The Humble Story of Don Quixote: Reflections on the Birth of the Modern Novel—by Cesáreo Bandera

The Humble Story of Don Quixote, written by a master of mimetic theory (Bandera), applies mimetic theory to better understand what is arguably the greatest novel ever written—or at least the first modern novel ever written. Don Quixote occupied such a high place in the great Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky’s opinion that he said this of it:

“In the whole world there is no deeper, on mightier work. This is, so far, the last and greatest expression of human thought…And if the world were to come to an end, and people asked there, somewhere: “Did you understand your life on earth, and what conclusions have you drawn from it?”—man could silently hand over Don Quijote.”

The epitaph which opens Chapter 1 of this book.

Don quixote is the mimetic man par excellence. Everything he does is motivated by imitation, from his initial reading of novels of chivalry to the suggestions of his squire, Sancho Panza. This book is the best explanation of Don Quixote available, and it is thoroughly Girardian in nature.

Of particular interest in this book is chapter 10: The Desire of the Obstacle. The chapter concerns itself with the self-inflicted failure that one caught in the cycle of destructive mimetic desire is subjected to, much like Dostoevsky’s Underground Man.

About the Author

Cesáreo Bandera was Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, former Director of the Program in Comparative Literature at SUNY at Buffalo, and former President of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion.