Monday, November 25, 2013

The pretension of faith, the burning of books

Capítulo V. Donde se prosigue la narración de la desgracia de nuestro caballero
Chapter Five - Wherein continues the narrative of the misfortune of our knight.

Prone on his back, unable to rise, DQ acordó de acogerse a su ordinario remedio - 'thought he would revert to his usual remedy'- que era pensar en algún paso de sus libros - 'which was to call to mind some passage from his books.' 

With his battered hero unable to get his feet under him, Cervantes takes up a couple of hot-button topics: the pretension of faith, and later in the chapter, the burning of books. 

Cervantes might have crafted a narrative that could get him into serious trouble but our novelist is too agile for the Inquisitor.

Cervantes roots DQ's present delusional mutterings not in Spain but north of the Pyrenees, in France. So, whatever follows, on the printed page, cannot be seen as a direct critique of contemporary Spanish attitudes, customs or beliefs.

What occurs to DQ, lying there in the dust, are the legends of a wounded (European - not Spanish) knight abandoned by his Liege. 

The remembered tale from one of DQ's books, is rooted in the semi-historical, hazy recollections of the reign of Charlemagne. This story is one of many sentimentalized Carolingian legends, which were sparked into existence by the nostalgic desire to recreate a lost (and never actual existent) 'Christian' Empire in celtic Europe, that is, in France and the British Isles. 

A famous epic poem, not obviously or directly influential with Cervantes, is the 12th century Song of Roland, which lauds the courageous nephew of Charlemagne, who preferred to die in battle with the Moors than call on his uncle Charlie for deliverance. With Arthur, his round table and Lancelot set to one side for the moment, Roland seems to be the ground on which the other French legends were built: "The stories of Roland and other such heroes of the Carolingian age were very popular among the warrior class of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries." (Helen Nicholson: The Knights Templar, 2010, p. 80)

But before continuing with his story of a beaten-up DQ lying in the dust, a question: 

does Cervantes anywhere have 
in mind The Poem of El Cid? 

Maybe we can answer this down the road.

The recollection by DQ of legends associated with an 8-9th century "Roman" emperor allows the incident to unfold without kindling any suspicion that Cervantes is not too impressed or happy about the social hierarchy of his contemporary Spain.

In an editorial aside, Cervantes wants his readers to believe we have before us:
historia sabida de los niños, no ignorada de los mozos, celebrada y aun creída de los viejos
'history memorized by children, not forgotten by young people, celebrated and believed by the old folks'

Triune components of faith are here proposed: 
(1) memorization 
(2) recall
(3) celebration & belief
each of which become the grounds and then the content of religious practice. Cervantes is proposing that religious faith contains elements that are not rooted in actual history, accessible by anyone with curiosity. 

No. Faith is composed of what children memorize, adults remember and old people commemorate. This analysis is not placed in the mouth or mind of any character but comes as gloss by the novelist.

In recalling the old legends, DQ acts out the three elements of faith, as Cervantes lays them out: (1) memorize (2) remember (3) venerate - by which a system of belief becomes the contents of faith. This works as well for an insane individual as it does for anyone.

Just as the reader begins to rest contentedly, savoring the formula which outlines the elements of faith, Cervantes slips in the shive between pious late-medieval ribs: 

. . . con todo esto no más verdadera que los milagros de . . . 
'. . . despite all this, no more true than the miracles of . . .' 
. . . of . . . Christ? . . . of Moses? . . . of one of the prophets or Apostles? Not a chance. 

Cervantes is not going to lead with his whiskered chin, not when Peninsular Islam is right there, recently destroyed and exiled to north Africa. Islam is all laid out, ready to become a foil and safe target, before Spanish readers. The tales of knights-errant are:
. . . no más verdadera que los milagros de Mahoma 
'. . . no more true than the miracles of  Muhammad.'

Another question: assuming that Cervantes is writing a send up of what he has garnered from writings, may we assume that if the ancient, pre-Roman Celts had left written records, Cervantes would have debunked forested, druidic gatherings, where priests conducted communal pantomimes of natural cyclic occurrences, while insisting that they and only they themselves rightly understood such mysteries?  

Having safely made his observation about the unreasoned structure of faith, Cervantes returns to the saga of DQ, who is still lying in the road, where a neighbor and peasant Pedro Alonzo comes upon him.

