Hello, my intrepid readers! How is everyone doing? I’m enjoying DQ, as well as listening to Midnight’s Children, which is delighting me with humor and a picture of India larger than life. It’s a tad early to say, but I feel Rushdie is becoming a favorite author. The book, being narrated, acquires this legendary quality. I have to say I love the accents the narrator adopts, as well as his dramatization. I’m learning that he was a known actor, Lyndam Gregory, who died in 2014 at the age of 59.
Back to DQ, (I’m always getting out on other book tangents), I’m going to collect some thoughts on the chapters, and bring some conversations buried in the comments to the surface.
Chapter 9, part II, tells us the story of how Cervantes, in a stroke of luck, found the rest of DQ’s story, written by Cide Hamete Benengeli, and how he got a young boy to translate it for him. He then tells us the conclusion of the battle with the Basque, and we get to the encounter with the shepherds. Initially, the shepherds don’t see that DQ has lost his mind. The exchanges between DQ and Sancho are priceless. DQ lets him sit and share food with him, but Sancho rather eats by himself. It’s truly interesting this talk about manners, and social status. In The Baron in the Trees, (here I go again, :), the opening scene is a funny recount of those at table, what they were expected to behave like, how they had to dress up. It’s comical.
The shepherds all talk about going to Grisostomo’s funeral, and everybody is blaming this heartless Marcela, -now a shepherdess too-. DQ is this rich book. There’s the poems Grisostomo wrote, (which are Cervantes’s originals), and they are in the style of the pastoral poems of the time, like Cervantes’s Galatea.
Whether Grisostomo ended his life, or how he died, it’s not clear. All we know is that he blames Marcela. Before Marcela appears, the shepherds ask DQ about his occupation, and it’s then when they realize he’s crazy. I don’t know if you find him crazy but not that crazy. His speech, his behavior with the humble shepherds is noble. Nobody in this group tries to dissuade him from being a knight, or warn Sancho not to follow or be under his care and orders.
I am going to quote my comment on this scene:
DQ is complex. He doesn’t ‘reason’ like a madman, but he is crazy because of his ‘calling’, which is recognized by others as no ‘real’ profession, of course. But notice that later, for example, when he meets the shepherds, they don’t question his sanity until they ask what he does in life. His speech is educated and courteous. And him being master over Sancho is also not dissonant.
Yesterday I also found a sentence that says that Sancho had known DQ since birth, (that’s in chapter XII), and that’s why he didn’t hesitate to go with him. Sancho intrigues me as well. How come he’s not bothered by the type of madness his master has? I said greed. It’s not greed, -greed was a strong word, and it conjures a Mr. Scrooge more than Sancho, who is described as having as a good uneducated man-, but obviously Sancho wants to believe there’s a way to get out of his poverty. And is Sancho’s poverty just monetary, or is he after a rich life, a life with some ‘power’, versus being at the bottom of the hierarchy? There’s also the question of education too, and what it achieves in life, Sancho is obviously moved more by the earthly pleasures, -not in a bad way-, and DQ is supposedly of the more idealistic way. Both will, -as Rushdie writes- leak into each other, LOL.
Karen also quotes from chapter 21, (it doesn’t have spoilers, it’s just about the nature of DQ’s madness), this: “…for, he accommodated every thing he saw, with incredible facility, to the extravagant ravings of his disordered judgment.” (pg. 150 in my translation)
DQ’s logic is such that he always offers an explanation within the world of those knights and all we know about them through the books, but that also satisfies his made up mind on the issue at stake. Somethings he claims we cannot know, others he settles down with his argumentation. For example, after Rocinante meddled with some non interested mares, angering their owners, both Sancho and DQ are badly beaten up. After that, DQ decides he’s not going to fight ‘non knightly people’, that’s for Sancho, to fight his equals. Sancho won’t concede either. I find these exchanges hilarious. Later, when DQ finally makes the famous magical beverage of Fierabras, and when DQ recovers his health, but Sancho gets even worse, DQ retorts, “told ya, Sancho, you are not a knight, and this healing concoction only works on those who, like me, are true knights”.
