In Don Quixote, Cervantes often digresses from the narrative in order to address his audience and assure them of the narrative’s historic accuracy. In one instance, he diverts from the main narrative to comment:

“It is said that in the original manuscript of this history one reads that when Cide Hamete came to write this chapter his translator did not render it as the Moor had written it, with some sort of complaint against himself for having undertaken such a dry and limited history about Don Quixote” (Cervantes 776).

In his digression, Cervantes, conscious of his audience, discloses to them that the following chapter of the narrative is believed to be fabricated based on pretenses of an unreliable translator. Here, Cervantes addresses his narrative audience, or as Manfred Jahn explains, the “fictional audience addressed by the narrator” (Jahn N2.3.3). In order to validate and justify his narrative, Cervantes assures to his readers that if his account is in fact revealed to be false, the weight of this burden is to be placed on the translator. In addressing his narrative audience, Cervantes experiments with his narrative to allow the reader to have a more personal experience. In doing so, he also addresses an actual or authorial audience, the “audience of real readers addressed by the author” (Jahn N2.3.3).

  Guillermo Samperio’s narrative “She Lived in a Story” experiments with various methods of narration, including both homodiegetic narratives and heterdiegetic narratives. Manfred Jahn explains a homodiegetic narrative as “the story is told by a (homodiegetic) narrator who is also one of story’s acting characters” and a heterodiegetic narrative as “the story is told by a (heterodiegetic) narrator who is not present as a character in the story” (Jahn N1.10). In other words, a homodiegetic narrator is a first-person narrator and is an active participant of the story, while a heterodiegtic narrator is a third-person narrator, who is not an active participant in the actual story. The first narrator, a heterodiegtic narrator, describes the story of Guillermo Segovia, who also uses a heterodiegtic narrative to describe Ofelia’s story. Ofelia, the only character to do so, finally takes the role of homodiegetic narrator.

  Manfred Jahn’s “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative”, offers readers numerous methods of analyzing literature, characters, and ideas. In assessing a character’s psychological behavior and mannerisms, Jahn offers the notion of psychonarration which he defines to be the “ textual representation of a character’s conscious or unconscious mental states and processes, mainly by using forms of ‘narrative report of discourse’ or ‘narrated perception’” (Jahn N8.11). Jahn explains that when presented within a text, a character’s thoughts, whether or not they are aware of them, can be understood by how their behavior and their diction are presented. In Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story”, Guillermo Segovia’s own woes are made known via a heterodiegetic narrator (Jahn N1.10), or a third-person narrator, who explains that “Segovia was secretly disappointed that the emotion and confidence that had filled him had not been displayed before a more sophisticated public” (Samperio 54).

Don Quixote: Direct Discourse

September 25, 2011

In the narrative of Don Quixote, it is revealed to Don Quixote and Sancho that they are characters within a story:

“‘Neither can your presence belie your name, nor can your name fail to accredit your presence; there can be no doubt that you, sir, are the real Don Quixote de la Mancha, guide and lodestar of knight-errantry, in spite and in defiance of the one who has attempted to usurp your name and obliterate your deeds, as has the author of this book I have here’” (Cervantes 888).

Told via direct discourse, Don Quixote and Sancho learn that their adventures have been documented. Manfred Jahn defines direct discourse as a “direct quotation of a character’s speech (‘direct speech’) or (verbalized) thought (‘direct thought’)” (Jahn N8.5). The narrative of Don Quixote, despite being told via direct discourse, presents the characters often realizing that they exist within another story. Since the narrative allows readers to explore the characters’ exact thoughts and words, readers are able to better understand their points of view. The flabbergasted Don that explains this to Don Quixote and Sancho praises Don Quixote and his determination, despite efforts by others, including dishonest authors, to ruin him. In this instance, Don Quixote and Sancho are depicted as being conscious of existing within another narrative, in what Don Quixote would later reveal to be mere fabrications (Cervantes 888).

