Inventing the Romantic Don Quixote in France : Jansenists, Rousseau, and British Quixotism book cover
1st Edition

Inventing the Romantic Don Quixote in France
Jansenists, Rousseau, and British Quixotism

  • Available for pre-order on March 24, 2023. Item will ship after April 14, 2023
ISBN 9781032467252
April 14, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 30 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $170.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Cervantes’ now mythical character of Don Quixote began far differently from the altruistic righter of wrongs we know today. The transformation from mad highway robber to secular saint took place in the Romantic Era, but how and where it began has just begun to be understood. France and England played major roles, but, contrary to earlier literary historians, Pascal, Racine, Rousseau and the Jansenists scooped Henry and Sarah Fielding. Jansenism, a persecuted puritanical and intellectual group linked to Pascal, identified itself with Don Quixote’s virtues, excused his vices, and wrote a game-changing sequel mediated by the transformative powers of a sorcerer from Commedia dell’Arte. As an early Romantic, Rousseau was attracted to the hero’s fertile imagination and tender love for Dulcinea, foregrounding the would-be knight’s quest in a play and his best-selling novel, Julie. Sarah Fielding reacted similarly, basing her utopian novel David Simple on the Jansenist concept of quixotic trust in others. Colahan here reproduces and explains for the first time the extremely rare original illustrations of the French sequel to Cervantes’ novel, and documents the fortunes in French culture of the magician at the heart of the Romantic Quixote.

Table of Contents


Author’s foreword



Chapter One: Hagiography and the religious side of Don Quixote’s parodic journey

Cervantes’ use of saints’ lives

St. Thomas of Villanueva

Traits and adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho running parallel to those of Brother Thomas.

Chapter Two: The Jansenist milieu

The Filleau brothers and Jansenism

Jansenist teachings

Filleau de la Chaise’s essay on Pascal’s Pensées

Chapter Three: Don Quixote’s rise toward moral exemplarity

A Jansenist tone

Protestant affinities

Dulcinea and faith

Chapter Four: Don Quixote as high moral achiever

Transforming Don Quixote and Sancho

Don Quixote doing good in the world, mostly

Pride goes before a fall

Chapter Five: Sancho as backsliding social climber

Toward the utopia of fraternity and equality

Increasing day by (every other) day in wisdom and strength

Chapter Six: Reason, trust, and which way lies happiness?


Parafaragaramus and confusing choices

Chapter Seven: Magicians in Commedia dell’Arte and the Quixote sequel

"The Fake Necromancer"

Practical jokers

"Mother Goose" and "The Barrel"

The magician as director of tragi-comedy

Chapter Eight: Rousseau’s recasting of Parafaragaramus

Trickery versus tenderness

Taking courage through trust

Justice versus sadism in society

Chapter Nine: Magician Overboard Downstream

Benevolent and effective

All-knowing denouncer of misdeeds

Active pursuer of delinquents

Thief of happiness

Stage magician

Object of Ridicule

Magician as dangerous scientist harming nature

Chapter Ten: The British Don Quixote: good-humored laughter and utopias

Sarah Fielding on selfless friendship and Henry Brooke on Don Quixote’s humanitarianism

The split English reaction to Don Quixote’s ‘Enthusiasm’

Rousseau’s impact

Coleridge and Don Quixote through the lens of German philosophy

Chapter Eleven: Rousseau’s Julie - reliving Don Quixote’s failed quest

Summary and Take-away

Works Cited


View More



Clark Colahan is Anderson Professor of Humanities, Emeritus, at Whitman College. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Spanish and French literature of the Early Modern period and the Enlightenment. Two of his studies are Writing Knowledge and Power: the Visions of Sor María de Agreda. (University of Arizona) and Spanish Humanism on the Verge of the Picaresque (Leuven University). He is the co-author of the English translation of Cervantes’ last novel, The Trials of Persiles and Sigismunda (University of California).