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Discussion - Don Quixote > Week 6 - Book 2, Chapters 1-16

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments It's ten years since the publication of Part 1, and here comes Part 2. (Some think a bit rushed out because another author had snuck in his own version of Part 2, there being no copyright protections in the early 16th century).

If Cervantes told us how much time in the lives of DQ and SP had passed, I missed it, but not that much -- certainly no ten years, and maybe only a few months, if that -- Sancho complains of his ribs still hurting.

I found the first few chapters, where Cervantes keeps playing the "I didn't write this, I'm just translating it" game, and then has DQ and SP discussing the history of his adventures as retailed in Part 1, an absolute riot.

Onward we venture!


message 2: by Eliza (new)

Eliza (elizac) | 94 comments Chapter 1 says that the priest and the barber didn't visit him for almost a month, but have kept track of his progress with the niece and housekeeper. So I assumed that the action in this book starts a month after the first one.





message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Eliza wrote: "Chapter 1 says that the priest and the barber didn't visit him for almost a month, but have kept track of his progress with the niece and housekeeper. So I assumed that the action in this book starts a month after the first one. "

Thanks. I had missed that.




thewanderingjew | 184 comments I keep thinking that maybe I will just stop reading DQ because after awhile, all the tales seem to be variations on the same theme and then I begin again anyway, and am drawn in by the brilliance of the author. Even calling the barber by ridiculous names like Senor Shaver or Senor Basin points out that Cervantes thinks about every word that goes down upon the page and nothing he writes is what it seems at first. I guess that is what keeps me interested.
I am constantly searching for double entendres.



message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments thewanderingjew wrote: "I keep thinking that maybe I will just stop reading DQ because after awhile, all the tales seem to be variations on the same theme and then I begin again anyway, and am drawn in by the brilliance o..."

I do agree that things seem to be a bit repetitious at times. (I quoted Fadiman earlier, I think, on skipping certain parts.) I think Cervantes was writing for an audience that had more leisure time for reading and more interest in these folk-type tales.

But I also agree that his brilliance overcomes the negative aspects of the repetitious incidents.




message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments There seems to me to be more overt philosophical musing in the first few chapters here than there was in Book 1.

In Chapter 5, Sancho and Teresa talk about the question of marrying up (in early 16th Century Spain, we must keep in mind), Sancho claiming that money can make a common woman a lady, and Teresa claiming that their daughter will be happier marrying in her own class. It is a question that continues for the next several hundred years, doesn't it? (Trollope deals with the same question in several of his novels.)

In Chapter 6, DonQ and his niece take a somewhat different approach to the same question. (I note also that DQ says there are two roads to riches and honor: one of letters, the other of arms. Such a different approach to life than today, where the roads to riches and honor are more often through business and industry; very few man of letters, and even fewer of arms, achieve wealth and honor these days, do they?)

In Chapter 8 DQ talks about the desire to achieve fame, and that some people desire fame and its immortality even more than life itself. (This is, of course, the same principle which inspired the Homeric heroes, whose only hope for immortality in a non-literate society was to have performed so valiantly in war that poets would ever after sing songs about their deeds and valor.)

And I can't offhand find the spot where they discuss the difference between the knight who goes out actually battling giants and righting wrongs, and those who stick around the home castle making laws and eating and drinking comfortably.

Quite a few philosophical musings in these first few chapters, it seems to me.


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments And oh -- why do you think Cervantes titles Chapter 6 "one of the most important chapters in the entire history"? I realize we have only begun Part 2 of the history (and it's not clear whether by the "entire history" he includes Part 1), but I didn't find the chapter particularly more important than other chapters in this section. Is Cervantes serious, or joking? And whichever he is, why?


message 8: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4508 comments Some initial thoughts:

So far Book 2 seems a little more serious to me. (Maybe this was Cervantes's response to the "false" Book 2?) DQ seems more introspective; not rational of course, but more interested in what people think of him, and he questions himself. His conclusion is frequently that he is still enchanted, but he seems to be more philosophical about his enchantment. Sancho, on the other hand, seems less "simple" and more in tune with DQ's delusion. He is learning how to steer his master out of harm's way while observing the rules of DQ's delusion. He is not always successful, of course, but his thoughts on the subject are more complex. He accepts DQ's psychology, whereas others want to contain and "cure" him.

