Why “Don Quixote” Teaches Us to Think Outside the Narration Box

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

434766_don_quixote_de_la_mancha_1Today I am continuing a two-part reflection on why authors (or anyone interested in the art of narration) should read “Don Quixote.” Yesterday’s post was about “Don Quixote” as the first modern novel and the complexity of its levels of narration.

Today I want to discuss what are called the “interpolated stories” in “Don Quixote.” These are tales that are inserted into the major narrative about the knight and his squire. Sometimes a minor character tells the story of his or her past. In one famous example (the Tale of the Curious Impertinent or “el curioso impertinente”) an innkeeper reads a story a guest left at his inn.

What is interesting here is that “Don Quixote” has an interesting mix of stories told in first or third person. While the stories about the protagonist and his squire are technically told in the first person, they read like third person because…

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