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Don Quixote: Part II 
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Post Don Quixote: Part II
So I've finally made it to the second part of Don Quixote, and after reading Cervantes' prologue where he does what he swears he is not going to do, I finally get back to the action, and what happens? Sancho tells the Don that someone has written a book about their exploits, with so much detail of even events that happened when they were alone that he fears for his life. The book is entitled, in the Grossman translation, The Ingenious Gentleman, Don Quixote of La Mancha, which is Cervantes' name for his own work in the first part of this story. And so the scholar who discovered the work is summoned to Don Quixote's chamber and, sarcastically and mockingly, the scholar bows to the "knight" and briefly retells pretty much every tale that we've already read.

While this is amusing, it is also frustrating, because I want to see what happens already, and enough with the freaking talking about what's happening or going to happen. I'm a firm believer of "show, don't tell," having been trained in the "modern" idea of fiction writing, and so all this florid prose and courtly speech is starting to irk me because there are other stories I am desperate to give my attention to, other characters longing for me to love them, promising to give me more action and less talk.* I do realize, even in my frustration, that this may not only be a device to get Cervantes into his own novel, but also to refresh the memories of those who read his first part of Don Quixote, since it has been 10 years since he finished that, and also to dispel any myths that may have been written by the false Don Quixote author. Kind of like how most sequels to movies give at least a small recap of what happened in the movie that came before it (i.e. in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, the last actions of the main character Alice in Resident Evil are repeated and incorporated into the new story, and in the next sequel, Resident Evil: Extinction, the actions of Alice from the first movie are repeated, only to reveal that this Alice is a clone being used for research by the evil scientist at the Umbrella Corporation, but it reminds the viewer of what happened originally, since there were several years between the two movies). This dulls my anger a bit, but I'm still ready to go off on another adventure and not read novels that have nothing to do with the plot, another topic that Cervantes' uses to make fun of himself, as Don Quixote dismisses the entire history once he hears that "The Tale of Reckless Curiosity" is also included in the telling of his story.






*This comment made me think of the Reduced Shakespeare Company. If you're not familiar with them, they're a trio of highly educated Shakespearean scholars and performers who parody all of Shakespeare's works in both a 3-disc "radio show" and an hour and a half live performance of what they call "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)". They also cover the Bible, The Complete History of America, Literature, and even have a Millenium Musical, all of which are witty, brilliant, and hysterical.

What makes me think of them is that in their radio show analysis of Hamlet, one member refers to Hamlet as "all thought and no action," and Laertes as "all action and no tought," with Fortinbras being the balanced of the three. He then goes on to explain how these three are, in this way, exactly like The Three Stooges, because Mo is always beating up Curly, and "nothing really bad ever happens to Larry except maybe he gets his hair pulled." Hilarious.

It's not really relevant here, but it came to mind and I thought I'd share, because I think everyone on BookTalk would appreciate their extreme knowledge and humor. As a young child, they are how I learned most of my Shakespearean knowledge, which only made them funnier when I listened to them again after reading most of his major works. They really leave no stone unturned, and it's a great belly laugh for anyone who appreciates theater. I've seen them on many occasions, in many cities, and would see them every week if I had the opportunity.

Take a look:
The Official Reduced Shakespeare website: http://www.reducedshakespeare.com/wp/
RSC on YouTube: google.com/search?q=reduced+shakespeare ... CEEQqwQwAw



Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:02 am
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
I haven't reached the Promised Land of Book II yet, bleachededen, but your reactions to Cervantes' handling of the narrative are interesting. I'm not sure whether I see Cervantes' monkey business of narrative switching as constructive or obstructive. I do know that playing with modes of narration tickles the fancy of literary critics--they love that stuff.

I had a strange reaction myself to the inclusion of the characters of "The Tale of Foolish Curiosity" in the plot of the novel. I felt as if, after the tale was over and the characters start to get involved with the plot to save Don Quixote, they were fictional characters come to life and incongruously mixing with the real world of the novel. The contrast between the extremely gritty and de-romanticized world of Don and Sancho and the idealized and affluent world of the formerly fictional characters, was jarring. It reminded me a little of the way the fairy tale characters become involved in the story of Shrek!


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Mon Apr 12, 2010 10:25 am
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
I think Shrek does it better. ;)

Shrek is also a wonderful example of post-modernism in film, and I think a lot of people miss just how creative and innovative the writers/animators of those films are because they are generally just thrown into the "kids movie" pile when there is really a lot more going on than in most kids' movies. I could say this of other movies, as well, but Shrek definitely stands out in my mind as being worthy of more merit than say, any movie created by Barbie or the hundreds of terrible money grubbing Disney sequels.

