Friday, November 18, 2005

Don Quixote

I've read some more books lately. None of them were space operas.
One book I read was Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. I'd heard the saying 'tilting at windmills' but didn't know what it meant. Why didn't I try to find out what it meant all those times I heard it? I don't know, but I heard it again recently and found out that it was from Don Quixote. Don Quixote was the one who tilted at windmills. I was a step closer, yes, but still didn't know what it meant. But a couple of weeks ago I saw the book in the library. The answer to this windmill question was there! There the answer was, and so close! Dare I ignore this sign? And of course it was A SIGN. I dare not!
Don Quixote lives in a small town in Spain and spends all his free time reading books on chivalry and knights errant. He becomes so obsessed with it all and wrings his hands despairing that chivalry and knight errantry has disappeared from the world that he decides to bring it back by becoming a knight errant himself.
He rides off on his flea-bitten horse, wearing some pots and pans beaten into the shape of armour, recruits a local goat herder called Sancho Panza to be his squire, and heads off for adventures.
He has created such a fantasy world for himself in his mad brain that innocent people he meets on the high road he believes to be black knights and bounders, scoundrels. He stands in the middle of the road and demands they acknowledge his Dulcinia as the greatest beauty in the world. In reality he has only seen that woman from a distance, never spoken to her, she is probably not even aware of his existence.
His squire Sancho Panza soon realises that his master is raving mad, but still goes along with him, and in fact seems swept up in Don Quixote's extravagant fantasy.
They meet a barber on the road and Don Quixote charges at him with his lance and the barber runs away, dropping his metal bowl, which is only a bowl used to put water in when he shaves somebody, but Don Quixote seizes it and believes it to be a helmet of legend and triumphantly puts it on his head.
To most people who encounter him, Don Quixote is clearly mad and delusional - he transforms reality into something that fits everything he has read in these chivalric books - yet he is so eloquent and passionate that people get swept along with it.
What a great book! I'll read this one again for sure.

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