Saturday, January 15, 2005

Finished the first half!

I should really be reading my segment for today, but I'll procrastinate a bit by saying that I was moved to post Misha's comments below because he didn't like the book. I hope that this will serve to break the ice here, so that as we go along anyone else will feel free to admit to any ambivalent feelings they may have.

I still have not read Harold Bloom's introduction, but as mentioned earlier, I read his writings about Cervantes in another book (Genius) and his opinion was that Don Quixote was not crazy as much as the rest of the world was. I plan to reread this and read the introduction after I've finished the book, but at this point, I don't get that. I'm sorry, but he still just seems crazy to me. I don't admire him or even particularly like him as much as I pity him.

I did, however, have a glimpse - a mere flash! - of another understanding when I read the following from the Cliff's Notes:

With Dorothea's fictional story, Cervantes again indicates that the world of truth is the province of a knight-errant; illusion belongs to those unenlightened by the spirit of chivalry. Especially unenlightened are the curate and barber, as well as Cardenio, who is as chivalric and noble as Don Quixote himself. They are delighted by the convincing manner in which the clever Dorothea plays her role of distressed princess Micomicona. What they do not recognize, and what Don Quixote believes immediately, is that the beautiful farmer's daughter is really a dispossessed aristocrat, victim of a usurper. Dorothea is a princess by virtue of her beauty and personality; she is dispossessed, not of her lands, but of her virtue, with Don Ferdinand, a giant in rank if not in character, as the faithless usurper. And the fictionalized Micomicona, who has traveled across half the world to seek redress from a knight, is truly the ravished Dorothea, who, after much journeying, discovers Cardenio, a knight who swears to aid her in relieving her distress.
I'm sticking this up here so that when we really get to discussing this book, I can easily find it. The key to my understanding Don Quixote as anything but a pitifully deluded man lies here, I think.


Blogger Isabella said...

Ha ha. I'm on page 19.

But I had an Aha! moment on p12. I thought, what's all the fuss, Cervantes says so right there. Of course. DQ's mad — "...a gentleman from La Manch- / whose idle reading of nov- / caused him to lose his reas-."

But it's not that simple. Just a few pages in, and it's already frighteningly self-aware — Cervantes is crafting the opening verses on advice of his friend. The verse is attributed to Urganda, a sorceress. So, is it a joke? the simple truth presented in the guise of something not to be believed?

Is it Cervantes the man writing this, an honest account of DQ's character? (If it is, does it matter?) Or Cervantes the master of literary device leading us down a particular road.

Deluded man, more than likely. I suspect there's a lot to argue not at all "pitifully." but I'm only on page 19.

6:17 PM  
Blogger Misha Tch. said...

Good job, Diana! I know what it takes to accomplish this. I wonder just how far Priscilla got. Was it the first chapter?..

For me Don Qixote is first and foremost a "pitifully deluded man" as you put it. Let's not forget that the novel was conceived as a parody of the numerous medieval tales of chivalry that were so popular at the time. And Cervantes did the same to this genre as Henry Fielding to the tragedy. After seeing The Tragedy of Tragedies, people would go to a performance of Racine or Pierre Cornel and crack up during the most dramatic scenes!

With this in mind, I find myself far from overestimating the philosophic value of the book. Yes, I know you all are going to start telling me that Cervantes was a genius and therefore his masterpiece is deeper and more complex than the genre suggests. I know that. But let's not try to find what simply is not there! Never let facts get in the way of a great theory, huh?

10:15 PM  
Blogger Priscilla said...

Oops! Didn't mean to offend Misha! In fact, I didn't quite realize that you are a blogger in this group. I thought you were a distant literary commentator that Diana decided to quote. There! That's a compliment. Feel better?

Diana, thanks again for inviting me to this group, but I won't be continuing. My mishap with Misha has little to do with it. I simply will not be able to keep up with your pace. My 3 and 1 year olds aren't very generous with my time, as I'm sure you'll remember. I sure hope you are able to finish the novel with some enjoyment.



11:28 PM  

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