Friday, January 03, 2014
"Menard's version, the narrator claims, is 'more subtle' and 'infinitely richer' than Cervantes'. Menard, who is both historically and linguistically removed from the seventeenth-century Spanish setting, has a wider variety of subjects, forms, languages, and techniques at his disposal, and his knowledge -- of theory, at least -- is greater than Cervantes', who had access only to everything up through 1604. These extra three centuries provide Menard with a vastly larger reservoir to draw from, and his skillful selection of form and subject makes him the greater genius. Menard's work 'points to a new conception of the historical novel'; Cervantes' work, by contrast, is merely a satire of his contemporary world in the contemporary language."

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