Saturday, April 23, 2016

Don Quixote

From Reid's Reader: 
Don Quixote is certainly a comic masterpiece. Indeed much of it is pure slapstick and farce and the “mistakes of the night at the inn” variety of comedy. But I have never read its best episodes without seeing how Cervantes is also playing with bigger and more resonant ideas. Is it the triumph of the imagination over material reality when the lion released from its cage does not attack Don Quixote? Is it the revenge of material reality over imagination when Don Quixote is knocked down by a herd of bulls? Are we deep into the realms of subjectivism and rationalism when Don Quixote is lowered into a cave, clearly falls asleep, and yet emerges telling of the wonderful things he has seen? How clearly does Cervantes comment on the suspension of disbelief in theatre when Don Quixote slashes with his sword at the puppet show? How satirical is he being about war and warriors when Don Quixote mistakes two flocks of sheep for two armies? One could almost read such examples as parables.

I do admit that I find the two parts of the novel not to be a perfect match. Part One, published in 1605, is the more purely comic part – the part which often simply invites us to laugh at the crazy things done by a deluded old man. Part Two, published ten years later in 1615, is the part which waxes more philosophical and certainly has some of the sequences I enjoy most as Cervantes reconsiders his knight and squire and has them more often melding into each other in the ways they see reality. It also has Sancho at last getting his “island” and ruling it; and it has the best conflicts in the whole opus when Samson Carrasco confronts Don Quixote with a more challenging view of what reality is(Read more.)

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