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Musical principles of comprehension of traditional plot in S. Rushdie’s novel “Quichotte”

Liberal Arts in Russia. 2023. Vol. 12. No. 1. Pp. 66-76.
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Ishimbaeva G. G.
Ufa University of Science and Technology
32 Zaki Validi Street, 450076 Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia


This study attempts an interdisciplinary - literary and musicological - approach to Rushdie’s novel “Quichotte” (2019), which determines its relevance and scientific novelty. The article proves that the artistic reception of the protoplot of Cervantes’ “Don Quixote” in Rushdie’s novel has the character of temperament and in this sense can be correlated with Bach’s “Well-tempered Clavier,” the principles of which help in the analysis of the novel, where ideas, themes, images, and the structure of Cervantes’ novel are tempered. The Cervantes pretext became an integral part of Rushdie’s novel language and performed the same functions as the Protestant chorales in Bach’s “Well-Tempered Clavier,” where individual chorale motifs acquire the qualities of stable formulas of a symbolic nature. Interpretation and disclosure of their semantic content decipher the musical text and fill it with a spiritual program. For Bach’s contemporaries, chorale melodies reflected the content of Protestant chorales - specific episodes of biblical history, holidays, ritual actions. For four centuries since its appearance, the novel of Cervantes has firmly entered the literary and cultural area of all epochs, has become the most important foundation of world perception and world cognition. “Don Quixote” generates an infinite number of meanings and associative series of symbols, acquires the quality of a sign system, which is revealed when it comes into contact with other sign systems. Rushdie actualized precisely this feature of the Cervantes text, using techniques of fugal processing of the source text, ostinato, improvisation on a given topic, modulation. At the same time, baroque harmony prevails in Bach’s composition, Bach’s “Well-tempered Clavier” calls for the perfection and harmony of the world. In Rushdie’s novel, however, postmodern disharmony is fundamental, which is ultimately due to the postmodernists’ common idea of the relativity of truth, of the “death” of God, the author, the subject, of the world-text and man-text. Thanks to the temperament of the idea, theme, problematics, hero system, and structure of Cervantes’ novel, the mechanisms of deconstruction of the traditional plot with its anti-rational philosophical discourse are revealed in Rushdie’s “Quichotte.”


  • • S. Rushdie
  • • Quichotte
  • • Cervantes
  • • Clever Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha
  • • J. S. Bach
  • • Well-tempered clavier
  • • traditional plot


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