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Don Quixote
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Archived 2014 Group Reads > Week 1: 5/5 - Pt 1, Prologue-Ch VI

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message 1: by Kristi (last edited May 05, 2014 11:08AM) (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Here's our first Week's reading thread, with a question to ponder.



How does Don Quixote’s perception of reality affect other characters’ perceptions of the world? Does his disregard for social convention change the rules of conduct for the other characters?


message 2: by John (last edited May 05, 2014 12:53PM) (new) - added it

John (johnred) | 364 comments Definitely enjoying this so far. Being one who does not often read classics, I'm surprised by how lively and fun a 400 year old story can seem.

So far Quixote does not seem to be having much impact on the others, other than for them to patronize and mock him.

I had a good chuckle when Cervantes put his own work in the pile of Quixote's books that were being judged by the priest. At least it was saved from the fire :)


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Linda | 1313 comments I am also really enjoying Don Quixote so far! I agree with what John said, about how it's a pretty lively story for being 400 years old - I was not expecting that.

My favorite part so far was when he was fixing a visor (out of cardboard?!) on his steel cap to make a full helmet, and then when he tested it with a swipe of his sword, it was shattered to bits - and how it took a second to destroy what had taken him a week to construct. And then after he fixed the helmet, he decided on no further testing and declared it the finest helmet ever. Too funny!!

I also liked the shuffling through the books and the reasons for burning or keeping a book (and all of Cervantes author friends, like himself, were keepers). And then wasn't there a set of books which were tossed down a dried-up well awaiting for another set of books to be published, so only then they would decide whether they should be burned or not? ha ha.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) I agree, Linda, I thought that the helmet scene was hilarious! I was actually sitting on my own laughing out loud. It was great to read for the first time where the phrase 'tilting at windmills' actually originated. So far I love this book!


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Regarding his relationships and their effect on others, good ol' Sancho Panza alone seems to have total loyalty to his master; basking in his spurious glory.


message 6: by John (last edited May 06, 2014 06:00AM) (new) - added it

John (johnred) | 364 comments I think you're ahead Hilary, Sancho and the windmills have not appeared yet as of this section! Unless it's a discrepancy in the translations? :)


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The story so far is quite enjoyable, with the exception of a few acts of violence. Somehow it reminds me of a child with a very active imagination, dressing up as a Superhero and then running about the neighborhood imitating scenes from a movie.

Well, in this case it is an adult, with far too much time on his hands and a completely distorted view of reality. The people Don Quixote come into contact with either poke fun at him or show pity, but often have to play along with Quixote's fantasy, otherwise they risk becoming one of his victims or conquests. For example, the men who were attempting to let their animals use the watering trough (totally legitimate use to a sane person), ended up being knocked out by Quixote, since he was convinced they were trying to steal his armour.


Jason | 0 comments How does Don Quixote’s perception of reality affect other characters’ perceptions of the world? Does his disregard for social convention change the rules of conduct for the other characters?

I think we should wonder about the nature of DQ's disregard of social conventions. To him, he's not disregarding it at all. In fact, I'd say he has a very strong attention to detail with regards to social conventions, but only as they pertain to the novels he's read. DQ is attentive to the social conventions of knight errants and is doing everything he can to conform to those (as is evident when the inn keeper says that knight errants keep money and shirts and DQ thinks about how he needs to bring those next time). It's obvious that DQ is mad and delusional (seeing the inn as a castle and seeing the prostitutes as fair ladies, etc.) but I don't think he is disregarding social convention but instead has a different view of these conventions because of his alternative outlook.


message 9: by Nevada (new)

Nevada (vadatastic) Very well said J. His bungling is not indicative of a lack of trying or care, but rather his lack understanding.


message 10: by John (last edited Jun 27, 2014 01:06PM) (new) - added it

John (johnred) | 364 comments J wrote: "I don't think he is disregarding social convention but instead has a different view of these conventions because of his alternative outlook. "

I will have to do some historical background research; I think it would help to know when the age of Chivalry actually ended in Spain so I have some context of what the other characters are thinking.

Edit:
Did a little reading on the time period. From Wikipedia:

During the High Middle Ages (1001–1300), knighthood was considered a class of lower nobility. By the Late Middle Ages (1301–1500) the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior.

Don Quixote was published in 1605, so the point of reference for DQ's fantasies is at least 100 years gone, and probably is more informed by idealized fiction than reality.


Everyman | 885 comments What is Cervantes saying about the influence of books on those who get too deeply immersed in reading?

