Don Quixote, post #4b, ch 16, 17, 18

I realized that I had not finished reading chapter 18, or written all I wanted on chapters 16 and 17. And since I’m a bit behind in my reading, this week I’ll post on these chapters to catch up.

Brona already wrote two posts on DQ. I don’t mean to pressure any of you who also blog, or who write at Goodreads or any other place on the Internet, to do the same, it’s mostly to share, and to let you know I’m collecting your blogposts at my Don Quixote’s Page.

Some of you tell me you don’t find the book that funny. And that’s perfectly fine too. Humor and tone are subjective. As long as there’s something in it that keeps you reading it, I believe it could be a gratifying experience, -and not just because that’s what we say after we finish a long book-.

I have heard some say they don’t like long books, but that’s to me a sad comment, since books are long for very different reasons. Long books give us something short ones can’t. Even those authors who master both lengths, aka, Márquez, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Cervantes, Galdós… so many that it’s impossible to list them, they offer us a different take on a novel when they write short than when they take longer. They are doing something different. Extension is an element of form that imposes on the purpose and content. A book of books, such as DQ, or 1001 Arabian Nights, needs length to give us those many narratives inside the narrative. The story of several generations, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude, or Midnight’s Children, also needs many pages to be told. The reader must feel engulfed in the ocean of words and tales, time needs to pass, and for the narrative to not change abruptly, pages, many pages, are required.

There’s also the style factor. There’s a short book I treasure, The Plain in Flames, and it’s told in a few pages, it’s very laconic. Nothing to do with ornate and long Rushdie. I haven’t watched Rushdie being interviewed, but I have Juan Rulfo, (the author of The Plain in Flames), and Rulfo presented himself a lot like his novel: circumspect, laconic, saying a lot with pauses and silences, the perfect void that highlights what has been succinctly said or written. It’s like a novel in staccato tempo. DQ begs to be read aloud, or listened to, (though reading is also profitable. This time this is my choice, and I’m benefiting from notes, or writing on the margins, and a better sense of where I am in the book that having a paper copy gives you.)

Finally, on to the missing pieces. The end of chapter XVI shows us DQ, despite his resolve not to cause injury to his beloved Dulcinea, ready to receive the beautiful damsel he thinks is throwing herself into his arms. It’s amazing to me how DQ’s mind can distort such a strong physical presence of Maritormes. The contrast between the ideal and the material is, in my opinion, totally exaggerated in favor of humor. Go and read it (or listen to it) again, and you’ll see how the language of DQ’s ideal picture contrasts so comically with a caricature like Maritormes.

I’m probably biased, but I believe Cervante’s women in DQ are rich and varied, like in real life. He wrote generously about women, -and men alike-. Nobody can be clean of the biases of the time. And Cervantes book is right in the middle of a strong Catholic society, at war with the Moors. Even though the characters express the views of men of that time when they express dislike towards Jews, women, or the portrayal of violence between master and servant, etc., we must remember the author’s boldness and honesty in his approach. Cervantes doesn’t shy away from airing the dirty laundry and the moral faults and hypocrisy of all the characters.

Chapter XVI ends with an epic fight. They even believe DQ dead, and the next chapter starts to show us Sancho’s personality and his answers with more detail. I like their exchange. It’s about both making sense of the strange night, and putting perspective on why and how what happened did happen. Sancho takes DQ’s explanation of the night face value, and he is not happy about having been beaten up for nothing. Notice also that DQ’s attitude is somehow stoic towards what he believes were result of enchantments and forces beyond our control.


The innkeeper wants his money, Sancho refuses to pay and takes cover under the fact that he serves a famous errant knight, DQ, when it comes to intervene in the “manteado” (this is when they took a blanket and threw him in the air) they inflict on Sancho, excuses himself with the laws of knighthood which he twists and stretches according to his already decided course of action.

When it comes to make decisions and act upon them, it’s clear we all have our mindset, our worldview and beliefs. The question is one of the will. How’s our will trained? What’s the hidden law we hold true? Is it the same we profess, or do we apply it after the fact, to look good and justify our actions and our stand on situations? Are we blind to all this?, or do we sometimes think about it when we evaluate ourselves, or examine our lives with transparency?

The beverage works for DQ, but unfortunately, it almost kills Sancho. (This is a placebo, maybe Sancho didn’t drink it with full conviction of ‘its powers’, ha ha ha.)

