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Old 08-21-2018, 01:12 AM
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Its actually my favorite novel (or novels as the case may be, since there are two books).

I have a quote from it hanging on the wall in my office. The one I have is translated a little differently, but..

“Oh, señor,” said don Antonio, “may God forgive the injury you’ve done to the world in wanting to restore the sanity to its most amusing crazy man. Don’t you see, señor, that the benefit of don Quixote’s sanity doesn’t approach the pleasure that his insanity gives. But I imagine that the stratagem of the señor bachelor won’t be enough to make a man who is so completely mad sane again. If it weren’t charitable, I would say that I hope don Quixote never gets better, because with his cure, not only do we lose his own pleasantries, but also those of Sancho Panza, his squire, for either one of them can turn melancholy itself into merriment.
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Old 08-21-2018, 12:41 PM
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Wow you are good and determined.~
I don't typically do well with reading more than one book at a time. I know lots of folks here do that but I have enough trouble reading A book.
Anyway I am really savoring The Blue Castle but will probably finish it today or tomorrow and then hopefully I can try to really get to Don Quixote.
I still do appreciate your push to do this.
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Old 08-22-2018, 12:58 AM
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Yay, cachibatches, thank you for weighing in! I hope you'll feel free to make corrections to my interpretations of DQ. Thanks also for sharing the quote (though it was a bit of a spoiler.) It made me think of Harvey, the play and movie with Jimmy Stewart. Was Harvey a retelling of DQ?

And hello Mayvene, have fun finishing The Blue Castle. I just downloaded it because you wrote about it! The only reason I'm plowing forward now is that I decided earlier to take a break from the internet beginning Sept 1st, so after that time won't have The World Watching to make sure I actually get through this book. I'll look forward to you joining in whenever you're ready.

So, chapters 21 - 25. Q acquires a helmet - a copper barber's bowl which Q says is a famous hero's gold helmet. I remember this now - an illustration of Q riding on Rocinante with a big bowl on his head. Later on in this section he tells SP that he's glad some people (because of enchantments) only see a barber's bowl, because that way they won't want to steal his famous gold helmet.

Sometimes Cervantes has his characters say things that seem quite modern to me. For example, Q worries that his lineage isn't good enough to win a noble maiden. But, he tells SP, "There are only 2 kinds of lineages in the world. Some there be tracing and deriving their descent from kings and princes, whom time has reduced little by little until they end in point like a pyramid upside down; and others spring from the common herd and go on rising step by step until they come to be great lords..." I didn't know that in early 1600s anyone thought that members of the common herd COULD rise, or that they could be descended from kings. So, interesting! This is leading me to want to learn more about Spanish history.

There are 2 main adventures in this section: First, they encounter a group of prisoners in chains being led to enslavement in galleys (aren't I glad I've watched old Douglas Fairbanks movies and know what a galley slave is?). Q frees them, and of course they then beat him up and steal SP's donkey. Secondly, they go up into the mountains and encounter a young madman, and hear part of his story before he beats them up (of course) and runs off.

Re the theme of madness v. reality, this seemed like an important quote to remember: SP complains to Q that all this knight errant stuff seems like a bunch of hooey to him now (my paraphrase ). Q replies: "Is it possible that all this time thou hast been going about with me thou hast never found out that all things belonging to knights errant seem to be illusions and nonsense and ravings, and so always go by contraries? And not because it really is so, but because there is always a swarm of enchanters in attendance upon us that change and alter everything . . . " Hmmmm.

This section ends with Q sending SP off to Dulcinea with a letter proclaiming all he has done for love of her, and SP goes because he also makes Q write another letter to his sister asking that she give SP 3 baby donkeys. It's probably important that these letters were written in the back of a notebook of poems and love letters written by the young madman (see 2 paras up).
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Old 08-23-2018, 09:00 PM
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The internet ate my homework! My kindle froze up on me last night - has that ever happened to anyone? Nice bookses don't freeze up like silly electronics. Anyway, it eventually rebooted itself but lost my place. Found it again - eventually.

Chapters 26 - 30.

The Curate and the Barber from La Mancha meet SP while he's back and convince him to take them to Q. They plan on tricking him to come home. So off they go.

Most of this section is a pretty tedious substory about the young man in the mountains mentioned earlier (Cardenio) and his star crossed lover Lucinda, and a wronged maiden named Dorothea and the Evil Don Fernando. All you need to know is that if it weren't for Don Fernando they'd all be just fine.

