Don Quixote in the Archives: Madness and Literature in Early Modern Spain

Lorna Margaret Hutson (Editor), Dale Shuger

Research output: Book/ReportBook


A new reading of madness in Don Quixote based on archival accounts of insanity

From the records of the Spanish Inquisition, Dale Shuger presents a social corpus of early modern madness that differs radically from the 'literary' madness previously studied. Drawing on over 100 accounts of insanity defences, many of which contain statements from a wide social spectrum - housekeepers, nieces, doctors, and barbers - as well as the testimonies of the alleged madmen and women themselves, Shuger argues that Cervantes' exploration of madness as experience is intimately linked to the questions about ethics, reason, will and selfhood that unreason presented for early modern Spaniards.

In adapting, challenging and transforming these discourses, Don Quixote investigates spaces of interiority, confronts the limitations of knowledge - of the self and the world - and reflects on the social strategies for diagnosing and dealing with those we cannot understand. Shuger discovers an intimate connection between Cervantes's integration of this discourse of madness and his part in forging the new genre of the European novel.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages232
ISBN (Print)9780748644636
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012

Publication series

NameEdinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture
PublisherEdinburgh University Press


  • madness
  • literature
  • Cervantes


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