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Thread: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha

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    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha

    “Wouldn’t it be better to stay peacefully in your house and not wander around the world searching for bread made from something better than wheat, never stopping to think that many people go looking for wool and come back shorn?”

    — the niece of Alonso Quijano (Don Quixote) reasoning with her uncle

    So I’ve decided to reread Don Quixote. I’ve got a copy of it in a relatively recent translation by Edith Grossman. I’ve also got a copy of it in the original early-modern Spanish. I thought it’d be fun to go back and forth between the two.

    If any of my fellow bibliophiles on this site would like to weigh in with their insights on Miguel de Cervantes’s masterpiece, I’d sure like to read your thoughts.

    By the way, Don Quixote’s response to the above goes like this:

    “My dear niece, how little you understand! Before I am shorn I shall have plucked and removed the beard of any man who imagines he can touch even a single hair of mine.”

    Yeah! Go-Man-Go
    Uhhhh...

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Good idea, Sancho! D. Quixote certainly deserves an own thread. Just downloaded John Ormbys translation, as my bilingual Quixote ( Portuguese/Spanish) is gone together with my other books.
    To read it again would be to great an enterprise for me at this moment, but I´ll be happy to compare impressions and translations with you.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    ack Sancho---id be happy to join in but I just started gone with the wind and its 860 pages long!

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    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    Awesome, Danik. For as long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to this text. I don’t know why. Even before I’d read it I was drawn to the idea of it. Maybe that’s because it came out of Spain rather than England and when translated it’s translated into modern English. In school I struggled with Shakespeare’s Early Modern English. (Cervantes and Shakespeare were contemporaries but certainly didn’t know each other, and possibly didn’t even know of each other)

    Another explanation for me gravitating towards Don Quixote rather than Hamlet is this: the woman who taught Shakespeare in my high school had some pretty severe looks and a teaching method to match. She’d wear the same battleship gray dress suit every day and had an overly hair-sprayed helmet of hair that matched her outfit. She wore these half-lens reading glasses on a chain around her neck and when she’d get excited about something they’d sort of bounce up and down on her huge bosom. She had a set of knockers that I’m frightened of to this day. By contrast our Spanish teacher was young and friendly and drop-dead gorgeous. All of us young lads were head-over-heals in love with her.

    Speaking of drop-dead gorgeous, Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O’Hara wasn’t a homely girl, eh bounty? I got around to reading Gone With The Wind probably ten or so years ago when I was on a Civil War binge. In the Atlanta Airport between B and C concourse there’s an exhibit about the history of the city. They’ve got pictures of important events and people throughout their history — from Martha Lumpkin (Atlanta was originally called Marthasville) through Ted Turner. There’s a picture of Margaret Mitchell and Clark Gable with Mitchell clearly star struck. Anyway I think you’ll find there are some problematic parts of that novel. Have you ever read Flannery O’Connor? She was a southern writer and a contemporary of Mitchell’s. She wrote a few novels but she mostly wrote short stories.
    Uhhhh...

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Well, teachers certainly are an influence, Sancho, but then D. Quixote and Sancho are so different from Hamlet. Hamlet certainly deserves pitty for his lot. But he also demands patience with all that being and not being, more not being than being. On the other hand, the Quixote turns into a man of action. Quite late in his day and after dozens of books, ha feels prepared to act on a world he doesn´t understand. Today I think people would say that the Quixote lives in a parallel world. Anyway, I think one is more ready to identify with the Quixote or with practical Sancho than with Hamlet.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    I think you’re exactly right, Danik. Don Quixote did not contemplate “not being” by his own hand, although he’d happily sacrifice himself for the honor of the lovely Dulcinea of Tobosa. On the contrary he rises above everything that is thrown his way. My copy of the book has a nice essay by Harold Bloom where he addresses just this subject:

