life and meaning into the second course, thus enhancing the process of linkage whilst underlining the constant presence of Quixotic themes in the life and literature of the early twentieth century.

At a third level, the relevance of Don Quixote to the early twenty-first century was clearly seen in the number of public references to Don Quixote which appeared in Canada, especially around January 16, 2005, the date of the fourth centenary of the publication of Don Quixote (and of my own birthday!), as the event was commemorated on CBC radio, on television, and in the pages of various newspapers, including the Globe and Mail. When these events were linked to items from the online discussion groups (H-Cervantes, for example) selections of which I regularly posted on WebCT, then the contemporary value of the literary text was underlined as well.

There is a clear and enormous gap between the subjective and limited gotta luv him and the tectonic theory of structuralism or the metatheatrical establishment of a dual reality. Were students able to bridge that gap and how were they able to do so? The process I used to assist them was a basic step by step build up: first read the text; then recognize the structures and themes of what is being read; then apply the correct critical names to those structures and themes; then go out and read what other people have written about those themes and structures that interest you. Thus, reading is the bait and continued interest is the hook and the other skills hopefully – and in theory – develop from there. But do they?

The figures offered by the WebCT student tracking tool give food for thought. The total number of discussions posted by students was 580. The track record of what the students read is very informative, with 3 out of 17 students reading all 580 postings and 5 reading more than 500 of them. 13 students read more than half the postings, and when questioned about this pattern, several students replied that they had little time to read and had been selective in their readings, choosing only those postings from friends whom they respected or good students whom they appreciated and neglecting the "online ramblings" (their words) from others. Here are the relevant figures.

All 580 postings were actually read by only 3 students!

Over 500 postings were read by 2 students
553 - 1; 539 - 1].

2 students read over 400 postings
[480 - 1; 408 - 1].

5 students read more than 50% of the postings
[367 - 1; 359 - 1; 357 - 1; 341 - 1; 292 - 1]

5 students read less than half the postings
[272 - 1; 250 - 1 ; 218 - 1; 201 - 1; with a low of 136 postings read by 1 student]

The number of articles and discussions posted follows a slightly different pattern, but it should be noted that quality took precedence of quantity, and that those who posted well and researched their postings (at 4 marks a posting) did not need to post as often as those who posted on a less academic scale or who established a dialogic discussion with one or more interlocutors. For better or for worse, I read everything that was posted and I can say with absolute certainty that some postings were extremely well researched, with four and five articles quoted accutarely and sharp critical arguments summarized and discussed, while other postings were often extremely subjective in their nature; some readers did not -- for a variety of reasons -- break from the subjective mode of reading, and this was, to some extent, a lesson for me.

I had hoped that weaker students would learn from stronger ones. However, one worrying point was the realization by some students that either they could not compete intellectually or that they did not have the time to do the reading and research that was necessary to do so. As a result, some students declared their unwillingness to write online as they became embarrassed and frustrated by their lack of time and skills. I tried to work one on one in my office with members of this group. I also strove to create more manageable goals for them, even accepting their written work privately by email. Clearly, these factors change enormously the balance and objectivity of any numerical analysis of postings. Here are the numbers for the postings.



47 45 42

37 36

25 23 23

17 16 15 14

09 07 05


The number of hits follows the same type of pattern.

Over 1000 / 3 [1274, 1026, 1003]

Over 900 / 2 [991, 949]

Over 700 / 1 [790]

Over 600 / 1 [606]

Over 500 / 5 [ 593, 579, 570, 565, 545]

Over 400 / 1 [410]

Over 300 / 2 [387, 364]

Over 200 / 2 [293, 203]

Some of these figures bear examining. 2-3 postings a week, what I asked for and was expecting, would have seen an average of 20 - 30 postings over the ten weeks necessary to accumulate the 40 points offered for this part of the course. Technically, 10 good postings at 4 marks each – and I graded the postings weekly, so that students always knew exactly where they stood – could have accounted for the grade.

The student who posted 66 times was assiduous in the computer work and logged on 1274 times, reading all 580 postings. A model student in many ways -- and yet, 1247 hits means that this student logged on approximately 100 times a week at an average of 14 times a day over a 13 week period!

Five students logged on over 900 times and that means 70 times a week or 10 times daily! At this stage, it is vital to ask the question: what are we doing to our students? Or, perhaps more accurately, what did I do to my students in this course? By extension, what did I do to myself? I spent every Saturday and Sunday morning, for about 4-6 hours each day, for 13 weeks, monitoring this course, grading these discussions, and working electronically one on one with these students. Quite simply, to complete the course effectively and to gain full benefit from it, the time and effort needed was exemplary, possibly way beyond the call of duty. Yet, such is the power and influence of Don Quixote, that several students made just that commitment, and more.

