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Don Quixote - Revisited > Part 2: Chapters XXVIII - XXXV

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Thomas | 4509 comments Vladimir Nabokov, the Russian novelist and sometime literary critic, said of Don Quixote,

"Humane indeed! What about the hideous cruelty -- with or without the author's intent or sanction -- which riddles the whole book and befouls its humour? ... Both parts of Don Quixote form a veritable encyclopedia of cruelty. From that viewpoint it is one of the most bitter and barbarous books ever penned." Lectures on Don Quixote

So far the "cruelty" has seemed to me to be mostly of the slapstick variety. The intent seems more comic than sadistic. But the way in which the Duke and Duchess toy with Don Quixote and use him for their enjoyment reminds me of Nabokov's opinion. The Duke and Duchess clearly understand that DQ is vulnerable, as is his simple squire, and they take advantage of this for their entertainment.

Is this an overly sensitive interpretation? Or is Cervantes taking the Punch and Judy treatment a little too far?


message 2: by Dave (last edited Sep 18, 2019 02:40AM) (new) - added it

Dave Redford | 145 comments I'd agree that the treatment of DQ and Sancho by the duke and duchess is cruel, but there were elements that I still found very amusing.

Comparing this episode to DQ's encounter with Sanson Carrasco, the difference is stark. Though Sanson's motivation was a little opaque, I think he was seeking fame by attempting to be known as the person who retired the famous "knight". The duke and duchess don't appear to have anything to gain, and seem to be playing with DQ and Sancho like puppets for sport, so inevitably this episode feels crueller.

One particularly cruel passage that stood out for me was in chapter XXXI, when the maidens have to suppress their laughter at DQ, an old man in his "narrow breeches", who is "dry, tall, thin, his jaws kissing each other inside his mouth". At least the ecclesiastic was being cruel to be kind.

All that said, I couldn't help laughing in chapter XXXV at Sancho's reaction when he finds out he has to suffer 3,300 blows to his "broad buttocks", and in turn DQ's angry reaction to his insolent squire who refuses to be flagellated just to disenchant Dulcinea. Despite the cruelty, I found myself in slight admiration for the ingenuity and effort that went into the duke and duchess' scheme.


message 3: by David (last edited Sep 19, 2019 12:57PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

David | 2695 comments For those looking for the obscure jokes, Professor Roberto González Echevarría explains the Ptolemy joke in the enchanted boat, Part 2 Chapter 29, this way:
After Sancho wonders how much they have traveled, he said:
“ ‘Mucho,’ replicó Don Quijote, ‘porque de trescientos sesenta grados que contiene el globo del agua y de la tierra según el cómputo de Ptolomeo, que fue el mayor cosmógrafo que se sabe, la mitad habremos caminado llegando a la línea que he dicho.’ ‘Por Dios’ dijo Sancho, ‘que vuesa merced me trae por testigo de lo que dice a una gentil persona, puto y gafo, con la añadidura de meón, o meo, o no sé cómo.’”

. . .the ugly word in Spanish to say to urinate is “mear,” equivalent in English of “to piss,” and, of course, in the word, in Ptolemy, in Spanish, “Ptolomeo,” there seems to be included the first person singular of the indicative of the word “mear,” “yo meo,” this is what Sancho hears in Ptolomeo’s name; And “cómputo,” computation, of course, to him what he hears is “puto,” which is the masculine of “puta,” which is whore and it means homosexual. So what Don Quixote has told him lacks all authority; is what he’s saying when his authorities have to do with a person who is a homosexual that pisses a lot, and this is what Sancho hears. . .
. . .The point is that, of course, Cervantes is making fun of the whole Ptolemaic system, which by this time is obsolete, but Don Quixote, of course, is invoking it, as his authority to tell where it is that they’re going as they ride on the boat.
Depending on temperament and translator, your comedy mileage may vary.


Rhonda (rhondak) | 202 comments David wrote: "For those looking for the obscure jokes, Professor Roberto González Echevarría explains the Ptolemy joke in the enchanted boat, Part 2 Chapter 29, this way After Sancho wonders how much they ha..."
I translate this as another male and female joke where puto may mean the coarse word beginning with "f" and the the actual word "gap" referring, coarsely, to female genitalia.
I think you are correct in that when you say that someone es un meón it means that he wets himself. Meo is, as you recognize, the present form meaning "I piss."