I can't help thinking that DQ's obsession is eerily predictive of the obsession some people today have with certain immersive video games, where the fantasy begins to morph into a weird reality.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Very good point, Everyman. John, I haven't read ahead, but I must have used a little bit too much eisegesis: when I came to the scene where Quixote sees the windmills as monsters/giants, I assumed that my translation hadn't included the word 'tilting' and therefore that it was a reference to that famous quotation. Obviously I am glad to be mistaken as it means that that little treasure is to come. It did seem at the time to have occurred very early in the story and a more slender account than I would have expected.


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John (johnred) | 364 comments Hilary wrote: "when I came to the scene where Quixote sees the windmills as monsters/giants"
Hmm, I have not come to that point yet.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Don't mind me, John. I'll never be able to find it again; let's put it down to a dream I had; too much cheese.


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Sorry John, you're right. I checked again and I know what has happened. The schedule says Pt 1 which in my translation ends at Ch V111. Then it says Prologue Ch V1. I obviously read part one which includes the incident to which we referred. I hadn't noticed ch V1, probably reading it as V111 as I assumed that that was the end of part 1. I'm not sure if this is a difference in lay-out for different translations.


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Renato (renatomrocha) I think I won't be able to stick to the plan and read just what was schedule for this week, haha. I'm enjoying it too much!


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Renato (renatomrocha) So, after reading from Prologue-Ch VI, I re-read those sonnets and poems that appear before Chapter I. Now they made sense (I was really lost when I read them yesterday) and they're quite nice!


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Linda | 1313 comments Renato wrote: "So, after reading from Prologue-Ch VI, I re-read those sonnets and poems that appear before Chapter I. Now they made sense (I was really lost when I read them yesterday) and they're quite nice!"

I'll have to take another look at them. I was also a bit lost trying to read them, so then I ended up skipping over most of them and went ahead with reading the story.


Everyman | 885 comments We are assuming that DQ is mad, but is it possible that he is more sane than we are?

He has created for himself a place in a world he wants to live in, he is satisfied with the things he has -- to him, a fine horse, a fine helmet and armor -- he has someone to love and to serve, he has things to do, places to go, people to see.

If that's insanity, why would any of us WANT to be sane?


Hilary (agapoyesoun) Haha, Everyman, so true. I particularly covet his helmet! Maybe he has got it right.


message 21: by Renato (last edited May 07, 2014 07:43AM) (new) - added it

Renato (renatomrocha) I don't know... I get what you're saying, but so far, the place in the world he wants to live in is within his own head, escaping from reality altogether.

Why is he doing it, I don't know. Was he sad, was he depressed? I think it is smart of him to find a coping mechanism to deal with whatever his issues are, but I don't know if we could call it sanity from what we've read so far.


message 22: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) I agree with Renato, it's one thing to create a place for yourself that you want to live in, but something else entirely when you are disconnected from reality. I think that his coping mechanism is going to get him into trouble, as we've already seen.

I think that his disconnection with reality allows others to treat him with scorn and pity that the social etiquette would frown on in another circumstance. Like the inn keeper's attitude when he set him to his vigil in the courtyard.


Jason | 0 comments Something that might be of interest to some are Dostoevsky's thoughts on Don Quixote. It might be interesting to think about as we progress through the novel. In a letter, Dostoevsky said:
I will merely mention that of the beautiful characters in Christian literature, Don Quixote alone is the most complete. But he is beautiful only because at the same time he is comical....There is compassion for the beautiful person who is ridiculed and who is unaware of his own worth, and so the reader is drawn toward him.
I'm no expert, but from what I've read, the main character in Dostoevsky's "The Idiot" is a Christlike and quixiotic character, purposely drawing on Jesus and Don Quixote as inspiration.


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Linda | 1313 comments Hilary wrote: "Haha, Everyman, so true. I particularly covet his helmet! Maybe he has got it right."

ha ha! I read the helmet part out loud to my husband and we were rolling with laughter. And then last night my husband pulled out the book to reread that bit. :)


Hilary (agapoyesoun) So true, Linda. Sheer genius!


Everyman | 885 comments Kristi wrote: "I agree with Renato, it's one thing to create a place for yourself that you want to live in, but something else entirely when you are disconnected from reality. ..."

That assumes first, that you know what reality is, and second, that there is only one reality.

Perhaps what he is in is also reality, but just a different reality from yours and mine.


Everyman | 885 comments The burning of Quixote's books is sad (and angers me) on several levels. Among the levels I see are:

It is sad at all for books to be burned, since it is a statement that certain ideas are perceived by the burners to be so evil, or so dangerous, that they cannot be permitted to exist.

It is sad because, after all, the ideals of chivalry are pretty good ideals, aren't they? And the burning is a denial, a negation of those ideals, isn't it?

It makes me angry that anybody assumes the right to decide what I, as an adult, should and should not read.