So far, we are seeing many instances of bodily humor, and physical fights followed by wounds, cuts and what not. There’s a revolution in literature being conducted by Cervantes. DQ is not any knight, is a man who turns himself into a knight but who lives in the real world, -not just in books-. DQ asks out loud, or discusses with others, what he knows about how knights eat, or sleep, or how they heal, whom they fight, etc. Sometimes he knows how this happens, but more than not, he’s growing in this role he’s adopted.
Sancho is also reinventing his identity, or becoming more himself. For example, when they go to the castle-inn, he wants the care of those in it, thus he tries to downplay his master’s delusions. He tells the innkeeper and his wife that they’ve been out there, in search of occurrences, (not adventures as DQ calls them), and he lies about how they are both so hurt claiming DQ fell down and hit some rocks in his fall.
The scene at the inn with the girl Maritormes is very Chauceresque. One would be surprised to hear DQ say that, if he didn’t have Dulcinea as his love to whom he owns his loyalty, he would have taken advantage of what he saw as a favor. Don’t forget that Lancelot became known as the greatest knight of the Round Table and Arthur’s most trusted ally, but it was his illicit love for Queen Guinevere that made him famous.
I need to clarify that some strong language by the innkeeper when he’s looking for Maritormes, the word he uses, may not have sounded as strong as it sounds nowadays in the more recent translations. Ormsby translates it strumpet, while Grossman chooses whore. Ormsby’s translation is very classy. It has the ‘canst thou see?’, while Grossman, -and I guess anyone more contemporary-, leave that old English style. The Spanish I read has that aged added layer Ormsby retains, but to me, there’s no added ‘merit’ to the reader if the reader has to make an effort and sacrifice enjoyment. The Spanish that I read doesn’t require an effort on my part more than Ormsby’s English to many of you. It’s just preference or availability.
In any case, no matter if it’s a ‘knights duel, a fight against giants, or a failed night of passion’, DQ is constantly beaten up. He wants to restore order, but incites chaos more often than not. And every time, DQ sees the incredible of all that’s happening, he never sees this as misfortune, but as magical and adventurous, and he also believes one has to take all of this in stride.
Sancho listens to DQ, he adds his opinion, but doesn’t challenge him at the core of his arguments. I’m wondering this time if Sancho considers DQ as a madman and he still believes that the part when DQ is offering him an isle to govern, or some land to rule, can be true, -and there’s no contradiction with that and DQ’s mental state-. He seems to be our true ears and eyes, a bridge between DQ’s perceptions, and what others truly see. But his mediation is all aimed at favoring DQ. Sancho wants DQ to do well within his ‘mad plotting and planning’. If DQ succeeds, he will too. When convenient, he is seen to use his master’s logic, -as when he promptly took possession of ‘battle spoils’. But obviously, life resists to accommodate to the pursues of both DQ and his squire.
Before concluding, I’d like to mention Galatea, the intriguing beautiful woman whose beauty was her prison. I do love her speech. A touch Shakespearean, -though we could also argue that Shakespeare was Cervantesque, 🙂 -. Everyone is disarmed by Galatea’s words. From her story, I adore her father, who wanted his daughter to marry one whom she loved, (versus arranging her marriage.) What claims does love have on its object?, is being beautiful a gift or a curse?, can a woman rebel against or renounce to that which is expected of her, -such as marriage and all it ensues-?
P.S. Madness, -as I’m perceiving it this time around-, seems to be DQ’s way of coping and explaining the cruelties of life, of a life so void of his ideals. If one is to suffer much, may as well take some initiative, and give the pain some high purpose and achievements in the new construct of reality that DQ, with lots of ingenuity and resiliency, invents for himself.