The Women Of Don Quixote

September 24, 2011

In Don Quixote, there are many depictions of women, some being temptresses and others being noble and good natured. While giving advice to Sancho, Don Quixote comments:

“‘If a beautiful woman comes to seek justice, turn your eyes away from her tears and your ears from her lamentations, and ponder over the merits of her plea, unless you want your reason to be drowned in her tears and your integrity in her lamentations’” (Cervantes 769).

In this example, Don Quixote reveals his beliefs on women. He explains that a woman can use her charm in order to persuade others into getting what she wants. He warns Sancho that in order to preserve his good reputation, he must not be fooled by such a charm but instead must consider the true nature of the woman’s request in order to maintain moral goodness in his final decision. Despite women, such as Altisidora, that try to impair Don Quixote’s judgement, he refuses to be influenced by them. Since Don Quixote believes that he is motivated by Dulcinea, he attempt to be good natured and serve others. Don Quixote’s opinions of women are founded on the belief that Dulcinea must be the epitome of the perfect, noble, and good-natured woman.

The Matrix Narrative

September 24, 2011

Manfred Jahn’s “Narratology: A Guide to the Theory of Narrative” offers readers a concise explanation of terms that are essential for critical responses and essays. He defines terms such as focalization, narratology, and the narrative levels. In doing so, his definitions enable readers to gain a better understanding of what such terms are and how they can be utilized in their own writing. A term that I have personally found useful was Jahn’s explanation of the matrix narrative. He explains that a matrix narrative is “a narrative containing an ’embedded’ or ‘hyponarrative’” (Jahn N2.4.1). A matrix narrative would be the story containing a story within it and which is not a story within another story. A matrix narrative can contain narratives within it, which can also contain narratives within themselves. This idea can be attributed to Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story”, in which there exists three narrative levels. The first would be the third-person omniscient narrator, followed by Guillermo Segovia’s narration, and finally Ofelia’s first-person narrative. Similarly, the matrix narrative is also present in Don Quixote, which is apparent in Cervantes’ digressions.

The Narrative Degrees

September 24, 2011

There are many authors who experiment with the voices and perspectives in their narratives. For instance, some authors tend to add a new perspective to their narrative by adding a story within a story. Manfred Jahn explains this idea as narrative levels by stating that:

“A first-degree narrative is a narrative that is not embedded in any other narrative; a second-degree narrative is a narrative that is embedded in a first-degree narrative; a third-degree narrative is one that is embedded in a second-degree narrative, etc.” (Jahn N2.4.2).

According to Jahn, a first-degree narrative is the first level of a story, one that is not placed within another story. A second-degree narrative would be the second level and would be the story within the first-degree story. The third-degree narrative would be placed in the second, and the degrees of narrative that would follow would do so in the respected sequence. In Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story”, Jahn’s theory of narrative levels are presented in the various voices throughout the story. The narrative begins with a third-person omniscient narrator, perhaps Samperio himself. This narrative would be the first-degree narrative and would be told from the first-degree narrator. It then transitions to the narrative of Guillermo Segovia’s voice who writes about Ofelia, a second-degree narrative which is placed within the first-degree narrative. The final narrative, the third-degree narrative placed within the second-degree narrative, is that of Ofelia’s, who takes the role of first-person narrator.

Accoring to Manfred Jahn, “The term ‘voice’ metaphorically invokes one of the major grammatical categories of verb forms — tense, mood, and voice” (Jahn N3.1). In a narrative, the details presented by the narrator are often presented within the confinements of time, an emotional disposition, and a character’s own thoughts. In Guillermo Samperio’s She Lived In A Story, the various narrative voices appear to be conscious of the others:

“I insist on thinking that he writes with his typewriter precisely what I write, word upon word, only one discourse and two worlds. Guillermo writes a story that is too pretentious; the central character could have my name. I write that he writes a story that I live in” (Samperio 60).

