Hello, intrepid readers. Can’t believe I’m typing the last post of Part I of DQ, the most read book after the Bible. You heard well.
The priest explains to those from the Holy Brotherhood that DQ is mad, and they agree to not put him in prison. The priest and barber are now intent on taking DQ back to his home. DQ pledges Micomicona to continue with the adventure that she gave him, and she tells DQ they will leave the inn promptly.
This was comical, DQ tells Sancho to get Rocinante ready to go with Queen Micomicona, and Sancho replies that he’s seen her in not very ladylike endeavors with Fernando, leading him to believe she’s not a queen. Dorotea blushes when she hears Sancho.
This was a detonator to DQ’s ire, who starts insulting Sancho with vehemence. Dorotea, quick witted girl, explains the whole thing to DQ in his knightly terms, telling him that Sancho is seeing things under an enchantment. This calms DQ, and prods Sancho to apologize to his master.
The priest and the barber form a plan to take DQ under false premises. They try to make it credible for DQ, and for Sancho too, who we notice is catching up much of his master’s madness. Both of them, Fernando and friends, the Holy Brotherhood people, all of them put on masks, and passing themselves by ghosts, irrupt into DQ and Sancho’s room, demanding that, to fulfill Dorotea’s mission, DQ must enter a cage, -contraption they’ve made to be able to transport him trapped and being led by oxen.
Once more, DQ questions that method. It’s not a method he’s read about at all on how they transport knights under enchantment. If DQ gives us his reason after the fact, -as a way of justifying things happening or looking differently than their explanation according to knight’s terms, that’s one thing, but to accept these deviations from the books on knighthood others offer, that is something he always questions.
To make Sancho comply as well, the group of pretend ghosts assure him that if he tags along with DQ, he’ll get the recompense DQ promised him at the end of the adventure.
Once en route, they meet up with some men, one of them a clergy person, who asks why they are transporting DQ in that cage. DQ gives him his enchanted knight explanation. The priest takes the clergy man apart, and explains DQ’s madness.
More literary criticism in the mouth of the clergy, -who were the ones who questioned this type of literature the most-. He insists upon the negative qualities of these books, though he can’t dismiss them completely. (After all, what reader can not admit having been entertained by one of this books, -as, by the way, we are doing ourselves through reading DQ-).
The literary criticism continues, of the knightly novels of old, and the -for them- contemporary plays, specially those by Garcilaso de la Vega, which Cervantes attacks by accusing them of being inferior to the more rounded plays of before that met certain requirements of form and content. For more than the clergy man criticizes the lack of teaching and formation of the character in most of these books, he confesses he tried his hand at one. He’s also conflicted on who will be his potential public, if the ignorant and immoral or those who are upright and knowledgeable. In the end, he stopped this pursue because it was engrossing him too much.
My take on this it’d be that the problem the clergy man spots, it’s a problem of addiction to something merely entertaining, which at the time could have been plays, books, and nowadays can be any social media, Netflix series, still books. There’s the quality of the product we consume, and the quantity which we consume, and in the relationship between both, lies the issue.
The conversation between these two men, reminded me of the questions I had in the post prior to this about magic realism. I too was trying to understand when does the meaningless have any meaning, (such as when do those magic elements have a function in the story, whether aesthetic, or content wise.) And does the meaningless have a place, or is of interest? This is the eternal debate between realism, fantasy, is fantasy real?, is realism true to reality? Why do we read? Why should we read?
Sancho will be the first one trying to make DQ see things in a realistic way, and tell him he’s not enchanted, but that those people are the priest and barber from home, trying to take him back, but DQ doesn’t even contemplate this possibility, explaining in a twisted way that the enchantment is precisely to make the enchanterers look like common people, to conceal their identity and prevent their retaliation, to confuse them even more and hide their ulterior motives.
Sancho asks DQ some questions to discern if he’s truly enchanted or not. Practical Sancho suspects he’s not. He knows who the people accompanying them really are, and he sees DQ in his normal state. Sancho says he’s not enchanted, -because he does the bodily functions of a normal not enchanted man-. DQ replies that he’s enchanted or he won’t let them take him in that cage.
At a halt, Sancho asks the priest to let DQ get out of the cage to do what he needs for the cage and DQ not to arrive smelly and dirty. The clergy takes his hand at trying to talk DQ out of the only nonsensical belief he seems to have, that of being a knight errant. You see?, people love DQ. They do what I think we all would do if we saw someone worth of being enlightened about one aspect of their life where they are profoundly misled.
