Summary | Contributors | Etexts | Publications


Our studies of Cervantes are focused on his major prose writings, Don Quijote de la Mancha, the Novelas ejemplares and Persiles y Sigismunda. We are interested in all aspects of Cervantine studies, but our work has special reference to three main areas of enquiry:

  • form, structure and narrative technique
  • humour and irony
  • material culture, especially food, sickness and exile

Although Cervantes has come to be regarded as a universal genius, we strongly believe that the best way to approach his work is from within its historical context. Barry Ife has recently argued this point in the chapter on 'Cervantes and his World' which he contributed to the Cambridge Companion to Cervantes, edited by Anthony Cascardi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).1

The reception of Cervantes in England is important to our parallel project on Anglo-Spanish Literary Relations.

layout text
1. layout text A short quotation: 'Cervantes's career —from soldier to tax-gatherer, from unpromising writer to literary celebrity—makes a historicist approach to his work particularly appropriate. Reputation has transformed the historical Cervantes into a universal genius, independent of time or place; yet the very work which made his name, Don Quijote, is not only profoundly steeped in the social and economic reality of Habsburg Spain, but has anachronism as its central theme. So we have two leaps of the historical imagination to make if we want to place Cervantes in context: back to the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, to the reigns of Philip II and Philip III; and then beyond that to the late medieval world of knight errantry which Don Quixote was so keen to revive. Don Quijote telescopes together nearly 150 years of Spanish history, and unless we adjust our sights accordingly, we are likely to misread the complex relationships between past and present which are a central theme of Cervantes's fiction.'
layout text layout text
layout text
layout text layout text