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Thread: Don Quixote Allegorical of Spain?

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    Don Quixote Allegorical of Spain?

    I just finished Don Quixote yesterday, and I've been reading into the various interpretations of its meanings. One that I was considering, though I haven't really read up on it much, may be that Don Quixote himself is representative of the Spanish Empire in the decline of its power.

    With him fantastically chasing things that cause him more harm than good, and trying to flex his power with ill-result, only to die a disenfranchised death, I believe Quixote very closely represents an empire in decline.

    However, Spain's decline wasn't fully realized by this point, was it? If that's the case, could it be possible that Cervantes was predicting the fall of Spain from the status of super-power? I may be writing a paper based on this premise, so if anybody has any feedback about this theory, it would be greatly appreciated!

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    A few years back when I was travelling through spain, DQ was obviously a folk hero with statues abound, I recall hearing the story of the author Cervantes himself, Its been many years and my memory might be a little hazy, but it went along the lines of; Cervantes joined the army to avoid baby mama drama or something, got enlisted, served overseas, was wounded and honorably discharged from combat, but on his return voyage was kidnapped by pirates for ransom, which nobody paid. A good while later (years?) he found his way back to spain, and wasn't greeted like the returning war hero that he was entitled to, but as a deserter. Nonetheless, the spanish government honored their obligation to him and gave him a job, as a tax collector. Too bad everybody hates the tax man, and this and that and this drama he eventually ended up in jail himself, at this point Cervantes put pen to paper and wrote his masterpiece.

    They attributed a real life story like this as the catalyst for our disillusioned hero. He'd served as both Soldier and Bureacrat and was burned both times, but found his calling as DQ, a buffoon rampaging through his beloved countryside. Battling perceived injustices, all in the name of honor, in a seemingly honor-less time, but with a comical twist.

    I don't know if this story is true, but if it were it would match up perfectly with your theory. Perhaps try searching for the story of the author himself if there is one, The story I told is merely word of mouth from spanish locals
    Last edited by Stolentyme; 03-10-2015 at 04:27 PM. Reason: added detail

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    I finished reading Don Quixote a few days ago. Here's my initial impressions, having read no interpretations.

    Our knight lives optimistically in a fictitious, idealistic past. Sancho also aspires to a better life that he hopes to gain through serving as a squire. Their adventures are universally illusory. Numerous well-bred characters enjoy and even nurture these illusions. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza live out a fairy tale.

    Almost all these characters are of noble birth and blessed with excellent appearance and manners, particularly the women. And everything turns out for the best, all of the time. And so, once again, they live out a fairly tale. Here we have a miniature fairy tale within a larger fairy tale.

    Outside of the fairy tale, perhaps, we have the down-to-earth well-meaning villagers of La Mancha and a couple of distant scribes, one of whom we ourselves read, indirectly. I struggle to understand the standpoint of the narrator.

    Is the novel contrasting a day-to-day and mundane reality with the grandiose pursuits of the world's elites? This seems to be the knight's final realisation. As for reading the novel as an allegory of Spain, perhaps, although why limit it to Spain?
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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    I think that Cervantes wrote a parody of the novels celebrating knights and their adventures popular in the further past from the time when he lived.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    I finished reading Don Quixote a few days ago. Here's my initial impressions, having read no interpretations.

    Our knight lives optimistically in a fictitious, idealistic past. Sancho also aspires to a better life that he hopes to gain through serving as a squire. Their adventures are universally illusory. Numerous well-bred characters enjoy and even nurture these illusions. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza live out a fairy tale.

    Almost all these characters are of noble birth and blessed with excellent appearance and manners, particularly the women. And everything turns out for the best, all of the time. And so, once again, they live out a fairly tale. Here we have a miniature fairy tale within a larger fairy tale.

    Outside of the fairy tale, perhaps, we have the down-to-earth well-meaning villagers of La Mancha and a couple of distant scribes, one of whom we ourselves read, indirectly. I struggle to understand the standpoint of the narrator.

    Is the novel contrasting a day-to-day and mundane reality with the grandiose pursuits of the world's elites? This seems to be the knight's final realisation. As for reading the novel as an allegory of Spain, perhaps, although why limit it to Spain?
    Strange you do not reckon the obvious father of Prince Myshkin on Quijano. Maybe it was a translation, because i fail to see how the world were Quixote lives is "idealistic past", if anything we have is the oposite, Quijano idealistic past contrasted with a cynical and dry world - as Ortega Y Gasset would suggest, Quixote is a book of Hyper-realism.

    I also wonder what it means turn out of the best. They get mistreated, mocked, bullied, bashed more than once while following Quixote's illusions. The end of the book is rather melancholic (but maybe again, the edition you had was a translation only of the first part and not of second) and Quixote is humiliated and defeated, until he sees his dream removed from him.

    The staindpoint of the narrator shifts, because of course both parts were not written together, it was not even a case of a long process of composion, like Dante's Comedy, Cervantes only imagined the second part years after the first one, with a different intention and feelings about it. The second part is born with a different meta-linguistic aim, while the first one was a satyre of previous literature, the second one is a personal libel and the main dialogue was with the first part and the apocryph sequel. The initial joke with a false author adquires a new dimension and Cervantes is now a bitter narrator, but Quixote is now a giantic character, with perhaps a little too much life. The danger is no longer reading books and having a fantasy about them in the real world, the real danger now is being itself on this world.

