Knights in Love: Don Quixote and Tirant lo Blanc
Mira, Joan Francesc
Paper given at Readings in Catalan fiction Conference (2006)
The discussion of two classics of European literature such as Don Quixote and Tirant lo Blanc in the presence of an American public perhaps entails some sort of introduction to the stories of medieval and renaissance knights, their transformation into a novel with a historical feel to it in the hands of the Valencian Joanot Martorell, and the radical critique expounded by the Castilian Miguel de Cervantes. Moreover, in the case of the particular theme we are about to discuss, a reconsideration of the concept of honor, both masculine and feminine, within the European culture of the 15th and 16th centuries is necessary. Between the times of the adventures of Tirant lo Blanc and Don Quixote, more than a century went by, in which great political and social upheavals occurred, literary and aesthetic innovations. Nevertheless, certain fundamental values were perhaps transformed to a lesser degree, such as those which determined the cultural models of knight and lady, the feminine and masculine ideals, and the associated judgments and prejudices. But instead of continuing with this historical and theoretical introduction, I’d rather deal directly with the theme I’ve proposed to discuss, and which I consider especially revealing as regards certain social and literary values which belong just as much to the present day as to those past times.