I watch a lot of cartoons, and the ones I love usually have elements that are more adult than you would expect from a kids' film, so I'm pretty "up" on which films are smart and which are just funny enough to keep your toddler occupied while you do the dishes or write your novel (or just take a breather for a few minutes, kids are scary...which is why I don't plan to have any).

Digressions aside, I'm not sure what translation you're reading, DWill, but in the Grossman translation, the characters of "The Tale of Reckless Curiosity" don't join the Don Quixote characters. If you are mistaken, I can see how it could be easy to be so, because the characters that end up helping (or more accurately humiliating) Don Quixote are very similar to those in the interpolated novel. Anselmo, Lothario, and Camila are not characters who are involved in the Don's story, those characters are Cardenio, Dorotea, Don Fernando, and Luscinda. We are first told Cardenio's story, who mentions Don Fernando, an unnamed woman who turns out to be Dorotea, and Luscinda, then Dorotea's story, who mentions all of them except for Cardenio's name, and when they get to the inn with the priest and the barber, all four in the two unfortunate stories come face to face, and the lovers who have been separated are brought back together, Don Fernando repents, everyone cries (much, like you said, like in a Shakespeare comedy), and Sancho is confused because he thought Dorotea was Princess Micomicona, and is now just Dorotea, and it is then that they become involved in Don Quixote's affairs, and the tale of the captive and Zoraida occurs when they enter the inn, apparently that same night. A lot happens in a very short amount of time, it seems, even given the large amounts of land it seems they would have to cover in reaching these remote places.

Forgive me for correcting you, and I could be wrong, but I didn't want you to continue reading with confused notions in your head, for then you'd be no better than poor Sancho! ;)



Mon Apr 12, 2010 3:49 pm
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
I have a question for anyone who has read as far into Part II as I have, or who has at least read enough to know about Sanson Carrasco and his intentions.

My question is this:
Is it any less "mad" for Sanson Carrasco to dress as a knight and challenge Don Quixote to single combat in order to cure him, than it is for Don Quixote to believe in his fantastical world of knight errantry? When does the "curer" become more mad than the "diseased?" In that same line of thinking, are those who go out of their way to trick Don Quixote only for their amusement, like the duke and the duchess and Don Antonio, any saner than the "mad" knight? Are they more sane for recognizing that what they do is trickery, or is Don Quixote more honest and noble than they are because he, at least, believes that what he says and does is true, and is not out to trick or harm anyone?

I've been grappling with these questions for some time now, and I'd love to hear what other readers and thinkers have to say about these confusing issues.



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Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:47 pm
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
Cervantes answered my question for me toward the end of the novel, on page 914, 3rd paragraph of the Grossman translation, to be exact. There he says, of the duke and duchess's final trick on Don Quixote and Sancho, "It is here that Cide Hamete says that the deceivers are as mad as the deceived, for they certainly appear foolish to go to such lengths to deceive these two fools." (These are not the exact words but close enough to make my point).

Yet Cervantes still shows them as being noble and of good standing, because he explains the situation that led up to the trickery, and even when Don Quixote has expressed that he is sane and free of the control of the madness that chivalric literature had upon him, the priest and bachelor still try to get him to prove some more madness by bringing up Dulcinea and their absurd idea to become shepherds while Don Quixote is under oath not to go abroad as a knight errant. So Cervantes recognizes that those who trick Don Quixote for their own amusement are as mad as he is, but they are still left in a favorable light while Don Quixote is left shattered and heartbroken, and essentially dies of that very thing, as people tend to do in books and not in life.

I also feel a great deal of annoyance at the ending, in which, during Don Quixote's sudden sickness, he, one day, out of absolutely nowhere, professes that he is sane and rational and no longer Don Quixote but Alonso Quixano, and further expresses his hatred for the works of chivalric literature and swears that they should all be burned, and even writes in his will that if his niece wishes to marry a man who has read any chivalric literature, she will lose all of the estate and fortune he will leave for her. This makes absolutely no sense with the rest of the story, and is so unbelievable and unconvincing an ending that I feel it is a cop out, much the same as when someone ends their story with "and then he woke up to find it was all just a dream," and writes nothing further. From this ending, I can only take the idea that Cervantes desperately wanted to put an end to counterfeit versions of his characters used in other people's stories, and thus needs to kill off the Don, but also doesn't want us to think he died anything but a sane and true Christian so that his works won't be seen as blasphemous or raise any questions.