I guess the reason for the sub-story was to pull Q out of the mountains, because they all end up leaving the mountains and going towards Q's home - he thinks he's on the way to Dorothea's kingdom, where he, the glorious knight, will rescue her from giants and sorcerers (she really doesn't have a kingdom.) Since she actually DID have someone from whom to be saved (Don Fernando), I don't understand why she didn't just tell her real story. I guess because she's not actually a princess and DF is a real man rather than a sorcerer or magician, and Q needs to have everything be exaggeratedly related to Chivalric romances. But still.

Interesting to me was this: SP wants Q to go with D so that he can go along and become a nobleman in D's (imaginary, but he doesn't know it) country. Then he starts to worry that D's kingdom might be where Blacks live, and he doesn't want Blacks for vassals. But then, he thinks, "What more have I to do but make a cargo of them and carry them to Spain where I can sell them and get ready money for them and with it buy some title or office in which to be at ease all the days of my life." As I've been reading this and other books I think I've been learning that Spanish Christians in that era didn't believe that non-christians (like Muslims or Jews and etc.) had souls, so it was ok to not treat them as people. Justification for slavery. SP constantly refers to himself as an "Old Christian". At the time this book was written, the early 1600s, people of other faiths who had been forced by the Inquisition (the Dominicans) to renounce their old faith and become Christian were called "New Christians", and they still were doubted by the Clergy and were still being investigated for heresies. By constantly talking about being an "Old" Christian, SP is saying that he's a good and trustworthy person.

Ain't religion wonderful?
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Old 08-24-2018, 05:08 PM
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Ooooo - did anyone else watch the Jeopardy College Championship game today? The winning final answer was: Don Quixote!
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Old 08-24-2018, 06:34 PM
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Oh, gosh, I've always felt guiltily that I should read it. But how do you know which translation to read?

Love your idea of posting your proposal here.
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:40 PM
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Hi Cida - I dunno, it was free on Amazon for kindle. So I picked the free translation! I would imagine that the themes and story are essentially the same, no matter which translation.

Chapters 31 - 35. Just want to note here that the chapters are in no way ever the same length. I thought chapter 34 would NEVER end, and 35 was very short.

I think it would be right to say that this section was both ABOUT romances, and IS a romance.

The travelers stop at the inn where Q and SP had their previous drama. Q goes to bed, and the others gather to talk. They talk about how chivalric romances have driven Q crazy. The others in the party say they LIKE those types of stories (most of them are illiterate, but they say there's usually someone around who will read to them.) The curate says that these stories are lies, while the landlord says no, they're true. He brings out a few books and manuscripts he has, and the curate wants to burn them. The landlord shows them a manuscript which he says is really good. So they decide to read it aloud:

"The Novel of the Ill-Advised Curiosity". In short, there are 2 male friends. 1 gets married, then decides he wants to make sure of his wife's virtue. (Virtue here means chastity. Her honor is her chastity.) So, the husband, Anselmo, makes his friend, named Lothario, pursue the wife, Camilla, to see if she will stay chaste or give in to Lothario. She doesn't, but almost does. She stabs herself, but doesn't die. Lothario has a broken heart. It all ends [spoiler] with them dying - the husband of sorrow, Lothario in battle, and Camilla becomes a nun then dies of sorrow later.

The curate says (and I think this is Cervantes expressing his opinion, and this is my paraphrase), I liked the story, but if it is fiction the author must be pretty bad, because no reader would believe that a husband would be so stupid. Another example of Cervantes making fun of romantic books of the day.

And I say: there is SO much literature (mostly written by men) about romantic ideas about a woman's virtue/chastity. Men are supposed to chase, and women aren't supposed to give in. There are 90 kerjillion novels about this subject in one way or another. I do love that Cervantes is making fun of this (at least, I think he is.)

I'm sure there are dissertations written about this story-within-a-story. There's much to think about in terms of ideas about women's roles, ideas about what romance is, and etc. When any of you get to this point make sure to make me come back and talk about it with you.

Also, the name Lothario. Is DQ the origin of this name meaning a man who excessively pursues women? Yes, says Wikipedia. It also says the title of this story within a story is "The Impertinent Curious Man", so this is an example of different translations being slightly different.

Last edited by 601halfdozen0theother; 08-24-2018 at 11:48 PM..
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Old 08-25-2018, 10:48 PM
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Chapters 36 - 41 (I read an extra chapter to finish a story).

