Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME FORUMS BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:10 pm




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
The psychology of the absurd in Don Quixote 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book Slut

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 4141
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1136
Thanked: 1184 times in 891 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post The psychology of the absurd in Don Quixote
The psychology of the absurd in Don Quixote

Don Quixote is an absurd literary character. With this magnificent creation, Cervantes is a pioneer in the modern disjunction between observation and cognition. Absurdity emerges in his fictional satire of traditional values.

Cervantes created Quixote with close attention to the opportunity afforded for a study of the psychology of madness. The source of Quixote’s insanity is said to be his love of chivalry, and chivalric literature, and his resulting desire to live the noble life of a knight errant. The picture painted is of a madman fantasizing about armed service to defend the needy in a land at peace. The military knight in arms was a throwback to the medieval time and the Dark Ages of the Gothic conquest of Spain. However, what is the subtext?

Spain had conquered South America in consort with Portugal a century before Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, through force of arms and disease. So, the picture of a man at arms in Spain was not as anachronistic as Cervantes paints, but merely displaced across the Atlantic Ocean. The adventures of Quixote and his trusty servant Sancho Panza bear comparison with the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs and the Incas. The tradition of chivalry seemed irrelevant from the civil society perspective of mercantile Spain, but at that very time, military leaders steeped in a chivalric tradition, but willing to employ any means for conquest and plunder, were expanding the Spanish Empire on behalf of the Crown and people of Spain. Military conquest on such large scale requires a touch of the madness seen in Don Quixote.

Many stories from chivalry inform Don Quixote. One is The Madness of Sir Lancelot. A motif borrowed by Cervantes from this tale is the knight wearing only a ragged shirt who is lost by himself in the wilderness for love of a beautiful woman. Don Quixote copies this and other actions of Lancelot, going above and beyond the legacy of the father of the grail knight by performing several somersaults while in his state of melancholy undress, as part of his quest to typify knighthood.

The absurdity inherent in maintaining chivalrous values in a world of modern machines is captured by the famous story of Don Quixote tilting at a windmill, breaking his lance and being tossed from his horse by the turning blade. Using absurdity to mock chivalry is a method that inspired an illustrious modern tradition of satire. The British comedians Monty Python borrow from Cervantes in important respects in the movie The Quest for the Holy Grail. Python King Arthur’s lines are modeled on Quixote’s formal mode of address, and the Black Knight copies Quixote in seeking to prevent the passage of innocent travelers by threatening death by sword and collapsing into madness and absurdity.

The Man of La Mancha, Don Quixote, sets his own rational but groundless imagination against the power of observation by the senses, achieving a hallucinatory faith that his waking dreams are real. His power to convince himself that flocks of sheep are armies and windmills are giants mocks all imaginative stories that conflict with evidence. Cervantes is decisively modern in his assertion that evidence is a stronger guide than authority, a suggestion strongly at odds with church dogma.

Robert Tulip
28 March 2010



Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:34 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Book Slut

Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 4141
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 1136
Thanked: 1184 times in 891 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: The psychology of the absurd in Don Quixote
The key to the psychology of the absurd in Don Quixote is the satirical lampooning of the circular reasoning of belief.

Ordinary people do not believe things for which they have no evidence, except where that evidence takes the form of dogmatic authority. For example "the virgin birth must be true because many people believe it" is a clear example of taking authority as evidence, and then using this authority as the basis for assent to a claim. People respect their community leaders and cannot imagine they would wilfully promote claims that are false. Sadly leaders often do find it expedient to promote fantasies as a way to maintain power.

Proof by authority is a pernicious and corrupt logical fallacy which was the key target of attack for all modern thought. We see it now in the throwback medievalism of religious fundamentalism.

Much of Don Quixote mocks this religious form of reasoning. For example, the famous knight errant is convinced that an inn is a medieval castle, with moat, drawbridge, damsels in distress, etc. When people point out to him that the inn is not a castle, he argues they are under the spell of an evil enchanter, and only he can see the real truth. Hence his circular reasoning is entirely self-consistent, by systematically excluding observation as a factor in coming to conclusions.

I think this case study must have been informative for Descartes' strange argument that the universe might not exist because an enchanter could have deluded us.



Last edited by Robert Tulip on Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Apr 09, 2010 4:41 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Thread Flintstone

Platinum Contributor

Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 887
Thanks: 122
Thanked: 191 times in 155 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: The psychology of the absurd in Don Quixote
Robert:

I'm just starting Don Quixote but I have been thinking about your comments above about absurdity and madness in the context of evolving modern thought. Perhaps absurdity and the tension it creates, the tension between the expected "normal" and the actual observed behaviour, which appears not normal, creates the opportunity for change in thought?

And I like your monty python reference. The scene in the Holy Grail with Lancelot and his companion, sweet Concorde, as Concorde has been struck down by an arrow but has survivied and Lancelot insists on romanticizing Concorde's misfortune as he Lancelot bravely goes on with their quest without Concorde while in effect he is really just deserting his friend to die is a great example of monty python comic absurdity and lampooning.



The following user would like to thank giselle for this post:
Robert Tulip
Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:49 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:


BookTalk.org Links 
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Info for Authors & Publishers
Featured Book Suggestions
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!
    

Love to talk about books but don't have time for our book discussion forums? For casual book talk join us on Facebook.

Featured Books

Books by New Authors



Booktalk.org on Facebook 



BookTalk.org is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSBOOKSTRANSCRIPTSOLD FORUMSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICY

BOOK FORUMS FOR ALL BOOKS WE HAVE DISCUSSED
Oliver Twist - by Charles DickensSense and Goodness Without God - by Richard CarrierFrankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOur Amazon.com SalesMassimo Pigliucci Rationally SpeakingOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism BooksFACTS Book Selections

cron
Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2014. All rights reserved.
Website developed by MidnightCoder.ca
Display Pagerank