Monday, August 22, 2016

Don Quixote (Part 2) - Cervantes

The first part of 'Don Quixote' ends with the poor deluded knight being taken back to his village to recover from his adventures.  The second part starts with a visiting scholar talking to Quixote and Sancho Panza about the book that was published about them.  The two put their heads together and marvel that any author could possibly know about their adventures in such detail.  Quixote concludes that this was the work of a sorcerer and Sancho has no choice but to go along with him.
The two set out again but big changes have happened.  1) Everyone knows about them and 2) both of them are fully aware that they are creating a legend.  It is as if they have become conscious characters in a book.  This creates an enormous feeling of meta-fiction.  The reader is reading about a book that knows it is a book.
Again, they have crazy adventures but now another level has been added.  Don Quixote meets another knight who claims to have beaten the famous Don Quixote in battle.  (It turns out that this other knight has an ulterior motive for baiting him into a fight.)  He meets people who tell him about Don Quixote.  In the first book he was creating his own legend.  Now it is growing on its own and he must live up to it.
This book also brings about a blossoming of Sancho Panza.  He speaks in aphorisms.  In fact, he becomes famous for speaking in aphorisms.  At one point he is appointed governor of a town.  Sancho is unaware that the whole thing is a gag being put upon him, but he gamely tries his best. 
I laughed time and time again.  I marveled that Cervantes could keep coming up with new ideas to get his two heroes into trouble and back out again.  I loved it.

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