Pedro Alonzo is a savvy peasant - savvy precisely because a man of the laboring class must know and conform himself to the subtleties of the social hierarchy. 

This neighbor knows insanity when he sees it. Alonzo also knows, "Senor Quijana" outranks Alonzo socially.

This means that the helpless hidalgo is entitled to care and protection. Pedro Alonzo must go out of his way to return DQ to his own people and to his own house. Personal inconvenience or risk to the peasant is hardly worth a mention.

The laborer's place in the tale of don Quijote may advance the satire but without the laborer himself being made the butt, so far, of Cervantes' grand put-down of the pretensions of upper-class Spanish militarism. So far.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ch 4 - Rocinante Decides Where to Head, but Trips, Falls

Easy to miss the playful chapter beginnings that Cervantes sprinkles around.

Chapter three ends w/the landlord moving out his disoriented and violent guest as quickly as possible; then, chapter four picks up this thought as if the reader has not turned a page.

In the Spanish this is obvious: 
le dejó ir a la buen hora . . . La del alba sería . . .
 Which should be translated something like this:
[Chapter Three ending] The innkeeper 'let him go at an early hour.' 
[Chapter Four beginning] 'That being dawn . . .

This light touch from Cervantes encourages the reader to continue while also inviting the reader not to take any of this too seriously. 

Is silliness intended as a shield from inquisitorial censors and prosecutors? Maybe. Probably. Of course.

The second half of the chapter relates what DQ did after 'saving' the shepherd boy from his abusive employer.

DQ comes to a crossroad 'branching in four directions' - en cuatro se dividía . . . 

Four seems at first, like a lot of directions at a single crossroad.  But that's the usual number. +

Are these options to represent the four fundamental directions, north, south, east, west? In this case, which direction did DQ ride in from and is DQ to consider turning around?

In the event, DQ is put in mind of the knights-errant of his obsessive reading; these heroic figures had to make crucial decisions when reaching a crossroad. So also with DQ, who takes time to weigh the options - and then lets his horse decide - 'submitting his own will to that of his nag' - dejando a la voluntad del rocín la suya.

Rocinante heads for home. We are not told which of the four roads Rocinante picked. But the unfolding story suggests DQ was riding north.

Traveling a couple miles, DQ meets a group of thirteen men, traveling south from Toledo to Murcia to buy silk. The group is precisely composed: six traders, riding under sunshades, four mounted servants and three muleteers, on foot.

We are not given a rationale why two of the traders seem not to have a servant, nor are we told how many mules are being driven along by the muleteers.

The geography works. This group could be passing through the region of La Mancha, probably named in Arabic, since the area was called, al-mansha - a dry, arid or wilderness region, located south of Madrid.

The deluded DQ challenges the group by demanding they acknowledge the unmatched beauty of 'the empress of La Mancha, the incomparable Dulcinea of Toboso' - la emperatriz de la Mancha, la sin par Dulcinea del Toboso.

Long story made shorter:  

On behalf of the figment Dulcinea, DQ feels insulted by the traders; DQ levels his lance and charges forward on Rocinante, who trips, leaving DQ in the dust and unable to rise because of his unwieldy armour. DQ lies there in the dust shouting at the scoffing knights-errant - 'for such he took them to be - que ya él por tales los tenía - not to ride off even though he could not rise to fight them. 

At this point, one of the teamsters breaks DQ's lance into pieces and beats the crap out of him with this stick, until the teamster wore himself out.

The group of traders continue on their way, leaving DQ:
. . . el cual, después que se vio solo, tornó a probar si podía levantarse; pero si no lo pudo hacer cuando sano y bueno, ¿cómo lo haría molido y casi deshecho? Y aún se tenía por dichoso, pareciéndole que aquélla era propia desgracia de caballeros andantes , y toda la atribuía a la falta de su caballo; y no era posible levantarse, según tenía brumado todo el cuerpo.
'. . . afterwards, finding himself alone, he tried to rise; but since he could not when he was healthy and in decent shape, how could he do it now that he was thrashed and just about knocked to pieces? Even so, he thought himself lucky; all this misfortune was typical for knight-errants and besides, everything could be blamed on his horse. Even so, he was not able to get up, battered as he was.'

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ch 4 - cont: Where is the delusion of don Quijote?

(Sorry. This post still does not get us to the "centuries of retreat and retrenchment" as promised in an earlier post. I have gotten interested in comparing the behavior of DQ with the antics of actual Spanish knights-errant.)

