Don Quixote: A Review

3 Apr

-For the Uncensored!

Orson Welles 1992 film version that never made it to a theatrical release.

Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes, “but with Part 2 appeared ten years later mysteriously by an author named Avellaneda” proves that the story of Don Quixote is as much part of the oral tradition as well as literary. Edith Grossman, the translator for much of Latin America’s superstar writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez notes, in the 2003 edition, “I believe that my primary obligations as a literary translator is to recreate for the reader in English the experience of the reader in Spanish. When Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, it was not yet a seminal masterpiece of European literature, the book that crystallized forever the making of literature out of life and literature, that explored in typically ironic fashion, and for the first time, the blurred and shifting frontiers between fact and fiction, imagination and history, perception and physical reality, or that set the stage for all Hispanic studies and all serious discussion of the history and nature of the novel.” 

I think everyone who reads the prologue, the first sentence reads, “Idle reader: Without my swearing to it, you can believe that I would like this book, the child of my understanding, to be the most beautiful, the most brilliant, and the most discreet that anyone could imagine. But I have not been able to contravene the natural order; in it, like begets like. And so what could my barren and poorly cultivated wits beget but the history of a child who is dry, withered, capricious, and filled with inconstant thoughts never imagined by anyone else, which is just what one would expect of a person begotten in a prison, where every discomfort has its place and every mournful sound make its home?!” 

            This opening paragraph is the most teasing way a writer can tease to his reader, “I’m probably one of the best writers in the world and there is nothing you can do to stop me. 

Terry Gilliam’s realized version of a botched film he tried to make but the budget never came through until 2019.

            As much of this can illustrate a finer point of Don Quixote, it proves that while much of Don Quixote is meant to be sardonic in nature, many would argue that modernity is relative to the geographic location of readers. Macondo, the fictional world of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is much a mystery to readers in America and Europe.

            What I gathered in my journey with the Man of La Mancha, is that the primary theme of virtue was Don Quixote’s last and final stand. 

            Now, at every page, it was telling me to quit. It was almost punching me at every page to say, “You have read Proust, Melville, Sarte, Conrad, Marquez, Burgess, Nabokov, but this is the book that is going to defeat you. I am the master of all who have come before me.” I could feel Cervantes laughing at the modern reader, as he should, but even so, learning about Cervantes does help me decipher out my emotions toward the book. And I think it works. Andrew Klevan would argue that “Hamlet is the birth of the modern man” but every country and person has there own specificity about who is modern or not. What makes modernity is that each culture has to create a slice of culture to be able to rival literary hero’s so that I can push a country’s boundaries, and the more difficult a book was, it also makes the book a challenge to any reader.

            Again, as much as I enjoy difficult books, Don Quixote did a damn good job of providing a challenge, and the insanity of the story even showed at page 156, when Sancho is begging to know the reason of his journey. I would have told Sancho “Run, unless you are getting health insurance, leave.”

            Don Quixote is a reminder why epics are called epics. If video gamers are reading this, and you love open world games, Cervantes invented the word “side quests.” Not literally but I’m being facetious. It’s long, and dense, and it will make you consider why you read books in the first place.

            Cervantes, like many writers of the past, did not take into account the modern reader, because as Grossman describes, “his language was not archaic and quaint” but translators help bring an ancient book to new life. But even Grossman declares the originality of the book is what attracts people to Cervantes, and herself.

            What is ironic is that when piecing together my thoughts, it’s probably best described as “Goddamnit Sancho just give up on him.”

            Much of the narration gives more weight to Sancho, and the irony of having to help Don Quixote is much like a social worker trying to calm down an old person. But Don Quixote seems fully aware of his foolish antics. It’s about going mad while consciously aware of it. And the reader, might not get it at first, the power and humor of Don Quixote can be described with the phrase, “You love me because I am handsome and I love you because you are ugly.”

            What’s funny is that I said to myself, “Where the fuck are these windmills?” Then I kind of got that filmmakers always used the windmill analogy too much to summarize the whole journey of Don Quixote, and couldn’t tell each moment in the book. 

            It’s one of the most hilarious lines in the novel, but also gives us the sense that Cervantes had no road map as to where he was going. Much of the episodic nature of the first part is important to the way Cervantes uses Don Quixote as the last and final push against old age and death. 

            Don Quixote, is often outmatched at fights, and funny enough, he knows when to run away. It’s hilarious and often times had me thinking, “What do you have to prove to Dulcinea, lord Simp meister Quixote.”

