Thursday, January 06, 2005

Impossible dream

Ever wanted to read Don Quixote?

You can! Well-Educated Minds is reading the classics! It's like a book club! And it's just starting, so you don't have to worry about having missed anything! You can post your thoughts, comment on others', or read along silently! It's all very exciting!

Coincidentally, this article ponders whether Don Quixote holds up after 400 years. "Would Don Quixote pass the test and be published in New York today?"

Don Quixote holds the unique distinction of having invaded our language (the world's languages!) as well as our imaginations:

Some authors are so influential that their names have been turned into adjectives: Dantean, Proustian, Hemingway-esque. But how many literary characters have undergone a similar fate? "Quixotic," "quixotism," and "quixotry," according to the Oxford English Dictionary, are all related to "Quixote," "an enthusiastic visionary person like Don Quixote, inspired by lofty and chivalrous but false or unrealizable ideals."

Don Quixote is also Paul Auster's favourite book.


Suzanne said...

Mine, too.

Anonymous said...

Would you believe, my senior thesis was on parody in Don Quixote and in the satires of Lucian? Oh yes, I am a giant geek... And I love this book, too.


Suzanne said...

That's really fascinating, Rachel. I would love to hear more.

Michele said...

Would you believe me if I told you that I LOVE Don Quixote? Why not? It is true.

A friend of mine (nameless) also told me about this wonderful book-like-club.
I ignored him but I shall follow your lead and go over there soon.

Anonymous said...

Well, as far as DQ specifically was concerned... I talked about how the book really starts off as a parodic conceit. Cervantes is making fun of a whole genre we don't even read anymore (well, unless we're medievalists) -- the romance of chivalry -- and his audience would have been able to recognize specific references that we need a good annotated text to spot.

The thing about parody, however, is that it's hard to sustain. The best ones are short (see Lucian for some excellent examples) because the reader gets it, laughs, and gets over it. You can't go on and on for a thousand pages UNLESS there's something more to it. Don Q is crazy, in part, because he believes fiction is real. The novel transcends simple parody because at some point Don Q, the fictional character, becomes real to us and to Cervantes. Cervantes set out to mock the chivalric romance, and ends up writing the best one EVER.

And that, inelegantly, is more or less what my senior thesis was about, minus the Lucian. Not brilliant, but passionately written. It was enough to convince me that I'd really rather draw comic books than go to grad school.


Isabella K said...

After reading just the first few words I'm thinking "What does Dairy Queen have to with it? Is that where you wrote your thesis?" I'm even more dork than geek than I ever thought.