Friday, March 04, 2016

"Discover Don Quijote de la Mancha" Live Session 3

The third live session hosted by Universidad Francisco Marroquín's MOOC on Don Quijote. It felt like this was going over previous territory, but that was fine by me. One of my questions had to do with film versions of the novel, especially since I had recently read something that Terry Gilliam might be attempting to film the novel again. I like Dr. Graf's response that the novel would probably work best as a TV series...the more I think about it, that does seem the best approach. Regardless, I want to pass on the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Don Quixote. I have no idea what a stage adaptation of the novel could be like, but I give them credit for attempting it. And I look forward to hearing more about it.

One of my questions mentions Mark Van Doren's Don Quixote's Profession (1958, Columbia University Press), a book that gathered three lectures Van Doren given at Emory University in November 1956. Even though I disagree with Van Doren on a few points in his interpretation, I find many great points in his talks. One isn't exactly a new concept, but it's one I'm happy to pass on:

We may insist that instead of destroying the literature of knight-errantry Cervantes saved it by producing the one treatment of the subject that can be read forever; and he did this by permitting his satire to ripen into comedy, his ridicule to deepen into love; yet over the centuries we still see his smile, and we can wonder how much of it is pity for us because we cannot leave his book alone.

The point I focused on in that quote that was Cervantes made sure that chivalric novels lived on by satirizing them. If you want something to die a quiet death, you ignore it. If you make fun of it (especially in a great novel), you've made sure they will live as long as your novel does. Or as I learned growing up (maybe from MAD Magazine?), "we learn the classics so we can mock them."

Update (5 Mar 2016): When I get around to posting on Don Quixote's Profession, I need to mention 1994's movie Quiz Show with Paul Scofield as Mark Van Doren. There's a scene where class is letting out at Columbia University and some students (including a young Ethan Hawke), is asking him questions about Cervantes. The point of the novel, says Van Doren, is, "If you want to be a knight, be a knight." (I wonder if there's a tie-in with Hawke's latest book Rules for a Knight). Not to mention this makes me want to go back and re-visit Mark Van Doren's Autobiography.


Fred said...

Or, perhaps we learn them by mocking them?

Dwight said...

Tricky bastards...that's how they did it!