As a lover (and hoarder) of books, it makes me angry that, even with the best intentions, people would come into my house and burn any of my books.

It is tragic because it assumes that by burning the books you can kill the ideas.

This is only part of what I see going on here, but it's enough for starters.


message 28: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Everyman wrote: "Kristi wrote: "I agree with Renato, it's one thing to create a place for yourself that you want to live in, but something else entirely when you are disconnected from reality. ..."

That assumes fi..."


I would agree, except that as he rides up to an inn he is seeing a castle. This tells me that he isn't seeing reality, he's seeing what he projects. You can say an inn is a castle, but then it's just not...don't you think?? I know we can get into the idea that anything you think is real is, but in this case I feel like he's trying so hard to bring back a time of chivalry that he's making common occurrences into storybook scenes, making up situations that require his intervention where none exist (except the boy tied to a tree, and even there he didn't actually help but instead made the situation worse). Doesn't this speak more to delusion than to him seeing reality as it truly is?? If he saw the situations as they were he would more skillfully be able to use his belief in chivalry to help the situation.


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Renato (renatomrocha) I agree with you, Kristi.

Also, the narrator says that Don Quixote became so absorbed by what he read in his books that his brains got so dry that he lost his wits.

So I think, from this, that we can assume that he is escaping from reality, we just don't know why (yet).


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Linda | 1313 comments Everyman wrote: "The burning of Quixote's books is sad (and angers me) on several levels. Among the levels I see are:

It is sad at all for books to be burned, since it is a statement that certain ideas are perceiv..."


You raise many good points and I completely agree. I did find it humorous the discussions as to why each book belonged in which pile, but I did have a pit in my stomach at the books chosen to be burned. I wanted to save them all - they were not their books for the taking to do with what they wanted in the first place!! I would have been horrified to find out someone had come into my house and burned half my books.


message 31: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Everyman wrote: "The burning of Quixote's books is sad (and angers me) on several levels. Among the levels I see are:

It is sad at all for books to be burned, since it is a statement that certain ideas are perceiv..."


I agree with you, I was appalled that they went into his house and started making a pile of books that they thought should be burned.


message 32: by John (last edited May 07, 2014 11:26AM) (new) - added it

John (johnred) | 364 comments Everyman wrote: "That assumes first, that you know what reality is, and second, that there is only one reality. "
LOL - sounds like you're looking for the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle discussion - two doors down on your left ;)


message 33: by Linda (new) - added it

Linda | 1313 comments John wrote: "LOL - sounds like you're looking for the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle discussion - two doors down on your left ;) "

Ha ha! Funny. I was thinking the same thing. :D


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Lisa (lisadannatt) | 105 comments Everyman wrote: "We are assuming that DQ is mad, but is it possible that he is more sane than we are?

He has created for himself a place in a world he wants to live in, he is satisfied with the things he has --..."


I've got this habit of over analyzing characters, and when I saw your reference to madness I thought I'd put this.

One possibility is a psychiatric diagnosis known as delusional disorder, where someone has a strange belief (like being a knight) but otherwise functions well in their world. People around them are more bothered by their behavior than they are. I thought of this when DQ was dressing up, but he seems so contented and fulfilled as a knight that I'd love to leave him to his own devices.

The other thought is that he is someone with a very active and sweet imagination who has created a world in which he feels fulfilled.

Currently I'm leaning toward eccentric not delusional, but will bear this in mind.


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Lisa (lisadannatt) | 105 comments The book burning was both tragic ( burning books can be nothing but tragic) and comic (the books that were saved).

Overall, this book is fun thus far.


Everyman | 885 comments Kristi wrote: "I would agree, except that as he rides up to an inn he is seeing a castle. "

But does that make him mad? When I come home in the evening, I see a beautiful woman. Anybody who didn't love her would call her an average looking woman, perfectly fine, but definitely not a beautiful woman.

Am I therefore mad?


message 37: by Renato (last edited May 07, 2014 07:41PM) (new) - added it

Renato (renatomrocha) Well, is a woman really there when you go home? If not, then yes you're mad, haha ;)

I think you're comparing different things though. Beauty is subjective, the definitions of beautiful and ugly are personal, other factors come in to play here. The same does not apply when we're talking about what's an inn and a castle. And yes, if you love that inn so much you may feel as you're in such an amazing and beautiful castle, the best of them all, but it'll still be an inn by definition and I think you'll see an inn, even though it wouldn't be wrong to say "in my eyes I see a castle". The difference with Don Quixotte is that he literally sees a castle, haha.


Natalie (nsmiles29) So far I am loving this book.

I don't think Don Quixote's idea of reality changes anyone's perception, but it does change their conduct - as in the case of the innkeeper.