            And many of the young will laugh, but what would you do for an Instagram influencer model just to notice you? I mean, did you ever just jump up and down because you were happy? Don Quixote does this in order to feel alive, but at least he’s driven by love, and not hate. Would you do that for an Instagram or tiktok influencer, or someone you cared about, in real life, or just chase after someone you couldn’t have? 

            I know the phrase “simp” is popular today, but for Quixote, he would have acted like a boomer and scoffed, gestating that “I’m doing this for love of my Dulcinea” and even if I were Sancho would say, “Whatever you say, Boomer.” But also, I hate to break it to people is that Dulcinea is a figment of love and the way Dante seeks Beatrice in Hell. 

            But after a while I saw Quixote as someone I wanted to help too, but I was glad Sancho was doing all the work. 

            Mostly, it’s a journey within a journey, and many characters, like the Knight of the Sorrowful Face, proves that Cervantes wrote this in order to create the episodic and the poetic together. 

            Because by the second part, much of the narrative focuses on Sancho as he and the Knight of the Sorrowful Face make up much of the narrative with Don Quixote, and to me, this story was more about Sancho. Much of the later narrative doesn’t really coincide with the first part, as the first and second parts are meant to be read as two separate books. As if you are reading part 1, 2, and 3, of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in one whole narrative, but divided in separate stories. The endlessness of the story, helping characters along the way created a sense of honor and devotion, to being a knight.

            It begs the question: “Why read this book anyway? What do you gain to prove by this?” And the answer I would give is, “Because you can’t push a button all the time and think you are gaining knowledge. Knowledge must be earned, not pressed on a controller. You don’t reload a gun in real life with pressing X or Y. Books are meant to sit with the author and see what is produced through language, and while much of Quixote is earned through reading, your brain will thank you. Yes, your brain. The thing you complain of others not using. Not everything should be an algorithm crated by companies with watered down entertainment for you to decide haphazardly and naively that ‘it’s okay’ without giving yourself over to an author or entertainers demands.”

            Now, don’t be insulted what I have said. Much of literature is about earning your right to read the book again. I guess this is a diversion, because much of Don Quixote is meant to be a challenge, and if you want challenging books, Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes is the one for you. 

            Ultimately I was not defeated by the book as Cervantes promised, but it’s the celebration of the epic that pulled me in. Much of what I read would have to be re-read again, and that’s the joy of books, and any piece of entertainment. It’s not difficult for difficulty’s sake. It’s meant to challenge and give you depth and appreciation.

            By the end, the read is conscious of Don Quixote and his dreams. 

“Here lies the mighty Gentleman 

who rose to such heights of valor 

that death itself did not triumph 

over his life with his death. He did not esteem the world; 

he was the frightening threat 

to the world, in this respect, 

for it was his great good fortune

 to live a madman, and die sane.” 

            It ultimately proved my point I thought when I was reading this, and all I could feel was respect and honor for Don Quixote, as he wanted to live his life how he wanted to. I should feel pity and sorrow, but I was glad to take this journey with Sancho, Don Quixote, and all the characters he meets along the way. I don’t have this regret, and the book still sits on my desk like someone that can’t leave my attention. Like it deserves another read.

            The only criticism I have for the book is that if you really want to read the book, I would say get a hard cover edition so that the font is bigger, but then again, just take your time, and accept it. But still, however you read it, digital or print, it’s a classic for a reason.

            Final Analysis: 4 out of 5 windmills

-Louis Bruno is the author of more than 15 books, including, The Michael Project, The Michael Project: Book 2: The Lost Children of Eve, Thy Kingdom Come, The Disintegrating Bloodline, Apocalypse Soldier, Hierarchy of Dwindling Sheep. His books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu. He can be found on Gab, https://gab.com/thereallouistbruno, Minds https://www.minds.com/lbruno8063/, and Parlerhttps://parler.com/profile/therealLouistbruno/posts. Instagram @lbrruno8063 and @louisbrunoofficialbook. He has written for the Intellectual Conservative and Ephemere. Also, he writes on https://louisbruno.substack.com, where you can support him directly. His latest, Come Home, Young One, a dark fantasy novel is out now at Lulu.com. Link is here: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/louis-bruno/come-home-young-one/hardcover/product-pw8q7z.html?page=1&pageSize=4.  His next series, City of Sand, will be available sometime this year.

Also available on podcast too: 

http://www.breaker.audio/the-real-louis-t-brunos-blog

https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy81MDA5ZDY3MC9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw==

https://pca.st/504t7jxr

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