There is still comedy here, but it seems to have graduated from the slapstick stuff we saw in Book 1. At the moment I can recall only one serious moment of violence in the first 16 chapters, and it was more meaningful than the screwball scenes in the first book.


thewanderingjew | 184 comments What I have noticed in book 2 is that when I read the passages from DQ and Sancho, I find that I have to go back and check to see who it is that is actually "speaking". They seem to have morphed into one person, speaking in the same voice, at times. Sancho, has become more lucid and seems less of a simpleton, while I think DQ's voice mixes more sanity with confusion than before. I think before I was able to note when he was in his world of fantasy and when he was not but now, I feel he has one foot in both worlds at all times.


message 10: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 184 comments Also, regarding Chapter 6 and its importance, the only think I noticed was that it was pretty much the first time that the niece and the housekeeper, or for that matter, anyone, actually openly accuse dq, directly, of being mad and point out that his behavior is insane.
I was wondering about the import of threatening to tell the king about his behavior. Did people often report such things to their king? What power would the king have? Was it like having someone declared incompetent to protect them from themselves or to protect their estate?


message 11: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments thewanderingjew wrote: "What I have noticed in book 2 is that when I read the passages from DQ and Sancho, I find that I have to go back and check to see who it is that is actually "speaking". They seem to have morphed in..."

Great point, twj!


message 12: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4508 comments thewanderingjew wrote: "What I have noticed in book 2 is that when I read the passages from DQ and Sancho, I find that I have to go back and check to see who it is that is actually "speaking". They seem to have morphed in..."

Sancho seems to have developed a mind of his own in the second book, to the point that the narrator questions the authenticity of the text. What do you suppose it means when the translator says that Ch. 5 may be "apocryphal" due the manner of Sancho's speech? Or is this just a joke, like the title of Ch. 6? (If that is a joke. If it isn't, I'm not so sure what is so "important" about it.)



message 13: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4508 comments Anyone have any thoughts about Ch. 8? It starts out with Benengeli repeating "Blessed be Allah" and the rest of the chapter focuses on religion vis a vis chivalry. Sancho and DQ have a thoughtful dialogue on the subject, with Sancho seemingly in command of the argument. I thought it was a really interesting chapter, but I'm not sure what to make of it.


message 14: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 184 comments I am actually confused about something else, that perhaps someone with more of a knowledge about moslems can explain. Why is the perception of the moors, so far back in time, so negative? Is it just religous prejudice, as it is with Jews, or is it something deeper? The intimation is always that the moors are dishonest. Why? Perhaps a student of history can enlighten me.


message 15: by Eliza (new)

Eliza (elizac) | 94 comments "What do you suppose it means when the translator says that Ch. 5 may be "apocryphal" due the manner of Sancho's speech?"


Maybe it's a veiled reference to the portrayal of Sancho in the fake second part. I thought I read that whoever wrote it was pretty hard on Sancho. (I can't find where I read that so it's possible I'm making it up) I liked Sancho in the first part but I think you're right he gets better in the second part. I began to see more of a friendship between the pair than a master servant relationship.



message 16: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 184 comments Thomas wrote: "Anyone have any thoughts about Ch. 8? It starts out with Benengeli repeating "Blessed be Allah" and the rest of the chapter focuses on religion vis a vis chivalry. Sancho and DQ have a thoughtful d..."
I do not mean to be disrespectful to anyone's religion, but based on my former question about the Moslems, could the reference to Allah, in chapter VIII, be an allusion to the fact that the moors are not to be trusted and therefore, the tale might not be true, although he says it is?
Chivalric tales are mostly fantasy and perhaps it means the adventures of DQ are, as well, untrue and never happened, even in the tale, or perhaps it means the author is not the true author and the story has been "stolen". Of course the whole book is fantasy except for where there seem to be parallels with Cervante's life.
AARRRGGGHHH, I have to say, I am becoming a bit confused.
Perhaps it means DQ is definitely deluded and what has taken place prior to chapter 8 is definitely fantasy and what is written after is not supposed to be but since it is written by a moor, it actually is not true.
Could it also be saying that the moor's religion is based on fantasy? It raises many questions. So much of it feels like "doublespeak".
I found that DQ in the second part, is more aware of his "enchantment" when he explains his behavior and Panza seems far more intelligent when it comes to his reasoning powers, and so far, those are the only things that do not confuse me!



message 17: by Eliza (new)

Eliza (elizac) | 94 comments thewanderingjew wrote: "Thomas wrote: "Anyone have any thoughts about Ch. 8? It starts out with Benengeli repeating "Blessed be Allah" and the rest of the chapter focuses on religion vis a vis chivalry. Sancho and DQ have..."

