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Iconic Quixote: from popular romance to comic strips

Fighting windmills: the many interpretations of Don Quixote

The image and perception of Don Quixote changed throughout the centuries and reflected the reshaping of ideas in different times. This section deals with beautifully illustrated popular adaptations of the novel from the 19th and 20th centuries in England and the United States. Most of them belong to the Waddleton Collection at the University Library.

If earlier Don Quixote was seen as a satiric representation, German Romantics consolidated the interpretation of the knight as an emblematic figure of passion, honour, bravery and idealism. Great artists (such as Goya or Delacroix) would portray him in independent works: Don Quixote was a myth all by himself.

Thanks to the popularisation of education and print in Victorian times, children’s literature flourished and images took a more important role in accompanying text. In this framework, Don Quixote’s legendary position became very useful: it could be educational and amusing too. And it is the latter aspect that would emerge as one of the key readings of the work in the 20th century.

Clara Panozzo