    Hamlet does not need or want our admiration and affection, but Don Quixote does, and receives it, as Hamlet generally does also. Sancho, like Falstaff, is replete with self-delight, though Sancho does not rouse moralizing critics to wrath and disapproval, as the sublime Falstaff does. Much more has been written about the Hamlet/Don Quixote contrast than about Sancho/Falstaff, two vitalists in aesthetic contention as masters of reality. But no critic has called Don Quixote a murderer or Sancho an immoralist. Hamlet is responsible for eight deaths, his own included, and Falstaff is a highwayman, a warrior averse to battle, and fleecer of everyone he encounters. Yet Hamlet and Falstaff are victimizers, not victims, even if Hamlet dies properly fearing a wounded name and Falstaff is destroyed by Hal/Henry V’s rejection. It does not matter. The fascination of Hamlet’s intellect and Falstaff’s wit is what endures. Don Quixote and Sancho are victims, but both are extraordinarily resilient, until the Knight’s final defeat and dying into the identity of Quijano the Good, whom Sancho vainly implores to take to the road again. The fascination of Don Quixote’s endurance and of Sancho’s loyal wisdom always remains.
    Later:

    Hamlet subverts the will, while Falstaff satirizes it. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza both exalt the will, though the Knight transcendentalizes it, and Sancho, the first postpragmatic, wants to keep it within limits. This is the transcendent element in Don Quixote that ultimately persuades us of his greatness, partly because it is set against the deliberately coarse, frequently sordid context of the panoramic book.
    The “deliberately coarse, frequently sordid” are my favorite parts of the book.
    Uhhhh...

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I like the effect of the complete work, there is a bit of too much beating and hurting to my taste but I think that is how it was at the time.

    Hoewr, before diving into the human conflicts a matter reminds to be cleared. By skimming though foreword and beginning of my translation, I found this poem, maybe elucidative as to the gender of Rocinante:
    "ON ROCINANTE

    I am that Rocinante fa—,
    Great-grandson of great Babie—,
    Who, all for being lean and bon—,
    Had one Don Quixote for an own—;
    But if I matched him well in weak—,
    I never took short commons meek—,
    But kept myself in corn by steal—,
    A trick I learned from Lazaril—,
    When with a piece of straw so neat—
    The blind man of his wine he cheat—"

    And here is further Proof:
    "DIALOGUE
    Between Babieca and Rocinante

    SONNET

    B. “How comes it, Rocinante, you’re so lean?”
    R. “I’m underfed, with overwork I’m worn.”
    B. “But what becomes of all the hay and corn?”
    R. “My master gives me none; he’s much too mean.”
    B. “Come, come, you show ill-breeding, sir, I ween;
    ’Tis like an *** your master thus to scorn.”
    R. He is an ***, will die an ***, an *** was born;
    Why, he’s in love; what’s plainer to be seen?”
    B. “To be in love is folly?”—R. “No great sense.”
    B. “You’re metaphysical.”—R. “From want of food.”
    B. “Rail at the squire, then.”—R. “Why, what’s the good?
    I might indeed complain of him, I grant ye,
    But, squire or master, where’s the difference?
    They’re both as sorry hacks as Rocinante.”
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    don't want to steal any of the don Quixote thunder, so i'll be brief.

    I have a book called three by flannery O'Conner (i see she only lived to be ~39 yrs old) but ive not read it. maybe i'll give that a shot after gone with the wind and maybe if you go really slow here i'll catch up.

    Mitchell wrote about atlanta having earlier names, its first, prior to Marthasville, was terminus, because of its situation on the railroad. scarlett has an affinity for the place because it was "born" the same year she was.

    my copy of the book has a drawing of Rhett and scarlett on the cover and I can remember seeing photos of Vivian leigh. am looking forward to watching the movie (not just because of Vivian leigh!) when im done with the book, which im really enjoying so far. its oddly a lot like war and peace but that book was torturous.

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    running amok Sancho's Avatar
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    I came across that passage too, Danik, right after you and I were chatting on that other thread about your uncle’s painting and whether Rocinante was a mare, a stallion, or a gelding. It made me wonder why I had the idea Rocinante was an old mare. And I think I have an answer. Cervantes describes the horse as a rocín, which in Spanish means useless old horse. Generally the English translation is nag, which means useless old horse. So for a translator that substitution seems like a no-brainer. But modern English speakers tend to use the word more as a verb than a noun. To nag is to pester. And it is applied to women more often than to men. As a noun in English a nag is more often an old woman than an old horse and it is hardly ever applied to an old man. Needless to say when used towards a woman it is offensive, although not as offensive as the word we use to describe a female dog. So I think I was unconsciously assigning a gender to Rocinante based on the inherent misogyny of my native language.

    Bounty, you should have no trouble catching up with me. I’m taking it real slow and enjoying the ride. Also reading it in English and then comparing certain parts to original Spanish is taking some time. My Spanish stinks. If I’m in a restaurant and the waiter only speaks Spanish, I’m capable of getting what I want about 4 out of 5 times.