I took it to mean that Hamate Benengeli was thankful they were finally on their way on to new adventures. I don't think he's saying that the first 8 chapters are untrue, but being recap and setup they're not as interesting as adventures. About the intimation that Moors were essentially dishonest that strikes me as a form of propaganda. One of the church's justifications for persecuting a whole race of people. Perhaps Cervantes is saying something by choosing a moore as the original writer of the history? Just my thoughts :)



message 18: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 184 comments Eliza wrote: "thewanderingjew wrote: "Thomas wrote: "Anyone have any thoughts about Ch. 8? It starts out with Benengeli repeating "Blessed be Allah" and the rest of the chapter focuses on religion vis a vis chiv..."

Do you think he means to say that they are trustworthy as opposed to what has previously been implied in the book?



message 19: by Eliza (new)

Eliza (elizac) | 94 comments thewanderingjew wrote: "Eliza wrote: "thewanderingjew wrote: "Thomas wrote: "Anyone have any thoughts about Ch. 8? It starts out with Benengeli repeating "Blessed be Allah" and the rest of the chapter focuses on religion ..."

I think it's possible. It seems to me that there must have been some purpose in having two writers of the history one of them being a Moore. It's mentioned often enough. I'm just guessing here though so I could be completely off base.




message 20: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4508 comments thewanderingjew wrote: "AARRRGGGHHH, I have to say, I am becoming a bit confused.
Perhaps it means DQ is definitely deluded and what has taken place prior to chapter 8 is definitely fantasy and what is written after is not supposed to be but since it is written by a moor, it actually is not true."


I think this is all intentional on the part of the author -- it all seems calculated to keep the reader a little off-kilter. I sometimes feel like Sancho as I'm reading this: I love the book like Sancho loves DQ, but sometimes I wish it would stop. I put it down and think "what in the hell are you doing?" then I pick it up again and follow it into another adventure.

There's no telling what's real and what isn't. Like DQ when he encounters the theater troupe, "The Assembly of Death"... in a rare instance of self-doubt, he says that sometimes you have to reach out and "touch appearances with one's hand to avoid being deceived."

The Knight of the Wood reflects a false story about DQ, then morphs into the Knight of the Mirrors, and is finally exposed as an ordinary man who wants to deceive DQ for his own good. A noble lie, as Plato might say. But still a lie, and why is Sanson's lie any better or more moral than DQ's delusion that he is a knight errant?

As the narrator says in Ch 10, the "author of this great history... wrote down the mad acts just as Don Quixote performed them...not concerning himself about the accusations that he was a liar... and he was right, because truth may be stretched thin and not break, and it always floats on the surface of the lie, like oil on water."

I suppose what we're doing is looking for the sheen of truth stretched thin on the lie. It isn't easy!



message 21: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 184 comments Thomas wrote: "thewanderingjew wrote: "AARRRGGGHHH, I have to say, I am becoming a bit confused.
Perhaps it means DQ is definitely deluded and what has taken place prior to chapter 8 is definitely fantasy and wha...snip
I love the book like Sancho loves DQ, but sometimes I wish it would stop. I put it down and think "what in the hell are you doing?" then I pick it up again and follow it into another adventure.

I have felt exactly the same way. I have actually continued to read and am now on chapter 35.
I have found that DQ seems very different to me in part 2.
As you wrote "There's no telling what's real and what isn't. Like DQ when he encounters the theater troupe, "The Assembly of Death"... in a rare instance of self-doubt, he says that sometimes you have to reach out and "touch appearances with one's hand to avoid being deceived."
I had wondered whether DQ was waking from his delusions but then he returns even more deliberately into his world of fantasy. He does seem more short tempered in Part 2, as well. I have to wonder if it is the time period that separated book 1 from book 2, that leads to the slight difference in approach or if this difference in style is an attempt to make you think there might be still another author imitating in this version.
You also brought up the incident of The Knight of the Wood and wrote it... "reflects a false story about DQ, then morphs into the Knight of the Mirrors, and is finally exposed as an ordinary man who wants to deceive DQ for his own good..."
The behavior of citizens in that time astounds me. They think nothing of using people for sport.
You wrote: "I suppose what we're doing is looking for the sheen of truth stretched thin on the lie. It isn't easy!"
I ask myself what kind of a man was Cervantes? Was he a bit disturbed to even be able to think in such convoluted ways? Each time I read explanations from the characters which describe some behavior, I am astounded that I even understand what they mean when I finish.
Then I am even more amazed that the author was able to put such explanations into words which travel so roundabout that you are constantly traveling in circles trying to reason out the message, but you are so absolutely sure that there is a hidden message, you simply have to keep on reading to discern one.



message 22: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments Wow! After reading these comments I realize I must get the second part right away.

Keeping in mind that I haven't read the second part here are my thoughts:

1. All religion is an attempt to explain things from the viewpoint of the culture from which the religion came so really there is no difference between a muslem and a christian. Maybe he is saying that they both originate from the same source.

