Don Quixote

by: Miguel de Cervantes

The Second Part, Chapters LXVII–LXXIV

The end of the novel is deeply concerned with authorship. The novel’s conclusion abounds with insults against the counterfeit sequel to the history of Don Quixote. These insults include the remarks about the musician who justifies plagiarism, the tale of the devils who throw the book into hell, and Don Alvaro’s disavowal of the counterfeit Don Quixote. Cervantes allows Benengeli to have the last word, which supports the idea that Cervantes has merely been translating Benengeli’s text all along. At the end of the novel, Cervantes clings to his legacy as the bearer of Don Quixote’s tale just as Don Quixote tries to preserve his name through Don Alvaro.

Even as Benengeli attempts to tear apart traditional chivalric texts, he elevates Don Quixote to an heroic status. Benengeli says that Don Quixote needed him to survive throughout history but adds that he needed Don Quixote in order to write. Cervantes’s purpose in writing Don Quixote is much greater than simple self-glorification, a fact Cervantes highlights by distancing himself from the final words of the text. Benengeli admits that his purpose in writing was to show that chivalric tales are ridiculous, because they deny reality and gloss over the tragedy of trying to live an ideal, romantic life in an imperfect world. Benengeli wants his historical account of Don Quixote to put to rest any remaining chivalric tales that fail to highlight the tragic elements of knight-errantry—tragic elements so evident in the character of Don Quixote. Though Don Quixote’s chivalric spirit and physical body may die, the final paragraph of the novel heightens our sympathy for Don Quixote, ensuring that he will live on with us.