The Books of My Numberless Dreams

Brief thoughts on “Don Quixote”

Posted on: May 14, 2007

  • Is it appropriate or laughable that Don Quixote’s and Sancho’s interactions remind me of nothing so much as those often crappy but occasionally entertaining buddy films starring Mel Gibson & Danny Glover or Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson etc.?
  • The entire book isn’t only composed of our brave knight errant mistaking people and things for other people and other things, each scene punctuated with violence and/or vomit and diarrhoea….right?
  • Then the novel turns in on itself and I want to keep on reading:

At this the bachelor rode off, and Don Quixote asked Sancho what had moved him to call him The Knight of the Sorrowful Face at that moment and no other.

“I’ll tell you,” responded Sancho. “I was looking at you for a while in the light of the torch that unlucky man was carrying, and the truth is that your grace has the sorriest-looking face I’ve seen recently, and it must be on account of your weariness after this battle, or the molars and teeth you’ve lost.”

“It is not that,” responded Don Quixote, ” but rather that the wise man whose task it will be to write the history of my deeds must have thought it would be a good idea if I took some appellative title as did the knights of the past: one was called The Knight of the Blazing Sword; another, The Knight of the Unicorn; yet another, The Knight of the Damsels; this one, The Knight of the Phoenix; that one, The Knight of the Griffon; the other, The Knight of Death; and by these names and insignias they were known all through the world. And so I say that the wise man I have already mentioned must have put on your tongue and in your thoughts the idea of calling me The Knight of the Sorrowful Face, which is what I plan to call myself from now on; and so that this name may be even more fitting, I resolve to have depicted on my shield, when there is time, a very sorrowful face.

11 Responses to "Brief thoughts on “Don Quixote”"

Volume One is mostly “composed of our brave knight errant mistaking people and things for other people and other things, each scene punctuated with violence and/or vomit and diarrhoea”. That said, after you’ve fallen in love with the Don and Sancho it shouldn’t bother you anymore.

Plus, the broad comedy of volume one only makes volume two (even more meta-fictional, you’ll like it) sadder, and thusly, more enjoyable and perfect.

I think you and Sylvia need to have a friendly reviewing war over this book. Or maybe you could cross-post on each other’s blogs when you’re done. (I’m such a nerd)

I love it when DQ turns in on itself too — wise man indeed. This book is really just as much about reading and writing as anything else, isn’t it?

The thing to remember about Quixote and Sancho is that they are the first comic odd couple in written history to star as protagonists. Writers have been trying (badly) to imitate their relationship ever since.

My favorite parts happen when Q’s daughter tries to take his books away because she believes they’re making him mad. Although we complain today about violent images in the media, the concept of bad external influences has been around since the dawn of time.

The book is an amazing study in how little man has changed in the last several hundred years.

Don’t you feel like there should be appropriate sound effects sometimes to go along with this book? Something out of the Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy maybe? I just read that section you quoted this morning by the way. The quirkiness is tempted by some wonderful passages!

Ian is right — the shenanigans of volume 1 serve to increase the bittersweet greatness of number two. Keep at it!

Ian it gets sadder? Awww, I’ll enjoy the humour while I have it then.

And I’ll pass on the duelling reviews. I’ve ridiculously opted against doing any kind of scribbles (not even underlining!), only “mentally” noting anything that catches my eye in order to ponder for hours after.

Dorothy it is, although I tend to forget this occasionally until Cervantes brings me around again.

Marydell I figured as much, I’m just surprised at the vulgarity because it doesn’t get mentioned a lot (from what I’ve been exposed to) when critics and academics wax on the novel’s iconic stature.

Danielle definitely! They really are a pair. And it is the wonderful passages that keep me reading, after another goofy episode.

It’s nice to know that we’re around the same spot.

Ted I shall, I shall.

Back in the day, people were incredibly vulgar compared to how polite we all are now. I wrote my university honors thesis on James VI/II and remember being shocked at how many of his contemporaries felt compelled to write about his bodily functions and lack of hygiene. For really oldschool vulgarity, try Chaucer. The bawdiest story in The Canterbury Tales is told by the nun.

I think there’s this myth that, overall, human society has become increasingly sexually permissive and decreasingly sexually uptight when the opposite seems true to me: society has become decreasingly sexually permissive and increasingly sexually uptight.

In my opinion, human art (and probably life) used to be more bawdy and earthy; the Victorian era (and some other things)unfortunately nixed that real hard, at least for too much of the western world, and that era’s kind of the last one entrenched in modern minds–it’s easy to forget what art was like before then.

Even the more recent supposedly sexually repressive times might have been more sexual than today. Many books and movies from the fifties and early sixties were heavily laden with sex–it may have been done more suggestively, but sex was ALL over the place. And those uptight Victorian times–the way people were supposed to behave was often very different than the way they behaved behind closed doors in private drawing rooms….

The male athletes of the ancient Greek olympics–and much of their art–used to perform nude. I need a time-machine–quick!

If it hasn’t happened already — I’m tagging you for the 8 things meme!

Marydell oh yes, having read Shakespeare and a bit of Sophocles (bawdy) and Homer (violence to the nines) or some metaphysical poetry for that matter I did not forget that the good ol’ days were a bit spicier than is typically thought

Fran I definitely agree with you about the old classic films and I must say that was a shocker to me, considering how most people convey those times. Good heavens Hithcock always had his women all sultry, bending over and arching eyebrows. Or Welles’ The Lady from Shanghai or almost anything with Marlon Brando (even Julius Caesar although that might have been me projecting ;). I remember watching those films and then looking around to see if I was the only one shocked at all of the sexual undercurrents.

Argh, I am trying to finish Proust so I can get into DQ. This is making me more antsy…!

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