Ch 4 (cont):
After riding away from the scene of the renewed whipping of the shepherd boy, Andres, DQ delivers this joyous monologue:
Bien te puedes llamar dichosa sobre cuantas hoy viven en la tierra, ¡oh sobre las bellas bella Dulcinea del Toboso!, pues te cupo en suerte tener sujeto y rendido a toda tu voluntad e talante a un tan valiente y tan nombrado caballero como lo es y será don Quijote de la Mancha, el cual, como todo el mundo sabe, ayer recibió la orden de caballería, y hoy ha desfecho el mayor tuerto y agravio que formó la sinrazón y cometió la crueldad; hoy quitó el látigo de la mano a aquel despiadado enemigo, que tan sin ocasión vapulaba a aquel delicado infante.
My translation:
“Indeed, you may call yourself fortunate over however many are alive today on earth. Oh! Over other beautiful women, you, beautiful Dulcinea of Toboso! For to you has befallen the good fortune to have a subject completely at your service, so skilled, so valiant, so dubbed -  just yesterday - a knight. And so he is and ever shall be Don Quixote of the Stain! - who, as all the world knows, yesterday was inducted into the order of knights and today has undone the greatest wrong and grievance ever conceived and cruelty ever carried out; who this day forced the whip from the hand of that impious enemy, who, for no reason, was whacking so, that delicate child!
Cervantes has declared his hero insane. But is this the rhetoric of delusion?
There had been Spanish “knights” running around the countryside, in an earlier day:
From English archives, a Spanish knight is reported showing up at the court of Henry VI (1422-1461, 1470-71) who (emphasis added) "wyl renne a cours wyth a sharps spere for his sou’eyn lady sake." (W. H. Prescott reproduced this info in his History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella [vol 1, p 6], citing Fenn’s 1787 publication of some of the “Paston Letters,” contemporary writings concerning court doing in the time of Henry VI.
Prescott then cites (also vol 1, p. 6) Monstrelet's record of "the adventures of a Spanish cavalier, who 'travelled all the way to the Court of Burgundy to seek honour and reverence' by his feats of arms." 
Here is the full record from the Monstrelet Chronicles with paragraph breaks and a bit of emphasis added:
On the 11th day of August in this year [1422, between 1422-44], a combat at arms took place at Arras, in the presence of the duke of Burgundy, as judge of the lists. A handsome scaffold was erected for him in the great market-place, on which were seated behind him the dukes of Bourbon and of Gueldres, the counts de Richemont, constable, de Vendome, d'Estampes, and many other great lords. The combat was between sir John de Mello, a very renowned knight banneret of Spain, appellant, without any defamatory quarrel, but solely to acquire honour, against Pierre de Bauffremont, lord of Chargny, knight banneret also, a native of Burgundy, and knight of the Golden Fleece.
The terms were, to break three lances only. When the lord de Chargny had acceded to this request, he in his turn demanded from the Spanish knight a combat on foot with battle-axes, swords and daggers, until one of them should lose his arms, or place his hands on his knees, or on the ground, — subject, however, in all cases, to the decisions of the judge of the field.  
These proposals having been for some time agreed to by the two knights, on Thursday morning, about ten o'clock, the Spanish knight appeared in the lists, attended by four others, whom the duke of Burgundy had ordered to accompany him, — namely, the lord de l'Or, governor of the Rethelois, the lord de Ligny, the lord de Saveuses, and the lord de Sainzelles, with four or five of his attendants, one of whom bore on the end of a lance a small banner emblazoned with his arms.