11 of the 17 students who actually started the course, finished the book on, or ahead of, time. Of these 11, 3 finished after the date and 1 (one) “fudged” the issue by assuming that I wouldn’t recognize input from various summarized versions of the text. Of the 6 who didn’t finish the reading exercise, the reasons were all similar: students fell behind in their reading, took one look at the large back up of postings as it was building up, and panicked. 2 students who panicked, came to see me early, broke down, and were put back together by the simple expedient of either increasing the chapters that they read daily, or by increasing the number of days they read per week. Both students easily caught up and were soon back to speed. Of all the students in the class, these two were – in many ways – my favourites, because they fell, only to rise again.

While not everybody managed to finish the whole book (Parts I and II), all students completed Don Quixote Part One (the 1605 edition, of which we are celebrating the fourth centenary) and I was very pleased by that fact. In their conversations with me, it became clear that students who did not complete the readings on their own needed the group encouragement and the class presence more than the others. These students had read what they had seen on the videos and hence had read what they already understood. The videos and in class discussions were absolutely essential to this group, but they found it extremely difficult to progress beyond the point at which the videos ended. This was, to me, one of the most interesting discoveries of the course, that a large group of 11 students could self-pace and self-manage, but that a tidy minority of 6 had found it most difficult to do so.

Those who were totally committed to the reading and writing process outlined above expanded their reading and writing abilities abilities enormously. There were clear and objective improvements in thought process, reading skills, analytical skill, research skills, and writing skills. I asked students to finish the term with an assessment of their own development within the course and was pleased by their own recognition of the patterns and skills that they had evolved during the course. Even the students who only finished Don Quixote, Part I, gained substantial and important knowledge of themselves, and of their reading and planning processes. I should add that Don Quixote became a topic of conversation throughout the Spanish section and that I am repeating the course this summer as an Independent Studies course for some students who were unable to take it last term. In addition, a surprising number of students not enrolled in the course have purchased copies of Don Quixote and are asking for the course to be re-offered next year.

In conclusion, I should add that the course evaluations were excellent, too. I have added some of the nicer comments to my slush file, for contemplating on those cold wet Friday mid-days, when life hardly seems worth living and the fires of teaching enthusiasm are slowly banking down!

Appendix 1
Some Comments on Structure
Relating the structure of the first sortie to the rest of the novel.

Here, as an example, are the comments I added at the end of week one's discussion on structure.

Novel or short story? The question is complex and it is further complicated by the intervention of the intentional fallacy which suggests that we never know what an author intends when he or she writes. That said, there are several things to consider. (1) The first sortie imitates very closely an Entremés (short interlude or play) entitled El Entremés de los Romances. Now considered to be anonymous, it was once thought to have been written by Cervantes. The first sortie parallels and parodies, in prose, this short play, thus establishing the undoubted links in Cervantes’s mind between theatre and prose and further suggesting that the original intention might have been to write a short story in imitation of the entremés.

This theory is reinforced by the tectonic or structural study of the Quixote, which suggests that the book went through a series of fundamental structural changes, especially in the first part (1605). One such structural problem, is the division of the 1605 Quixote (Part I) into four separate parts. Another structural problem is that of the chapter headings which, especially in chapters 1-5, occasionally intrude into the text, as though they separated a longer text and were placed there according to a different theory of writing (extended novel vs short story).

Some of these changes are pointed out in, for example, Martín de Riquer's edition of Don Quijote de la Mancha (Barcelona: Clásicos Universales Planeta, 1980; 4th edition: 1983):

DQ, 1, 3-4: DQ, I, 3 ends with " ... le dejó ir a la buena hora." Then there is the apparent insertion of the chapter number and epigraph, and this is followed by "La del alba sería." As Martín de Riquer notes: "El epígrafe de este capítulo, como el de otros (por ejemplo, I, 6), se insertó con posterioridad a la redacción de estas páginas, pero con tan poca fortuna que estas palabras son incomprensibles sin la lectura inmediatamente anterior de las finales del capítulo 3; o sea <<...le dejó ir a la buena hora. La[hora] del alba sería.>>

DQ, I, 5-6: In Martín de Riquer' edition, DQ, I, 5 ends with a comma and DQ, I, 6 begins with a small letter. Martín de Riquer makes the following point: "El epígrafe del presente capítulo, como el del 4, se insertó cuando ya estaban redactadas estas páginas, pero esta vez con tan poca fortuna que se cortó una frase de tal modo que dio lugar a un equívoco. El verdadero sentido de estas palabras se advierte si se prescinde del epígrafe." This would leave the end of DQ, I, 5 running into DQ, I, 6 in this fashion: "se vino a casa de don Quijote, [epígrafe] el cual aún todavía dormía." It should also be noted that the last words of the epigraph "nuestro ingenioso hidalgo" also run into the first words of DQ, I, 6.

