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From "Cocos" to "Escudos": Varieties of Humor in "the Adventure of the Enchanted Boat" (Don Quijote II, 29).

By Hispanofila

  • Release Date - Published: 2006-01-01
  • Book Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Author: Hispanofila
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From "Cocos" to "Escudos": Varieties of Humor in "the Adventure of the Enchanted Boat" (Don Quijote II, 29). Hispanofila read online review & book description:

HUMOR has been, and continues to be, a vexed question for critics of Don Quijote. If the book intends to provide "pasatiempo / al pecho melancolico y mohino / en cualquier sazon, en todo tiempo" (IV. 22-24), as Cervantes put it in his Viaje del Parnaso, then why is it that critics have to remind themselves periodically of the importance of this statement and rediscover humor as an essential aspect of Don Quijote? (1) One possible reason for this partial reluctance in the treatment of humor may be the general unfamiliarity that critics have with the principles and conventions of comedy in Cervantes' time. As Peter Russell observed some years ago, "maybe some of the unwillingness of Quixote critics to talk about in terms of its humor derives ... from an awareness that the critical tools that would make it possible to discuss it in satisfactory terms from that point of view are missing" (314). (2) Another reason could be the sheer scope of Cervantine humor, which "encompasses and integrates," as Adrienne Martin has recently argued, "a multitude of diverse, yet complimentary and overlapping comic currents and types" ("Humor" 162), making Don Quijote a veritable encyclopedia of Renaissance comedy. This essay is yet another attempt to emphasize the importance of humor in Don Quijote and to broaden our knowledge of its varieties and nuances by focusing on two comedic strategies that Cervantes employs in Part two, chapter 29, "De la Famosa Aventura del Barco Encantado." The first of these strategies has to do, as I will argue in the first part of my paper, with verbal choice and it refers, more specifically, to the use of the word cocos at the end of the chapter. The ethnic and geographic associations of this word play a key role in shaping the comic design of the adventure and contribute significantly to its narrative and thematic coherence. The second strategy is the debunking of the heroic ethos that inspires Don Quijote by showing its dependence on material means. The rescue operation that the mad hidalgo attempts in the enchanted boat involves the use of money, a reality which has no place in the world of chivalry and which Cervantes incorporates into the story in order to mock the heroic pose of the protagonist. The presence of money, and its comic effect in the adventure, is closely related, as I will argue in the second part of this essay, to Cervantes' experience as a captive in the "banos" or prison houses of Algiers. Critics and students of Don Quijote have read "The Adventure of the Enchanted Boat" from three different perspectives that emphasize continuity and its macrotextual dimension: novelistically, as a religious and autobiographical re-elaboration of the episode of the Cave of Montesinos; contextually, as a reference to the exploits and narratives of the "Conquista"; and intertextually, as a spoof of the conventional adventures of the books of chivalry. (3) My reading of this adventure in these initial pages underscores its individual status as "burla" or jocose episode and its dependence on verbal resources for the achievement of comic and narrative effectiveness. The key to this reading is the use of the word "cocos," which appears towards the end of the chapter and in relation to a group of millers who are processing flour inside the watermill where Don Quijote's boat is heading. These millers are, in Don Quijote's mind, giants and evil creatures that are holding captive a princess or a helpless knight in their waterside fortress and are the enemies he must defeat in order to prove his knightly valor. The millers of course have no clue about Don Quijote's intentions and try desperately to protect their mill by pushing away the boat with long poles. The fact that their clothes and faces are covered in flour, however, excites even more the imagination of Don Quijote, who identifies them with the "follones" and "vestiglos" he has read about in books of chivalry and refers to them as "cocos," a word which does not be

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From "Cocos" to "Escudos": Varieties of Humor in "the Adventure of the Enchanted Boat" (Don Quijote II, 29). book review From "Cocos" to "Escudos": Varieties of Humor in "the Adventure of the Enchanted Boat" (Don Quijote II, 29). ePUB; Hispanofila; Language Arts & Disciplines books.

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