The other knights carried his lances ; and thus, without more pomp, he made his obeisance to the duke of Burgundy, and retired from the lists by the way he had come on the left hand of the duke. He waited a considerable time for his adversary, who at length appeared grandly accompanied by the counts d'Estampes, de St. Pol, and de Ligny, together with the earl of Suffolk, all bearing his lances. Behind him were four coursers, richly caparisoned with his arms and devices, with pages covered with robes of wrought silver ; and the procession was closed by the greater part of the knights and esquires of the duke of Burgundy's household. Having made his bow to the duke, as the Spanish knight had done, he withdrew to the right of the lists. When they were ready, they ran some tilts with lances, without any injury on either side.
Then the Spaniard mounted a courser which the duke of Bourbon had lent him, for his own shied at a lance. They broke their lances with great courage against each other, until the number agreed on had been performed. Neither were wounded, although the helmet of don Mello was a little broken. They then quitted the lists, with the assent of the duke of Burgundy, and returned to their lodgings accompanied as before.
The Spaniard wore over his armour a vermilion-coloured mantle, with a white cross on it, like to the badge of the French, which created a disgust in some of the Burgundian lords, as it seemed to mark a partiality for their enemies. When he was informed of this, he excused himself by saying, that in consequence of the strict alliance which had so long continued between the kingdoms of France and Spain, he could not with propriety wear any other badge.
On the morrow, which was a Friday, the duke of Burgundy proceeded to the lists, between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, grandly attended by his chivalry, and with him came the princes who had accompanied him the preceding day. Shortly after, the lord de Chargny, the appellant, appeared with the same persons as on the first day, who carried the weapons he was to combat with. He was mounted on a courser covered with housings of his arms, and followed by four pages mounted in like manner, and by the greater part of the knights and esquires of the duke of Burgundy's household, with some other nobles.
Having thus entered the lists, he went to dismount at his pavilion, and thence on foot to make his obeisance to the duke ; after which he retired to a seat, where he waited a full hour for his adversary. When he arrived, he was accompanied as on the preceding day, — and the knights and esquires whom the duke of Burgundy had appointed to attend him bore his weapons for the combat. Behind him were his servants, one of them carrying a small banner at the end of a lance.
On his entering the lists he saluted the duke, and withdrew to his pavilion. While he remained there, he was frequently admonished by the knights that attended him, who gave him the best advice in their power for the success of his combat, but he paid not any attention to what they said, nor would discover to them his plans, telling them not to be any way concerned about him, for that, with God's good pleasure, he would do his duty.  
Everything being ready, the king-at-arms, called Golden Fleece, proclaimed, in three different parts of the lists, that all who had not been otherwise ordered should quit the lists, and that no one should give any hindrance to the two champions under pain of being punished by the duke of Burgundy with death. Eight gentlemen armed were appointed to stop or raise up either of the champions, as the judge of the field should direct. When the proclamation was made, the lord de Chargny issued out of his pavilion, holding his battle-axe by the middle in his right hand, the iron part toward his adversary, and thus advanced a little forward.  
The Spanish knight advanced at the same time from his pavilion, having a kerchief thrown over his helmet that covered his visor, which was half raised, — but this kerchief was taken away, when he was advancing, by his servants. They made for each other with vigorous strides, brandishing their lances; but the Spaniard all this time had his visor raised.  
The lord de Chargny, without waiting for his adversary, threw his lance at him as he approached, while the Spaniard advanced to throw his, and hit him on the side, where he was wounded, as well as in the arm, for the lance hung in the vanbraces of his armour, whence the lord de Chargny soon shook it off on the ground.
The two champions now approached with great courage, and handled their weapons very nobly ; but the lord de Chargny was much displeased that his adversary did not close his visor. While they were thus combating, the duke of Burgundy gave his signal for the battle to cease, and ordered the champions to be brought before him, who seemed very much vexed that an end had been put so soon to their combat, — more especially the Spaniard, who twice declared aloud that he was far from being pleased that so little had been done; for that he had come at a great expense, and with much fatigue, by sea and land, from a far country, to acquire honour and renown. The duke told him, that he had most honourably done his duty and accomplished his challenge. After this, they were escorted back to their lodgings in the same manner as before.  
The Spanish knight was much noticed by very many of the nobles present, who greatly praised him for his courage, in thus having fought with his visor raised, — for the like had not been before seen.  
When this combat was over, the duke of Burgundy paid great respect and attention to the Spanish knight, by feasting him at his hotel on the Sunday and following days, — presenting him at the same time with many rich presents, to reimburse him for all the expenses he had been at. The knight soon afterward took leave of the duke and his company, and departed from Arras on his return to his own country.
From the historical record, we can see that the monologue given to DQ by Cervantes expresses motivations that were alive and well in early Medieval England, France and Spain - though no longer so by the early 17th century, which saw the publication of don Quijote.
But if a category of men were behaving exactly as portrayed by Cervantes, where is the delusion of don Quijote?

