Miguel de Cervantes, Early Modern Spain, and the Challenges to the Meaning of Islam

in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
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Abstract

Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616) wrote a number of texts, among them Don Quijote and El amante liberal [The generous lover], that critique the narrow optics and false binaries that govern the description of both Christian and Muslim identity. In this essay I show how the strategies of dismantling binaries work in the case of El amante liberal in particular, and how the current scholarship on early modern Spain's (and especially Cervantes') engagement with Islam is a fruitful place to challenge the monolithic visions that command depictions of Islam. Given Cervantes' role as a pioneer for modernity in fiction, his complex portrayals of Islam also relate to the advent of modernity in Western literature.

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