    Flannery O’Connor had Lupus. Her last few years were painful. She wound up moving back in with her mother because she needed the help and evidently those two banged heads a bit. A lot of her stories reflect this. I’ve read her collection of short stories A Good Man Is Hard To Find and her novel Wise Blood. I can recommend both with no reservations.
    Uhhhh...

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    im only a 5th of the way through Rhett and scarlet, so quite a ways to go still...

    poor girl. life is too hard for too many people.

    one of my local libraries is having a sale this month. if I spot anything else by O'Connor, i'll grab it.

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    Concerning the madness of Don Quixote

    Quite early in the novel Cervantes lays out the reason for Alonso Quijano going over the edge and becoming Don Quixote. I think he’s also taking a pot shot at some of the maddening, over-the-top prose of the most popular genre fiction of the day — chivalric literature

    Trying to make sense of this sort of writing is what scrambled poor Alonso’s brains:

    “La razón de la sinrazón que a mi razón se hace, de tal manera mi razón enflaquece, que con razón me quejo de la vuestra fermosura.” Y también cuando leía:…“Los altos cielos que de vuestra divinidad divinamente con las estrellas os fortifican y os hacen merecedora del merecimiento Que merece la vuestra grandeza.
    Para los gringos:

    “The reason for the unreason to which my reason turns so weakens my reason that with reason I complain of thy beauty.” And also when he read:…“The heavens on high divinely heighten thy divinity with stars and make thee deserving of the deserts thy greatness deserves.”.
    He goes on to say that even Aristotle couldn’t figure out that mess. I pictured the poor man in his house late at night, reading under candle light with wrinkled brow. I sympathized with him because at one time in my life I tried to get through the Sandymount Strand chapter in Joyce’s Ulysses.
    Last edited by Sancho; 04-02-2023 at 06:19 PM.
    Uhhhh...

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sancho View Post
    I came across that passage too, Danik, right after you and I were chatting on that other thread about your uncle’s painting and whether Rocinante was a mare, a stallion, or a gelding. It made me wonder why I had the idea Rocinante was an old mare. And I think I have an answer. Cervantes describes the horse as a rocín, which in Spanish means useless old horse. Generally the English translation is nag, which means useless old horse. So for a translator that substitution seems like a no-brainer. But modern English speakers tend to use the word more as a verb than a noun. To nag is to pester. And it is applied to women more often than to men. As a noun in English a nag is more often an old woman than an old horse and it is hardly ever applied to an old man. Needless to say when used towards a woman it is offensive, although not as offensive as the word we use to describe a female dog. So I think I was unconsciously assigning a gender to Rocinante based on the inherent misogyny of my native language.

    Bounty, you should have no trouble catching up with me. I’m taking it real slow and enjoying the ride. Also reading it in English and then comparing certain parts to original Spanish is taking some time. My Spanish stinks. If I’m in a restaurant and the waiter only speaks Spanish, I’m capable of getting what I want about 4 out of 5 times.

    Flannery O’Connor had Lupus. Her last few years were painful. She wound up moving back in with her mother because she needed the help and evidently those two banged heads a bit. A lot of her stories reflect this. I’ve read her collection of short stories A Good Man Is Hard To Find and her novel Wise Blood. I can recommend both with no reservations.
    Sancho, we have the word "rocim" also in Portuguese, but there it merely means a weak horse. "To nag" I know as a verb. I never heard about the nag, horse or woman. It explains your association. Rocinante has a female ring for me, because on the German forum there is a very spirited lady with the nick Rossinante(with two ss because Rossinante hasn't anything to do with raisins).
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Bounty, I've read gone with the wind a long, long time ago, but I still remember a bit of it, so maybe we can exchange impressions.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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    id enjoy that danik, but if we do, I suggest we only do so sparingly so as to not derail don Quixote at all. plus, since Sancho read it some time ago maybe it would work out alright.

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    No much danger of derailing D. Quixote, Bounty, he got already his full share of derailing in his days. But if you prefer you can open a thread for "Gone with the Wind".
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 04-03-2023 at 12:53 PM.
    "I seemed to have sensed also from an early age that some of my experiences as a reader would change me more as a person than would many an event in the world where I sat and read. "
    Gerald Murnane, Tamarisk Row

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