Title

Jan Potocki’s Manuscript Found in Saragossa, Cervantes’s Don Quijote, and the Picaresque Tradition

Subject Area

Comparative Literature

Abstract

Written originally in French over a span of about twenty years and never published in its entirety during the author’s life, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse), by the Polish aristocrat Jan Potocki (1761-1815), is generally considered to be one of the first and most influential Gothic novels. It is a frame tale whose complex structure is reminiscent of Boccaccio’s Decameron and of the short story collection The Thousand and One Nights, and its sixty-six chapters encapsulate many different kinds of stories, from horror to erotic to supernatural tales to fictional accounts loosely based on historical events. Potocki’s masterpiece has garnered a fair amount of critical attention and has been the subject of several scholarly editions and translations. However, very few critics have considered the novel from the standpoint of the picaresque genre, and they have consistently overlooked its links to Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quijote, two aspects which are essential to a thorough understanding of the work. In an attempt to fill this critical void, my paper traces the intertextual relationships established between the novels of Potocki and Cervantes, as well as offering a close analysis of the picaresque features that shape many of the tales included in Potocki’s Manuscript, thereby inscribing the work within a fruitful, ongoing literary tradition—the picaresque—that moves freely across time periods and transnational boundaries.

Brief Bio Note

Dr. Anton Garcia-Fernandez is Assistant Professor of Spanish Language and Literature at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He earned his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and his main area of research is Spanish sixteenth- and seventeenth-century literature, with a particular emphasis on criminal fiction written in this time period in both Spain and England. He also conducts research on the history of the novel from a comparative standpoint. He is married, has a two-year-old daughter, and in his free time he enjoys listening to, reading, and writing about jazz.

Keywords

Picaresque, Spanish literature, French literature, Jan Potocki, Miguel de Cervantes, Fiction, Criminal literature

Location

Coastal Georgia Center

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

4-7-2016 9:20 AM

End Date

4-7-2016 9:40 AM

Embargo

11-9-2015

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Apr 7th, 9:20 AM Apr 7th, 9:40 AM

Jan Potocki’s Manuscript Found in Saragossa, Cervantes’s Don Quijote, and the Picaresque Tradition

Coastal Georgia Center

Written originally in French over a span of about twenty years and never published in its entirety during the author’s life, The Manuscript Found in Saragossa (Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse), by the Polish aristocrat Jan Potocki (1761-1815), is generally considered to be one of the first and most influential Gothic novels. It is a frame tale whose complex structure is reminiscent of Boccaccio’s Decameron and of the short story collection The Thousand and One Nights, and its sixty-six chapters encapsulate many different kinds of stories, from horror to erotic to supernatural tales to fictional accounts loosely based on historical events. Potocki’s masterpiece has garnered a fair amount of critical attention and has been the subject of several scholarly editions and translations. However, very few critics have considered the novel from the standpoint of the picaresque genre, and they have consistently overlooked its links to Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quijote, two aspects which are essential to a thorough understanding of the work. In an attempt to fill this critical void, my paper traces the intertextual relationships established between the novels of Potocki and Cervantes, as well as offering a close analysis of the picaresque features that shape many of the tales included in Potocki’s Manuscript, thereby inscribing the work within a fruitful, ongoing literary tradition—the picaresque—that moves freely across time periods and transnational boundaries.