I think I understand now that DQ is actually a collection of romantic stories under the general umbrella of Q's story. So I've started to wonder how DQ was published. In unbound sections containing only the various sub-stories? I thought it was originally 2 published books? (Pause to look this up.) Well, as I had thought, it was published as 2 books, 1 in 1605, the other in 1615. So the people reading it would have been reading all the sub-stories as part of the larger story too. (I'm not looking at much literary criticism yet, because I want my initial understanding of the book to be my own. I just caught a glimpse of several words like "meta"something, and I just don't want to know about that yet.)

This section finds everyone still at the Inn. Don Fernando and Lucinda show up. Their stories with Dorothea and Cardenio are wrapped up here, as Don Fernando sees the error of his ways, and the two couples are united (and Dorothea ends up with a ****ty husband.)

Before the next sub-story begins, Q gives a speech about who is more important, Men of Letters, or Men of War? He concludes Men of War, because they have the higher goal (peace) and suffer more, and without protection by Men of War countries and Men of Letters can't survive.

Then new travelers arrive at the Inn, and the next sub-story begins. The woman is dressed in Moorish clothing, and the company at the Inn are concerned until she (Zaraida) tells them she wants to become a Christian and be renamed Maria (after the Virgin Mary.) Then her male companion tells his story. He is a Spaniard who served in the army of a Spanish duke. After many years and battles he was captured by the Turks and made a galley slave. Eventually he ends up the prisoner of the King of Algiers. Zaraida sees him then saves him and his fellow Christian prisoners/slaves by giving them enough of her father's riches to buy a ship and escape - with the condition that this man (known to the Reader only as The Captive) promise to take her to a Christian country and marry her. He does, they escape and have many adventures, and end up on the road to his home in Spain, where she will be baptized and they married. That took 3 chapters to read, so thank me for the summary!

I actually enjoyed this story the most so far, because it was full of interesting history. Christians and Muslims have been fighting one another for centuries and centuries! And again I say, Ain't Religion Awful!

Also, George R. R. Martin and JRR Tolkein must have been knowledgeable about either the history of this period and region or be readers of DQ, because in the course of this sub-story we learn "The Moors of Aragon are called Tagarins in Barbary." Barbary would have been the coast of North Africa, and Aragon was a region in NE Spain.
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Old 08-28-2018, 04:21 AM
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Chapters 42 - 46.

Everyone's still at the Inn, and people keep arriving. A new romance - the story of Clara and Louis.

Q and SP have more of a storyline in these chapters. The mean girls from the Inn lure Q to a meeting with them then tie his hand to something so he's stuck there for awhile. Q won't help in various fights because 1) He's promised the Queen (actually Dorothea) that he won't be sidetracked from her quest, then when she gives permission he wont help because Knights can only fight other knights. Their past comes back when the man from whom Q took the barber's basin (his priceless helmet) and SP's packsaddle shows up and wants payment. Various fights ensue. But the men in all of the romantic couples take Q's side, partly because it's amusing and partly because they believe/understand that he's crazy.

The Holy Brotherhood show up with a warrant for Q's arrest. I looked up who they were. In the Spanish language it's called the Santa Hermandad. Basically they're private police forces who work for various municipalities or nobles under the aegis of the King. They've been mentioned previously in DQ, I just haven't noted it. The characters usually seem afraid of them. As regards Q, though, the Curate and Don Fernando and etc. persuade them that Q is crazy, which seems to mean that he can't be prosecuted for the crimes for which he's been accused.

Lots of comic fight scenes. "...the whole Inn was nothing but cries, shouts, shrieks, confusion, terror, dismay, mishaps, sword-cuts, fisticuffs, cudgeling, kicks and bloodshed . . ."

Q also spouts lots of lovely insults that I want to remember and use myself when appropriate: "... base, illborn brood, infamous beings, who by your vile grovelling ...deserve that heaven should not be known to you . . . " "...rascally clown, boorish, insolent and ignorant, ill-spoken, foul mouthed, impudent backbiter and slanderer, thou born monster, storehouse of lies, hoarder of untruths, garner of knavities, inventor of scandals, publisher of absurdities . . ." Sound like someone we all know?

The conclusion of this section has the party at the inn all working together to tie up Q while he's sleeping and put him in a cage inside a cart so that the curate and barber can take him home. The barber pretends to be a Sage who tells Q not to worry, all will be well. SP follows sadly.
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Old 08-30-2018, 04:46 PM
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Offering a few thoughts from memory, enjoy your reading!

