Modernity, Madness, Disenchantment: Don Quixote's Hunger

Symploke 19 (1):35-53 (2011)
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Abstract

This essay considers the relation between Don Quixote's hunger and the disenchantment (Entzauberung) that Max Weber understood as paradigmatic of the modern condition. Whereas hunger functions within a Hegelian dialectic of desire in Cervantes' novel, literary representations of hunger from later periods (in Kafka and post-Holocaust Polish poetry) acknowledge the cosmic insignificance of human need by substituting the desire for recognition with a desire for self-abdication. While Don Quixote's hunger drives him to seek recognition for his dream world, modern literature's hungry heroes respond to hunger by changing their metaphysical identities. Like desire, hunger functions in the literatures of modernity as an index of psychic wholeness or of its lack, both enabling and resisting the hero's assimilation with the world outside the self.

Author's Profile

Rebecca Ruth Gould
School of Oriental and African Studies

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