Guest Lecture: "Decoding Don Quijote: Solving the Mystery behind Cervantes's 50-Year-Old-Virgin"

March 11, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.00.34 PMOn March 24 at 7 p.m., the Department of Romance, German, Russian Languages & Literatures and the SGSA will host a guest lecture by Dr. Sherry Valasco (USC) titled “Decoding Don Quijote: Solving the Mystery behind Cervantes’s 50-Year-Old-Virgin.”

Readers, scholars, artists, and filmmakers have struggled to understand the psychological, physiological, and cultural factors behind Cervantes’s infamous “chaste lover.” Don Quixote’s romantic desire for women is apparent throughout the novel and yet our secular hero is unwilling or unable to act on these impulses. The erotic tension and conflict that emerge when the natural urges of Don Quixote and his “constant companion” Rocinante get them into trouble become a major source of comedy in the nov-el while also inviting the reader to contemplate more serious issues implicit in the juxtaposition of lust and unfulfilled sexual consummation.

This presentation will analyze the recurrent clues that Cervantes provides his readers (such as the sex-ually-charged metaphors and double-entendres as well as the explicit and hidden references to classical mythology) to understand what motivated the author to create perhaps the first and most memorable 50-year-old virgin.