Don Quixote read-along
with Lory at The Emerald City
To keep everything in one place, I have decided to do this recap post, including here my comments on Lory’s blog.
ON CHAPTERS 1-20 (the link is Lory’s post – and here are the comments I added there):
Apart from the element you highlighted in your post about perception of reality, I also like more literary points in this work, and I’m glad to have them back in volume 2, for instance the opinions on chivalry books, and the idea of a book within a book, as we see in the Dedication of this volume, and all along the first chapters.
Another literary element I like is the author’s reflections on genre. We already had some of those in volume 1. Here we find them for instance in chapter 3 about history/poetry: “now and then beginning to show signs of being in his right mind”.
And some hilarious plays on words, like on grammar and gram + mar! And both Teresa and Sancho use words for other words.
It is also interesting to see mentions of reaction to the first volume. It made me curious, and I read that volume 2 was actually originally published as a sequel, 10 years after the first volume. That’s a long time, for a book now considered as one unit, and I’m looking forward to seeing the differences.
If you take these reactions for granted, you may think that the reception of the work was poorly. But what’s real? What’s to believe?
Should I trust Cervantes, or Wikipedia? For once, I’ll believe Wikipedia, which tells me the work was an immediate success, with even pirated editions!
I like how Cervantes tries to fool us, when he presents Don Quixote “now and then beginning to show signs of being in his right mind” (chapter 1). Did you believe him? I actually didn’t, because what would have caused that change? And so obviously, we see little by little that his case might even be worse!
And like in volume 1, those around him start making fun of him.
And now Sancho is totally deluded himself! We discover a slightly different person in his way of speaking, when he is with his wife Teresa. But she is the one reasonable and down to earth.
However, Sancho can also perceive the truth on Don Quixote and himself: “I have seen by a thousand signs that this master of mine is a madman fit to be tied, and for that matter, I too, am not behind him; for I’m a greater fool than he is when I follow him and serve him, if there’s any truth in the proverb that says, ‘Tell me what company thou keepest, and I’ll tell thee what thou art,’ or in that other, ‘Not with whom thou art bred, but with whom thou art fed”. (chap 10) And he can be very logical on how to treat his master based on the situation.
ON CHAPTERS 21-37
Sancho Panza’s character strikes me more and more. He can now openly show his feelings. He is vexed and dejected at the end of Chapter 21.
And he can be very plain about what he thinks: “I hold my master Don Quixote to be stark mad” (chapter 33).
This makes his relationship with his master sometimes more tenses. DQ even gets mad at him in chapter 28.
He can also very realist, like here in chapter 28:
“I would do a great deal better, I say, to go home to my wife and children and support them and bring them up on what God may please to give me, instead of following your worship along roads that lead nowhere and paths that are none at all, with little to drink and less to eat.” But will he ever act on it?
Sancho sometimes shows to be very smart, and some of his plays with words can reveal stupidity or real craft. I love this thing on Ptolemy: “putrid Dolly something transmogrified” (chapter 29). Kudos to the translator!!
I found chapter 21 to be totally hilarious, with the long discourse of one on the point of dying, the trick, the acceptance of the bridegroom, and the disappointment of Sancho for the festivities he missed!
I enjoy some snippets of wisdom, even though some readers may think this is just over the top and just plain hilarious or ridiculous. For instance:
“it was the opinion of a certain sage, I know not whom, that there was not more than one good woman in the whole world; and his advice was that each one should think and believe that this one good woman was his own wife, and in this way he would live happy” (Chapter 22).
I’m not too sure what to make of Chapter 23. A mix with Roncevaux and Merlin? sounds almost like Gulliver’s adventures. What’ s the point? It’s not presented as if DQ was making it up. Like a trance? A religious experience?
I’d like to go back to my question, what’s the point? The more I read this book, the more I’m confused about its deep meaning. I can see how funny it is, but I also feel I’m missing what’s really the goal of the author. So it sounds I sure also read some deeper studies on the work to fully appreciate it. Thanks Lory, for commenting on these chapters at a deeper level, and shading great light, as if you had read my questions ahead!
There are definitely passages criticizing the rulers, like this one in chapter 32: “there are a hundred round about us that scarcely know how to read, and govern like gerfalcons”.
In this same chapter 23, we are reaching some point beyond return for DQ: he is now so deluded that he even thinks he sees and touches what has been nourishing his imagination. His delusion is not just mental, it has invaded his very senses. Though chapter 24 gives a special light on this evolution, by adding, “though certain it is they say that at the time of his death he retracted, and said he had invented it, thinking it matched and tallied with the adventures he had read of in his histories.”
And in chapter 31: “this was the first time that he thoroughly felt and believed himself to be a knight-errant in reality.” Though he also admits living it to the extreme: “everything or almost everything that happens me transcends the ordinary limits of what happens to other knights-errant” (chapter 32)
Reflecting the interest of the times in Europe, there’s a good amount of presence of ‘exotic animals’. We had a lion, a bear, and now an ape (chapter 25).
All along, we have DQ seeing no difference between the novels he read and his own life as a knight. He crosses the border between literature and life even further in chapter 26, as he forgets what he sees is not for real, but a play: “Don Quixote, however, seeing such a swarm of Moors and hearing such a din, thought it would be right to aid the fugitives, and standing up he exclaimed in a loud voice…”
As usual, the explanation he gives later about it is of having been fooled by enchantments.
The end of chapter 26 shows DQ as being very generous, and rich. Indeed, how was able to stay away, and what does he live on? I forgot, does the author ever explain where DQ’s wealth is coming from? Is there a critique here of how rich people of his time are living in useless purposes, far from reality?
“Heart of butter-past” (chapter 29): I should have made the list of all the hilarious insults!
LORY’S POST ON THE LAST CHAPTERS IS HERE
Be sure to visit and read all the fascinating comments
HAVE YOU READ DON QUIXOTE?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS
ON THE DEEPER MEANING OF THE WORK?