DQ has been telling many this first part about who he is. We see he’s starting to become sort of famous. This is important when we come to the second book. We also see how DQ is affecting Sancho’s thinking, or Sancho is catching on DQ’s madness somehow. DQ is developing some affection for Sancho, -despise his insults and harangues every-time Sancho touches his knightly worldview and way of explaining and understanding all he sees and lives.
DQ can’t be beaten at arguing his errant knight cause. The clergy man gives up after an intensive round of trying to convince him to abandon these beliefs.
DQ takes the microphone, and regales them with the story of the Knight of the Lake. Everybody listens. The sad part is not how great a story teller DQ is, or the many knight legends and stories he knows or remixes at his own pleasure, the tragedy is that he believes in all this as completely real, -not just a story to amuse and, why not, teach us as well-. He is determined to live like those in books do, since for him, those on books were real in the first place.
DQ returns to the topic of Sancho’s recompense. He genuinely wants to grant him some land for him to govern. Sancho is a mix of credulous and humble. Ignorant enough to believe DQ has the power to fulfill his promise, but no so gullible to pretend he’d know how to be a good governor over his future subjects.
They meet a very educated goatherd who is giving one of his female goat a grandiloquent discourse. I forgot there’s a last story in chapter 51, and one more affront DQ does in the last chapter of the first book before it ends.
The story of Eugenio and Leandra.
This is the story of two men, Leandro and a rival suitor, both in love with Leandra. She’s still young, and her father is thinking hard about giving her in marriage. A young soldier appears in town, a gigolo, a pretender. Leandra falls in his trap, -remember she’s young, and the soldier, though young, is older and cunning-. He convinces her to leave the home with jewels and possessions, on the promise of marriage. A few days after her escape, they find her robbed of everything, -though she claims her honor is intact-. Her father places her in a convent as punishment.
This is why he was giving that she-goat a speech about her being a crazy head like Leandra.
DQ’s first reaction is to tell Eugenio that he’ll bring Leandra to him if his knightly services weren’t busy at the moment, and he wasn’t enchanted. Upon hearing this, the goatherd asks who’s this man who talks this way. When they explained, he concludes that DQ is cuckoo. DQ hears this and, yes, another fight that puts DQ in a pitiful condition.
Last ‘adventure’, a procession. Guys, don’t freak, our penitent man in Spain, called encapuchados or nazarenos, have zero relation with the ku klux klan. They are religious brotherhoods to help the poor and needy. During Holy Week they dress like that to become anonymous and penitent, and to transport the very heavy thrones with images of the virgin Mary, or Jesus Christ.
This procession were heading to a shrine, to ask for a drought to pass. DQ, -given that he’s not in his cage-, takes advantage and attacks them, breaking a stick one of them carried with his sword. The man retaliates, and fells DQ. Sancho believes his master dead. He’s distraught, thinking him gone for good. When DQ becomes conscious, Sancho is relieved, and he tells him that it’s time to go home.
At home, his keeper and niece are waiting for him. They take care of him and put him to rest. Sancho is happy for the adventures they had. He tells his wife she’s not fit to understand all he’s done with DQ, and all he will profit from very soon. His wife doesn’t care about DQ, only about the donkey Sancho brings back. The book closes with Sancho’s declared intention to go in search of adventures upon DQ’s healing.
There’s also the epitaphs of their tombs, what they’ll say. This is after an elapsed time, for book 1 ends with all alive and recovering, and intending to part again. And they’ll do that in book 2.
Hopefully, as more of you finish the book, I’ll hear from you at the comments. It’s been a great fun and a pleasure to have blogged about the first book on DQ. I can’t wait to do the same with book 2.
Soon I’ll start with an introductory post to the second book, and I’ll write 5 more posts as follow:
#1 Post: Introduction to Book II, plus Cervantes’s miscellany, prologue to the book, and dedicatory.
#2 Post: Chapters 1 to 17 -included
#3 Post: Chapters 18 to 32
#4 Post: Chapters 33 to 47
#5 Post: Chapters 48 to 60
#6 Post: Chapters 61 to last chapter, 74
For now, I’m going to do like DQ, and take a bit of a rest, before I come here again to take upon my knight errant chronicler duties.