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Agbar Foundation / News / Francisco Rico: ‘Literary texts such as Don Quixote must be explained in human, and not just literary, terms’

26 May 2016

Francisco Rico: ‘Literary texts such as Don Quixote must be explained in human, and not just literary, terms’

At the latest Water Circle, the philologist Francisco Rico highlighted the ‘unprecedented’ publishing success in European literature and the human dimension of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece.

In the lecture, entitled ‘An Invitation to Quixote’, Francisco Rico, philologist, PhDHon from the University of Bologna and professor of Medieval Literature at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, highlighted Miguel de Cervantes’ supreme work as ‘an unprecedented publishing success in European arts’ and praised the author’s ability to create grotesque yet natural characters. The philologist stressed, ‘One sees Don Quixote as a friend; a bond of friendship is established between the reader and the central character which is difficult to appreciate in other chivalric characters’.

In Francisco Rico’s opinion, the different characters in the book, although not as important as the gentleman from La Mancha, ‘have a human dimension that makes them admirable and unrepeatable. All of them have their facets and subtleties, and all of them are liked by the reader because of their human dimension’. In this context, he added that Cervantes ‘respects and is tolerant towards all these characters’ points of view. The ability to synthesise these different points of view is possibly the most modern moral lesson from Don Quixote’.

In the philologist’s opinion, the masterpiece, written by Miguel de Cervantes, considered the most famous Spanish writer of all time, the 4th centenary of whose death is being celebrated this year, is an eternally modern text, in which fiction and reality are mixed to create a text that highlights the narrative dimension of life. ‘We are inventing our own lives, in which things sometimes work out and sometimes don’t, where we propose the actions in which we can become immersed. And this is the theme of Don Quixote, as with all novels: to live narrating’, he stated.

Francisco Rico also stressed the close links between the book and Don Quixote and Barcelona, ‘the city where the book has been published most often and where the first facsimile edition of the book was published’.

Angel Simón, Agbar’s Chairman and CEO, introduced the speaker, at an event that could be followed live on the Agbar Foundation’s Twitter account at the hashtag #CercleAigua.

Philologist, awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bologna and professor of Medieval Literature at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Francisco Rico has given us studies on medieval and Renaissance topics and the most authorised editions of classic texts such as Lazarillo de Tormes, The Knight of Olmedo and, in particular, Don Quixote. His latest and most complete edition of this work by Miguel de Cervantes was presented in 2015. That same year, the Council of Ministers awarded him the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts. He is also the director of the Spanish Royal Academy Classics Library (BCRAE) collection, which includes among its 111 titles the complete works of Miguel de Cervantes.

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