Review blurbs: Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote

Reviews of Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote:

“This is a most important and original study that deserves a central and special place in the vast bibliography on Cervantes. Susan Byrne’s highly sophisticated use of archival research, developed in her historical and philological approach to Don Quixote’s text, greatly helps to reconstruct anew the ideological contexts of the writer and of the ‘idle readers’ of his time.”   (Isaías Lerner, Graduate Center, CUNY, jacket, Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote)

“Stimulating and illuminating, Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote makes a strong case for the argument that Cervantes’ brushes with and knowledge of law were sufficient for him to incorporate its multiple threads throughout the novel. Susan Byrne consistently reveals her thorough knowledge of the confusing compendia that form Spanish jurisprudence as Cervantes would have known it. Byrne’s success in identifying legal issues in numerous episodes of the novel (beyond what most twentieth- and twenty-first-century editors have noted) and bringing to light the writings of … Paolo Giovio make this book a major contribution to the research on Cervantes.”   (Charles Victor Ganelin, Miami University, jacket, Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote)

“Se trata de otro estudio de fausta trascendencia que todo especialista en el Siglo de Oro debiera leer atentamente… Law and History in Cervantes’ Don Quixote muestra, inteligentemente y por medio de un sólido estudio de las leyes de la época, cómo Cervantes reparó en los vericuetos y contradicciones de la ley y el orden para, también por esa vía, hacer de su obra maestra una reflexión sobre su sociedad. La labor de Byrne y sus conclusiones constituyen una aportación esencial para el entendimiento de la concepción del Quijote como una obra plenamente moderna. Se trata, en definitiva, de otro estudio de lectura obligada para todo cervantista y para todo estudioso de la historia de la novela española.”   (J.A.G. Ardila, University of Edinburgh, Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 90.7, 2013)

“Learned and insightful, Susan Byrne’s book provides a new look at Cervantes’ masterpiece through the lenses of law and history in order to highlight and clarify how the novel engages in specific arguments that foreground these topics… thoughtful and discerning study… clear and precise analysis… This is a dense and well-researched book, one that is constantly moving us from insight to curious anecdote to startling archival revelation.”  (Frederick A. de Armas, University of Chicago, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, June 2013)

“Through her thorough study of the law codes in particular, Byrne successfully shows Cervantes’ masterpiece to be even more rich in its wordplay and critical in its social commentary than was previously known. Byrne offers many such nuggets of insight into textual details that should enrich future interpretation and therefore make this book required reading for Cervantes scholars.” (Rachel Schmidt, University of Calgary, Revista Canadiense de Estudios Hispánicos 37.3, 2013)

“This remarkable work is the first to consider systematically the relationship between law, literature, and history in Cervantes’ novel, and to provide the documentation backing this endeavor.”  (Laurent de Sutter, Vrije Universiteit Brussels, Law and Literature 26.1, 2014)

“This is a substantive work of investigation, analysis, and meta-criticism.” (Edward H. Friedman, Vanderbilt University, Choice Reviews Online 50.8, April 2013)

“After the earlier chapters’ careful historical contextualization of the legal system and of debates surrounding the writing of history, the second half of the book brings this context to bear on the works of Cervantes. The result is a philological tour-de-force: a series of close readings that leave no doubt about Cervantes’ deep engagement with legal and historical debates. Byrne offers new, illuminating readings of Don Quixote’s confrontation with the windmills, of his freeing of the galley slaves, and of his rejection of knight errantry at the end of the novel… Byrne’s erudite and thoroughly researched book is an indisputable contribution to Cervantes studies and, more broadly, to the studies of early modern Spain.”   (Mary Quinn, University of New Mexico, Bulletin of Spanish Studies, 17 Dec. 2015)

“Having studied Don Quixote for twenty-five years, I cannot recall a more efficient delivery of its meaning… Byrne’s panorama of a ‘society overwhelmed by laws that no one observed’ perfectly complements her idea that DQ is ‘a parody whose referent is, frequently, not a book of chivalry but a legal text’.”  (Eric C. Graf, Universidad Francisco Marroquin, Modern Philology 112.1, August 2014)

“Through the use of history and jurisprudence, Byrne is able to explain passages in the Quixote that are often dismissed as errors by modern editors. To fully appreciate the cohesiveness of her text, one must truly read it. Her erudite analysis of the text provides a fresh perspective on the Quixote, one that all Cervantes scholars should consider reading.”   (Shannon Polchow, University of South Carolina, Upstate, Hispania 97.3, September 2014)

“se presenta un impresionante análisis filológico de secuencias narrativas claves de Don Quijote… El análisis textual de glosas jurídicas y códigos legales aporta nuevas interpretaciones a estas narraciones.”  (Carmen Rabell, Universidad de Puerto Rico – Río Piedras, Hispanic Review 83, 2015)

“The central thesis of this book… is convincing and, more important, interesting. Susan Byrne succeeds in the ever-more-challenging task of shedding new light on Don Quixote through her careful tracing of the ways in which his dialogue with Giovio and Baeza helped Cervantes to forge the modern novel.”  (Barbara Simerka, Queens College, CUNY, Renaissance Quarterly 66.4, Winter 2013)