Image by Marco Bianchetti

Chapter XVIII is a phenomenal homage to the knight books, and a tribute to the imagination. As Homer, or a sports commentator, DQ starts narrating a battle among two armies with delight. Sancho falls under the spell, -though he’ll awake from it when reality assaults both of them-.

DQ loses many of his teeth or molars, and the scene starts as comical, when he asks Sancho to check his mouth to assess the damage. Vomits and scatological humor plague this book. But don’t fool yourselves, right before this comical, or absurd scene, we will hear DQ wax philosophical about life getting better after being tough, and declaring to Sancho his faith in God to assist them in a passage beautiful to me that ends quoting from Matthew 5:45, (that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.)

Chapter XVIII though, ends with DQ lamenting his lost teeth.

See you next week, hopefully, when I’ll discuss chapters 19 – 25.

Have a great weekend!

13 thoughts on “Don Quixote, post #4b, ch 16, 17, 18

  1. Thanks for your wonderful analysis.
    I can’t believe same would not find it funny, but again, referring to some of our previous conversation on the topic, these may be too young readers with not enough life and reading experience.
    As I read along, I enjoy more and more the reflection it offers on how we perceive reality.
    I also like the way Sancho’s personality is coming out more and more, and how he slowly asserts himself.
    As long as big books are well written, I have no problem. Actually I remember feeling disappointed when 1Q84 stopped, somewhere over 1,000 pages. The way it is structured, it could have gone on and on for me. And I can’t but fall under the charm of Murakami’s style .

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maybe it’s not just the young or inexperienced only, it may be a matter of personality, and being tuned to the same frequency where the humor is transmitted.
      As long as the long book is well written, a big yes to that.
      Then there’s the tiring effect. DQ may tire us a bit towards the second half of the first book. He is tired himself, maybe Sancho too. After the exciting beginning, even an errant knight’s life can become tedious and heavy.
      I am however eager to get to a later incident once more at the famous and infamous inn. And I want to meet another amazing woman, the one who will call herself princess Micomicona, pronounced Mecohmecohnah.
      Thanks for the comment, it means a lot.


      1. The length of a book is an interesting discussion. This past year when my IRL book club read those really long classics in close proximity to each other, I was beginning to wonder if I just did not want/like to read REALLY long books. But then I remembered, no, that is definitely not the case at all! I read another longish book (between 600-700 pgs.) that I really loved. So I think you are both right that the writing style definitely has something to do with it. But also content is probably a factor in some cases. Take War and Peace for example. I just did not care for this one AT ALL. But it was a lot of war chapters. And I got irritated with some of the characters too. Although, as an aside, when speaking of characters, that is not necessarily always a factor in not liking a book. Wuthering Heights is NOT a good story at all; but I really liked it. I just think maybe the combination of length, war chapters, and irritating characters just made War and Peace a slog for me to get through. But I did read the whole book! That’s an accomplishment! LOL And maybe it would improve on a second reading. I just don’t have any desire to read it again. Ha!

        But Silvia, I like what you said when you said: “A book of books, such as DQ, or 1001 Arabian Nights, needs length to give us those many narratives inside the narrative….The reader must feel engulfed in the ocean of words and tales, time needs to pass, and for the narrative to not change abruptly, pages, many pages, are required.”

        I think this is spot on! I know so many like War and Peace and that maybe it fits that description. But for me, I didn’t feel “engulfed in the ocean of words and tales”. I wanted to like this book so much but I just had a hard time getting through it.

        Anyway, I am finding Don Quixote funny and there have already been a number of times I didn’t want to stop reading because I wanted to see how the chapter or scenario played out. I’m almost halfway through and have been enjoying it!

        IQ84. Is this a good book?

        @WordsandPeace, you said: “As I read along, I enjoy more and more the reflection it offers on how we perceive reality.”

        Yes. I was noticing this in the last chapter or two I read in the last day or so with both Don Quixote and Sancho (although I didn’t know how to phrase it until I read your comment…so thank you!). Also, I am noticing perceptions of things, how characters were perceiving things (particularly the chapter with the confrontation with Don Fernando, Dorotea, Lucinda, and Cardenio) and also thinking about how things would have been then compared to how they would be now. I don’t want to say much because this is later on and I don’t want to give spoilers.

