Law and History in Cervantes' Don Quixote is a deep consideration of the intellectual environment that gave rise to Cervantes' seminal work. Susan Byrne demonstrates how Cervantes synthesized the debates surrounding the two most authoritative discourses of his era - those of law and history - into a new aesthetic product, the modern vel. Byrne uncovers the empirical underpinnings of Don Quixote through a close philological study of Cervantes' sly questioning of and commentary on these fields. As she skilfully demonstrates, while sixteenth-century historiographers and jurists across southern Europe sought the philosophical nexus of their fields, Cervantes created one through the adventures of a protagonist whose history is all about justice. As such, Law and History in Cervantes' Don Quixote illustrates how Cervantes' art highlighted the inconsistencies of juridical-historical texts and practice, as well as anticipated the ultimate resolution of their paradoxes.
Susan Byrne is an associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Yale University.