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Tuesday, 30 September 2008
Literature's Most Misunderstood Novel

by Norman Berdichevsky (Oct. 2008)

No foreigner who has been in Spain more than a few days will fail to recognize them. Statues, portraits and images of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza stare out at you from tiled murals on the walls of schools, museums, shops and cultural centers. The familiar figures of the tall, lanky and gaunt knight-errant with his rusty sword, crooked lance and broken helmet, perched on his emaciated old plough horse turned charger, Rocinante, towers over the pudgy peasant Sancho Panza sitting astride his mule.  more>>>

Posted on 09/30/2008 5:02 PM by NER
2 Dec 2008
Send an emailQuixada


You also say that “The Man of La Mancha” contradicts Cervantes’s view of realism.
You’re not alone in missing the point of the difference between what Cervantes said and what he meant. “The Man of La Mancha” got it right!
Cervantes was a war hero who knew the meaning of true chivalry. He detested the flowery make believe stories that his wife preferred to real life, and that became his pretense for a moral. However, the undercurrent of his writings was that of revealing caring and chivalry in a cruel world.
True, taking on the social monster was like tilting at windmills. You’re gona lose! Still, as crazy as it is, that spirit is so admirable that 400 years later, people still ponder it. 
He took all the personal hits he could before creating his Don Quixote (modeling him after a crazy old man named Don Quixada). That way, Quixote could ride on, show-casing the cruelty of humanity. But that wasn’t because Cervantes didn’t believe in the virtues of chivalry. 
One motivation was to sell his story, but the other deeper message was the sprit of reaching for the unreachable star. He did that by posing the two positions – realism and the Don Q Point of View.



15 Oct 2008
Send an emailsuibne

What is apparent is that the entire issue of "what a novel means" is no longer important. Hollywood has been presenting slanted versions of history for years with no opposition. The impact these NEW Versions of history itself  has been disastrous (my interpretation). Docudramas are called documentaries without a peep from those who should care most. Sorry, but  little problems with ancient  ideas, like carpe diem, have amounted to massive problems, like "free speech" and "victimization." If I sound angry, well, I am old, and actually remember  what an "honest" market of ideas  sounded like.

3 Oct 2008

"... posters by Picasso..." etc...  and paintings by Daumier!!!

2 Oct 2008
Send an emailZZMike

Harold Bloom considers Don Quixote "the first and best of all novels"; that Cervantes is perhaps Shakespeare's only rival.

Read all about it (as they say) in his "How to Read and Why".

One problem is that most of come to it the way we come to "Romeo and Juliet" - through "West Side Story" (a fine work by itself, but (again as they say) "loosely based on the original"), or the musical.

I think that one reasonable approach it to listen to Strauss' "Don Quixote".   Strauss subtitles it "Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character". 


2 Oct 2008
Norman Berdichevsky

In the Fall 2003 issue of the literary magazine, Fidelio, Carlos Wesley wrote “The Joy of Reading Don Quixote”, citing a survey conducted in 2002, in which some of the world's leading writers, representing all continents, selected Don Quixote as the world's best work of fiction. Nigerian-born writer Ben Okri noted that …"If there is one novel you should read before you die, it is Don Quixote,". The novel has been the subject of varying interpretations and controversy for more than 300 years. Wesley called the novel “a kingdom, one which, it is hoped, having glimpsed these pages, you will feel encouraged to visit right away, to open it, read it, and enjoy it and the best way, of course, would be aloud, with a group of friends, with whom to share the love and laughter.”

Don Quixote has frequently been compared to Hamlet in the complexity of his character. While Hamlet resolves his conflicts with violence and action, Don Quixote aspires to realize all the virtuous and noble ideals of Christianity and Chivalry in a world where only lip service is paid to them both. Fortunately, the reader (along with Sancho Panza) knows what the real world is like.

1 Oct 2008
Send an emailRebecca Bynum

Dear Mr. Barry,

Would you like to share your superior wisdom with us?

1 Oct 2008
Send an emailRaymond Barry

 You don't have the faintest clue what Don Quixote is about.