Notions of authorship, creator, and creatures, as well as of love, folly, and imagination, dominate Salman Rushdie’s and Ariel Dorfman’s retellings of Don Quixote.
I don’t think I understand what Don Quixote is about, and I don’t think anybody knows what Don Quixote is about.
—Keith Dewhurst, author of the play Don Quixote (1982)
Miguel de Cervantes concluded The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha in 1605 with a phrase in Italian from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso: “Forse altro canterà con miglior plettro” (Perhaps another will sing with a better [guitar] pick). While his book was selling in record numbers, Cervantes turned to short stories and pastoral poetry. In 1614 the pseudonymous Alonzo Fernández de Avellaneda published an unauthorized sequel to Don Quixote, prompting a furioso Cervantes to publish his own second volume of the novel a year later. Attributing its authorship, as he had that of volume 1, to the mythical Arab scholar Cid Hamet Benengeli, Cervantes exacted revenge. In chapter 70, devils battered the presumptuous Fernández’s manuscript with tennis rackets so “that the very insides flew out of it”:
“Away with it,” cried the first devil, “down with it, plunge it to the lowest pit of Hell, where I may never see it more.” “Why is it such sad stuff?” said the other. “Such intolerable stuff,” cried the first devil, “that if I and all the devils in Hell should set their heads together to make it worse, it were past our skill.”
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