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Don Quixote: The Beginning Quest March 29, 2012

Posted by nrlymrtl in Don Quixote.
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I knew very little about Don Quixote 3 weeks ago. I listened to the first lecture in the iTunesU series by Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria and learned a little more and then started by quest to read this massive work.

Prior to me beginning I knew:

  • How to pronounce Don Quixote
  • There was a donkey in the story some place (not surprising for 1600s)
  • At some point our hero says ‘meow’ in an unexpected context (thank Lady Darkcargo for a previous post)

I listened to the ‘prior to reading this book’ lecture on iTunesU and learned a little more:

  • Don Quixote is most likely a derivative of queso – which means cheese. Hence the odd looks our hero gets on his travels (don = lordship and quixote = cheese something)
  • The book was written in 2 parts, like 20 years apart. Hence why my library has the audio version in two parts
  • How the book ends (ugh! I didn’t know and now I do and how will that affect my first impression of this work!)

That last bullet I found particularly amusing because the lecturer spends some quality time talking about how it is nearly impossible in today’s age to come to such a classic innocent of the story. Well, I was pretty close to innocent prior to that lecture!

So I am about 5 CDs into the 17 CD-long Part I and so far I have enjoyed our illusioned hero as he charges around in home-made armor (like a helmet made of plaster) attacking windmills and flocks of sheep. He gets his ass kicked every time.

One side-tale I found interesting occurs when Don Quixote and his ‘squire’ Sancho come across a funeral. A young poet took his own life after being spurned by a beautiful shepherdess. She shows up at the funeral and the dead dude’s friends call her cruel and heartless. She makes this most eloquent speech about how she doesn’t have to accept the advances of anyone, even if they are made with respect. She didn’t encourage his love, and in fact, has discouraged all advances from all men, merely wishing to tend to her flock. His death is not on her head. Don Quixote is so moved by this speech, he offers to champion her in all who would call her less than a worthy woman.

I was surprised to find vomit and bathroom humor in this ancient classic. M3 happen to be in the kitchen at this particular moment, and wanted to know what the hell I was listening to. ‘Don Quixote, love, ‘ said with a sigh. This will be his first, ever-lasting impression of this book. Great.