Retracing the history of the Cardenio leads one to wonder about the status, in the past, of works today judged to be canonical. In this book the reader will rediscover the malleability of texts, transformed as they were by translations and adaptations, their migrations from one genre to another, and their changing meanings constructed by their various publics. Thanks to Roger Chartier's forensic skills, fresh light is cast upon the mystery of a play lacking a text but not an author.
Schmidt argues that the visual representations of Don Quixote presented critical interpretations that both formed and represented the novel's historical reception. Schmidt analyses both Spanish and English illustrations, including those by William Hogarth, John Vanderbank, Francis Hayman, José del Castillo, and Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, and explores several of the iconographic traditions present in the illustrations: the burlesque, which focuses on the work's slapstick humour; the satirical, which emphasizes Cervantes's supposed didactic, Enlightenment message; and the sentimental, which highlights Don Quixote's purity of heart and purpose.