1st Edition

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

By Clark Colahan Copyright 2023
    226 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Cervantes’ now mythical character of Don Quixote began as a far different figure than 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. Germany 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 movement 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.

    Introduction of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons [Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)] 4.0 license.


    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



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