Monday, April 14, 2014

Have you given much thought to the theme of money in DQ?

Rivka Galchen riffs on DQ:

[. . .]
"A certain well-read Spanish gentleman sets out as a knight errant and is surprised when an innkeeper asks him for money, and is later surprised again when his peasant-turned-squire presses for a salary. “I certainly should have specified a salary for you,” the well-read knight errant explains, “if I had found in any of the histories of the knights errant an example that would have revealed to me and shown me, by means of the smallest sign, what wages were for a month, or a year, but I have read all or most of their histories, and I do not recall reading that any knight errant ever specified a fixed salary for his squire.” And yet by the end of his perfectly quixotic life, on his deathbed, the gentleman repents his adventures and returns to being simply the man of some means that he formerly was, Alonso Quixano. He writes out his pragmatic will: cash to Sancho Panza, possessions to his long-suffering niece, and additional wages for his maid beyond what he owes her, so that she can buy herself a dress.
"Whereas Quixote was gallant, violent, delusional, charismatic and known for never paying his bills, Quixano is effectively kind; we might summarize “Don Quixote” as a new Damascene story of a man who, long blind to the reality of money, finally learns to see what Shakespeare termed, in one of his plays, the “visible god.” 
"It’s not a loving god, of course, only a mighty one, which may be why no enchanted reader can quite manage to celebrate Quixote’s return to reality."

How Has Fiction Handled the Theme of Money? by Rivka Galchen, NY Times, April 13, 2014