In this example, the first-person narrator, Ofelia, a character invented by Guillermo Segovia, becomes aware of her connection to Segovia. Having been born from Segovia’s imagination, Ofelia comments that the two characters exist because of one another. Ofelia recognizes that she and Segovia are not only a part of each other, but also creations of each other. Ofelia understands that her writing is a direct reflection of not only herself, but also of Segovia, drawn from a duality dynamic that the two share. In other words, Ofelia writes of Guillermo Segovia’s character, while Segovia himself writes of Ofelia.

Don Quixote

September 18, 2011

Despite Don Quixote’s eccentric behavior, the true nature of his character is revealed when he speaks to a traveler in regards to his son, who has decided to become a poet.

“‘If the poet is pure in his habits, he will be pure in his verses as well; the pen is the tongue of the soul; and his writings will be as are the concepts engendered in his soul; and when kings and princes find the miraculous art of poetry in prudent, virtuous and serious men, they honour, esteem and enrich them, and even crown them with the leaves of the tree that is never struck by lightning, as a sign that those who are honoured and whose temples are adorned with such crowns will never be attacked by anyone’” (Cervantes 589).

Don Quixote comments that a if a poet has good intentions for his work and its message, then he will be successful in his endeavors and respected for his contributions to the art. In this instance, although Don Quixote’s speech is made to encourage the traveler to support his son, it can also be attributed to his own character. Despite evidence that he has gone insane from reading too many books about knight errants, Don Quixote is motivated by good intentions to restore the admirable title that knight errants once held and in doing so, he wishes to help and protect others. His hopes of becoming a knight errant, which he claims to be partly driven by his love for Dulcinea, are made more clear when he aids others in their own dilemmas. Don Quixote often offers passing travelers and his companions, including Sancho, his opinions on their given situations, which tend to work to their favor, as Don Quixote, despite his erratic nature, advises them well.

Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” presents readers with a narrative told from distinct perspectives who share similar thoughts and notions. The story begins with Guillermo Segovia, contemplating emotions and characters as presented within a text, having just left a lecture that he has given. While driving home, he considers the similarities between an architect and a writer, and a house and text, respectively. Segovia concludes that:

“The architect who lives in a house that he designed and built himself is one of the few persons who may live in his fantasy. From his own perspective, the author is an artificer of the word, he designs stories and sentences so that the reader may live in the text.” (Samperio 55)

Segovia comments that an architect and an author are alike because they are both creators of art, which exists for the benefit and enjoyment of themselves, as well as others. “‘To live in a text,’ he insisted, despite his mental blanks” (56) must be a gateway into other perspectives. Segovia then becomes so fixated on the idea of a character existing and living within a text that he resolves to write a story about a beautiful actress named Ofelia. When the story transitions into that of Ofelia’s, Guillermo Segovia immediately draws the reader into her world of possible danger. Ofelia’s paranoia and awareness of being watched by an unknown entity lures the reader into Ofelia’s world, or what Segovia might call her house. As Ofelia’s voice takes over the role of first-person narrator, readers are presented with a perspective that shifts to parallel that of Segovia’s. Ofelia writes consciously of the watchful eye observing her every move, but comments that Guillermo Segovia, now a character within the text himself, would need to understand that “he is not being watched, but that he lives inside a gaze, that he is now part of a new way of seeing” (61). In this instance, if one is to consider the metaphor of similarities between the house and text, the reader is presented with two rooms in the same house or text. Segovia writes about Ofelia so that she may exist within a text, allowing the two creations, both the character and text, to figuratively come to life. However, when Ofelia is given a first-person narrative voice, it is as though Segovia is pulled into the text himself, and now lives alongside Ofelia in the house. Because the narrative begins with a third-person omniscient narrator, one can imagine that perhaps it is this narrator, who first builds the house and then allows Segovia to live in it, who then rents a room to Ofelia.