    Cervantes had huge literary ambitions and Quixote lived up to it. But not for the good of Cervantes, albeit, i do not think we can say it is only the world's elite, but the entire society that has no place for Quixote. He never found a place anywhere, be family, nobility, peasants, criminals, except with Sancho, which happens to be his biggest friend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Strange you do not reckon the obvious father of Prince Myshkin on Quijano. Maybe it was a translation, because I fail to see how the world were Quixote lives is "idealistic past", if anything we have is the opposite, Quijano idealistic past contrasted with a cynical and dry world - as Ortega Y Gasset would suggest, Quixote is a book of Hyper-realism.
    I see Prince Myshkin as the sanest of the sane: a saint in human form: he sees the world with searing clarity. By contrast, Don Quixote lives in his delusion of an "idealistic past", in a world that is all too real. Both men, of course, mean well indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    I also wonder what it means turn out of the best. They get mistreated, mocked, bullied, bashed more than once while following Quixote's illusions.
    When I write, "Almost all these characters are of noble birth and blessed with excellent appearance and manners, particularly the women," I specifically exclude Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    The initial joke with a false author acquires a new dimension and Cervantes is now a bitter narrator, but Quixote is now a gigantic character, with perhaps a little too much life. The danger is no longer reading books and having a fantasy about them in the real world, the real danger now is being itself on this world.

    Cervantes had huge literary ambitions and Quixote lived up to it. But not for the good of Cervantes, albeit, I do not think we can say it is only the world's elite, but the entire society that has no place for Quixote. He never found a place anywhere, be family, nobility, peasants, criminals, except with Sancho, which happens to be his biggest friend.
    Yes, Don Quixote is mocked ruthlessly in the second part, and I pity him much as I did Prince Myshkin towards the end. Both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are bullied in a way that I, as reader, found decidedly distasteful. But why do you say, "not for the good of Cervantes"?
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gladys View Post
    I see Prince Myshkin as the sanest of the sane: a saint in human form: he sees the world with searing clarity. By contrast, Don Quixote lives in his delusion of an "idealistic past", in a world that is all too real. Both men, of course, mean well indeed.
    Myshkin is, as Dostoievisky said, a Quixote. Of course, this goes to the point Myshkin is Myshkin, not just a copy. But some critics analyse Quixote in a different light. His illusions are not just madness, but some sort of hyper-realism. Quixote perceives reality and his knight's tales are a problem of communication, he does not know other way to bring his self into this new world. That resembles Myshkin troubles while facing the hypocrisy of russian society with his high ethical personality. One is mad, the other idiot, but neither are mad or idiot. Of course, Quixote does it in a spanish baroque style and Myshkin in the psychological realistic russian style.



    When I write, "Almost all these characters are of noble birth and blessed with excellent appearance and manners, particularly the women," I specifically exclude Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.
    I am not talking about them. Quixote and Sancho run into peasants, criminals, etc. (Alonso Quijano, despite the comic appearance, is not in the lower level of society.)

    Yes, Don Quixote is mocked ruthlessly in the second part, and I pity him much as I did Prince Myshkin towards the end. Both Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are bullied in a way that I, as reader, found decidedly distasteful. But why do you say, "not for the good of Cervantes"?
    Don Quixote was a huge, huge editorial sucess. I read once a research that found links with the increase of libraries (of course, much lower numbers than today and those small old libraries that had copies of books to loan, very few exemplars, etc) with the translations of Quixote to that language (something like, Quixote got translated to english, the number of librariees doubled in england, etc.). It was basically the first super best-seller. But Cervantes never saw a penny and never got the blessing of Spanish King as he wanted (to get a pension) and neither the reckognition of his peers (his poetical ambitions were often mocked by the other spanish authors of the golden age). Even a dude who wrote a sequel to the first part got more money than him, which explains a bit the change of mood to a melancholic second part.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Myshkin is, as Dostoievisky said, a Quixote. Of course, this goes to the point Myshkin is Myshkin, not just a copy. But some critics analyse Quixote in a different light. His illusions are not just madness, but some sort of hyper-realism. Quixote perceives reality and his knight's tales are a problem of communication, he does not know other way to bring his self into this new world.
    Yes, Quixote resembles Myshkin in that he strives for a higher ethic and ostensibly fails. In that sense Quixote sees more than most. Quixote's renunciation at the end is therefore rather disappointing. By contrast, Myshkin is faithful unto death and paradoxically may have succeeded in the guise of failure.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Even a dude who wrote a sequel to the first part got more money than him, which explains a bit the change of mood to a melancholic second part.
    It never occurred to me that this happened to the author himself, nor that the second part of Don Quixote is, to that extent, autobiographical.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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    Yes, Don Quixote does not offer us a glimpse of redemption, unless we just see the book against books became perhaps the most influential non religious book, beyond even the meta-linguistic power of the second part.

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