I really don't see this book as anything other than a light entertainment, and am definitely of the mind that the only reason it is considered a "classic" is that it was the first of its kind, and the first to use certain archetypal characters and plot and narrative devices. This does not make it a good book, it just makes it innovative, which I understand has its place, but it certainly isn't one of the best novels ever written, just the first. I think if maybe the interpolated novels had been removed and the second and first parts combined and pared down a bit it would be an easier and more enjoyable read, but as it stands now it gets old far too quickly to be over 900 pages long, and though I have learned a lot from reading it, I certainly can't say that I enjoyed it or would ever even consider reading it again.

I do find it interesting that Cervantes and Shakespeare were contemporaries, even if they never heard of each other, because both were writing at the same time and were known to be great innovators, but Shakespeare can ask a reader or play-goer to sit still for hours on end to witness his plays and not only did people do so then, but they continue to do so now, and over and over again, and so I have to say that if I'm going to choose the best writer of the 17th century I'm going to have to choose Shakespeare, hands down, birth of the modern novel or not. I will watch Hamlet over and over until I'm speaking Shakespeare lines in my everyday speech, but I will never, ever read Don Quixote again or even want to. I am so glad to have finally finished it.

How is everyone else faring? DWill, Robert? Do you have any insights to add? If you haven't finished yet, I can wait. I'm certainly finished ahead of others who are reading for this discussion, so if you need to read a bit to catch up before responding, that's fine. But this is how I feel, and I needed to share it while it was fresh (I finished it about an hour ago). My boyfriend told me he was proud of me, because I put "finish Don Quixote" on my to-do list and I actually managed to achieve that goal, and he knows how much I dislike the book because I get visibly annoyed while reading it.

Yay! I can choose a new book to read, finally! :clap:



Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:04 am
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
Aw, we should definitely give you a prize! And I can tell you didn't skim anything, which is a temptation I didn't successfully resist. I'm still about 100 pages short of the Promised Land. Will have at least one more comment to make on the book, I'm sure.

I've been wanting to reread books instead of reading others for the first time, which is why I tried DQ again. Often, affection for a book increases on rereading, but that didn't happen this time for me. This gives me the thought that I should reread a book I didn't like the first time, to maybe get the opposite experience.

Moby Dick here I come!


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Thu Apr 29, 2010 2:06 pm
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
DWill wrote:
Aw, we should definitely give you a prize! And I can tell you didn't skim anything, which is a temptation I didn't successfully resist. I'm still about 100 pages short of the Promised Land. Will have at least one more comment to make on the book, I'm sure.

I've been wanting to reread books instead of reading others for the first time, which is why I tried DQ again. Often, affection for a book increases on rereading, but that didn't happen this time for me. This gives me the thought that I should reread a book I didn't like the first time, to maybe get the opposite experience.

Moby Dick here I come!


I liked Moby Dick! How about that, another place we diverge. I better admit that I never did completely finish it.


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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
Saffron wrote:
DWill wrote:
Aw, we should definitely give you a prize! And I can tell you didn't skim anything, which is a temptation I didn't successfully resist. I'm still about 100 pages short of the Promised Land. Will have at least one more comment to make on the book, I'm sure.

I've been wanting to reread books instead of reading others for the first time, which is why I tried DQ again. Often, affection for a book increases on rereading, but that didn't happen this time for me. This gives me the thought that I should reread a book I didn't like the first time, to maybe get the opposite experience.

Moby Dick here I come!


I liked Moby Dick! How about that, another place we diverge. I better admit that I never did completely finish it.


I re-read Moby Dick every 3-4 years. It still surprises me. But, I don't care for any other Melville. No spoiler but the end of Billy Bud is suposed to be meaningful and frankly by then I was just glad it was over.


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Thu Apr 29, 2010 7:46 pm
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
You're right, DWill. Much to my brain's misfortune, I read every blasted word of Don Quixote, because I felt I would have cheated if I didn't. I only cheat on reading books when they're for a grade; when I read them for pleasure I will read them entirely or not at all. I have some issues. ;)

The only Melville I like is the short story Bartleby the Scrivener, adapted to modern times in an indie film starring Crispin Glover, called simply Bartleby (if you're a literature fan, I suggest you check it out, because it really gets the original story dead on, especially with Crispin Glover's quirkiness at work in the role of Bartleby).

