Quixote: The Tale of Foolish Curiosity
In this short story, available on the internet in an earlier translation here
, we find the origin of the well known character Lothario, invited to cuckold his best friend. This story is compelling but awful, one of those stories where you suspect strongly what is going to happen and you just wish and hope it would not happen, and then watch with morbid fascination while the whole train wreck unfolds (or does it?).
The word lothario has thus entered the English language as an eponym: a lothario is a handsome, seductive ladies' man.
Bleachededen's comments on this short story in the thread Why is Don Quixote such a Classic? are below.
I was actually somewhat interested in the "Tale of Foolish Curiosity" until I realized what its conclusion would be and then how long it took to finally get there. But there is another example of a woman who is only valued for her beauty and "virtue." I can't even imagine why Enselmo would even need to do this, especially when his friend is trying to tell him how stupid it is (don't look a gift horse in the mouth, is the proverb that comes to mind), and then goes through with it anyway. Both men are stupid, because the one doesn't know what he has and won't be satisfied until it's gone, and the other knows what will happen but complies anyway. If I were that poor girl I'd have washed my hands of both of them and become a nun.
I'm not saying that men have gotten any smarter, as I've actually seen this kind of "test" happen in my own experiences, and the outcome is usually the same as in Cervantes' story. If you love someone and you trust them and their "virtue," why test it? If you have a diamond, you don't try to cut glass with it or hammer it until it shatters, if you can tell it is pure by every other method, why press your luck? It's just stupid, and I can tell you with as much knowledge as I have of women and men, that if you were to ask a woman to do this same test, she would refuse, because women (as far as I have seen) seem to know better than to tempt a man, probably because they have been hurt before by men who get away with philandering more than women do (even now). So yes, that story held my interest but drove me crazy.
I've also never seen anyone moved by tears as much as these characters. If the technology of today had existed during Cervantes' time and the plights of hundreds, thousands, millions of people could be heard daily, even hourly, if these same characters would be as moved to compassion and pledges of undying support as they are in their own isolated century. It's so hard to think that simple tears and unfortunate stories could cause such strong emotion and commitment when we know, today, how many millions of people are suffering far worse than any person who would have access to one of us to tell us their story personally. Of course we understand that they are suffering, but we don't devote our lives to helping every person who comes to us with a sad story and a wet face. It's just ridiculous.
And I still want to see Don Fernando punished for his douchebaggery, if I'm allowed to use that word on this site (if not I'll promptly edit it). He hasn't redeemed himself, in my eyes, and I'll be pretty sore at Cerventes if something resembling justice doesn't come his way.