Amadis de Gaula, or Don Quixote? Chivalric romances of the Spanish Golden Age and their transmission to readers of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries
Chivalric romances of the Spanish sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and their function and reception in Europe, from the perspective of the role they played in the development of world prose, is an immeasurably exciting theme. The chivalric romance reached readers of every age and social standing, on the threshold of the Renaissance they aroused people’s imagination in a novel way, erasing the border between reality and fiction, and opening a path to emotional immersion in both fictive and realistic worlds. This work builds on discoveries made in contemporary manuscripts and print documents of various types, found in collections of books in Bohemia and Moravia (and also often abroad) from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The main primary sources feature books which did not originate in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Czech lands, but rather were imported to the Czech sphere from abroad. They appear as original first editions, others translated to foreign languages, such as French, Italian and German. Another notable source is the archival documentation (above all, the contemporary book inventories) which provides a contemporary witness to the fact that these books existed at that time in the Czech cultural environment, and were circulated and read. The author examines not only the European circulation of Spanish chivalric romances, but especially their path to Czech readers. Just so, the consumption and knowledge of imported, foreign-language literature was a basis for the creation of domestic literary production in the genre – editions, translations and adaptions. The reception and embrace of Spanish chivalric romances in the Czech region was markedly different from the cultural and consumer reception in other European regions. How and in what nature this process of reception played out is one of the main subjects of interest to the author.