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18 / 06 / 2004
Anthony Cascardi: The myth of el Quijote may be false but it can be applied to the current policy of life

Experts in Cervantes´ work participated in last session of the dialogue “Don Quijote and Modern Thought” organized by the State Society of Cultural Commemorations.

The professor of the University of Berkeley of California, Anthony J.Cascardi, spoke about El Quijote “as an icon and stated that the reader is the one who makes the decision about what is true and what is false, only he or she can decide through the images the text makes the reader imagine.” For Cascardi, “the images are needed to mediate reality, and, in this sense, Cervantes maintains the imaginative nature of the conscience, and with this manages to construct an ideology in political life.” Cervantes, as well as Descartes, tried to distinguish the role of myths as well as to know what is inaccessible, which is why the myth of El Quijote “may be false but can still be applied to current political life,” Cascardi concluded.

José María Paz Gago, from the University of la Coruña, spoke about the relationship between technology and El Quijote. For Gago, El Quijote “is not only the first modern novel but it also serves to show the technology of the time and the new technologies that would come afterwards, even, including in literary terms.” Gago pointed out that more than “deal with the advanced techniques of the time, it makes a reference to the application of technologies that were used 300 years later.” The context of El Quijote is during the reign of Felipe II who wanted to collect scientists and mathematicians for scientific advances, so El Quijote “describes the technological panorama at the end of 16th and 17th centuries, citing windmills, hydraulic technology, and the robotic horse.” The scientific and technological activity represents the incorporation of scientific humanism in the time of Felipe II, Cervantes “was advanced in everything, including the technological sphere,” Gago concluded.

The professor at the University of Boston, James Iffland, explained that “the act of reading is pressured by its analytical side which may create many interpretations conditioned by our educative culture as well as by the editorial presentation of the text.” In this sense, a text is full of spaces or indeterminate places that the reader can keep filling in and generating meanings. For this “authors try not to project a complete image into the reader’s mind because this doesn’t leave anything to the reader’s imagination,” Iffland said. In this sense, the image of El Quijote “greatly affected the readers, and many people even know the iconic image of El Quijote without ever having read the book.” With a slideshow, the professor of the University of Boston showed the extensive iconography of El Quijote and Quijote’s large contribution to people’s imagination.

Eduardo Urbina, from the University of Texas, explained the project of creating a digital library that “would work as a studio in collaboration with the work of Cervantes.” The library will deal with the perception of El Quijote as a visual text for developing new methods of studying the content of the work. “El Quijote, has become a great iconographic entry, it is a much talked about and little read myth,” Urbina said. Carlos Alvar from the University of Geneva explained the project of the Gran Enciclopedia Cervantina that will be prepared for 2005 and in which all the studies, publications, and annotations on El Quijote will be brought together.