In either case, while these may have been very funny in the 17th century, I find many of these tedious and trite.


Rhonda (rhondak) | 202 comments Thomas wrote: "Vladimir Nabokov, the Russian novelist and sometime literary critic, said of Don Quixote,

"Humane indeed! What about the hideous cruelty -- with or without the author's intent or sanction -- whic..."


At first one reads Don Quixote with some alarm and then one begins to chuckle or giggle at the exploits of the duo. He loses some teeth and at first one is alarmed but then one sees that all is well and no one suffers lingering effects.

No reader should seriously be affected by all the comedic attacks, I think, least of all an author who wrote candidly about the details of an older man abusing a young girl due to his fetish, no matter what his stated intentions. After all we seem to have an epidemic of that behavior today.


Rhonda (rhondak) | 202 comments I was interested in the clergyman, if I may translate the word, "ecclesiastic" further. Clearly this man is not a priest but I sense that his purpose here is a particular representation which Cervantes wishes us to understand.

This clergyman knows nothing of the world, only his narrow belief in what is right and wrong, having little exposure to the outside world. Scholars often suggest that he is meant to represent the kind of person in Spanish society who is placed into the position of giving advice to lay people and yet he knows nothing about the way they live.

It is also suggested that a similar thing may be said of the Duke and Duchess, representing members of royalty, who believe that people of lower classes are simply there for their amusement.


David | 2695 comments Chapter 28
Regarding matters that Benengeli says will be known to the reader if he reads with attention

Just what are these matters that attentive readers are expected to know from this chapter? is it the matter of it being 20 years give or take 3 days since Sancho claims that DQ promised him the insula? Could their relationship go back that far?


message 8: by Thomas (last edited Sep 24, 2019 10:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Thomas | 4509 comments David wrote: "Just what are these matters that attentive readers are expected to know from this chapter? ."

If it's a matter of things already known, it might be DQ's argument that withdrawal is not flight, because valor is founded on prudence and not recklessness. I think we've seen this excuse before, but the one place I can find right now is in Pt. 2, chapter IV, where Sancho makes the argument, saying it is the belief of his master.

But it might also be Cervantes playing with chapter titles again. The title itself is amusingly circular... "things you will know...if you care to know them." A Cuban friend recently introduced me to the "payasada," from payaso, meaning clown. Payasadas are jokes in a way, or clowning around. I often think now that is the sort of thing Cervantes delights in.


Thomas | 4509 comments Rhonda wrote: "At first one reads Don Quixote with some alarm and then one begins to chuckle or giggle at the exploits of the duo. He loses some teeth and at first one is alarmed but then one sees that all is well and no one suffers lingering effects.
."


I remember when I first saw the old Martin Scorcese movie, The King of Comedy. I was horrified. I hated it. It was excruciating to watch. I was forced to watch it again because my roommate was obsessed with the movie, and then again. Each time I saw it the rawness of the main character's delusion and suffering became less raw, less painful, and eventually I started to get the joke. And then I started to enjoy the movie, even find it funny. The lesson I take from that experience is that the line between suffering and comedy is thin, and that one very often bleeds over into the other. I find the same thing happens with DQ.

And now that I think of it, Rupert Pupkin is not all that different from Don Quixote.


Kerstin | 583 comments Thomas wrote: The lesson I take from that experience is that the line between suffering and comedy is thin, and that one very often bleeds over into the other. I find the same thing happens with DQ.

Very well put, Thomas. And I agree, for the most part we've seen slapstick. The scene with Sancho and the 3300 blows took me aback at first. Then I realized Cervantes was exaggerating immensely to bring out the absurdity. Sancho, despite his street-smarts and verbal craftiness, is still gullible.


Kerstin | 583 comments Thomas wrote: "But the way in which the Duke and Duchess toy with Don Quixote and use him for their enjoyment reminds me of Nabokov's opinion. The Duke and Duchess clearly understand that DQ is vulnerable, as is his simple squire, and they take advantage of this for their entertainment."

It is quite a poke at the nobility (or the elites) and how they treat everyone else. Here again by drawing the scenes to absurdity does Cervantes reveal how heartless they truly are.


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