This article reconsiders the relationship between identificatory and mimetic reading practices—so often viewed as naive or mystified—and attention to intertextuality, which has so often been seen as contrasting with and discrediting such practices. Such a reconsideration, made timely by growing dissatisfaction with a post‐providential, disenchanted view of the world as devoid of meaning, is invited by and in turn illuminates one of the most celebrated novels of the twenty‐first century, Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (2005). The narrator‐protagonist of this novel, I argue, embodies a type that the most influential current of novel theory has made difficult to credit, perhaps even to recognize: the reverse quixote, a character who ostentatiously resists conflating literature and life or viewing the world and experience through the lens of literature—but who would benefit from doing so. Intertextual reading brings this reverse quixotism to light and reveals its dimensions, as the intertextual reader tracks the connections that the novel's anti‐identificatory characters refuse to make and considers the motives for and costs of this refusal. The most significant intertext driving this shadow plot is George Eliot's Daniel Deronda (1876), itself a study of the meaning‐making, life‐shaping power of identificatory and mimetic reading, or what Eliot calls “the magic of quick comparison.”

You do not currently have access to this content.