Don Quixote -- A Book Review in Three Sallies

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The First Sally


The story of Don Quixote is one that plays itself over and over again. In real life and in literature, to the point where it is hardly clear where one story ends and another begins.


Manager: Customer renewal rates!


Me: Señor, are you referring to those windmills?


A story of a person fighting metaphysical monsters only he can see. At this very moment, I'm typing this review as if it's the most important thing in the world. Meanwhile, a mere ten feet away, my boss in contemplating other things – operating expenses, renewal rates – that to me seem fantastic, the ramblings of a lunatic.


Don Quixote is raging against the death of chivalry. My own quest is to preserve that which is beautiful and sacred in the written word.


The book does bring up uncomfortable questions about the nature of one's reading life to one's real life. What happens when the stories you read become more real than the real world? (These days, people tend to worry more about kids playing video games or becoming absorbed in social media; the concept is the same!).


It's fitting that the book begins with Don Quixote neglecting the matters of his day on account of books. Books are what draw him into his fantasy world and into the ideal life of chivalry.


Toward the end of the book, especially, we see Don Quixote, the fan-boy of chivalry and adventure, on full display with his knowledge of history and chivalric know-how. So much so, that I want to abandon my suit and tie and don a full suit of armor just like Don Quixote.


The old question – Who is to say who is the lunatic and who is the realist? For me, the fantasy of books is necessary to validate the mundane lunacy of an office environment.


The Second Sally


The tale of Don Quixote has gotten me interested in other reality/fantasy hybrids – Joe the Barbarian, I Kill Giants, Tough Girl, The Wizard of Oz


At the foundation of these stories is the idea that there is something fundamentally wrong with the world as it is presented. Their stories are one of redemption by a lonely outsider. (Think Batman! You will see many similarities between Don Quixote and Batman!)


When I was growing up, there was an oil painting in my living room. It showed Don Quixote with his brilliant lance and shining armor facing a field of windmills. By his side was his trusty Sancho Panza (Alfred Pennyworth!). My thought was that this was "classical" romantic literature.


I actually had no idea what classical literature was. I also wasn't very romantic. I was only in third grade at the time. But that Christmas I received a box set of illustrated kids versions of classical literature. And there my adventure began! Huck Finn, Wizard of Oz, Oliver Twist...


My mom, being from Cuba, had of course read Don Quixote many times in its original Spanish. That was why the painting was on our wall. And that's also why – and this, I kid you not – in an earlier house we had a full suit of knight's armor. (I don't know what happened to it. And we didn't have it long enough for me to grow into it.)

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