Experiencing the limits

The cave as a transitional space

Keywords: cave, liminal, esotericism, chivalry, initiation, Don Quixote, cave studies


The meaning of the cave is ancestral. It is a transitional space that functions as a threshold between the real, the mystical, and the imaginary. Experiences in caves are highly important in the history of religions and literature, and have been adopted transculturally by mystics, esoteric organizations, alchemical treatises, and many literary forms, such as the Greek novel, Dante’s Commedia, and chivalric romances. In my paper, I will first give an interdisciplinary overview of representations of this space in different traditions and literary works up to the Renaissance. I will then focus on how Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote updates these representations, and study how the visions and experiences of the knight in a cave are crucial in his recovery from insanity.

Label for peer-reviewed scholarly publications
How to Cite
Magrinyà Badiella, C. (2020). Experiencing the limits: The cave as a transitional space. Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 29(1), 147–68. https://doi.org/10.30674/scripta.85214