Free at Last! Free at Last!

15 January 2012

On a slow news day, what better time to Keep up with Don Quixote. The good news is, I crossed the 1,000 page Rubicon, so I am now officially 70% of the way to becoming a Cultured Man (the book jacket begins with: “One cannot consider oneself cultured if he has not read El Quixote.” (Who am I to disagree))

It dawned on me at some point — maybe around page 800 — that I am actually reading two novels, the second one having been written after the publication of the first, which was obviously very successful. Like many sequels (“The Hangover II”?), Cervantes’ second volume starts off glacially slow and doesn’t pick up the pace until about page 900, when DQ and Sancho stumble upon a Duke and Duchess who, having heard of their exploits, set out to mock them, pretending to buy into Quixote’s illusion. What saves the book here is a shift in the dramatic center from DQ to Sancho Panza, whose cowardice at every turn provides hilarious counterpart to the by now tedious gallantry of our Knight Errant. I’m reading a particularly gruesome part where a group of women who have been cursed by a witch grow whiskers thick as broom straws on their faces. In order to reverse the spell, they appeal to DQ and Sancho to mount a wooden horse named Pegasus and ride, hooded, 3,000 miles across the sea to some place called Canadaya. You can see why most adaptations of the work stop shortly after the windmills.

After a morning putting the house in shape for tommorow’s dinner with my team, Lorraine released me on my own recognizance to sprawl slothfully across the divan with an IPA one hand and………well, she’s kept the remote, in case I want to “check on the score” of the NFL game.

Tomorrow is Martin’s birthday. Been a long time since we’ve seen such eloquence and courage in a politician. Before him there was Lincoln, and the crown jewels of American prose:

Far beyond
Our poor power
to add
or detract

You can almost see him in those lines, surveying the battlefield at Gettysburg, the cries of wounded muted in the background.

Rupert Scofield


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