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Monday, October 17, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: DON QUIXOTE by MIGUEL CERVANTES




(Adapted from a review from litcharts.com_

A middle-aged man named Alonso Quixano, a skinny bachelor & a lover of chivalry romances, goes absolutely ape & decides that he is a valiant knight. He names himself Don Quixote de la Mancha, names his bony horse Rocinante, & gives his beloved the sweet name Dulcinea.
In a few days Don Quixote puts on a rusty suit of armor & sets out on his first crusade. He is knighted at an inn, which he takes to be a castle, defends a young shepherd from his angry master, & receives a beating from some merchants, all of whom are ignorant of the rules of knight-errantry. He returns to his village to lick his wounds.
While Quixote is sleeping off his hangover injuries, his friends the priestthe barber decide to burn most of his chivalry books, which they blame for his madness & recent injuries. Quixote takes this to be the work of evil enchanters, who generally plague knights-errant. He enlists a peasant named Sancho Panza to be his squire.  Sancho cleans Quixote’s armor with CLR & some WD40 & they set off for the second adventure.
In their travels, Sancho & Quixote encounter many imaginary but nevertheless frightening enemies; giants (windmills), enchanters (angry muleteers) fearsome fire-breathing dragons (US presidential candidates) & abductors (peaceful friars). Wherever they go, people mock them, give them beatings & write about them on Twitter, because their ideas are so strange & ridiculous.He steals a barber’s basin that he believes to be the mythic Mambrino’s helmet,& he becomes convinced of the healing powers of the Balsam of Fierbras, an elixir that makes him so ill that, by comparison, he later feels healed. They free a group of prisoners, who thank them by pelting them with stones (& their guards were none too happy, either). They meet all sorts of interesting strangers, many of whom are involved in unhappy love affairs. They attend the funeral of a man who died of love for a beautiful shepherdess, & they inadvertently help to reunite several estranged couples, some of whom did not want to be reunited. A large, motley cast of characters assembles at a small inn, where misunderstandings & reconciliations follow one another at the speed of a political debate. The barber & the priest disguise themselves & drag Quixote back to the village in an unassuming Toyota Prius, hoping to cure his madness. At the end of part one, he is bedridden & down at heart.
Part two finds Quixote a month older, sobered up & eager to set out on his third crusade. He learns from the student Carrasco that his adventures thus far have been recorded in a very popular book, “Fifty Shades of Grey”, which has made him & Sancho very famous. Within a few days, Quixote & Sancho set out for El Toboso to obtain Dulcinea’s blessing. But neither of them knows where Dulcinea lives, because there is no such person in real life; only a peasant girl named Aldonza, very unlike the ethereal & zoftig princess of Quixote’s imagination. To mend this inconsistency, Sancho tells Quixote that a coarse-looking peasant girl they meet on the road is, in fact, the enchanted Dulcinea. Quixote is miserable to see his beloved looking like a balloon animal.
When they get back on the road, Quixote battles with the Knight of the Forest; this stranger is actually Carrasco in disguise, trying to trick Quixote into returning to the village. Quixote wins the battle, & Carrasco slinks away in shame. Quixote & Sancho Panza have several adventures: they stay with a gentleman, attend the filming of “Four Weddings”, & investigate the Cave of Montesinos, where Quixote claims to have seen Bigfoot.
They become friends with a Duke & Duchess, who are fans of the first part of the history. The Duke & Duchess give them an extravagant welcome, but they play many cruel tricks on them. In one elaborate scenario, an "enchanter" tells the friends that Sancho must lash himself thousands of times if Dulcinea is to be disenchanted.
When the Duke finds out that Quixote has promised Sancho an island as a reward for his service, he makes Sancho the governor of a small town. He expects to humiliate the illiterate, ignorant peasant, but Sancho turns out to be a wise & gifted ruler, obviously much more so than his boss. After a week, though, Sancho tires of his difficult responsibilities & begins to miss life as Quixote’s squire. He resigns, & he & Quixote resume their adventures.
The two friends continue to meet many interesting strangers. They become friends with a gallant captain of thieves & a wealthy gentleman in Barcelona. Quixote battles with a mysterious Knight of the White Moon, who defeats his enemies by mooning them until they can no longer stand it. It is Carrasco; this time he wins the battle, & as his prize demands that Quixote & Sancho return to the village. Quixote grows sadder & sadder, & begins to lose hope of ever finding Dulcinea.
When they return to the village, Quixote becomes very sick. After a long sleep one day, he announces that he has regained his sanity. He now scorns knighthood, detests chivalry romances & no longer wants to be President. There is no more Don Quixote; he is Alonso Quixano the Good. Soon afterward, he dies.