Sunday, September 06, 2009

Abstract: "Holy Moley: Don Quijote's Significant Señal"

Miguel de Cervantes
(Image from Wikipedia)

In speaking of Holbrook Jackson yesterday, I mentioned my upcoming article for publication in Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America, "Holy Moley: Don Quijote's Significant Señal," to appear this autumn. For those with interest, here's the abstract:
Cervantes is known for using strong irony in his novel Don Quijote to satirize and ridicule various figures. In a famous scene in which a lady in distress named Dorothea describes a certain mole to be found as the identifying mark on the back of the hero who will free her father's kingdom from a fierce giant, Don Quijote is revealed to have precisely that sort of mole . . . more or less. As early as 1777, John Bowle noted the parallel to the story of the Muslim conqueror Tarif, who was identified by the presence of a mole on his right shoulder as the man who would conquer Spain. This tale of Tarif had been related in Miguel de Luna's True History of Don Rodrigo (Historia verdadera del Rey Don Rodrigo), published shortly before the publication of Don Quijote, and was surely known by Cervantes. Separately, Mercedes García-Arenal has recently noted the parallel between the Tarif story in Luna's True History and the qisas al-anbiya', i.e., "Stories of the Prophets," adapted from the Qur'an. The specific connection lies in the special mark of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, a 'mole' on his back, which identified him as the "seal of the prophets." Interestingly, Cervantes seems to adapt his passage concerning the revelation of Quijote's mole more closely to the 'mole' of Muhammad, thereby raising the question as to whether or not Cervantes intended to implicitly ridicule Muhammad. The article broaches the answer to this question.
I suppose that by virtue of my penultimate statement, this is not an especially politically correct article, but I try to be honest, which makes political correctness difficult to maintain . . . though I do try valiantly to maintain it.

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At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...thereby raising the question as to whether or not Cervantes intended to implicitly ridicule Muhammad..."

I don't know that it matters, but I would keep in mind Cervantes' participation at Lepanto as well as his lifespan beginning just at the end of the Reconquista.


At 3:32 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Exactly! Nail on the head, JK!

My paper notes precisely those points . . . among others.

Jeffery Hodges

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