The 'perspectivist' orientation toward Don Quijote has, of course, a long tradition that includes Américo Castro's seminal El pensamiento de Cervantes (1925) and Leo Spitzer's important essay, «Linguistic Perspectivism in the Don Quijote» (1948). This orientation has found more recent expression in the work of such eminent critics as Joaquín Casalduero, Manuel Durán, E. C. Riley, and John J. Allen, to name only a few.
Many of these 'filters' do not serve as actual narrators; rather, they make themselves felt as inferred presences within the narrative voices that do effectively 'speak'. One such presence is Cide Hamete (although it is possible to argue that this status changes in the final chapter of Part II). Parr lists and discusses at some length these various «narrative voices and presences» (30-39), describing them as intradiegetic. They are intradiegetic, of course, insofar as they are circumscribed by the extradiegetic level of what Parr calls the «supernarrator» (see below). But they are themselves extradiegetic insofar as they are exterior (and provide 'access') to the level of narrative on which Don Quijote has his adventures: therein lies the functional or relative nature of these terms. It is finally -begging the reader's indulgence- a matter of perspective.
These extradiegetic 'filters' underlie the intradiegetic perspectives noted in this paragraph. One might speak here of 'horizontal' perspectives (the points of view of intradiegetic characters), as opposed to 'vertical' perspectives of various degrees (the actual and inferred points of view of the extradiegetic voices and presences). This distinction is admittedly problematic, however, for one of the most essential characteristics of Don Quijote's narrative structure is precisely the simultaneous tracing and erasure of the borders between the intradiegetic and the extradiegetic, between the narrated event and the event of narrating.
The problem of artistic unity is, of course, at the heart of this exchange. The Cide Hamete of Part II apparently disagrees with Cardenio and the priest, for we are told that the Moorish historian believes that he deserves the praise of his readers precisely because he has refrained (in the second Part) from the type of digressions in which he indulged in Part I: «pues se contiene y cierra en los estrechos límites de la narración, teniendo habilidad, suficiencia y entendimiento para tratar del universo todo, pide que no se desprecie su trabajo, y se le den alabanzas, no por lo que escribe, sino por lo que ha dejado de escribir» (II: 367). Cardenio's narrative dilemma has a modern echo, among many others that come to mind, in the words of Todd Andrews, the narrator/protagonist of John Barth's The Floating Opera (1956): «Good heavens, how does one write a novel! I mean, how can anybody stick to the story, if he's at all sensitive to the significances of things? As for me, I see already that storytelling isn't my cup of tea: every new sentence I set down is full of figures and implications that I'd love nothing better than to chase to their dens with you, but such chasing would involve new figures and new chases, so that I'm sure we'd never get the story started, much less ended, if I let my inclinations run unleashed» (2).
The basic study of this literary debate remains Chapter 3 of Alban Forcione's masterful Cervantes, Aristotle, and the 'Persiles'(1970).
This sense of 'realism' is, of course, incessantly undermined by the novel's many narrative transgressions (as noted above).
This does not prohibit the same intersubjectivity from functioning simultaneously in such a way as to subvert the authority of each of the individual discourses -that is, by 'de-centering' them, by presenting them in relation to one another.
Perhaps the clearest introduction to the problematic relation between fiction and history in Don Quijote is Bruce Wardropper's «Don Quixote: Story or History?» (1965).
I am, admittedly, taking liberties with Genette's terms, when -despite his explicit warning against doing so (230)- I here extend their scope in order to apply them to extratextual reality. My goal in perpetrating this 'transgression' is to establish as clearly as possible the relation between Genette's and Smith's terms.
This is not to imply that examples of figurative language and/or irony are not to be found in a 'history'. Obviously, they are. But such uses of language in a 'history' are ultimately subordinated to a structure that is not regarded as figurative. My claim for fictive discourse (following Smith) is that its structure is ultimately regarded as figurative.