The scourging of Quixote's library by his local priest reflects the real actions of the Inquisition in Counter-Reformation Spain. Their indexes called for texts deemed 'heretical' to be either censored wholesale or expurgated of their offending passages, the romances of chivalry generally being condemned as immoral and inflammatory. The scene is often interpreted as giving us a selection of Cervantes' own literary taste, using his fictional censor to condemn or praise the works which have inspired his satire. However, his farcical depiction of the priest's efforts, sparing individual books for arbitrary reasons while burning the majority without examining them at all, reflects the difficulties faced by anyone who tries to enforce personal taste as an absolute standard. Despite being officially prohibited, books of chivalric romance continued to be distributed amongst, and eagerly read by, the public.
A SELECTION OF 'SPARED' WORKS:
Online edition of Cervantes' own 'Galatea', translated by H. Oelsner and A.B. Welford
Online edition of 'Amadis de Gaula', translated and abridged by Robert Southey (1803)
Online edition of Johanot Martorell and Johan de Galba's 'Tirant lo Blanc', translated by Robert S. Rudder