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The Ingenious Nobleman Don Quixote of La Mancha

Impressions on Quixote: Borges and Rutherford

By Ricardo P Nunes

   Here I am again trying not to postpone a comment aboutDon Quixote of La Mancha. The solution I found, after all, was to refer the reader to two texts about him, one by Jorge Luis Borges and the other by John Rutherford. But I will try to mitigate this subterfuge with a refractory kind of epilogue.

  Sometimes, even to commit a foul, we need to be honest. But that alone did not save me from having to write at random. Right from the start I happened to find some breath in the fact that, according to bibliographers, Cervantes himself would have initiated theQuixote like that, sort of haphazardly, incidentally. It turns out that merely circumstantial coincidences, obviously, do not imply similarity in their developments; admitting my ineptitude is not a question of honesty or modesty, perhaps just the opposite: the audacity of postulating that what is fundamental in literature has never been a “moral of the story”, a didactic or an illustration. Another reason, more prosaic, was knowing that it would end up raining in the wet. It's as if the unconvincing and episodic trailer weren't enough, we had to produce a short film summarizing a feature film to convince the audience. Also trivial, but profound, is the mere apologia. Furthermore, in the glory year of 1605, literature was still a long way from becoming a “cultural institution” as it is now. (By the way, I admit, I myself take advantage of this lack of historical perspective to speak generically about epochs and classics).














   Another simultaneous and delaying artifice, I discover, is the act of writing about the act of writing, which must also have to do with my squeamishness in influencing the candidate for reader, because it is still a way ofspoiler. This perception, however, takes me back to the passage where Cervantes pauses to write about what he wrote, in the voice of the gangly knight reading to his Sancho his unhappy adventures and hopes, but incredulous enough not to think of turning the pages to read his future apocryphal. This improbable conjecture of mine pleases me enough to restrict myself to the epilogue I proposed, to its convenient generality. 
    The first thing that came to my mind when I decided to talk about Quixote was the moving impression that the prologue of the first translation that reached my youthful lap caused me: the subtle reflection that Don Quixote, struggling between madness and lucidity, would be an emulation of sacrifice for the dreams of all of us. I never came across that edition again, but when I looked for it I came across other famous comments about theDon Quixote,far superior to any I would ever write. So, what I can offer here is just the fulcrum of this small search, to collect two texts by readers worthy of Cervantes: Rutherford and Borges.  












   Before, therefore, leaving you alone with these two memorable authors, I must try to repair the lapse I committed in referring to the commentaries on the great classics. In case ofQuixote, at least, are above all a generous and wise comfort for the helplessness of those who have just read it. Finally, I must admit that when I finally resolved to go through with this dedication, the first memory of theDon Quixotein fact it was not the reflection contained in the preface of the lost edition, but that which I swallowed a constricted cry when I closed it definitively, in a corner of the narrow room of the newly manufactured house, smelling of cement, which a friend had asked me to keep during his four-day absence I readDon Quixote de la Macha. OK!

Miguel de Cervantes: prison, Battle of Lepanto and disability on the way to the real dimension of the hero

The sieges of madness, according to Gustav Doré


Quixote's Partial Spells

Jorge Luis Borges

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