        Oh, and Silvia, I’m in the second half of the first book and it doesn’t feel tiring to me. So yay! There have been a few times here and there where it has felt a bit rambly but other than that, it still keeps me turning the pages. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes, the length of books is a fascinating topic, Karen, I agree, 🙂

        I’m glad DQ was the right classic for you at the time, and that you keep finding it humorous and entertaining. I also appreciated @WordsandPeace comment on reality, perception, what’s real, what is imagined, how our perception or attitudes skew the way we live, -for the good or the bad-. And those four, Don Fernando, Dorotea, Lucinda, and Cardenio, what a Shakespeare like part of the book, with their stories intertwined, and everything coming to its height at the inn, Chaucer style.

        For anyone still reading, or feeling they came to a bit of a sluggish portion. DQ, book I, will have lots of new stories towards the second part, stories that will get tangled, and that will also get resolved somehow. And book II, will have more of Sancho, different humor, (Sancho’s now), and more of their friendship.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love reading your discussions. I just finished chapter 28 and I think I enjoy the stories of the people they encounter along the way more than Don Quixote’s.
    I’m one who doesn’t find this particularly amusing. I think it’s a personality thing – at least I sure hope I’ve had enough life/reading experience by now. Also, I often don’t find things funny that others do, whether it be books, movies, tv, but then I’ll be the only one laughing at other times. And the vomit scene (and the other one, but I’m not sure what chapter it was in) – not funny, just yuck!
    At different times in my life, I’ve been more or less likely to read long books. They take a time and attention commitment, even if they’re wonderful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Carol. That motivates me to keep writing. I’m enjoying writing about DQ. Specially since I am not forced to write short or long, but just what I feel for sharing each week.
      And it’s a personality thing, or a complex thing, humor. Not always experience. Though I understand that experience in reading plays a part in our recognition of elements in books that may enhance our experience, or make the reading dreadful or not relevant. I may talk about humor in the next post. I don’t think DQ right now, in chapters 16 to even 28, is exactly humorous as in ‘funny’. It’s not stand up comedy fun, or pun oriented fun. What it’s making me ‘laugh’ at this time, it’s how both DQ and Sancho ‘justify’ what is going on, or what they do/don’t do. For example, after they left the inn, in next week’s section, when they find themselves lost and without food, Sancho blames DQ for not having kept his ‘fasting vote’, (that of not eating fancy food but just a few austere things), while DQ blames Sancho for not having reminded him to keep that vote.
      As you say, you may also have your own sense of humor, since you’ve noticed that in general for other things too. Also, part of what makes me laugh, it’s the voices of DQ and Sancho I have in my head, that correspond to the narration of the book I’ve listened to twice. The narrator inflicts a tone that makes whatever is said hilarious, -not because of what’s being said, but more the tone and the absurdity mixed with tenderness and a certain stubborn toddler like quality to these two men.
      Glad to hear the many stories within the stories are being interesting to you. (I truly love the stories that are coming up soon, they have great variety in bringing to us the people of those times, and their happenings. I’m looking forward to writing some about them. I’m very honored and happy to see many of you are reading).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve gotten a little behind on my chapter-a-day-plan but am still reading and enjoying DQ! What I find amazing is how entralled I’ve become in his world, knowing myself that he isn’t a true knight but his persuasiveness and his own belief makes me see him as such. So interesting! But then part of me considers how much of a similar journey we are on and how at times it may even seem like the wrong one but is the best one for us. I hope to get a good chunk of time to read more soon!


    1. I was behind too, but that’s OK. Thanks for reporting that you are still reading, still enjoying. It’s a book that, if it traps you, it’ll delight you some way or another. As these two, DQ and Sancho, continue, they’ll keep meeting people, and their stories, and there will be much in terms of both men’s philosophies of life, plus the ones of those they meet, making it so worth for us in our own journey. It’s like inhabiting another universe, and travelling in time too.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Kim, you said: “But then part of me considers how much of a similar journey we are on and how at times it may even seem like the wrong one but is the best one for us.” You know, I never even thought of that as something to draw from this story. How interesting! I love reading with other people! 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m not sure why that stood out to me but the idea of being on a journey and life as a journey always intrigues me. 🙂 I also love reading along with others, especially to be motivated to keep going!

        Liked by 1 person

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