Cervantes had a troll

October 14, 2020

As is well-known, after Cervantes published what is known today as Volume 1 of “Don Quixote,” a man writing under the pen-name of Avellaneda de Tordesillas wrote his own sequel to Cervantes’ novel, upon which Cervantes promptly finished his own sequel, which today is known as Volume 2 of “Don Quixote.”

Cervantes then allowed one of his own characters to chance upon a copy of the false sequel, in Vol. II, ch. 59 of “Don Quixote.” It is said that Cervantes had advanced up to ch. 59 in his own writing, when that book was published. 

In any case, for a novelist to include in his own plot a book written by someone else is nothing unusual; but it’s truly dizzying that in ch. 72 he brings in one of the fictional characters of that book, Don Álvaro Talfe, into his own novel. 

So in the same way that Don Quijote and Sancho Panza are “in a book,” so is Don Álvaro Talfe “in a book”.  In fact, all these characters really are in two books.

It’s not known with any certainty who Avellaneda was; some say he could be Lope de Vega, a bitter rival to Cervantes.  Avellaneda’s bitter preface to his book accuses Cervantes of being jealous of Lope de Vega.  If Lope de Vega was the author of this false sequel, then “Avellaneda” was not just a pen-name, but a virtual sock-puppet, and a troll to boot.

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