Bartleby on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0230025/
Bartleby on Netflix: netflix.com/Movie/Bartleby/60029056?str ... kid=222336

If I ever read Moby Dick again, let God, Allah, Jesus, the lizard king, whatever strike me down where I sit. I hated every part of reading that novel, except that the name of the rescue ship is the same as mine (that amused me during an otherwise completely depressing ending that I thought could have come about 20 chapters earlier). Otherwise, I totally hated it, and skipped every chapter that didn't tell back story or move the plot, so anytime Melville went on and on about whaling (which was frequently), I flew to the next chapter. Thankfully I had a wonderful teacher for that class so through discussion and observation journals I made it through to the end, but if I had to read that in high school with my lax teachers and no interest in the subject, forget it, I wouldn't even have tried (which I actually did with Billy Budd, and got away with it with a perfect grade. Give three cheers for America's public school systems). Sadly, there's an awesome opera version of Billy Budd that I will never go to see because I really hate the story (I'm not totally stupid, I looked up the plot online ;)). My parents said it was great, but I guess I will never know. Oh, well.

I think next I may reread a Neil Gaiman book, or possibly Connie Willis' Doomsday Book, or one of the new books that are still sitting on my printer table waiting for me, something sci-fi and modern and hilarious. I'm putting Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass on hold for now, because I need something very relevant and fresh to cleanse my proverbial palate after Cervantes' dribble.

And of course, I will carry out my desire to watch Hamlet sometime this week, because so far I've been thwarted every day by family obligations, doctors' appointments, and certain time restraints, so I haven't been able to watch it yet even though I swore I'd do it yesterday. Tomorrow is the day my friends, for real. I definitely have four hours to devote to Shakespeare tomorrow, and if I don't, I will find a way to make it so. As the internet as my witness, I will watch Hamlet before the week is out!

And now, I exit stage left, pursued by a bear.



Last edited by bleachededen on Fri Apr 30, 2010 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Apr 30, 2010 12:55 am
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
Thanks for the recommendation on "Bartleby." I'll look for that, as I like the story, too. I didn't dislike Moby-Dick as much as you did, but the circumstances under which we read something have so much to do with our liking a book or not. One of these circumstances is age, and I think it should be obvious to educators that, just as many books are written to appeal to young people, many are written to appeal to older people. Most of the latter type are the 'classics' of literature that we believe must be pushed on our captive student audience. The result of doing this, I'm afraid, is often that students see literature as punishment, something they would never engage in willingly. I'm generalizing, of course. But the idea that from age 16 to 22 we'll get our education and be done with it is crazy and it doesn't work.

I think I read Moby-Dick when I was cramming for literature comps. That isn't the best of condtions to be able to enjoy a work that requires a patient approach. I'm glad that Gary has a 'relationship' with the book. That encourages me to open the book again.


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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
I bought a copy of Moby Dick at a garage sale last year and when I got home and opened it found it was a German translation.

I read Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky when I was at high school. I didn't understand it but found it fascinating to enter the Russian mindworld. Recently I read that The Brothers Karamazov includes a prosecution of Christ. Literature contains inventive ideas that you often don't fully get at the time you read them.

I'm up to chapter nine of part two in Don Quixote. Cervantes is a master at drawing the reader into the plot. The story when Sancho buys curds and puts them in Don Quixote's helmet, who puts it on his head, is a scream, so is Lady Dulcinea stinking of raw garlic. Cervantes inhabits the opposite-land of satire and irony, so you can bet for everything he says the opposite is true. I didn't believe him when he said the comment that the book is satire is not true. The elaborate praise of anything in Don Quixote suggests that Cervantes regards it with mockery and derision. As he explains with his several mentions of clerical censorship, his foremost duty was to provide a book of popular entertainment with no chance of condemnation for sedition. Like his wily old knight of sorrows, Cervantes keeps secrets from possible enemies. Just as Don Quixote conceals the timing of his next sally into knight errantry from his housekeeper and niece, Cervantes allows the reader to draw conclusions that he could not possibly state himself in a popular work of fiction.



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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
I'm finished with the book now, too. I'm left wondering a couple of things, first of all, about translation. I read my old J. M. Cohen 1952 translation. It seemed appropriately colloquial to me, but the Grossman translation got such high marks from readers, that I wonder if reading hers would have increased my enjoyment. I don't plan to read the book again, but if I did, it would have to be another edition. Mine disintegrated as I read, many of the pages falling out, so that by the end the book was much shorter. The other matter relating to translation we touched on at the beginning, and that was whether English readers could ever have the pleasure that Spanish speakers have with the book. Or maybe even Spanish speakers would need to know an older Castillian dialect to savor its verbal treasures.

