September 18, 2015

MAY GOD FORGIVE HIM:

Book review: analysing Don Quixote, the dynamo at the heart of Spanish culture : In the four centuries since it was published, Cervantes' novel has become a timeless classic of world literature, speaking afresh to each new generation (Jim Higgins, 9/18/15, South China Morning Post)

Don Quixote's stature as the first modern novel comes from its consuming interest in fantasy (or idealism, or madness) versus reality, its bookishness (too much reading, after all, launched the knight-errant on his errant career), and its playful self-referentiality (such as the scene in which the barber and the priest, deciding which books from Alonso Quijano's library to burn, consider the merits of an author named Cervantes).

Of course, the knight and his squire have influenced or inspired countless odd-couple and mismatched-buddy stories.

"No same-sex literary pair has ever been as famous, as emulated, or as quoted as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza," Stavans declares.

His list of descendant couples includes Watson and Holmes, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Frodo and Sam Gamgee, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Didi and Gogo (of Waiting for Godot), even Batman and Robin. You may not see eye to eye with Stavans on some of these, but there's no arguing with the notion that Cervantes laid down a template that still yields fruitful variations today. (If Professor Stavans were an alt-rock guy, he might also have mentioned another dynamic duo - the band They Might Be Giants, who draw their name from the novel.)

"Cervantes' most lasting contribution is the depth and complexity of his language," he writes.

Actually, Cervantes most lasting contribution was the character who got away from him and who he never understood.

Posted by at September 18, 2015 8:27 AM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« ALL COMEDY IS CONSERVATIVE: | Main | WE WON THE WAR ON POVERTY: »