Originally Posted by 601halfdozen0theother View Post
HI Mayvene, glad you're joining in!

I should note here that it's becoming clear to me that as a reader I would have benefited from also reading a scholarly work giving it all context, because who knows if I am understanding what I should be understanding? But then, Cervantes himself might say exactly the same thing, because, in chapters 7 - 10 he interjects himself as the author to comment about the book.

These chapters are, on the surface, about Q's new adventures on the road with his new squire, Sancho Panza. They first encounter the windmills most of us have heard about. Q thinks they are giants, and battles them. This has given rise to the modern saying "tilting at windmills". I've always thought that meant a hopeless fight, but I guess it means attacking imaginary foes (according to Wikipedia). This adventure also gives rise to our saying "windmills in the head", which is what Sancho Panza says Q has (which I always thought meant "crazy", more or less) but means more like someone who isn't grounded in reality, but is blinded by illusions. The exact definition of Q, in fact.

So the adventure goes on, and Cervantes definitely means it all to be funny. Sancho says foolish things, and Q says and does more foolish things, all based on his illusions from years of reading chivalrous romances.

But maybe the point is more about Cervantes now interjecting himself as author. He writes that he is the "second author" of this story, and only knew the incomplete story. Then in his travels he found someone selling pamphlets entitled "History of Don Quixote of La Mancha written by Cale Hondo Benegali, an Arab Historian." He gets someone to translate the work for him, and so learns more about this particular adventure of Q. But C doubts the truth of this version, because the author was an Arab and all Arabs are liars (he says.) So, Cervantes is telling us (me), the reader, to doubt the story itself, although he says he is including this new information he found in his storytelling.

So the whole thing might be a lie, or, at the very least, an imperfect truth.

I guess it's easiest to read DQ as an adventure story, but there's too much other stuff going on.

I confess to sneaking a look at a thread about this book on Reddit. It was entitled "Why is Don Quixote considered Nihilistic Literature?". I didn't read the thread, partly because I don't want to spoil my own impressions, but also - I've completely forgotten what "nihilistic" means.

My head hurts.
Nihilism is a philosophy that rejects meaning in life, and the thread you saw is probably referring to concepts of nihilism discussed by Nietzsche. Seen in one light, Don Quixote is the object example of the need for the ubermensch--a man, in Nietzsche's work, who rejects all reliance on otherworldly (spiritual) fulfillment and instead directs his energy to the world itself; with this rejection of the spiritual world, the ubermensch can create new set of values grounded on existence in the world (more or less). DQ's dissatisfaction with the lack of chivalry in his world leads him to this flight of madness (otherworldly fantasy) that demonstrates the need for casting off such madness and focusing on the world.

In another sense, you could read the character of Don Quixote as a prototype ubermensch: the characters, seemingly not mad, encountered by DQ actually suffer delusions and fail to see the world as it is. DQ, through his adventures, is literally remaking reality to conform to his ideals, creating a system of values and a way of life to which others bend and adapt.

Originally Posted by 601halfdozen0theother View Post
Chapters 11 - 15.

Q & S continue their journey. They learn from shepherds about a young man who has recently died for unrequited love (a staple of chivalric romances.) They decide to go to his funeral, where one of the young man's friend's reads aloud his poem about the cruelty of the beautiful maiden who wouldn't return his love.

Then, the beautiful girl shows up to the funeral, and basically says - I didn't ask to be beautiful! Do I have to love someone just because they love me because of my beauty? Why should someone who is beautiful part with her virtue (which is what makes her actually beautiful) just to gratify the desires of someone who wants her beauty? All I want is to be alone in nature - I have my own money, I neither love nor hate anyone, I don't encourage anyone, so leave me alone and don't blame me for this man's death - he died of his own impatience and passions.

Doesn't that seem to be a very modern POV? That a young woman shouldn't have to give in to the desires of the men who desire her, and that doesn't make her bad or cruel.

Don Quixote was published in 1615. It's 400 years later. Why do women keep having to say this?

And again, Cervantes is making fun of the formulae of traditional chivalric romances.
It's always interesting how DQ--the book--can pan medieval romances to get at the madness of society, as you recognize here. The parallel of DQ the character and the young man here is notable, too. DQ's break from reality seems so clear, yet the young man's break from reality is more consequential and, perhaps, less kind-hearted.
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