Peter Handke's Reception of Cervantes's "Don Quixote" in "Der Bildverlust"

Gabriele Ruth Eckart

Abstract


Peter Handke's novel Der Bildverlust: oder Durch die Sierra de Gredos (2002) is up to this date the last literary text by an Austrian writer that creatively refers to Cervantes's novel Don Quixote of la Mancha (1605). This paper proposes to examine similarities and differences between the two novels. To give an example, the third of Handke's three epigraphs is one of the many quotations from Miguel de Cervantes's work that are sprinkled throughout Handke's novel. This epigraph -- "But, perhaps, knighthood and enchantments nowadays must take paths different from those of the ancients" (5) -- indicates that Handke's novel probably will tell a modern, more political version of the old tale of knight-errantry and enchantments. Indeed, the 759-page-long text is an adventure novel. The main protagonist, a German woman, sallies out to cross a high mountain range in Spain to accomplish a business deal with an author who lives in the region of Cervantes's La Mancha. However, the "evil giants" she has to fight with on this journey are not windmill sails, but modern Western media images... Her adventurous journey across the Sierra de Gredos becomes a painful spiritual pilgrimage; her critical quest is a vision quest.

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