SOURCE: Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet, Vol II, Chap 1, p. 4 (William Smith, London, 1840, Trans: Thomas Johnes)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Aftermath of Agincourt and a 2nd Tread - the Centuries of Retreat and Retrenchment in Spain, prior to 1492

Agincourt and its Aftermath (time for a bit'o history):

Medieval France was the apex of the idea of the knight errant. Here, nobles were the sons of landed gentry, held to loyalty and the frequent call to arms by oaths in exchange for royal sanction to their ancient claims to land. The most serious of these young men were invited into the semi-secret order of knighthood, which required horsemanship, the veneration of weaponry, a degree of hazing by more senior knights and the ceremonial swearing of an oath to redress wrongs by taking on criminals and enemies of the Crown.

The sons of "nobility" were encouraged to practice personal war-making skills, perfected and conducted on horseback. 

No nobleman's son would go into battle on foot; this was the lethal place of the farm laborer and sometime soldier. "The foot" might be practiced and even effective as a lanceman or even as a crossbowman but "the foot" risked far greater danger from comparably skilled opponents; mounted enemy cavalry could attack foot soldiers directly or from the flank. 

For part of the important background in which Cervantes wrote, one looks to the century-long war between England and France, which culminated in France, on the field at Agincourt, October 25, 1415.

At Agincourt, a smaller, hired for pay, disciplined and brilliantly led English army destroyed a much larger French force composed of knights on horseback as well as crossbow men, apparently imported from Italy. 

Although the French nobility were called in fealty, the French labor class was compelled to service as a duty  to the landed gentry, on whose property they lived and worked. Actual fighting skill and individual loyalty to the king were secondary factors, as was the proper feeding and equipping of the force. 

In theory all this was also true in England, but prior to the battle at Agincourt, King Henry V had crossed the Channel with several thousand soldiers, who had fought together in Wales, against rebels and who had honed their skills in exchange for pay and the promise of further pay well as a chance for continental spoils greater than were to be had in the Welch countryside.

At Agincourt, French morale was high, owing to the overwhelming numerical advantage - 3/1 - the French noble class enjoyed over the English largely labor-class army, which French nobles considered to be socially and therefore, also, militarily, their inferiors.

In the centuries before Agincourt, encounters between lined up knights were part of the sedate art of medieval war. Such battles sometimes included a single charge by mounted cavaliers, who might kill or be killed but who, if captured, could be housed as guests in a nearby castle until a ransom could be worked out. 

At Agincourt, the English had their own force of knights, who as some historians assert, were ordered to conduct repeated charges into the French lines

But the decisive gory blows were struck at a distance by the English longbowmen, and then close up as the bowmen took up dagger and sword and attacked impetuous French knights, who ran into battle on foot, since the soggy ground did not permit a second mounted charge, after the first had failed and laid the small field full of the bodies of horses, corpses and the dying.

The headlong French knights, weighed down by their armour, were cut to pieces first by arrows and then in hand-to-hand combat by the numerically smaller but more maneuverable English soldiers.

The English took thousands of prisoners but when a French counter-attack of late-arriving French knights came close to capturing King Henry V, he ordered prisoners to be killed, to keep them from again, joining the battle. 

Contrary to the ancient chivalric code, two thousand French knights were hacked or burned to death at Agincourt.

The battle at Agincourt brought to its final end whatever actual reality might have been possessed by the gentlemanly rules of medieval chivalry. 

Agincourt has been called, "the last pitch battle of the medieval age, in which valor in combat would prove no match for a ruthless war machine." (See source, below.)

The notion of the mounted gentlemen - fighting only other mounted gentlemen in a single forrey before capture and ransom - that illusion took a hit in a torrent of French blood at Agincourt in the early fifteenth century. 

After Agincourt, jousts were staged only as pantomime of an actual battle or as a test of horsemanship in court-sponsored celebrations. 

In the century after Agincourt, nostalgia seems to have set in among the still-ruling classes of western Europe. Spain was not exempt. (This reminds me of the "lost cause" romances which masqueraded as history, that erupted into print in the defeated US South in the 2-3 generations after the American Civil War.)

In the sixteenth century, Spanish fanticests created immense, popular tomes, which invoked the romance of chivalry. 

Cervantes published his ridicule-corrective two hundred years after Agincourt.

Cervantes, sometime soldier, prisoner-of-war and tax-agent of the state, wants to call Spain into the more modern world of real politique and the developing machinery of war.

The novel's modern form, invented by Cervantes in his tale of a demented petty noble at war with the world around him, is a one thousand page, slow motion, call to rational arms. 

