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View Diary: Books That Changed My Life—Don Quixote (39 comments)

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  •  I blame Man of La Mancha ... (8+ / 0-)

    Four centuries of critical examination about Don Quixote has failed to reach consensus on  "Is this a tragedy or is it a comedy."

    Personally, as a teenager I found  it both humorous and inspiring ... the author Cervantes is mocking the hypocrisy of his age -- and  Don Quixote  a character to be admired and emulated.  

    As an Social Security pensioner , I find it tragic and instructive -- Don Quixote IS an old fool, clinging to notions of virtue which society has long since abandoned.  And in the end ... it is the objective view of himself that brings the Knight down.

    But in 1964, when all things ... racial justice , sexual revolution, the  30 hour week, the war on poverty won, a man on the moon ... seemed not only possible, but about to come to fruition  -- in years rather than decades.

    And so when in Man of La Mancha,  Miguel Cervantes in his special spotlight, climbs that fantastic descending staircase to face the Inquisition  -- we neither knew nor cared if this had even happened, or what the outcome of the encounter might/should have been.  What mattered was that a heroically virtuous character was going to fulfill his destiny and become famous.

    Inescapably: the Knight of the Woeful Countenance is an exemplar.  To fail nobly is GOOD thing.

    And so it is:  when the failure and the consequences land on someone else -- preferably a fictional character, 500 years ago.

    (And don't get me started on Sidney Carton.)


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