19 March 2006

More love for the hapless knight

As Bud accurately notes, this is a *marvelous* essay. Probably the best analysis of Cervantes I've read, and deeply engaging to boot:
Is it not possible, after all, that even as he eludes us, we identify with Don Quixote? Have you never wished to live inside a book? There are writers who have found his madness inconceivable and arbitrary, merely a premise we must accept as the key to a number of metaphors. For all I have said about not knowing Don Quixote from the inside, I have never found it so. To long for an escape into the image seems to me a universal wish; and the lesson that the escape will not change the nature of the world, which Ruskin missed and which Cervantes teaches, seems almost the modern definition of maturity. For most of human history the aesthetic image, the world transformed in the order of the mind, was, in myth and ritual, the secret to our understanding of the universe; over time the image shook loose from our metaphysics; we came to perceive that the structure of the universe does not match the structure of the mind. This does not diminish the power of the image, but it does undermine the certainty of its place in our lives. Cervantes wrote in a time and place where, for many reasons, the consequence of this development was beginning to be keenly felt.
(via 400 Windmills)

Update: I found the Google-translated Spanish version so I could share it with more people here. Usually I would never advise using this as a solution, but it's enough to get the ideas across--and what ideas Phillips has! Such excellent insight.

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