A World of Disorderly Notions: Quixote and the Logic of Exceptionalism

Due out in May 2019 from the University of Virginia Press.

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From Jonathan Swift to Washington Irving, those looking to propose and justify exceptions to social and political norms turned to Cervantes’s notoriously mad comic hero as a model. A World of Disorderly Notions examines the literary and political effects of Don Quixote, arguing that what makes this iconic character so influential across oceans and cultures is not his madness but his logic. Aaron Hanlon contends that the logic of quixotism is in fact exceptionalism—the strategy of rendering oneself an exception to everyone else’s rules.


"A World of Disorderly Notions is an original and substantial contribution to the study of quixotism in the eighteenth-century British and American novel. Hanlon argues that quixotism as exceptionalism is an ideology with an idealistic worldview to which everything must be assimilated. He succeeds admirably in providing fresh and stimulating new readings of quixotic works and in articulating a theoretical model that all other scholars in the field will have to take into account."

Catherine Jaffe, Texas State University, coeditor of Eve’s Enlightenment: Women’s Experience in Spain and Spanish America, 1726-1839