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New Left Review I/68, July-August 1971

Pierre Vilar

The Age of Don Quixote

Masterpieces have a date. Today, too many theories in flight before history make the history of thought into ‘a discontinuous series of singular totalities’. But those who are not alarmed by the future dare savour to the full the draught of concrete history which every masterpiece distils for us. For there is no structure so alien, no conjuncture so remote, that man’s intelligence cannot penetrate it, if armed (and if we, too, arm ourselves) with an understanding of man. Thus Don Quixote, this ‘universal’ book, this ‘eternal’ book, is first and foremost a Spanish book of 1605. It only gathers its full meaning in its true historical setting.

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Pierre Vilar, ‘The Age of Don Quixote’, NLR I/68: £3

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