Spain, despite the collapse into fantasy of the old pretensions, with the cruelest being - the nobles have everyone's best interests in mind - Spain is still ruled by a pompous, predatory and stratified social order, which just may be as out-of-date as the long-gone and never actually real, order of the knight-errant. 

Source for the quote (above):

Film "The Battle of Agincourt, Oct 25 1415"

The promised 2nd Thread - the Centuries of Retreat and Retrenchment in Spain, prior to 1492 - will await the next post.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Chapter IV - What happened to our knight when he left the inn . . .

Chapter IV. What happened to our knight when he left the inn.

Cervantes' subtle narrative powers are displayed in chapter 4.

Don Quijote rides away from the roadhouse in a frenzy of joyful anticipation. Having been dubbed a knight, he is ready to meet evil in whatever manifold forms evil might take.

The miscreant who runs the roadhouse and who invented and then presided at the dubbing ceremony, counseled the fledgling knight to look to his daily needs: 
  • have you brought money with you? 
  • what about a clean shirt? 
  • what about ointments for the inevitable wounds you will suffer? 
  • what about a squire to accompany you and look to your personal needs?
The advice is sound. DQ heads for home.  He must see to each of these needs - especially money and a clean shirt. There is in the neighborhood a laborer who would make a perfect squire.

Turning on the familiar path to DQ's modest hacienda, Rocinante needs no direction and trots into a fair gallop - "con tanta gana comenzó a caminar, que parecía que no ponía los pies en el suelo" - ". . . began trotting with such a will that his hooves seemed to fly over the ground."

Hearing a pleading voice off to one side, DQ turns his horse.

The voice "must" - "sin duda" -  be a call to arms.
"Estas voces, sin duda, son de algún menesteroso o menesterosa que ha menester mi favor y ayuda.
"These cries - without a doubt - are from some man or woman who needs help - who is to be aided by my favor and protection."
Well, yes. There is someone in a good deal of trouble. But sin duda ?? DQ is responding to his own vision of a simplified world, not to the ambiguities encountered in the world as it is.

A teenage boy is being whipped with a belt on his bare back by a powerful, deliberate man. Cervantes' storytelling leaves to the reader to decide whether the beaten boy is a thief who may deserve some degree of punishment:
"No lo haré otra vez, señor mío; por la pasión de Dios, que no lo haré otra vez, y yo prometo de tener de aquí adelante más cuidado con el hato".
"I won't ever do it again, sir, for the love of God, I won't do it again, and I promise from now on, to take better care of the flock." 
Hearing the cries of pain and pleading, DQ rides up, does not dismount, but challenges the abuser to mount his own steed, take up his own lance, and accept DQ's gentlemanly challenge, which will surely - according to the delusional DQ - lead to the defeat if not also the death of this coward, caught in the act of gravely abusing an Innocent.
"Descortés caballero, mal parece tomaros con quien defender no se puede. Subid sobre vuestro caballo, y tomad vuestra lanza (que también tenía una lanza arrimada a la encima adonde estaba arrendada la yegua) , que yo os haré conocer ser de cobardes lo que estáis haciendo."
"Discourteous knight! It ill befits you to take on someone who cannot defend himself. Mount your horse! Take up your lance! (for there was a lance leaning against the oak tree where the mare was tied) That I may make you know your behavior shows you to be a coward!" 
The farmer, intimidated by the armed and armoured man on horseback, answers that the boy is his hired shepherd and is both inattentive of the flock and a thief as well. To which DQ responds:
¿Miente, delante de mí, ruin villano? -dijo don Quijote-. Por el sol que nos alumbra, que estoy por pasaros de parte a parte con esta lanza: Pagadle luego sin más réplica; si no, por el Dios que nos rige, que os concluya y aniquile en este punto. Desatadlo luego."
"You would lie to my face, you dastardly miscreant! By the sun above us, I have a mind to slice you in two with this lance! Pay him at once, without any further backtalk. If not, by the God who reigns over us, I will put an end to you on the point of the lance. Untie him immediately!"
The encounter continues with more patter from the farmer and the boy, and DQ, and ends with DQ riding away contented with empty promises offered up. The abusive boss soon renews the whipping of the captive boy, whom DQ thinks he has saved by speechifying, and by issuing a call to the joust, which does not occur.