I'm torn between being amused my DQ and feeling sorry for him. The fact is if someone was acting like him today, I would probably think they were crazy.

Like Everyman was pointing out - we do create our own realities. So, the question is, what do we do with people who see reality far outside the "norm"? Sometimes, as a society, it's hard for us to except those who are different. Like Lisa pointed out, though, it's usually other people that are more bothered.

On the other hand, Don Quixote was causing problems for others - physically hurting them - like those who wanted to water their animals. But, as the innkeeper proved, if you stayed true to DQ's narrative, you could convince him to stop with little fuss. I was annoyed with DQ at that point, but then when those people attacked him I felt sorry for him, as his intentions were generally good.

I didn't find the book burning amusing because censorship of any kind is so abhorrent to me. I can't handle the thought of people wantonly destroying books of any kind.

I'm excited to keep reading and discussing!


Renee M Everyman-
I know you were making a point, but your last comment was really just so sweet. <3


Everyman | 885 comments Natalie wrote: "I don't think Don Quixote's idea of reality changes anyone's perception, but it does change their conduct - as in the case of the innkeeper. "

Nice point. People around him do respond to the knight in him more than to simply an old villager, don't they.


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Alex Willis (fightingokra) The opening chapters have been very entertaining. DQ is quite the character, even if we have just scratched the surface. As much as I like books, movies and video games I cannot imagine getting sucked in to any of them to create an alternate reality for myself.

Looking forward to week 2.


message 42: by Mandy (new)

Mandy I am going to have to get a move on if I am going to participate - though it looks like once I get started it is going to be hard to stop?


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Sam (aramsamsam) Quijote must have made a very entertaining grandfather. Oh, the stories he could tell! I wonder if he ever awakes from his dream world. Part of me wishes he won't.


Everyman | 885 comments Mandy wrote: "I am going to have to get a move on if I am going to participate - though it looks like once I get started it is going to be hard to stop?"

Definitely.

Don Quixote is probably the most often mentioned s the number 1 book in lists of the greatest novels of all time. At some point later we should discuss why this is, and whether we agree with that assessment.


message 45: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Schlup I definitely think he's eccentric. How lovely would it be if we could all create a world we were that happy in though? I'm thoroughly enjoying this book!


Lyndi (mibookobsession) Lisa wrote: "The story so far is quite enjoyable, with the exception of a few acts of violence. Somehow it reminds me of a child with a very active imagination, dressing up as a Superhero and then running about..."

As an employee of a nursing home, I see a lot of Alzheimer/dementia patients and I have to say, it is a LOT easier to just go along with the delusion than to try to change their perception. Unless, of course their behavior is harmful to themselves or others. I have been the muledriver myself (getting cracked over the head) when things get out of hand.
I see this delusional behavior in DQ, but I think it's wrong to blame the books. There must be another underlying reason for this alternate reality.
I look forward to find out more about DQ and his adventures. This first section has been more enjoyable than I expected.


Everyman | 885 comments Lyndi wrote: "I see this delusional behavior in DQ, but I think it's wrong to blame the books. There must be another underlying reason for this alternate reality. "

That's a very interesting point. Without the books, of course, he couldn't have this same delusion, but if he had been reading a whole different set of books, or if he had been working from a whole different sort of experiences, would he have had a completely different set of delusions?

The fault, dear Sancho, is not in the books but in ourselves, that we are delusional, eh? [g]


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

@ Lyndi

You have a very interesting perspective based on your experience through your vocation. Thank you for sharing! Many of the characters in the novel seem to be using the same method when meeting Don Quixote; it seems the ones who do not embrace his delusion (in a respectful manner befitting a Knight) are the ones who end up suffering the consequences!!

@ Everyman

What an insightful point about the influence of books on DQ's delusional behavior. Would Quixote still have been delusional without having read the books he did? Hmmmm, very likely but perhaps would have been influenced by something completely different. (Perhaps the whole chicken or the egg riddle applies here.) Well, thankfully Quixote wasn't enamoured with books about vampires, huh??


message 49: by Renee (last edited May 17, 2014 09:40AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Renee M Lisa, that reminds me of a Nicholas Cage movie with just that scenario!


There are several examples in literature of fictional characters making poor decisions based on the influence of a glut of romantic reading. I'm thinking of Northanger Abbey and Madame Bovary, but I know there are many others as well. Although, I can't remember anyone else being driven mad. It's an interesting device for a fiction writer. DQ is hardly a cautionary tale. Did Cervantes begin with the plan to poke fun at this literary tradition and then get carried away??


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

Renee wrote: "Lisa, that reminds me of a Nicholas Cage movie with just that scenario!..."

Was it "Vampire's Kiss" or a new movie?? I have not seen the Nic Cage vampire movie lol!!


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