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Cervantes R.I.P. July 29, 2012

Posted by anagasto in history, Spain.
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Fake Prestige

go home cowboy

By now the prestige that the novel still has is all artificial and subsidized. The Quixote is loved, but in the abstract, as an idea. Very few people can read the complete thing. Kids have to read it.  Independent readers can only get the slightly grotesque skeleton of the story and very little else.

But the idea has kept all of its power.

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cervantes in google

In Google  a “Cervantes” search key brings up mainly Spanish government + tourist interests.

Looking a little further produces  copypastes of  biography blather.

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el-quijote-de-picasso

This is how wikipedia. begins its presentation in Spanish :

…….. considered the first modern novel
…….. considered a classic of Western literature

…….. considered to be one of the best novels ever written
…….. considered the apex of world literature

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dali-quijote

… In short, they mean to say it is a very important work.

However, what is its content, purpose, message ?

It is an attack on the contrived speech, the stilted ways and manners of a past age.  Cervantes parodied the fashions, the literature, the  morals, and the language that some 450 years ago ruled the day. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

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Lucrative ?

quixote-explains

Now, what for would you parody the  manners of 400 years ago for a modern reader, make a movie, write a modern translation and even an edition in a made-to-order language like Esperanto ?

What’s the point?

It’s still mildly lucrative. You can sell it to schoolkids and to their parents.

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Depressing

quixote and sancho riding

For Spanish kids, who have to read large parts or all of it, it is depressing because its jokes are drab and its laughter is unhappy. In fact, kids simply cannot read it, and so they learn how to lie.

The teacher would often not notice, because maybe she is all fake, too, or she simply doesn’t care.

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Don_Quixote silhouette

Wiki says: “His influence is so great that the Spanish language is often called the language of Cervantes.”

However, most Spaniards  somehow imagine that the  Quixote is a model, and they imitate the empty eloquence that Cervantes tried to ridicule.

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shakespeare in google

Shakespeare’s audience is  real, maybe largely academic, but not all claque.

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The thumbnails are frome Google.   The Gring drawing below is from an Assimil course. The colour drawings are courtesy of 100 swallows. The silhouette is from a website at http://tinyurl.com/kumnf8

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quixote-vs-sheep by gring

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And Yet

Yet, the idea has kept all of its power.  The painters,  philosophers, dancers, movie directors, children, and poets,  they  all are respond to the idea:

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dalí_don-quixote Dalí …

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doré quixote Doré ….

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quixote daumier Daumier …

Only the idea. The thing itself is no longer present anywhere.

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The thumbnails are frome Google.   The Gring drawing below is from an Assimil course. The colour drawings and the photo below are courtesy of ghD.  The silhouette is from the artist’s own website  at http://tinyurl.com/kumnf8

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Comments»

1. David - March 25, 2009

I’ve never read it completely either, but feel that I know the story so well.Not to state the obvious, but Quixote is a perfect model for “modern” humanity, bloated with blather and swagger, charging off madly on a broken down nag.

2. futbolin - March 26, 2009

He tenido que leer bastante en inglés, pero ya no tengo el vocabulario suficiente. ¿No me lo podrías traducir?

3. Kings (aka Reyes) - March 26, 2009

Hay que reconocer que es una de las obras más destacadas no sólo de las letras hispanas, sino de toda la literatura universal. Por si fuera poco es también una de las novelas más traducidas del mundo.
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Kings says that The Quixote is one of the world’s most widely acclaimed works, with more foreign language versions than most other novel.

cantueso - March 26, 2009

To Futbolín

La versión española, the Spanish version is at

http://cantueso.wordpress.com/2009/02/11/bye-bye-don-quijote/

cantueso - March 26, 2009

I wonder. I wonder. Do you really mean “humanity”? Who is charging right now? Where does the blather and more particularly the swagger come from ?

Jeeez !

4. Sam Flowers - December 9, 2011

I like the way your post presents the subject of Don Quixote – he and the book remain as elusive today as when originally conceived 400+ years ago.

5. Jimmy-rs - December 9, 2011

It wasn’t always so elusive, but read by everybody, even the kids, and those who could not read had somebody read it to them. Everybody found the jokes funny.


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