Well, my train of thought was just derailed by my 5 year old who has a little bitty scratch on her foot and NEEDS a bandaid or she is going to die so that's all for now.


message 23: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Thomas wrote: "thewanderingjew wrote: "AARRRGGGHHH, I have to say, I am becoming a bit confused.
Perhaps it means DQ is definitely deluded and what has taken place prior to chapter 8 is definitely fantasy and wha..."


Good notes, twj and Thomas. I said at the beginning that this seems to me to be a book about books. I hold to that and add that it is about truth and how we know what is true and how little we can know for sure after all.



message 24: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4508 comments thewanderingjew wrote: "Then I am even more amazed that the author was able to put such explanations into words which travel so roundabout that you are constantly traveling in circles trying to reason out the message, but you are so absolutely sure that there is a hidden message, you simply have to keep on reading to discern one."

It seems a little ironic to me that as readers we feel compelled to look for meaning in a story that is essentially about delusion. It's just what readers do -- maybe it's ingrained in us as children to look for the "moral of the story," but in this case it is especially challenging.

On top of the unreliable nature of the characters, we have questionable narrators (and translators), and then every once in a while Cervantes drops a religious allusion that is so vivid we think it has to mean something: in this section there is the scene where DQ and Sancho are stumbling in the dark, looking for Dulcinea, and they run into the church. "We have come to the Church" is ominous phrase. But then nothing is really made of it. He just drops it in our laps and moves on. Rather mischievous of him, I think.

You ask what kind of a man was Cervantes... I'm not sure, but I think he probably liked cats.


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Thomas wrote: "It seems a little ironic to me that as readers we feel compelled to look for meaning in a story that is essentially about delusion."

Well yes. But then, isn't there a whole field which finds meaning in apparent delusions?

I've mentioned earlier Shakespeare's fools, who because they appear delusional are able to speak truths that non-delusional people aren't permitted to.

When I was considering interim reads, one book I considered was Alice in Wonderland. There's a classic example of wisdom in apparent madness.

I do agree with you that the shifting nature of the unreliable narrator(s) makes the book particularly complex to unravel. But I'm finding it reading very nicely on two levels, one simply as a series of adventure story episodes, the other as a sometimes quite sophisticated commentary on the human condition.






message 26: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4508 comments Everyman wrote: "

Well yes. But then, isn't there a whole field which finds meaning in apparent delusions? "


Good point, and well taken. There are moments when I've felt that DQ's theories regarding "enchantment" border on philosophical investigations, and Sancho's questions sound like they could come from a psychotherapist (I'm thinking of Ch. 10 in particular). I'm not denying there is meaning here, but it isn't at all clear what that meaning is.

I couldn't agree more that DQ is a commentary on the human condition; I think that the confusion that the story inspires is all part of that.


message 27: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 184 comments Patrice wrote: "I think one difference between book l and book 2 is that book 2 takes place in society while book l is in the wilderness."

That is a good point. The people are more educated and worldly so their behavior is different and that may also account for the different more structured feeling of Part 2.


message 28: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4508 comments Patrice wrote: "I am struck by the line on page 479 in Grossman: history is like a sacred thing; it must be truthful, and wherever truth is, there God is; but despite this, there are some who write and toss off b..."

I think you're right -- this chapter has mainly to do with the first book, its reception, and DQ's concerns with how he appears in it. It's a fairly light-hearted criticism, though, isn't it? Cervantes seems to be poking fun at himself a little as well -- he notes the criticism aimed at the intercalated stories (the Anselmo & Lotario story) and the problem of the missing donkey. I think "history is like a sacred thing" is DQ being a little grandiose -- he's worried about the author highlighting his errors and faults and putting him in a bad light.


message 29: by Dianna (new)

Dianna | 393 comments I finally went and got my copy of the whole DQ, books 1 and 2. I am a little behind but there are pictures in this book and one picture of Cervantes. I still think Cervantes and Shakespeare might have been one and the same lol. But I am always having some sort of conspiracy theory in my brain.


message 30: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2438 comments Patrice wrote: "It just occurred to me that there may be a "missing link" between Shakespeare and Cervantes. They may have both been influenced by another author/philosopher. "

Or by the spirit of their age.


message 31: by Peregrine (new)

Peregrine The part that touched me the most in this section is in Chapter VII. Don Quixote is still going all pompous on Sancho for asking for a set salary, and is now threatening to take any squire at all, because "Sancho does not deign to come with me." Sancho's reply is one of the best moments of humanity in the book for me: "Oh yes, I do, I deign," responded Sancho, deeply moved, his eyes filled with tears . . ."


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