The speech from the mouth of the insane DQ, is an invocation of the medieval knightly paradigm of chivalry: 
  • vindicate the innocent by way of a gentlemanly tilt of the lance.
Cervantes invokes the code of chivalric warfare in order to ridicule this code.

Is the pompous speech of DQ, before the tormentor of the whipped boy, intended to ridicule the fantasy of the chivalrous rules of engagement, which had been turned into romanticized, sentimental tales of a chimeral by-gone era?

You bet.

Is the delusional DQ, riding away from the scene of unrequited, ongoing pain - in the belief that he has redressed a grave wrong - is this a metaphor for the pointless pretension of pretend warfare?


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Chap 3 DQ's Equipment and It's First Use

Chapter 3

A word about the armour of our knight, and it's first aggressive use:

Quijote's insane fixation on becoming a knight-errant includes the notion that he must have weapons. The logic of his delusion lead him to conclude that whatever objects he selects are weapons of quality. They're not.

From Chapter one:
"Y lo primero que hizo fue limpiar unas armas que habían sido de sus bisabuelos, que, tomadas de orín y llenas de moho, luengos siglos había que estaban puestas y olvidadas en un rincón. Limpiólas y aderezólas lo mejor que pudo [. . .] cartones hizo un modo de media celada, que, encajada con el morrión, hacían una apariencia de celada entera. Es verdad que para probar si era fuerte y podía estar al riesgo de una cuchillada, sacó su espada y le dio dos golpes, y con el primero y en un punto deshizo lo que había hecho en una semana; y no dejó de parecerle mal la facilidad con que la había hecho pedazos, y, por asegurarse deste peligro, la tornó a hacer de nuevo, poniéndole unas barras de hierro por de dentro, de tal manera que él quedó satisfecho de su fortaleza; y, sin querer hacer nueva experiencia della, la diputó y tuvo por celada finísima de encaje."
"The first thing he did was to clean up some armour that had belonged to his great-grandfather, and had been for ages lying forgotten in a corner eaten with rust and covered with mildew. He scoured and polished it as best he could [. . .] he contrived a kind of half-helmet of pasteboard which, fitted on to the morion, looked like a whole one. It is true that, in order to see if it was strong and fit to stand a cut, he drew his sword and gave it a couple of slashes, the first of which undid in an instant what had taken him a week to do. The ease with which he had knocked it to pieces disconcerted him somewhat, and to guard against that danger he set to work again, fixing bars of iron on the inside until he was satisfied with its strength; and then, not caring to try any more experiments with it, he passed it and adopted it as a helmet of the most perfect construction."
Now, at a roadhouse for the night, DQ is convinced that part of his preparation for entering into knightly status, is the ritualistic night-watch of his weaponry prior to the dubbing ceremony:
". . . recogiéndolas don Quijote todas, las puso sobre una pila que junto a un pozo estaba, y embrazando su adarga asió de su lanza y con gentil continente se comenzó a pasear delante de la pila; y cuando comenzó el paseo comenzaba a cerrar la noche."
". . . gathering everything together, Don Quixote placed it on a trough beside a well, and fastening his buckler on his arm he took up his lance and, with a serene affect, began to march up and down in front of the trough; as he began to march night began to fall."
". . . unas veces se paseaba, otras, arrimado a su lanza, ponía los ojos en las armas, sin quitarlos por un buen espacio dellas."
". . . at times he marched, at other times, leaning on his lance, he would look intently at his arms, staring for quite a long time."
Antojósele en esto a uno de los arrieros que estaban en la venta ir a dar agua a su recua, y fue menester quitar las armas de don Quijote, que estaban sobre la pila [. . .] trabando de las correas las arrojó gran trecho de sí [. . .].
Quijote, [. . . ] soltando la adarga, alzó la lanza a dos manos, y dio con ella tan gran golpe al arriero en la cabeza, que le derribó en el suelo [. . .] Hecho esto, recogió sus armas, y tornó a pasearse con el mismo reposo que primero.
Meanwhile one of the teamsters, who were staying in the inn, came to water his team, and thought it necessary to remove Don Quixote's armour, which was lying on the trough [. . .] seizing it by the straps, he tossed the armour some distance away [. . .]. 
DQ "dropping his buckler, raised his lance with both hands and hit the carrier's head with such force that that he knocked him to the ground [. . .] After this, he collected up his arms and returned to pacing up and down, as peacefully as before.