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I keep coming across passages like this in the Spanish (original) version of Don Quixote:

desfiguraban, dio una gran voz, diciendo:

. ¡Jesús! ¿Qué es lo que veo?

Y con el sobresalto se le cayó la vela de las manos; y, 

(note the ". " after "deciendo:" and before "¡Jesús!")

Is it really so that there should be a period there? I doubt it, but I want to make sure.

grammar accent

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

That dot/period . means the dialogue start, now days is more common the use of - dash

desfiguraban, dio una gran voz, diciendo: //narration

. ¡Jesús! ¿Qué es lo que veo? //dialogue

Y con el sobresalto se le cayó la vela de las manos; y, //narration

How I know is used now days is:

desfiguraban, dio una gran voz, diciendo: //narration

- ¡Jesús! ¿Qué es lo que veo? //dialogue

Y con el sobresalto se le cayó la vela de las manos; y, //narration

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Not in the spanish grammar I know. Maybe is an old spanish feature. At present, day, modern spanish do not use period inside a sentence, we use only to finish a sentence. You won't find this type of writing in any modern text.

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En los libros se usa - guíon/dash para indicar donde empieza un diálogo –  Emilio Gort Jan 26 at 5:01
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