This apparent insertion of the chapter heading does not always appear in the translations and many versions of Don Quixote are very corrupt and do not necessarily follow the original text closely. This commentary then has several functions: (a) to introduce the readers to the intricacies of the original text; (b) to warn against total reliance on the translations, many of which can be very corrupt indeed; (c) to encourage readers to return to the original text when they wish to quote; and (d) to encourage readers to read the original text, if they are willing and able to do so.

These two pieces of evidence lead many critics to suspect that Don Quixote began as a short story. Then, when the inn-keeper (characters creating other characters) suggests that Don Quixote find himself a squire, the idea of Sancho is suddenly born and in the second sortie two adventurers set out on a journey of adventures which eventually becomes an intriguing dialogue. In the first sortie then, the interest is in Don Quixote and what happens to him – how he gets himself knighted; how and why he returns home; – while in the second sortie, the interest in the adventures is maintained, but an additional element appears, that of the second main character and of the interplay between the two principle characters.

That Cervantes was still thinking and planning is shown at the end of DQ, I, 8 by the suspended narrative (with swords raised!) and the suspension of the tale while the "lost" manuscripts are discovered. These lost manuscripts allow Cervantes (historical author) to depart from his initial role as "implied author / narrator", to play a new role in the novel as an "implied reader who commentates", and to place a historian and a translator (fictitious, obviously, though there are apparently still some readers and critics who believe that Don Quixote can be linked to a now lost Arabic text) between author and text, and thus to break the link between the novelist and his creation, a link which was examined by the Spanish Inquisition and found to be innocent.

I think, as do others, that there is a realization, on the part of the author, somewhere during the first sortie, that a much, much bigger project than a short story was ready for development. Part One (1605) seems to have been initially established as a collection of tales and intercalated novels, much in the manner of the Heptameron or the Decameron, and these tales were joined together by the peripatetic, picaresque thread (I use the English term, rather than give picaresque its precise, Spanish meaning), of the protagonist’s wanderings. This changes to a more united narrative, the adventures at the Inn, towards the end of Part I. Later, on the second return journey to Don Quixote’s village (DQ, I, 47), we read the famous line which states that: que la épica también puede escribirse en prosa como en verso / the epic may also be written in prose as well as in verse. This realization, together with the ten year gap between parts I and II when combined with the written and spoken commentaries and criticism that were circulating, allowed Cervantes to reconsider his whole writing project.

As a result, we see in Part II, the transition from Renaissance to Baroque (and hence onwards to the modern novel) with the creation of the self-referring novel with which we are all so now familiar. Thus, as we approach Part 2 (1615) we will see how the intercalated novels (Renaissance and Italian) drop away and how the illusion / reality problem posed by the metatheatrical adventures at the Duke’s palace create a new reality within which Don Quixote and Sancho Panza will be forced to function. This creation of metatheatre, incidentally, corresponds in literature to what René Descartes would later call “The evil genius” who systematically deceives us.” This, then, is the Baroque addition, and we will be set some deep philosophical problems which have not yet been resolved by the critics. Hence on many occasions, potentialities must dominate the discussion for there is no single answer, just a set of possibilities.

One object, surrounded by various possible explanations, incidentally, is known as perspectivism: we each see the thing from our own situation and viewpoint. Initially, as with the windmills (giants / windmills) or the inn (castle / palace / inn), there is a "real" point of view. This is how the episode of the helmet of Mambrino / barber's basin begins. However, when an object’s form (the concave basin) changes with its function (the convex helmet), then Cervantes’s vision of reality demands a new language in which the neologism baciyelmo / bassinet is formed. This neologism allows the retention of both sides of a conflicting reality. These contradictions become even more complicated in the second part, and a genuine "confusion" is created at times as to what is actually real and what is actually happening! This aspect is developed during the ten year lapse between parts 1 and 2 and was most certainly never conceived in its entirety at the beginning of the novel.

I hope this very brief introduction helps you to look beyond the obvious answers and to delve into the text to examine what are some formidable questions, some of them well worthy of a doctoral thesis.

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