Toward the end (p. 871) I came across an unusual passage in which a man from the crowd delivers a harsh judgment on Don Quixote, not simply for his madness but for the harm he has done. It's a perspective we haven't seen earlier, and I wonder whether in some way Cervantes is preparing us for how he is to write the ending, which is a full retraction by Don Q.
"The devil take Don Quixote de la Mancha! How have you got here alive after all the beatings you've received? You're a madman. If you had been mad in private and behind closed doors you would have done less harm. But you have the knack of turning everyone who has to do with you into madmen and dolts. Just look at these gentlemen riding with you! Go back home, idiot, and look after your estate and your wife and children, and quit this nonsense that worm-eats your brain and skims the cream off your intellect."

There will probably be some more discussion of the ending. Bleachededen is right, I think, about Cervantes resolving to put an end to copycat writers, but I'm not sure that his having the Don retract everything is completely due to that objective. For me, the ending is not inconsistent with the rest in terms of the judgment it renders on Don Q's mad obsession. I don't think Cervantes really betrays his comic hero here. In giving him the name Alonso Quixano the Good, Cervantes doesn't endorse as constructive, noble, or good Don Q's former incarnation of knight errant, which also doesn't contradict his attitude throughout the book. I don't find the ending a very satisfying one, though. It's a bit heavy-handed and seems to be serving Cervantes' personal agenda more than it does the story itself.

I harp on the subject, but the narrative twists & turns seem to me the most interesting aspect of the book. In the last 50 pages we saw how fiction--the false history of the Aragonese writer--changes reality--or maybe the "true" fiction--when Don Q. decides not to go to Saragossa just because the Aragonese writer had him going there. And then the Don and Sancho change the fictional landscape, in a sense, when they publish the affadavit declaring Part two to be only a fiction. I suppose Cervantes was writing before narrative conventions were so fixed; either that or he was an innovator well ahead of his time.

Finally, I remember a professor telling my freshman European Lit class about a critic who asserted that people who found profundities beneath the surface of the novel were fooling themselves. What you see is basically what you have, he said. I say this only to emphasize that the differences evident between readers taking part in this forum are nothing new.


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Last edited by DWill on Mon May 03, 2010 10:52 am, edited 3 times in total.



Mon May 03, 2010 10:46 am
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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
DWill said:
I suppose Cervantes was writing before narrative conventions were so fixed; either that or he was an innovator well ahead of his time.

I doubt I will ever reach Part II of this rather ponderous book but I have been thinking of Cervantes as a literary innovator, perhaps even as a post-modernist, if that’s possible. He does push the boundaries of modern narrative – or maybe he is setting the boundaries but just a long way out there.



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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
I haven't gotten as far as you, eden (how dare you pass me up? I got distracted by The Magic Mountain, not realizing there were speed readers out here) but I can tell you that when I left off with the book I was struck by how Shakespearean-farcelike the situations were becoming what with crazy plots involving people dressing up as other people and conspiring among themselves via wild untruths in order to convince Don Quixote to come back to the La Mancha area under the impressions that somehow they were going to cure him of his madness.

To address another post you made, I found that I got bogged down for a time before this point with the florid descriptions and language that occured as the virginal maiden (don't have her name at hand) told her story. I think this kind of writing was just a conditional part of the style in Cervantes' place and time. I like more direct writing myself, and was glad when the action picked up. I do know that the second part is referred to widely as "more rhetorical" than the first, so we may all be in for some trouble here! LOL

Tom

bleachededen wrote:
I have a question for anyone who has read as far into Part II as I have, or who has at least read enough to know about Sanson Carrasco and his intentions.

My question is this:
Is it any less "mad" for Sanson Carrasco to dress as a knight and challenge Don Quixote to single combat in order to cure him, than it is for Don Quixote to believe in his fantastical world of knight errantry? When does the "curer" become more mad than the "diseased?" In that same line of thinking, are those who go out of their way to trick Don Quixote only for their amusement, like the duke and the duchess and Don Antonio, any saner than the "mad" knight? Are they more sane for recognizing that what they do is trickery, or is Don Quixote more honest and noble than they are because he, at least, believes that what he says and does is true, and is not out to trick or harm anyone?

I've been grappling with these questions for some time now, and I'd love to hear what other readers and thinkers have to say about these confusing issues.


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Post Re: Don Quixote: Part II
I am a speed reader. Can't be helped. Sorry for the inconvenience. ;)



Tue May 11, 2010 5:37 pm
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